Filter’s 1999 single “Take a Picture” might be their best known mainstream hit, but its message is a personal one.
“When I wrote ‘Take a Picture,’ I didn’t want people to know it was about my alcoholism, but it’s all right there,” singer Richard Patrick tells us. “I’m drunk on an airplane, I took my clothes off and I was black out out of my mind. I think the only reason I wasn’t kicked off was because one of the flight attendants recognized me as that guy from Filter, and felt sorry for me. Like, ‘Oh my god, he’s this famous guy. Put a towel on him.’”
The 47-year-old Atlanta native, who went sober in 2002, is on the Make America Hate tour — a stab at Trump — with Orgy and Vampires Everywhere while promoting his seventh studio album since 1999’s “Title of Record” (which followed ’95’s “Short Bus”). For April's “Crazy Eyes,” Patrick unleashes his new inner demons — and the demons of narratives he takes on — ” in a different way, veering social-political rather than introspective.
Patrick chats with us about the problem with pop music, his childhood idols and what he thinks is worth screaming for.
Throughout the album and even with the tour name, you’re making strong political statements. Is something like that risky for artists?
It’s obviously not a good business move. There are so many [musicians] out there that talk about how f—ing sad they are, but then they’re like, ‘Dude look at my new house.’ They’re so disingenuous, it’s hard to believe their music. With everything that’s going on, like America’s interest in Iraq and its oil, if you’re going to scream about something, isn’t that something worth screaming about? In the 1960’s, all the music was about “Can you believe this s—t?” But now it’s about Miley Cyrus’s tongue, or Justin Bieber’s hair. It’s bull—t.
Who do you think did it right?
All my idols — U2, John Lennon, they both inspired me. You have to be honest in your lyrics, but if I’m going to scream or say something, it’s going to be, “Holy f—k, I need help,” or like in “Surprise,” when it’s about how proud I am of my wife, from my last album. A large part of [being able to do this] is the record company believing in my message my fans supporting what I’m saying. And when the good times are there, I’ll write and sing from it, too.
“Crazy Eyes” gets really dark at times, and the characters you're singing from the perspective of aren't you. How did you get into that headspace?
Well “Mother E” is about a mass shooter. And I thought, “Who the f—k does things like that?” What’s with this guy who is going crazy? What does insanity sound like? He must hear the whimpering and crying, it must sound like sad violins and cellos. There’s a spot in the song where he’s reloading and processing what he’s doing, but he’s going too reload again. He gets up the rage and unless. The chorus is all the killing.
Why was it important to highlight this mindset?
Bieber’s not going to do it. Taylor Swift is on boyfriend number 12. She’s going to talk about that. I need some real s—t.