Richard Patrick talks exclusively with Sam Ash Music about recording Filter’s new album, Crazy Eyes, and leaving Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails to start a new band on his own.
TJ: Hi, TJ Milian here on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood and in the Sam Ash spotlight today we have Richard Patrick. Welcome Richard.
Richard: It’s good to be here at Sam Ash.
TJ: Thanks for joining us here. I got to say, the new album is great and right from the first intro of “Mother E” the sound, you know, takes us back to the days of “Short Bus” your initial, your first album along with maybe the sound of the early electronic and industrial pioneers.
Richard: Yeah, like Ministry and Skinny Puppy.
TJ: Yeah, we’re definitely loving that sound so where’d the idea for the sound of the album come from?
Richard: Well, I, you know, I’ve loved electronics and for the last couple years we worked with a producer and he was more of a rock guy. And so I called up the label and I just said, “Listen, I feel like I’m losing connection with the artist that I was when I was free to do what, you know, what I wanted.”
And they were like, “Well, what do you want?”
I was like, “Let me produce the record. Let me work with a vast amount of my friends, and let just enjoy it and not have to answer someone who’s going to try and sculpt each song into like a rock radio friendly kind of approach.
And they were like, “Great! Go do it.” And so I, you know, I walked away with a record that’s way more dangerous and fun and weird and strange than anything I’ve done in the last 5 or 6 years. So, I was really happy with the result, and it was just basically, I just, guitar wasn’t a priority. It was—I wrote with it, and I enjoyed writing with the guitar. It’s kinda like is a piano player writes with a piano. It’s all about notes and chord progressions. But, after the guitar was recorded, it was, like, stuck away and we just added all kinds of cool sound design and stuff like that. So that was pretty much the deciding factor, what sounds good here.
TJ: And the first instrument that you picked up, was that the guitar?
Richard: Yeah, well the guitar is, this, my staple that’s like my thing. That’s what I’m used to, but you know, as soon as you get your chords, you can replace all that stuff with incredible amounts of vast—We did this song, “Welcome to the Suck,” and I wrote it on guitar and it’s just three chords. And then, I was like, “OK, start over.” And I think we put like, distorted brass as the chord progression. It was really cool. So yeah, a lot of experimentation and a lot of just like the opposite of whatever someone was doing. But, you know, whatever is on the radio now is just like, let’s just go the exact opposite of what everybody is doing.
TJ: What was your “go-to” guitar early in the process.
Richard: Oh, it’s uh, my Schecter. I have two custom Schecters that were made for me, it was like down to the wood. You know, I chose koa and I chose, I think it was birds-eye maple for the neck. Everybody thinks it warps but it doesn’t. It doesn’t warp, it’s perfect for me and it’s rock solid. And then I used the sustainer pickup as my like main feedback sound emulator, whatever. And um, yeah, my Schecters and my G&L. Cause I love G&L.
TJ: Alright! And how about amps? Are you using a lot of amps in the studio? Recording direct?
Richard: Blackstar! Blackstar is my main go-to amplifier because it covers so many different—it has just a variety of sounds that you can just instantly grab. It’s a traditional kind of, you know, distorted channel. It goes in between the British sound and the Californian sound as they call it. You know, that’s also the workhorse on the road. You can always—you can push that guitar amp to the limit and it works amazingly. You can drop it from a—and I don’t recommend it, but you can drop it from like ten feet and it still works. So, that’s like the main thing: Blackstar. I don’t like to necessarily gather a lot of instruments. Like one of the other big things we used was—the telephone is ringing, And…
Richard: No but one of the other, I’ll let that die down. One of the other things that we used was the G5. The Zoom G5 is a staple in the studio. It’s just got every single, you know, guitar effects sound you could want. And, umm, really accurate, you know, great reverbs, great delays, stuff like that. And, actually programmed the new G5, the Zoom G5N. So, I programmed like 20 presets on it.
TJ: Cool. Any stomp pedals?
Richard: Um, not really, not much. Like most of my stomp pedal stuff is delays and echo and stuff like that. That’s mainly, most of the stuff I use, but for just a good overdrive in studio you know, iRig. You know, people forget that like in the early days of Filter we were going out of our way to get amp simulators. We were trying to find an easier way to get a guitar amp sound without having to actually buy a microphone and stick it in front of the speaker and have to do the traditional studio route. We were way more into, like, cheating and just doing it wrong, you know, and using bizarre techniques like the Zoom. A lot of the bass on “Short Bus” was through a little 9030, you know, that came out in like 1988 or something. We just thought, “hey, it sounds good to me.” You know, so there’s a lot of that. We love short cuts and tomfoolery as it were. We’re not puritanical about our, you know, what board we use and what microphone—it doesn’t mean—honestly, the latest technology is just, it’s…it’s your ears that decide everything. It’s your creativity that decides everything. It’s not when this guitar was made, during the fifties and like you have to get it at a certain point. That stuff doesn’t mean anything to us. We’ve always been like how many more gigabytes can we get. As opposed to you know, what Soundcraft board we should use for this that, and the other. The other thing is drums, that’s another thing. Just go into a decent studio for like a day and force your drummer to be awesome and like practice on his own time. And like you know, just cheat! Like most bands, they have to get into, it’s like you know we all saw “Sound City” with Dave Grohl. Dave Grohl, amazing, but you know he’s Dave Grohl, right? He’s the greatest drummer in rock, right? So, you know, for us, it’s like we’ll totally program the drums as much as possible. You know, it’s all about breaking the rules, especially the studio rules.
TJ: Speaking of the studio, there’s a lot more electronics on this record. Where did you find you synth sounds?
Richard: A lot of plugins. A lot of really great companies that we just kind of made friends with and we were like, “Send us everything you have.” A lot of stuff like that. It’s easier when everything’s in the box, and it’s so quick. That’s why, honestly, this record didn’t take long to make at all. In the old days it would take a long time. We would be painstakingly going through everything trying to make it work and you know, now, it’s right there. So, for me to kind of return to the industrial world, it was really just about creating some kind of music, writing lyrics that would have a lot of impact for me, and singing it a quickly as possible and not really spending a lot of time on it. That was the approach of this record.
TJ: And you got some amazing guitar solos on this record too.
Richard: Actually, Oumi Kapila. Oumi Kapila is an amazing, award-winning guitar player, from Australia. I can’t remember what award he won, but he’s like this amazing guitar player. He literally can play anything on the guitar and so, he started doing solos and I was like, “If you’re going to do a solo, if you’re going to really go there, do some Eddie Van Halen stuff that like, is just over-the-top crazy.”
TJ: Like Pride Flag?
Richard: And he’s all like doing this stuff, and to me, that’s the biggest like, that is so done with so much sarcasm. And to me, it’s just hysterical, because we were, listen—when Trent Reznor and I were in Cleveland being beaten up by those very same Eddie Van Halen wannabes, you know, in the hair bands: “Sup dude, why are you cutting your hair so short. Like what are you trying to do, be some kind of weird, alternative band, man?” You know, and to actually have a song where it breaks down into, that couldn’t be the most punk rock moment of like the career. So, it’s actually a lot of fun. Oumi can rip out a solo in seconds and just be awesome at it. So, some of it was very sarcastic. You know, like some of it was, like I was kind of laughing with him. My solos are actually my favorite because they’re—you can’t even tell it’s a guitar. It’s so avant-garde. There’s so much ring modulation on it and it’s so crazy that it’s like, and this is how it is, like for me this is my moment of this is how you should really do a solo. Because you know, there’s just no limit to how crazy and noisy and wrong. It’s just me with a microphone, just smashing it into the guitar and [it] sounded great. It had just as much musical statement as anything else, so there’s all kinds of wild solos on this record.
TJ: Back to the Nine Inch Nails days, you know, breaking off and starting your own band, how tough was that?
Richard: It was awesome. I mean, we lived in a time when if you were pissed and you had a lot to say, you could get signed and do it. Nine inch nails, was a really great experience. I toured with the band for three or four years and I had a wonderful time, but when you walk a record into someone’s office and you say, “I think I got something too,” they don’t—I didn’t want anyone to know I was from Nine Inch Nails. I just kinda came in under the radar with a manager that was really proud of what I had done. And they offered me a record contract. It was like one of those moments in life where you can’t believe, you know, you can’t believe that it’s happening. So, after that happened, we took it to a few more record companies and they were like, same thing, “Yeah, we’ll sign this immediately.” It was like awesome, and then they’re like,” We heard you’re in some band, are you in some band?”
I was like, “I’m quitting Nine Inch Nails!”
And they’re like, “What? Really, that’s awesome! You should.” You know, so, it was very encouraging. Best decision I ever made. I have toured the world for, you know, 25 years, this is my seventh record, and I’m doing a movie score…
TJ: Can you tell us more about that?
Richard: I can’t really, right now, because it’s being made and they’re still ironing out details, but I’ve been working on it. It’s really wild to see a movie with nothing on it and you have to add all the music. It’s so—and you can’t believe how much it really does impact the final product. So, you know, I’m really excited doing it and I’m doing it right. I’m working with a guy named, Tobias Enhus, who has done a lot of other movies and this is my first kinda real approach at scoring and I’m glad. It’s a really dark movie. There’s a huge star in it and it’s just a lot of wild stuff. It happens. It’s a great script and you know, shot in Poland, so it’s very grey and dark and I like it. It’s good. You’ll find out what it is.
TJ: Well, we’re looking forward to checking that out and the new album is fantastic.
Richard: Thank you, I appreciate it.
TJ: And you know, we are here today. Tonight we have a meet and greet and the record release party is downstairs we’re about to get to with the fans that are here waiting to check out the album a day before its released. How’d you pick Sam Ash Music for today?
Richard: Because you guys are awesome!
TJ: Love that. So, thanks for doing it for the fans and also on a personal note, I want to thank you. I don’t know if you remember this, but back in the day. It was probably about 15 years ago. I went to a Janes Addiction concert not having a ticket. This was at an arena in Chicago…
TJ: Haha, do you remember?
Richard: I think I do.
TJ: I had no ticket and I was standing there. I couldn’t get in the show; there were no scalpers. I just had no way to get in and the band was about to start. You had an extra ticket and you offered it up to me. And I just want to thank you again for that.
Richard: Hey no problem. I remember that. Yeah
TJ: So anyway, let’s get down to the fans…
Richard: You have to spread that wealth; you know what I’m saying? You have to make sure your music friends see the shows. Janes Addiction, I saw them 21 times on Lollapalooza. It was awesome!
TJ: Wow. That’s great. Well, we’ll get back down to it and thanks again for joining us here in the Sam Ash spotlight. Richard Patrick, congrats on the new album.
Richard: You got it man! That was called to NASA high five. My friend that works at NASA, his name is Scott Maxwell. He’s a Mars rover driver. He’s like, “You know how we high five?” Like that. So that was a NASA high five. There ya go. There ya go, Scott!
TJ: Alright, that’s a wrap.