Decoding The Algorithm: An Interview with Filter's Richard Patrick (9/14/23)

Filter live is Elias Mallin (drums), Richard Patrick (vocals/guitar), Bobby Miller (bass), Jonny Radtke (guitar) (Photo: Derick Smith)
Filter live is Elias Mallin (drums), Richard Patrick (vocals/guitar), Bobby Miller (bass), Jonny Radtke (guitar) (Photo: Derick Smith)  

The Freaks on Parade tour visits the Concord Pavilion on Friday, September 22nd and features the incredible line-up of Filter, Ministry, Alice Cooper, and Rob Zombie. Limited tickets are still available as of this writing that you can find here. We had the chance to catch-up with Filter's Richard Patrick on a rest day to check-in on the tour, his new album The Algorithm, and joining Nine Inch Nails on their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame performance in Cleveland last year. You can find our full interview with Rich below and hope to see you in Concord on Sept. 22nd! How's the Freaks on Parade tour been going?

Richard Patrick: I'm having the fucking time of my life. It is so much fun. In some situations the crowds don't show up for the support act. But we're blessed that they're showing up and in full! I mean before we hit the stage, they're in their seats, they're ready to go. So we're really excited about that. We play for 30 minutes and we rock out and we leave them wanting more, you know? That's the whole idea when you're opening up, you want to come back on your own headlining tour so you can rock out for an hour and a half as opposed to just 30 minutes.

SFBAC: Well, you're going to be hitting the Concord pavilion next Friday. And what I realized was that it's pretty much a year almost to the day from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and Nitzer Ebb show last year in Cleveland, OH.

Richard Patrick: Yeah, that was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life.

Nine Inch Nails Past & Present @ the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Photo: Amber Patrick)

SFBAC: We were lucky enough to be there and cover the show and thought it was one of the best we've ever seen. The only thing missing was a dedicated set by Filter! Can you tell us how the show came together?

Richard Patrick: Yeah, Trent got nominated to the Rock Roll Hall of Fame. He had eight guys go with him. And I was shocked that I wasn't being inducted too, just because I was there in the beginning. I reached out to Trent and he said, 'well, the reality is that you were only in the band for four years, and there's been a lot of people after you that had been in the band for, you know, 10-15 years.' And he said 'I wanted to get you but they [the Rock & Roll HoF] just had a limit on how many people I could have and I'm really sorry.' When he explained it to me, I totally understood. 

Trent then booked a show in Cleveland that was supposed to be played at Nautica. And he invited me and said 'why don't we do some cool thing where you come out on stage and we'll show those fuckers that you should have been inducted?' So we booked the gigs and it was supposed to be for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction type thing. And then COVID came, and that got pushed back. So we cancelled it. And then six months later, he booked another gig at Blossom Music Center. And I heard about it and I said 'dude, let's do the reunion.' And he goes, 'Yeah, let's do it.' 

We got together for a rehearsal. And he basically said, 'you're doing "Eraser," I want you to sing "Eraser," I want you to sing all the background vocals you used to, I want you to do this new part on "Sin," and then we're going to learn "Hey Man, Nice Shot". We're going to do "Hey Man, Nice Shot". And then you're going to sing the second verse to "Head Like a Hole"'. And I'm like, 'fuck, my god, that's amazing. Why? Like, wow!' And so we did that at rehearsal. We've got everything going. And then two weeks later, we went to the reunion and that's what we did. We went out there and it was the most amazing thing. I mean, I was standing on the side of the stage and just waiting for my part to come out and everybody freaked out when I came out. It was awesome. It was an incredibly life affirming moment and I'm forever grateful to Trent because he really made me feel special, and that it was a return. I just had the best time playing guitar and singing and all that stuff. It was amazing.

SFBAC: Speaking as a life-long NIN fan, I think it was so vindicating to see you on stage with the original crew and in your hometown of Cleveland. The performance was incredible and it was such a special moment.

Richard Patrick: Yeah, I was really happy.

SFBAC: So as that performance also saw Ministry as part of the bill, was that a kernal of how this Freaks on Parade tour came together? Was this tour already in the planning phases at that time and was it discussed between the Ministry camp and your team?

Richard Patrick: Basically, Tony Ciulla reached out to Marc Pollack [Filter's band manager] and asked if Filter would be interested in going out on tour with Rob Zombie and Alice Cooper and Ministry. And we said yes immediately. And I think it's because of the resurgence of my career because of the reunion [at Blossom.] I do, and the fact that we were putting out a brand new record [The Algorithm] in August. 

I've known Tony since 1986. In Cleveland, Ohio when he used to work at Peabody's Downunder booking bands for them. And he used to book my band The AKT and he knew Trent and he was hired to run Nothing Records with John Malm. And he managed Marilyn Manson. And so I've known Tony since, a long time ago. But, it's entirely up to Rob you know? He's the main guy and I think Rob remembered me from the Zombie days when we toured with White Zombie, and I think he liked us. So it's been awesome, the Rob Zombie tour has been amazing. The level of artistry that's going on here is really remarkable. Alice Cooper and Ministry, we're all bringing our A-games, it's pretty solid. It's a great show.

SFBAC: Well, it has to be the most anticipated metal/rock show hitting the Bay Area this year! We'll be able to see for ourselves this Friday in Concord! You mentioned the new album The Algorithm that came out at the end of August. It's been in constant rotation over here and a great album, but I have to say, it's not an uplifting album Rich. At least in the way I've been interpreting a lot of the lyrics! You're touching on a lot of the hot button political issues over the past few years.

Richard Patrick: Yeah, well I'm really concerned. And I didn't want to call the record, The World's a Terrible Place, but I do like to talk about issues when I can, in my lyrics, I write what I know, you know what I mean? When I was a kid I didn't really know about love, and I didn't really know about a lot of stuff going on. But I knew about topical stuff. I wrote about R. Budd Dwyer, I wrote about the demonization of drugs and alcohol, I wrote about God and the Catholic Church. So I've always been topical. 

"Up Against the Walls" is about the Trump administration and how crummy it makes me feel, there's just tons of it. It's all over the place and "Summer Child" is about people that support fascism and stuff like that. I'm letting it all hang out. And the concept of the record is that there's this astronaut who returns to Earth from being away from Earth, and he comes back and he finds the Earth has been destroyed and there's only a few survivors. And so all the videos are about like... the girl who survived in the "Obliteration" video, she survived and she's protecting her cat. This record's got a lot of little hidden secrets.

SFBAC: "Obliteration" is a great track. I love how visceral the lyrics are; 'sink my teeth in the pain' -- I love that line. 'The world is numb, just one step from obliteration'. You're not mincing words! You've got some great lyrics in this album!

Richard Patrick: Thank you

SFBAC: With "Say it Again," the lyrics 'I'll say it again. Even though your heads gone missing. I know you're not listening' -- to me, that draws direct parallels with all the US-centric news over the past few years with the Trump admin and just... political. You wrote The Algorithm pretty much through the pandemic and throughout everything that was going on. Can you tell me just how was that process for you?

Richard Patrick: It was wild, because I mean, there were two other songs that probably should have been on the record that weren't there. They were "Thoughts and Prayers" and "Murica". And I was gonna do a whole record called Murica or They Got Us Right Where They Want Us, At Each Other's Throats, but I realized it was just too political. And so I allowed them to just kind of live as singles. And then for The Algorithm, I wanted to kind of keep it a little bit more vague.

But in terms of writing during the pandemic, it was wild because it really didn't affect us. I mean, my kids stayed at home at school. And we just kept to ourselves. And I didn't have a job. I mean, my studio is kind of locked off from the public. So I mean, I literally, it was just like, oh well, there's a pandemic going on, and I'm sticking to myself, and so I just sat there and worked on movies and this record, and it was awesome. I did like two or three movies, as well as worked on Filter tracks.

SFBAC: I felt like this album kind of harkens back to some of your earlier stuff, too. Was that purposeful?

Richard Patrick: Absolutely. I really really, really, really kind of held the bar, I made sure that everything was similar sounding to the original stuff, because there's an originality to what Filter does. And I want to continue that sound palette, but I made sure that it was kind of updated with this kid by the name of Zach Munowitz, who wrote the music with me for "Up Against the Wall", "For the Beaten", and "Say It Again." He was 21 when I asked him to start working on the record with me and it just about blew his mind, but he did a great job. He sent me basically a bunch of music in a Dropbox, and it's a very interesting story how I found him, I literally found him on Instagram.

SFBAC: And tell me more how that happened.

Richard Patrick: I saw a 'get good drums' advertisement on Instagram. And I thought he was really cool. I heard his music and I was like, that's just so insane. How are you doing that? And he's like, is this really Richard Patrick? And I'm like, 'Yeah, it's me.' And I said, 'would you like to work with me?' And he goes, 'absolutely.' And so, within a couple of days, he started sending me music for stuff. And that's why I think the record has not only the old school sound of Filter but a kind of a new sound as well.

SFBAC: That's fantastic.

Richard Patrick: Yeah. And he was like, 'I can't believe this is happening.' It turns out he's a Berkeley graduate. So he's a total genius. Full on Berkeley music genius. Just incredible. Knows everything. Totally educated. So it was a great thing. And I can't wait to work with him again.

SFBAC: So you mentioned your movie & TV composition work from during the pandemic, you just released The Algorithm and are touring to support that release. You've got a lot on your plate. Do you have more movie/TV scores in the works and if so, when do you find time to fit everything in?

Richard Patrick: I'm doing a new movie that Brian Skiba is directing called Cold Deck. It stars Alec Baldwin and Stephen Dorff and I start that in October when I get back.

SFBAC: You're keeping busy!

Richard Patrick: Absolutely. And this time around with this record, I'm really trying to enjoy it. You know what I mean? I'm really trying to have fun with it. I make sure I go out and see Rob Zombie's set every night just because I love the monsters and everything. Obviously the music's great, but those monsters are hilarious. And Alice puts on a great show too -- Alice gets his head chopped off every night.

SFBAC: And Alice Cooper's guitarist, Nita Strauss, is fantastic on guitar. You can't lose with this lineup.

Richard Patrick: That's why it's selling out everywhere. It's like crushing.

SFBAC: So you've only got a few more dates for the Freaks on Parade tour, you'll come back and work on the score for the Cold Deck movie, then you've announced the international tour with stops in Europe and Australia. Any plans to get back for a US headlining tour next year?

Richard Patrick: Yes, I want to do it. Absolutely. We're just trying to figure out the right bill. I love the band Health. I'd love to tour with them, or 3Teeth. I would love to tour with different young bands and have a lot of fun and that kind of thing. I just want to make sure the bill's awesome. You know?

SFBAC: Yeah, totally. Well, Richard, we can't wait for the Concord Pavilion stop next Friday on September 22nd, and we'll keep our fingers crossed for a Bay Area headlining Filter date next year! [At the time of this post, limited tickets for the Concord date can still be found here.]

Richard Patrick: Awesome. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

SFBAC: Thank you, Rich. Enjoy the tour and see you next week.

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