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Interview: Richard Patrick from ‘Filter’

Filter's Richard Patrick press photo

American multiplatinum-selling industrial rockers Filter have dedicated over 20 years to defiantly fighting against the grain of mainstream music. Instead of catchy radio-friendly melodies and lyrics about love and the like, Filter provides an uncensored exploration into the mind of founder and frontman Richard Patrick. With the impending release of their seventh full-length studio album ‘Crazy Eyes’ we caught up with the man behind the band to talk about touring and all the juice behind this latest instalment.

Next month you’re hitting the road for a massive tour in the ‘States. What’s the difference between touring in the US as opposed to Australia?

Everything in Australia is very far away. Touring is tough. When you tour in the US you drive for 3 or 4 hours while sleeping on a bus, and when you wake up you’re in a new city. You go across the street, get some breakfast, check into a hotel and then do the show, but in Australia when you play you fly from one city to the next and you’ve got to cart all your gear. It’s really, really expensive. You fly in – that’s 25,000 bucks and then you’ve got to fly everywhere so you’re budget is spent on flights. It’s tough to get down there.

Congratulations on your new album! Are there any celebrations planned for the official release date?

I think I might set myself up in front of my computer and see the reactions online, see if everybody likes it, see what their comments are. Maybe I’ll take the kids to the ice cream parlour. My kids like a little fro-yo, actually. Out here in Southern California it’s all about frozen yoghurt. That’s pretty much it. 3 days later we start the tour in San Francisco.

What was your overall vision for ‘Crazy Eyes?’

I just wanted to do the exact opposite of Justin Bieber. I wanted to do something that was extremely reflective of what I feel is the general hysteria going on in the world. For instance, I see these crazy-eyed mass shooters that show up at schools and I see these riots. I’m making music straight from the heart. I’m making music as a person who has been around the world a few times. I’ve played shows in beautiful theatres and I’ve played shows in war zones. In fact after one of our shows there was a rocket attack and we had to run for our lives into a bomb shelter. Officially we were attacked by al-Qaeda in Kirkuk (Iraq). So I call it how I see it. I think ‘Crazy Eyes,’ and Filter is my filter.

The band name is essentially what goes on in my head. The first song I ever wrote that was huge was Hey Man Nice Shot. It’s about a guy who doesn’t want to go to jail and he’s been convicted of stealing millions of dollars, embezzling money, and he pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head. To me that’s all interesting to think and scream about. I’m not into ghosts and spooks, I’m into the horror of reality – so that’s ‘Crazy Eyes.’

Why did you decide to partner up with Pledge Music for this album?

Honestly? At first I thought it was crowdfunding – desperate and kind of weird. I even said so on my thing. Crowdfunding reminds me of begging but this isn’t crowdfunding. 15 years ago you would have to drive down to a record store and buy a CD. Now you can get on a website from say, Russia and download every CD you want. So technically music is equalised and it’s free. There’s no commerce in it. This record is for people who understand that if you want good music you have to literally put your money where your mouth is and pay for the music. So what they’re doing here is buying the download or a shirt or something but they’re paying for the record. I was blown away when we made all of this money to spend on our record. Our fans and Pledge Music showed up and were willing to pay for all of this if we just kept them updated with videos. We interact with fans back and forth and all of a sudden they are engaged and a part of it.

They have direct communication, at least they did for us – we were making jokes and goofing off in the studio. On one of our updates I made a commercial that was me in a parallel universe. It was really fun to shoot, to just get out of our box. Everybody thinks we’re so serious because of my lyrics but I actually have a really good sense of humour and no one has really seen that with me. So I started getting wacky and crazy. The fans really liked it and they’re the ones that matter. My job is them. The fans tell me what to do so I try and be as attentive to their needs as possible. They’re why I’m here.

What made you decide to produce this album?

When you’re working with a hired producer, they’re like, well you asked me to do this and I know what I’m doing, blah blah blah. I get that but I’m the artist, and then they go, well, your record company wants you to do what I tell you to do. You end up getting into these little power struggles. By telling everyone I was the producer, I’m saying look, I have final say as not only the producer but the artist too. In the early days I would thrown a temper tantrum. I would just throw a beer in your face or a bottle of vodka at your head. Back then it was more chaotic. I want to have the chaotic sound in the music but I don’t want to have to threaten people, like threaten to kill people, which I’d done before. I’m a nicer person in reality. I don’t drink. But you still have to be able to say, look dude, this is my fucking record and we’re going to do it my way.

You still have to have that final authority and it’s gotta be an unspoken rule. When you position yourself as producer everybody knows you have the ultimate say on this. It sucks having to say it but unfortunately the record and the band need that kind of decision-making otherwise you’re going to sound wishy-washy, like you’re trying to get on the radio and I hate that. I hate making music trying to get on the radio so I outlawed it. If they say, this isn’t a radio song, I would say, this is a fucking cool song, leave me alone.

What does the next few years hold for Filter?

Right now I’m working on a movie score. I move really quickly to different projects. When this record comes out we’re going to tour the states, then Europe. I want Australian fans to go fucking ape and create a lot of attention for us down there because we really want to come play in Australia properly. We went on Soundwave played for 30 minutes but we need a proper hour and a half show. You need the great songs from all our records. We need to be seen properly on a headlining tour across Australia with plenty of dates and plenty of shows. Because I don’t know how longer I can do this for. I have all these movies calling me now and I’ve got to make sure my kids grow up properly. I mean I’m 47 years young, you know what I’m saying?

‘Crazy Eyes’ will be available everywhere Friday 8th April.