Modern rock band Filter recently released “The Very Best Things: 1995-2008,” a compilation of hits, sound track cuts and radio edits. Singer Richard Patrick, the act’s sole remaining original member, started Filter in 1993 after leaving Nine Inch Nails. Managing Editor Joshua Mellman spoke with Patrick on VIC Radio March 20 about the retrospective, songwriting and touring the new album.
Joshua Mellman: Let’s talk about your new compilation, “The Very Best Things,” which is kind of a best of, I guess, from 1995 to 2008. The album opens with “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” which is a blistering smash hit from the ’90s, and then it ends on kind of a more rare and a softer cut called “Thanks, Bro,” so I’m just wondering how you put the track list together.
Richard Patrick: Other than “Anthems from the Damned,” I usually always start off Filter records with a bang, and then I end on a really mellow kind of vibe. “Anthems for the Damned” was actually, kind of was mellow first and then it got mean in the middle, and then it got mellow at the end. It’s all about showing your guns, flexing your muscles and being heavy as hell first. So I wanted the sequencing of the songs to be like guns blazing up front and then kind of trip it out and get mellow at the end. I’ve never really considered Filter to be like an industrial band or a rock band. I’ve always just tried to blur the worlds and to kind of avoid the entrapments of a genre.
JM: I think there are a lot of misconceptions about that, so I’m glad that you brought that up.
RP: People hear “Take a Picture,” and they’re like, “God, that song’s so huge,” and it’s such a massive hit. It did really well on the pop market, and in fact, “Dancing with the Stars” just played it. The reality is I wrote that song coming from a place of total pain. I was just humiliating myself with my drunkenness back in the late ’90s. I wrote this really beautiful, friendly kind of song about dying of alcoholism. There was no one with a gun to my head saying “have a hit.” It would have been easier for me to just continue to write “Hey Man, Nice Shot” 15 times and just cash in, and I just refused to do that.
JM: What is your songwriting process?
RP: With every song it’s different. It always starts off with the music. For instance, “Take a Picture,” I wrote literally the chords in like 30 seconds, and then I started humming a melody, and it was done. It was like one of those songs that just happened in like three or four minutes. We have this song called “Drug Boy” that’s going to be on the new record coming out in the fall. That song literally, half of the song was written during “The Amalgamut,” so like 1999 when I was working on “The Amalgamut.” I threw away this one riff that I had, and I just pulled it out now like last month [or] two months ago. And I finished writing it. So that song literally took like … nine years to write. [Maybe] ten years to write. So the process, it’s never the same road twice.
JM: Tell me a little about “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do.”
RP: “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do,” the Crystal Method sent me a track from their record “Las Vegas,” and the “Spawn” sound track had wanted us, me, a more guitar guy, to work with an electronics guy, so I just literally wrote the guitar parts right over their song, rearranged it, sang vocals over it and handed it in, and it was the big single off that record, and I’m proud of it.
JM: I know you’re also working on a new album … so talk about some of the heavier stuff you’ve been working on.
RP: The last record, “Anthems for the Damned,” was a tribute record to my friend that got killed in Iraq, fighting the Iraq War. So the whole record comes from this very sad, sentimental kind of point of view. But the stuff that I like doing the most are songs like “Welcome to the Fold,” “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do,” “Dose,” “Under.” It’s the heavier stuff. That’s what I like doing. … Now that my poignant record about my friend who got killed in Baghdad is kind of done, I think it’s time for me to return to what I do best, which is just to do some seriously heavy, mean music again.