An Interview with Filter's Richard Patrick

Filter's Richard Patrick (Credit: Kevin Keating)
On Tuesday, July 15th, a blockbuster line-up of rock acts will be visiting the Indy -- Richard Patrick's Filter, Page Hamilton's Helmet, and Local H will be stopping by the 500-person capacity venue in what they're billing as the 'Anti-Folk Revival Tour in Drop-D.' Amazingly, tickets are still available at the time of this post, so be sure to pick them up now here.

SF Bay Area Concerts: Richard, thanks for making the time to chat with us today! The first question I have is that I want to know how this tour came together with Helmet and Local H? It’s a great bill!

Richard: Well, I was just listening to some radio stations and I was like, ‘man, there’s a lot of banjo... there’s a lot of mandolins, and there’s a lot of accordions on the radio.’

And I was like, ‘I feel like something’s missing. We've got to do something that people can know there’s some anger and there’s some heavy, and there’s some different alternatives.’ The word alternative was used to describe Nirvana, Skinny Puppy, Jane’s Addiction, Ministry, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Helmet, Filter. That kind of thing.

Most of those bands are kind of pissed off. So I was like, ‘when did alternative music turn into this banjo-fest, with accordions and happiness?’ So I came up with the idea of the "Anti-Folk Revival Tour in Drop-D." It's kind of a celebration of when music actually had a bite and an edge on the alternative side. So that’s where the idea came from, not that I don’t like some bands, I’m all for them, but it just seems like it’s very one sided right now.

SFBAC: Over the years, you and Page (from Helmet) must have crossed paths. Is that true?

Richard: We finally just met each other last year. We were on this 'ShipRocked' cruise and I was like, ‘it’s the Drop-D twins!’ Because that’s the tuning that we like. And it was a quick conversation, but we’re fans of each other. I remember when I heard Helmet for the first time and I was like, ‘this is awesome!’

So it just turned out to be a great idea -- they were down, and so was Local H and so I was like, ‘let’s go do this, let’s go have a blast.’ So I was excited and they were cool and excited too and we’d just kind of go out and turn up our amps and scare the banjos away.

SFBAC: Page is promoting the 20th anniversary of Betty, and I realized that Short Bus is coming up on 20 years too. Are you guys going to incorporate more from Short Bus on this tour?

Richard: Yeah, Short Bus is 20 next year. I don’t know, I’m thinking we'll play some Short Bus but also celebrate all the different records that we've done. We released a record last year called The Sun Comes Out Tonight, and there’s still some people that don’t know about that.

SFBAC: Speaking of The Sun Comes Out Tonight, I'm a big fan of the title track. You've released a few singles from this album so far, what's next?

Richard: Our next single will be "We Hate It When You Get What You Want." We were thinking "Self Inflicted" would be a great single too. But the fans spoke out and said "We Hate It When You Get What You Want," so I’m cool with that.

SFBAC: You're one of the hardest working musicians that we've spoken with. Your tour schedules are generally pretty grueling. How do you balance road life with family?

Richard: We've actually been pretty lucky in the fact that when I tour I’m gone for a certain amount of time, but then I come back and hang out for a week. It’s tough, I mean, I do work really hard, there’s no doubt about that. There’s a point on this tour where I sing 11 shows with 1 day off in the middle. I've got some friends in bigger bands and they’re like, {whining voice} ‘I’m on a tour for a year.'

And I’m like, ‘Oh my God! Dude, take a look at my website. Don’t even fuck around, just take a look at my website and see how much I tour.'

And they’re like, ‘wow.’

I don’t really hear from them after that, I don’t hear them bitch.

I've got a great band and crew and I've got a lot of friends in this business. And there’s a lot of great people on my bus, and we just try to get along.

SFBAC: When you're on the road, are you writing new material? What keeps you going through the travel days?

Richard: Honestly? On the travel days, everything is about resting and relaxing. We have an acoustic guitar we take with us, but honestly, no one is thinking about the records. I have to be at home when I write. I could do some stuff on the road, but I really like to come back home to my studio.

When we actually record the records, we write the records at the same time. So we write, record and mix all at the same time. Ours take a little bit longer because there’s so many over dubs and stuff like that. You have to have a certain amount of perfection when it comes to the music we’re doing. So it takes a little bit longer, but not too long.

We’re just not able to drop records in two and a half days... Like Jack White!

SFBAC: With the recent big news in the industry with Apple's acquisition of Beats, there's clearly a shift going on from downloads to now streaming. Touring has always been a big chunk of album promotion, but is it more or less important these days with how revenue is shifting from album sales, download sales and now streaming?

Richard: Yeah, things are changing and I've got to say, there’s money to be made in streaming. Sometimes I like to buy stuff, I've noticed that I've bought more stuff on iTunes. But I find more stuff on iTunes radio, and that’s when I start downloading more stuff.

When you get a car with Bluetooth between your music and your car it’s going to be amazing to just sit there and go through everything and hear it.

To me, it's the radio stations, iTunes Radio, Slacker, Pandora, all that stuff... those are definitely going to help things out. As long as they actually pay the bands. Pandora is paying 70% of their money to the bands or the artists. And I think that they should.

The sad thing is, everybody wants their music for free and it’s like, ‘OK, great. You’re not going to have a lot of bands anymore. You’re not going to have a lot of new artists anymore. You’re going to have a lot of poor artists that are trying to pump out music as fast as they can and they’re going to overlook stuff.'

But it's not only that, it’s the recording engineers, studio owners, it’s the brick-and-mortar operations... I know studio owners in LA and they’re like, ‘shit, people are doing it in their houses! They record everything in their house.’ You've got to buy a big house before you buy a big brick and mortar building on Sunset Boulevard. You have to keep those studios booked and filled with clients that make money. Record budgets are down to zero and it’s all because people want them to do it for free.

We all have to adjust and maneuver. Every year I go on the road regardless, I used to sit back and make records and it would take two or three years and I’d be living off all the stuff that I made on the licensing. And now, it’s like, ‘shit, we've got to tour tomorrow to make the money.’ So, you just adapt. You find out a way to not die on tour and to conserve your energy to make sure you don’t blow yourself out and ruin your voice in the first couple of days and have to suffer the rest of the tour. It’s just being smarter.

SFBAC: And you've always been open to licensing haven’t you? Or are you more supportive nowadays?

Richard: Yeah, there was an offer from Reebok in 1995 for half a million dollars to sell sneakers and we were too cool. We were like, ‘we don’t do that!’ That was in the age of grunge and no one did that stuff, if you did, you were a sell out and you were going to lose your credibility.

Hip-Hop guys did it though, Snoop Dogg was selling Taco Bell at one point.

There was definitely a couple of ‘no’s’ in the 90s -- ‘we’re not gonna to do that.’

But then Reebok actually went out and just found a band to play the baseline to "Hey Man, Nice Shot," and there you go! And they just kind of reverted the notes.

They [the band] reverted it and they made the money. And you’re like, ‘wait a minute!’

That kind of shit happens, so you want to make sure your band is always looked at in the right way. But now, with the fact that people are just, hand over fist, taking whatever they want right off of the internet. You’re just kind of like, ‘well, I guess it’s changed.’ So now you look at it as a co-promotion... 'and we’re the song for Toyota cars and we've got this song in a movie, and we've got this song in...'

People would ask me, ‘hey, do you want to be in this movie?’ And I’d be like, ‘no.’ Now it’s not like that. I’m glad when it’s a good movie, you just can’t say no to that kind of money and keep staying true to yourself as a musician. You’re like, ‘well I’m never going to change the way I make my music, I’m always going to do my music the way that we want to do it.’ But at the same time, if someone wanted to license "Take a Picture" for a camera commercial, I’d be like, ‘yeah, that’s a good idea.’ There you go.

SFBAC: Well Rich, I don't want to hold you up any longer and thanks again for making the time to speak with us today. We're looking forward to the show at the Indy on the 15th!

Richard: We’ll see you soon and I can’t wait to play San Francisco, it means a lot to be back there.

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