Filter

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FILTER

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Richard Patrick is likely the one true voice of reason in rock ‘n’ roll today. With a frenzied manner alike to that of being drunk (though he’s not), his brutal honesty and sharp observations are unadulterated and, well, unfiltered. And it’s a bold breath of fresh air in the scene today, least of all one to experience in conversation – and yet, this is how the frontman for hard rock legends Filter has always has been. Indeed, this is the refrain Filter have always carried. No bullshit.

First and foremost, Patrick is supposed to be discussing Filter’s upcoming Australian tour in support of metal heavyweights and utter legends, Ministry. “I can’t wait! It’s gonna be fantastic!” he screams down the line.

“We’re touring with a band that started so many other bands – a huge influence, the band I refer to as Ministry. It’s an honour and privilege to go on tour with them.”

Yet a conversation with such an enigmatic and genuinely zealous character will, of course, eventually defer to other topics – and given Patrick’s candid fervour, this is not a flow of speech one wants to interrupt. However, Patrick’s attention is grasped just long enough to discuss for a moment what he loves most – touring with his band.

Supporting Ministry, the two bands announced recently their intention to take over Australia this September. This announcement isn’t exciting, it’s sublime. The five show tour will be Ministry’s third tour here, their first two being in 1995 and 2015, respectively. Filter’s visits similarly are on the thin side, not having performed here since 2014’s Soundwave Festival. “Before that, it was like ten years,” Patrick says. “So there’s still a lot of work to do because I want to play for, like, a while! I want to play for like an hour-and-a-half, really go through all the good stuff.”.

 

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All that good stuff includes Filter’s most recent seventh album, Crazy Eyes. Hard-hitting themes of social madness and dissatisfaction with the state of humanity under an industrial rock banner, the band has had a lot to say, and Patrick’s evidently ready to say his piece on this tour.

“[Touring with Ministry], it’s kind of [the] return to industrial for us, it was always like that but it’s great to have the heaviness, I guess… I’m sick of this goofy-ass shit we hear on the Top 40 out here [America], it’s like listening to crap! 21-year old kids telling me ‘how hard it is to be in love’, ‘let’s go out and fun at the club’, it’s all bullshit. So I just want to get meaner and heavier!

“There’s a band that, like, literally said [adopts a whiny voice]: ‘Well, I’m not angry anymore, I’m older and I’m not angry’, and I’m like, ‘OH MY GOD! That is awful!’”

A simple solution to that, one which I offer Patrick – just don’t listen to the Top 40. “Yeah, well here’s what I do. You know what I do?

“I can’t listen to Top 40, you know what I do? I turn on any news station and see our buffoon of a president, or I’ll read any newspaper and see the real deal of all this crazy shit that’s going on in the world and that fuels like ten records a day – I’m very happy about being angry as hell, I don’t care who knows it and who hears it.”

Personally, I tell him, trying to ground this exuberant man a little, I listen to Filter. “Good for you, and I make it Filter, so there!” Patrick giggles. “Together we can bring a new happiness to the world! Together, we can at least bitch about it right now.”

So bitch we do, and oddly, amongst all the bitching and socio-political raving, Patrick actually makes a lot of sense, linking his opinions – though perhaps not consciously – right back to Filter’s new album, Crazy Eyes.

…continued below…

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“Let’s bitch about that fucking retard that showed up to a church and killed nine people because they were black – I don’t understand it. [Patrick is referring to the massacre that occurred at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina two years ago]. That’s “Mother E”. That’s our song, “Mother E”, that’s the first thing we talk about on our record, Crazy Eyes. We’re like, ‘Okay, someone set the bar pretty low so we have to set the bar pretty intense! We have to talk about it.

“Our faith is on the intense, we turned our amp up – like, ‘crazed lunatic who showed up to church and killed people because they were black’ – it’s like, okay, how do you set your guitar amp for that? How do you make your mic reflect that?”

It’s good Patrick mentions “Mother E” because not only does it have that industrial element and heaviness he mentioned earlier, but it seems he has gripes about things and it’s so obvious he finds solace in the music. The song is steeped in insanity, but whose? Whose are we talking about? The insane people running around with guns killing people? “Yeah! Crazy eyes! Crazy-eyed killer! All those kinds, like ‘Adam lazy’ or whatever his name is, the kid who showed up at a preschool and shot a bunch of kids. [Gunman Adam Lanza, who took out the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut]

“Filter has always done that, [created] the weirdest shit, like the most intense, saddest shit and just said: ‘There it is!’ You know, “Hey Man Nice Shot” is about a guy who shows up to a press conference and says ‘he doesn’t wanna go to jail and they’ve got the wrong guy’, then he shoots himself in the head. It’s like, there you go, that’s the standard! That’s still our biggest song. Someone has to talk about the crazy, the weird, the strange.

“A lot of it’s like anti-Trump, the feeling behind that. The new record is probably gonna be like, you know, like ‘Fuck you, Trump!’ you know? ‘Take him back to the dump!’ I dunno [laughs]. You gotta tell it like it is, right? It’s gotta be punk rock. And I don’t mean Southern California punk either, I’m talking about the real deal, the Joe Strummer, the Napalm Death, I’m not talking about fucking Blink-182, the cutie-pies. The fucking screw-the-man, that kind of stuff.”

Patrick cuts me off, continuing his impassioned rant as I suggest that Filter is like so many other bands jumping on that socio-political bandwagon and raising their middle finger to the air, are addressing the negative issues present in our world today. “Who else is doing it? Who? I know Ministry’s been doing it, I know we’ve been doing it, but what other bands are, like, outraged, and fucking saying anything?”

To the level of Filter? No one. Patrick laughs, “Yeah, that’s what I’m saying! As far as the Top 40, it’s just rife with a bunch of cutie-patooties out there who don’t wanna mess up their hair.”

So how will Filter take to anarchy with this release? How does Filter make a change? “I don’t know what our music is other than that’s the sound of what it feels like to watch the hysteria in the world. “Mother E” is like, yeah, it’s kinda what it sounds like, in my opinion. You know what I mean? This is what it sounds like when you show up to a church to kill black people because they’re black people. This is what it sounds like. If something has to reflect what’s going on. You know what I mean? What’s going on?”

Filter are giving the madness a soundtrack. “Well, just the crazy few. I guess this is what it sounds like. What was going on in his head? Donny Osmond knows what puppy love is, and I don’t want to infringe on his shit, you know what I’m saying? Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift are gonna talk about being love sick… someone has to be the bearer of bad news. You know what I mean?!”

And they’ve got to say it how it is, they can’t make a romantic story out of it. “That’s what I love about Ministry, that’s what I love about Skinny Puppy, what I love about The Clash. About John Lennon. There’s a lot of really great bands that have made a difference by saying what they feel for real. Even U2! They’re talking about the problems they have with blowing each other up, with terrorism in Ireland back in the day. ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’, the massacre they had, they were saying it, like, ‘fuck this, let’s say something.’ They have a meaning behind their shit and I respect that, I love that.

“What else is shaking in Australia?! I miss Australia! I can’t wait to come back!” declares Patrick again. “It’s gorgeous! Don’t elect Trump and you’ll be okay!” he says in sing-song. “Look at France, they dodged a bullet and they seem okay. U.K. is in big shit, Brexit got a bunch of ding-a-lings in there. These crazy lunatics.”

As I explain to him the go with our bullshit lockout laws, our being wrapped in cotton wool and the closure of so many live venues, that no one can make any money because you can or can’t drink, you have to leave a venue, the closure of big name live music venues a result  “Hmm…” – the impact of this on new bands who are starting out, kids who want to rock, get up on stage and sing their gnarly stuff. Patrick is analysing my words, the longest period he’s been quiet our whole conversation, ready to pounce with his opinion and judgement.

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“It’s a real strange world we live in – because I love bands and stuff like that – but at the same time, you can take a computer and circumvent the entire studio system and just do something in your bedroom and kind of put everybody out of work, but it’s still viable. Lorde! She was a kid with a computer and sat there and made some bad-ass music. You know?

“Some of these kids in the indie movement, they’re so goddamn hip they’re hipping themselves out of business. Trying to buy a fucking compressor that’s worth $5000 just because it was made in the sixties. You know what I mean? Like dude, you can virtually have the same thing, it’s just, you know, buy Logic and use the compressor in that. It’s a computer but it gives the same sonic effect. Who gives a shit if it’s hardware from the sixties, you know what I mean?”

Not even that long ago, it was still hard work in the noughties – technology wasn’t quite so dominant. “We had a computer!” Patrick cries, “Our first hard drive was 1GB and it cost $400 and we were like, ‘We are fucking on the cutting edge, man, we’re fucking insane!’”

But then, Filter grew up. “Sure, I grew up but I’d still rather goof off with the drum machine, have fun with my friends, than actually sit down and try and rehearse, you know what I mean? You know what I mean? I get it, I get the sink or swim…

“I don’t think you guys should have any laws as far as drinking and stuff like that! You know? I get it, drinking is bad! Like, you get more wasted quicker and shittier on booze than you ever would on pot, you know what I mean? Like, I think pot should be totally legalised and beer should be like… because people get mean when they’re drunk. But pot smokers, they don’t even wanna drive. You get a guy who’s had a couple of beers and,” Patrick’s mimic is indiscernible but hilariously accurate, “I don’t know…

“I hope everyone can get a chance to come out and see us for sure because, I mean, we all got problems! You gotta have your relief – I wish that goof who shot people, I wish his parents didn’t buy him a gun, I wish they’d bought him a guitar or a microphone. Instead of Adam loser, his mom bought a bunch of guns and the kid’s autistic and it’s like, why didn’t you get him a guitar or something?!”

Because, dear Richard Patrick, it’s America. “Fuck America! Fuck the American gun, fuck the second amendment! Fuck that second amendment shit!” Patrick screams dramatically.

In the meantime, I try to quell the comedy of Patrick’s anger and invite him to come and live in Australia. “I wanna come to Australia, can I bring my family?”

Yes, yes you can. It’ll be a support group of anarchy and letting loose when Filter does return. “I’m just so blessed that I can come back down and hang out with y’all and have some fun. You know, it’s not like we’re making a tonne of money, we’re not playing big arenas or some shit, we’re coming there specifically because we love Australia and we want to spend time down there and hang out.

“I’m honoured that I can go hang out and sing into a microphone.”

Filter have something to say about the state of the world and all they can do is what they do best, using music to declare dissatisfaction and disappointment with the world – for now.

Written by Anna Rose

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