Interview with Filter: Anthems For Anarchy

FilterRichard Patrick began his musical journey as a guitarist in Nine Inch Nails, but then formed Filter in the mid-‘90s. The band took off with their first release, Short Bus, and it instantly solidified Richard to be a formidable frontman, singer, and songwriter. Despite the band’s notoriety with hits like “Hey, Man Nice Shot,” “Take A Picture,” and “Skinny,” among others, Filter took a time out. Richard spent that stint getting sober and collaborating with the DeLeo brothers of Stone Temple Pilots’ glory to create Army Of Anyone. Well, thankfully, Richard is done with turning his back on the band that catapulted him out of Trent Reznor’s shadow.

Filter’s fourth studio effort, Anthems For The Damned, is a clear frontrunner for record of the year! With rigorous, unrelentingly puncturing songs like “What’s Next” and “The Take,” Filter carve out their place in hard rock territory with an industrial knife, while other songs like “Soldiers Of Misfortune,” “Kill The Day,” and “Cold (Anthem For The Dammed)” grow angelic wings that cradle and elevate the listener to new plateaus of freedom. What’s better is no mater what the topography of each of the 12 songs on the record, the common threads are vividly picturesque lyrics, and basically, what every singer would give their eyeteeth for…a distinctive voice. A voice that injects an earthy flair albeit over industrial chops or organic rock melodies. Meaningful, gripping prose of both introspective and politically slanted natures also live on the record, and a neat trick that Richard seems to have mastered is placing bleak lyrics against an up-tempo backdrop and vise versa.

Anthems For The Damned is just the perfect blend of light and shadow. If Richard were a painter this is his Mona Lisa. Filter has already road-tested songs from AFTD in Kuwait for the Operation Myspace concert with former bassist turned Army Sergeant, Frank Cavanagh, joining the band for the occasion. Filter will also perform at Rock On The Range in Ohio, but will play dates in the area on May 13th at the Mercury Lounge and the PNC Arts Center on May 31st.

AW: What does Anthems Of The Damned represent to you in the legacy that is Filter?

Richard Patrick: Well, sonically it bridges the gap like always. My biggest criticism is, “Filter is kind of heavy then it gets kinds of light.” I expect my audience to be as eclectic as I am. My audience likes the Deftones, my audience likes Radiohead, my audience likes U2, my audience likes Nirvana, my audience likes Soundgarden. I believe that my audience is like I am, I have a huge CD collection, so sonically, when I am working on Filter, I gotta cover the emotional gamut.

In 1989, I joined this little band called Nine Inch Nails and we were listening to Ministry, and we were fucking pissed, and we had our fingers in the air, and we were like, ‘Fuck this shit!’ The reality is that I don’t wake up everyday like that, but there are songs that are the middle finger in the air songs. You know the angry young man songs, but there are other songs that go into this real lush like ‘Cold’ or ‘Kill The Day,’ dare I say, adult contemporary.

The reality is that when you see Filter live, that’s when it makes sense. We want to bring the heavy, I am all about ‘Welcome To Fold’ and ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot,’ but I am also about ‘Take A Picture’ and ‘(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do’ and ‘Jurassitol.” I do like the heavy, but I do like the light, and that’s what I wanted to sonically deliver.

The other thing that I really wanted to do was that I really wanted to talk about something important other than myself, although I do talk about myself, because if we are not telling each things, sometimes we are killing ourselves. I wanted to talk a little about my addiction and my recovery from addiction. I wanted to talk about how really amazing it is to just destroy days, kill the day. There is something amazingly sad about getting everything you need out of a 16oz bottle of booze. Or 20oz. I talk about some of those issues. For the most part, on Anthems Of The Damned I have noticed that we have done a lot of crazy ass shit, and we don’t seem to be making any changes. Well we know that burning fossil fuel is killing the planet, why don’t we stop doing it? We know we all get oxygen from the Rain Forest, so why are we tearing it down? We know killing each other is pretty much a bad thing, well why are we killing each other now? Why are we using religion to kill each other? People say, ‘I am a Muslim fundamentalist, I hate you because you represent everything that is bad that I read in this book that you are the infidel, and you must die!’ Who thinks like that? Nuts think like that. Human beings that are nuts think like that, and I am kind of worried that if we don’t pay attention to those folks, and if we don’t pay attention to what we are doing to the planet, then we are damned.

It’s just sort of my scream in the night, where I am saying not all is fantastic on planet earth. Human beings actually resemble more like a disease than something good for the planet. It’s an organism and it’s perfectly apart from the sun that it’s 70s degrees for the most part year round. The average temperature really is room temperature, maybe not at the North Pole or the Equator, but for the most part it’s a balmy 70 degrees. That’s a wonderful pretty much freak-of-nature right there, most planets are huge and are really close to the sun, the ones that we discovered in other solar systems, they are really gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn.

So we got this really special little planet that is just close enough to the sun where it’s just right for us to breath and now all these plants get ruined and we keep breathing their oxygen, their byproduct is oxygen, and here we are destroying all the plants. So it’s just a reminder, it’s just like, ‘Hey, let’s keep an eye on what we are doing.’ Not from a preaching standpoint, because I am a part of humanity. I wake up everyday, I kill the planet every time I plug my guitar into an amplifier, I am using electricity. Where does the electricity come from? A fossil fuel burning device that uses electricity, so I am a part of this problem. Not all rock musicians want to talk about being fucking rock stars and being rich! This is a rock record for people who want to think.