An Interview with Richard Patrick and review of Filter @ Slim's (4/13/16)

Filter's Richard Patrick (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The opening night of the 'Make America Hate Again' tour kicked off right here in San Francisco at Slim's earlier this week. Tour headliners, Filter, were joined by Orgy, Vampires Everywhere!, and Death Valley High. Talk about a packed bill with absolutely solid bands! We also got a chance to talk with Filter's Richard Patrick before the show, so take a look at the full interview way below.
Filter's Richard Patrick & Ashley Dzerigian (Photo: Kevin Keating)
The show got off to a late start, which trickled down throughout the night and resulted in at least one song cut from Filter's set before they wrapped-up at 12:45am. But make no mistake, this was a fantastic night with a great bill of artists. Death Valley High kicked off the night, a Minus Head Records label mate of one of our personal faves, Black Map, and were quickly followed by Vampires Everywhere!. Vampires Everywhere! have taken up the mantle from Marilyn Manson with their breed of heavy industrial beats, guitars and growling vocals... and just happened to be joined onstage by two dancers to keep the audience engaged. Another San Francisco native hit the stage next when Jay Gordon's Orgy got the crowd into a frenzy with their standout hit, and New Order cover, "Blue Monday" (iTunes).
Vampires Everywhere - Michael Vampire
 & Mallory Butcher (Photo: Kevin Keating)

Finally, by 10:45pm, it was Filter's turn to rock the stage, and with what better way, than to kick off their set with the opening track of their new album, "Mother E" (iTunes). Admittedly, a track that's been steadily growing on me since my earlier review of the album and definitely one of the hardest songs ever written by Richard Patrick.

And as you'll see from the setlist below, nearly half of the two-hour set consisted of tracks from the new album, Crazy Eyes (iTunes), with the rest essentially a 'best of' from his 20+ year-long career.

Highlights (for me) included "Trip Like I Do" (iTunes), "Your Bullets" (iTunes), "American Cliché" (iTunes) and the last three songs of the night, "Best Things" (iTunes), "Hey Man, Nice Shot" (iTunes), and "Welcome to the Fold" (iTunes). What a way to end the evening, which by that point was already the early morning of the next day!

I think I can say with some confidence, that the current incarnation of Filter is one of the strongest, if not the strongest yet. Chris Reeve on drums was phenomenal, and it's the first time I've seen a show at Slim's where the drums have been set-up on the right side of the stage, perpendicular to the front of the stage. Besides Chris, Bobby Miller was solid behind the computer and keyboards. And then there was Ashley Dzerigian... Ashley has one hell of a resume, having previously played bass for CeeLo Green and Adam Lambert's bands; She's now taken up the 4-string with Filter, at least for this tour, and hopefully longer. And that leaves Oumi Kapila on guitar. Oumi largely took over for the vacancy left by Johnny Radke after the last tour supporting The Sun Comes Out Tonight (iTunes). As I learned in the interview below, both Oumi and Chris were mates in Australia, but there's an even more interesting story behind how they joined up with Richard's crew that you'll have to read further below.
Filter's Oumi Kapila & Ashley Dzerigian (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Filter Setlist Slim's, San Francisco, CA, USA 2016, Make America Hate Again
Be sure to check out their tour dates here to see if they're coming to your town and be sure not to miss this show!
Filter's Richard Patrick (Photo: Kevin Keating)
San Francisco Bay Area Concerts: Richard, thanks for making the time tonight, especially considering it's the opening night of your new tour! I first want to ask you about the process of recording your new album, Crazy Eyes. You turned to PledgeMusic to help raise money for the album. What was that process like?

Richard Patrick: Well, the PledgeMusic thing turned out to be something that I wasn't expecting. Listen, the Internet has had such a negative impact on the music industry, it's already hit the movies… As hard drives get bigger, people would rather steal and rip things off than actually pay for music. So they say Go Fund Me and stuff like that, but to me, that's just straight up begging, you know? We did something like that for a touring thing, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. And then we talked to Pledge, and Pledge is a completely different experience. Because what they're doing, is they're saying ‘okay, if you pre-order the record and buy a shirt or something, you contribute financially to the beginnings of a record.’ You fund the band that you like and support, and you get to have updates from the band that do not go on the Internet, they just go to the PledgeMusic fans. They feel like they’re part of it, but they're also funding the record. So after we made an astounding amount of money to do the record like in the first couple weeks… And in the old days, they give you $100,000 to $200,000 and then they would let you go experiment in studio, and then they gave you another hundred grand to mix, and then they gave you another three hundred grand to do a video, and people paid for music... so the labels were funding all this stuff. But now, there's incredibly small budgets and stuff… engineers are leaving and going away because ‘hey, I could take my college degree and go work over here on a website, as opposed to making music, which is what I really love to do.’ So the Pledge campaign was astounding, because as soon as I started doing the updates, I started going, ‘okay, I've never really been that funny in public,' and in private it’s like I have this really big sense of humor, so I started just being funny and different, and giving them things that they wouldn't expect. And the fans were overwhelmingly just happy to be a part of it. Then, I started sharing 20 seconds of a song… We’re not really sure what we’re doing with it, but it's cool, it sounds like this, and then they would respond instantly! 

And we got all these great responses from people… like the things I thought were too crazy or strange, the fans were like, ‘no, that's kind of what we miss... is crazy and strange!’ And so it was this instant focus group of people, just kind of like the best part of the Internet, this is like the best thing that the Internet has done for music kind of thing. Because now, there's all these funds to be able to go, ‘hey, do you guys think it's cool if we go off to…’ Just like I would go off to talk to a record company guy! And they [the fans] would respond! How would they respond? They would respond by buying more preorders, and telling their friends about it, and buying shirts. It's like the Bernie Sanders campaign, its millions of small contributions, but they're actually getting finished music and getting an insider view on the studio. So it turned out to be amazing! 

SFBAC: Do you think it’s something you’ll do again?

Richard Patrick: Absolutely! PledgeMusic and Filter are now going to be joined for a long time. Especially, for me. I mean, right now we haven't started a new record or anything like that, but for me, it's so amazingly fun, for the fans, for me… You know, I love hearing a response from the fans. They’re encouraging…

SFBAC: Is there anything you’d do differently next time?

Richard Patrick: I think I would do updates more and more and more. I would update it every day. Maybe do a periscope where they could check in on us. Just turn the camera on and let it run, and they could see the antics that we get up to. You know? Just to break up the monotony of sitting there for hours. 

SFBAC: When did your label Wind-Up come into the picture?

Richard Patrick: Wind-Up was always there! But they were like, why don’t you try this too, to supplement some of the costs. And I was like ‘okay, well that’s cool,’ and like I told you, I felt a little intrepid and not really into it… And then all of a sudden, I started doing updates from my phone — it's so easy! So I was super, super, super excited when it was over. And I hope it's not over, there's always going to be something that we can do now. I could say, maybe there'd be a Gino Leonardo record with me that we haven't done yet, you know? That Gino and I should do... There’s so many different musical projects that you can start there!

SFBAC: So tell us about the new incarnation of the band. Radke’s not on tour, but contributed to a couple of the songs on the album. How did you find the new members?

Richard Patrick: Yeah, Radke’s still there, but just wasn’t up for touring. And Oumi and I met at a Christmas party at my publisher's office. And he was like, 'hey, I’m friends with your friends' — he knows my old manager Richard Bishop and Gail Perry — and it was like 'OK, cool, well, let's get-together.' And I'm always down to experiment with new people, and we wrote “Take Me To Heaven” (iTunes), you know? And then after that it was like 'okay, if we’re gonna do a Filter record, let’s really get dark and heavy.' And he was okay with that. But I also worked with Blumpy, you know Michael Tuller? Who worked on The Amalgamut (iTunes), and now is working on this record. I worked with Ben Gross a little bit, he cowrote with me actually, which is wild for him because he’s more of a mixer. 

SFBAC: And Danny Lohner too?

Richard Patrick: Danny Lohner too. He pretty much single-handedly wrote, and kinda produced “City of Blinding Riots” (iTunes)

SFBAC: So how did SF become the first show on the tour?

Richard Patrick: We didn't play San Francisco for like 10 years and then we played for the first time and a lot of people showed up! So we’re just happy that we have a good rapport with the promoter and we just play! Because, you know, we’re still underground… even though we dabbled with your big top 10 hits and stuff, the music I’m making in the last six or seven years, it's darker, it's meaner, it's different, and we've never expanded beyond clubs… We do festival tours, and stuff like that but we've always been kind of like a club band.

SFBAC: And how’d the line-up come together?

Richard Patrick: Well, I needed to look for a new bassist, and I thought to myself, why haven’t I had a girl in the band? Why are they all dudes?  So I called Johnny Radke, and I asked 'who are the women bass players in the world and why haven't they been in Filter?' And he said, ‘I don’t know, but you want some numbers?’ So we called a couple of people like the girl who replaced D’arcy from the [Smashing] Pumpkins [Melissa Auf der Maur], and she couldn’t do it, but said we should check this girl out [Ashley Dzinger]. And at the time, Ashley was busy with CeeLo [Green], but I asked if she had time for a six-week jaunt across the country, and she said yeah, and it was great and we’ve become friends. And I told her if she wasn’t busy, she should come to the studio, and she did. She wrote the baseline for “Under the Tongue” (iTunes), which I hope we’re playing tonight… We didn’t rehearse it, but I hope we’re playing it!

SFBAC: Speaking of rehearsals, how have they been going? Do you do a couple of weeks of rehearsals before heading out?

Richard Patrick: No. No. We rehearse for two days. For me, you can rehearse for six months and then get in front of people and forget everything you know. It's like war. It’s like, the ramps go down on the boat and the plan is out the window! It's improvising in the moment and it’s like playing a show. It's the same thing! The show and war are the same thing! [laughs]

SFBAC: So do you get nervous at the start of a tour?

Richard Patrick: I've been so busy with other things, like saying goodbye to my kids and you know? There’s almost a sadness that goes along with a tour. But at the same time, when I'm out in front of the folks, that’s when I'm happiest. Touring and being on a bus is fun because I have to make it comedy time. Like I'm constantly talking in strange voices and I love it, but you know, I miss my kids and I miss my wife and I miss my normal bed. But you know, the bunk has been my bed also for 25 years.

SFBAC: Well, you’re on the road for the next 10 weeks or so, have you put much thought about the second half of the year?

Richard Patrick: Not really. I just don’t like thinking that far in the future. I've never been like that. I used to think about touring and be like, ‘oh my fucking god, it’s like 30 fucking days, and 30 fucking hotels rooms.’ And just feeling overwhelmed. So I just take everything one day at a time, one step at a time, just like the drunks do. Which is what I am.

<In walks Chris Reeve>

Richard Patrick: Hey, this man is Chris Reeve, let’s do a double feature here and you should hear this kid’s story. 

Chris Reeve: Oh my god! That story! [laughs]

Richard Patrick: He is this talented, amazing kid, and reached out to my buddy, Jeff Friedl, on the Internet and started doing like a drum school on camera. And the next thing you know, Jeff was like, ‘hey, I’ve got a guy from Australia that’s amazing. He’s insane. You’ve got to see him.’ And separately, when I started working with Oumi, he says, ‘hey, I’ve got a mate of mine, he’s a good fucker’ [Richard speaking with a bad Australian accent].

Chris Reeve: Ha, yeah, I’ve known Oumi for like 10 years.

Richard Patrick: Yeah, so I see a video of him, and it’s just incredible. He played a song, which I hope we’re playing tonight, “You Walk Away.” You have to be talented enough to play it, but you also have to be respectful of what the drummer did at the time. And you have to pay homage to the legacy of what we’ve done. So, he just sounded amazing. He’s still himself, but he was playing the grooves and everything was nailed down. And to make a long story short, it’s the same guy. They’re talking about the same person. And Jeff and Oumi had never met. So you wanna talk about the cream rises to the top! And he’ll be in this band for a while!

SFBAC: And Chris, were you already familiar with Filter’s catalog?

Chris Reeve: Yeah, yeah! I’d been playing a few songs in a cover band for a couple of years already. So when I got the call from Jeff first, he called me up to tease me, ‘he was like, hey man, there’s this gig going with Filter, I used to play with him, OK man, bye!’ And a few months later, Oumi said the same thing.

<In walks Oumi Kapila>

Richard Patrick: And here’s Oumi. Oumi co-wrote a good chunk of the songs on the new album, Crazy Eyes.

SFBAC: "Tremors" (iTunes) is one of my favorites from the album.

Oumi Kapila: Yeah!

Richard Patrick: That was a little return to the good old days.

SFBAC: And “Welcome to the Suck” (iTunes).

Oumi Kapila: Yeah! Nice!

Richard Patrick: “Welcome to the Suck” is cool.

Oumi Kapila: Yeah, very different from everything.

Richard Patrick: A lot of people comment, and a lot of people have a different favorite which is really good. And people will say, that’s a massive hit! And I’ll say, you’re insane. It’s too heavy! The landscape of radio is just way too sugary sweet and wild now. And I don’t even know what happened to alternative music. Alternative music used to be beating ass, punching people in the face and raging against…

Oumi Kapila: Tell him the story about the video that I sent you! I was in Australia, and we had worked on the album for a few months already, but I had to go back to Australia to sort out some shit. And I came across this thing, it was the Butthole Surfers at Lollapalooza. And they’re all on this bus and they’re just fucking loose man! Like a real lads video. And I watched the whole set, and this guy who posted it says ‘what happened to music?’ And it was so cool and raw and hilarious. And I posted it to Richard, and was like, ‘dude, this is what we need to do with the record. I don’t know what the hell happened to alternative music, but this is where it’s at.’ And Richard goes, did you see little Richie in the bus? And I was like, ‘what?’ And I looked at the video, and here he is in the video! I had no idea!

Richard Patrick: Yeah, that was me in the video in the bus.

Oumi Kapila: He was like 20 years old.

Richard Patrick: Yeah, I was 20. And we ruined that RV. We spent $40,000 destroying that RV.

Oumi Kapila: This is the crazy thing. Richard had already told me a story about spending $40,000 destroying an RV, but I had no idea that was the video. Out of all the videos I came across and sent to him, that was the RV! Absolutely crazy!

Richard Patrick: Yeah, but we had a great time making the record. One of the places we recorded at was Studio 11:11 in Malibu, which was nice and secluded… It was an old laundromat before it was converted. It has no windows or anything, and you can go outside and listen to the birds and all, and then go back into the studio and see the riots on CNN. Another guy was shot! Where’s my lyric book. [Referencing the writing of “Nothing In My Hands” (iTunes)]

Oumi Kapila: And what about “Pride” (iTunes)?

Richard Patrick: Well, “Pride” is… it’s when they lit up the White House with the rainbow flag. If you know anything about Harvey Milk, and Harvey’s from here, he was like the first gay activist to try and make a change and make a difference, and he came up with a flag, and it was the rainbow flag. And so that’s the Pride Flag.

Oumi Kapila: That’s why you put ‘Flag’ after it? I didn’t know why you put ‘Flag’ after it. The first time I knew it was called “Pride Flag” was when the record came out.

Richard Patrick: I changed it at the last minute. Should we really say it? Or should we *fucking* say it! Let’s do “Pride Flag”, because that’s what started the gay and lesbian community because they can say this is who we are and come out and are proud of it.

Oumi Kapila: This was the very next day by the way, that this track was written.

Richard Patrick: Yeah, I just saw all over the news and internet and just kept thinking, can you imagine you live in a world where you’re attracted to people who you think are beautiful, and are consenting adults, and you fall in love, and you can’t get married? And you can’t get a fucking wedding cake? Because Jesus wants his religious freedom, and god dang it, I read one fucking line in leviticus, it’s in the old testament… I just hate rednecks and ignorant people, and I think the more we stick up for each other… And in fact, that’s what Industrial music and punk rock is all about. The Clash. They were fucking saying what they had to say. And that’s what Industrial is. That’s what Al Jourgensen did. That’s what Skinny Puppy did. So if we’re going to say it, we’re gonna say it. “Pride Flag” And proudly say it. Everyone should be proud of who they are. You know how many kids kill themselves because they’re gay? And they can’t figure out a way to tell their super christian mom’s or dad’s or whatever, and they can’t come out and they feel trapped? So who’s going to say it? Bieber’s not going to say it. Taylor’s not going to say it. So the torch has to be held.

SFBAC: Guys, you've put out a great album and thanks so much again for your time tonight. Best of luck later tonight with the opener, and for the rest of the tour!

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