FILTER Singer Richard Patrick Talks In-Depth about Inspiration for New Album 'The Sun Comes Out Tonight' [INTERVIEW]
[EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW] I had the opportunity to speak with Filter mastermind Richard Patrick about his latest record 'The Sun Comes Out Tonight', which is available everywhere now. We reflected on what inspired the new material, returning to a heavier sound, his troubled past and then we ventured into some very heavy territory on his connection with the US military and how it's changed him.
Filter's new album 'The Sun Comes Out Tonight' is the band's sixth studio effort. Recorded in Los Angeles at Blue Room Studios with producer Bob Marlette, the album was written and recorded by leader Richard Patrick and guitarist Jonny Radtke, as well as collaborator Marlette. I recently caught up with singer Richard Patrick to discuss 'The Sun Comes Out Tonight' and talk about the inspiration behind both the new material and classics from years past.
Keven: What influenced the direction to go back to that heavier style that was most evident on the first Filter album?
Richard: Honestly it was Wind-Up Records. They just told us "You gotta f***ing tear it up". It was great that the label was just like "let's f***ing hit em over the head" with something like 'Hey Man Nice Shot" and I was like "absolutely". I'm the one person that always decides everything but honestly when you have everybody else saying "let's do this" – yeah OK, thank you.
I've been waiting to do that and I've been getting a lot of mixed signals from fans. I had two big hits on either side of the spectrum and I'm capable of doing that. It's important that I let myself do that but at the same time you kinda try to blend both worlds and that's what we did with 'One Love' off our last record but the record label 'Rocket Science' dropped the ball on that.
With this record I wanted to talk about things like the school shootings on 'Self Inflicted'. I wanna talk about this theater shooting. I wanna talk about the Columbine kids. That's what that song is about; it's the notion that it's our fault. That a bunch of kids at school had to get killed because it's society's fault. It's videogames' fault. That this is somehow self inflicted. It sounds like a bunch of crack addicts trying to blame everybody but the crack. 'What Do You Say' is all about everyone's talking but nobody's doing anything about it. Congress is stagnated… We're all just screaming at each other and no-one's listening.
Keven: Now that you have young kids, did those events hit you even harder now?
Richard: 12-14…. There's 9-11 and now there's 12-14. Anybody with little kids… That's just as horrible and insane as 9-11 was. I'm sorry but 20 innocent children gunned down by a mental patient with a f***ing semi-automatic gun….
Keven: It's one of the darkest days in American history, probably even the world right?
Richard: Yeah and I mean, you hear someone like Ted Nugent and all these motherf***ers who just don't wanna listen and they're so f***ing paranoid. There's such a weird level of paranoia with the "gun person" and the Tea Party. Dude… Chill the f*** out, man. The constitution is a manual to run the country and the Tea Party is doing nothing but obstruction. To me, that's treason. Deep inside that Tea Party head is that NRA head going (Richard does a Southern accent) "They gonna take ma guns!" Bulls***.
If we let the Tea Party win and let industries regulate themselves we'd have three-year-olds smoking. You'd have a videogame truck parked outside the highschool with free cigarettes as long as you come on in and play some videogames! It would be so outrageous and horrible. So the government is like, OK let's take machineguns out of the hands of children. (southern accent) "Now yer tryin to take away my rights!"
Keven: Is the new album the most important of your career?
Richard: To me it is but they're all important. You never just poop something out and go, well that's that. You always think that this is the s***. I just remember a lot of problems on previous records. This is the record where we've got it all figured out. I've got some oldschool stuff, some newschool stuff, I'm using new technology and drum machines. We like the heavy, we like the light, we're gonna do both, your gonna enjoy it and you're gonna understand it.
The other record everybody was like "ahhhhh s***, you're using auto-tune". I've been using a drum machine this whole time and now they're like "you're using auto-tune, ohhhh s***". Well you know we're getting some bad reviews on the auto-tune. I'm like why? Because I f***ing used it to express a point about being in a club scoring drugs? I'm trying to make it sound dated to make a point but if someone doesn't f***ing get it -- then they don't get it. This single doesn't have that. This one's "f*** yeah, part two!" It's "Hey Man Nice Shot, part two!"
Keven: You're definitely no stranger to social commentary on your albums but you have some songs like 'Take a Picture' and 'Jurrasitol' that sound very personal. Am I interpreting those incorrectly or was that the case on those tracks?
Richard: It's a songwriter's mission to make that emotional connection. That was my goal. It wasn't about the chicks and the cars or the f***ing hairspray and the leather. It was always about bringing people together and making that connection. With 'Take a Picture' I was trying to tell everybody what was happening to me but I would leave out the gratuitous, lonesome, horrible feeling you feel when you're out on a limb. That whole "Hey dad what do you think about your son now" is just like, "I don't think I have what it takes to make this guy happy". I'm at the top of my game and I'm miserable.
When you're on the outside of a drug or alcohol problem and you're trying to explain to people, "Does anyone get this" and they're like "You gotta get some help" and you go "No that's not it". No actually that "is it" and that's all we got. He just sat back and was like, "I tried my best, son." So at the same time I'm like, why was it all directed at school and not music. Music was entertainment… (Richard mimicks his dad) "But you gotta do your schoolwork". It's a double edged sword. "Hey dad what do you think of me now I'm in Jail" to "Hey dad I'm standing in front of a million people screaming my name".
When I went and saw Bono in 1983 and he said "This is a song called 'Bad' and it's about heroin and the drug problems in Ireland", I was like "alright, cool. Let's talk about heroin and drug problems." Anything was cool – go for it. I think that was one of the things in my head that made me not want to get into heroin. I did everything but crack and heroin because they were so demonized. I knew crack was just such a f***ing ghetto drug man. Heroin was just so bad that I knew I wouldn't get out of it. I probably wouldn't be alive if I tried heroin. You should see me around Oreo cookies, it's like a crack fiend. Oh my god, double stuffed Oreo cookies, ahhhh -- you know what I mean?
Keven: What inspired all the military love with the band from the past few years?
Richard: I was talking to a friend of mine whose a Marine sniper and he's like "I killed a lot of people to your song 'Hey Man Nice Shot" and I was like hooooly s***. I knew they were listening to the music to rev themselves up for combat but….. I wanted to do a protest to the Iraq war so I did 'Anthems for the Damned' and I even put an inverted rifle display on the record. I went off and played a bunch of bases out there and that's when I really started to meet with the soldiers.
This one guy just got back from combat fully adrenalized and he walks into the airport at the base and there I was and he saw me and was just completely blown away saying, "I can't even believe it, what are you doing here? Richard Patrick from Filter? What?" And I'm like, "We're playing a concert tonight, you wanna go?" Then he's like "Oh my god" and he just sits down on one knee and says, "You have no idea Richard… I'm the head of a convoy and when two-year-olds get in front of you… You can't stop. You're the lead of a convoy and when two-year-old and three-year-olds jump out in front of you on the road you can't stop." He was just laying it on me, like "Help me through this". I was just like, "Oh my god… I'm so sorry dude. I'm so sorry you're here."
That's why I wrote 'Anthems for The Damned'. Now... I do it for him. I sing that song for that 19-year-old kid whose got the rest of his life and all he's gonna think about are those two-year-olds standing in the middle of the road. You can't fix that… That's there forever.
Keven: Growing up I definitely related to your music and it helped me get through some tough times in my life so I'd personally like to thank you for that and for a song like 'Take a Picture' which still has a profound effect on me.
Richard: I've had people come up to me and said "my father abandoned me in a hotel room when I was three" and said it was that song that helped them get through it. That's why I do it. Because I need to know that I'm making a difference and helping people get through their stuff. I'm out here in a band trying to make a living for my family and everything but I need to know that there's a deeper mission. That the mission is to help make the planet a little better. The mission is to inspire people to rise above their s*** and their problems.
Somewhere in the rhyming and the lyrics and the hate... I mean I feel pure hate for some s*** that's happened to me. Pure f***ing evil betrayal on me and my family and I have to march on and sing about it and write about and tell people they're not alone in their fight. Mine was drinking… I didn't do too hot in school… I don't understand my dad… I don't understand why people kill themselves… When I was young I was like, "Why are you killing yourself?" and now I get it. I understand it's my time to go.
Keven: One of my favorite tracks on the new album is 'It's My Time' and it's probably the most mellow. What was the influence behind that one?
Richard: Originally we were approached by a TV show (Justified on FX) to do this song where a guy is wrongfully killed. 'It's My Time' was inspired by people being killed for crimes they didn't commit. And we know there's a ton of that. No system is perfect but you always see these Southern States executing people and then they come back with DNA evidence and prove they were innocent.
Keven: Your cover for 'Happy Together' has really blown up two years after it's initial release on the Stepfather soundtrack, because of it's use in the Great Gatsby trailer -- how'd that happen?
Richard: That song was on the radio, but not really. It didn't get a fair shake then people see it in the Great Gatsby trailer with Leonardo DiCaprio and all of a sudden it's back. Then I got people telling me it's not on the soundtrack and everybody's getting the soundtrack for the one song they wanted but it's not on it.
The director for The Stepfather called me up and was like, "This guy's a maniacal killer and you have to f***ing scream it." I was like yeah but the verses have to be sung in a way that's really creepy. I was talking to an actor friend of mine and he was like some of the best villains in the world hardly say anything and you don't have to have a big scary monster to be a big scary monster. Jeffrey Dahmer was a very soft spoken guy and he did some f***ing crazy s***.
Keven: I did the same thing because I missed the song when it first came out so when I went looking for the Gatsby soundtrack I was pissed that it wasn't on there. That must feel good knowing that you kind of stole a lot of the promotional thunder for that movie?
Richard: Yeah and it gets me more work. I'm glad and I'm releasing a brand new record so this is a big deal. I love my band and I love what I do. So when it gets the notoriety that you strive for it makes it worth it. I love to do this stuff, this is my life.
"What Do You Say"
Keven Skinner hails from the Great White Wasteland that is Wainwright, Canada. An expert on all things Walking Dead related (he was even given a zombie cameo in the comic), he spends most of his time championing the glorious ascension of cable TV as the premiere entertainment medium.