An interview with Filter's Richard Patrick

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In the wake of the success of Nine Inch Nails, Richard Patrick, a member of Nine Inch Nails at the time, formed Filter, another industrial-minded act that played hard rock songs with a bit more melody. Filter’s first single, “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” became a massive success and the group continued to reap success throughout the ‘90s. Though the line-up has changed countless times, Filter remains intact and has just released The Sun Comes Out Tonight, its first studio album in three years. Singer-guitarist Patrick recently phoned in from a tour stop in Frankfurt, Germany to talk about the album and his upbringing in Bay Village. The band plays Peabody’s tomorrow night at 9 p.m. as part of Cleveland Music Festival and the Cleveland Scene Music Awards

Talk about growing up in Bay Village and what that experience was like.
I just remember wanting to play the guitar since I was 4 or 5. I remember seeing an electric guitar and thinking it was the greatest thing in the world. I was a huge rock ’n’ roll fan. I was 8 or 9 when my mom and dad got me an electric guitar. They got it from K-Mart. I remember caddying and saving up and getting a G&L S500 at that guitar shop in North Olmsted. I remember playing “Momma’s Got a Squeezebox” by the Who. Eventually, I met Trent Reznor through a variety of bands he was in, one of which was the Exotic Birds. He had the same idea I had, which was “get the fuck out of Cleveland.” Not literally but just that we have to make it and bust out. It was tough. I don’t want to sit here and bash Cleveland but it takes a lot. We eventually got a record deal and it’s the worst record deal ever.

The NIN deal with TVT?
Yeah. It’s a case study on what not to do. One of my friends is a lawyer and he brings it up all the time in his class when he teaches entertainment law.

But how did Filter come together?
I got a deal with Warner Bros. I was interested in working with the drummer from the Spud Monsters and his guitar player attacked me for trying to steal him. I got Frank Cavanagh and I split and went to Chicago and lived there for 8 years before moving to Los Angeles, where I live now.

How did you and Filter bandmate Brian Liesegang first meet?
With Nine Inch Nails. We were taking this big cross-country trip and we stopped at the Grand Canyon and I remember looking out and tripping on mushrooms. I thought if I don’t take advantage of “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” I would be locked in NIN forever. It was a huge gamble but it wasn’t. At the time, the only person that was worried about it was Trent. They wanted the publishing on one of the songs that I wrote. I realized I couldn’t do that. That was when I already had Warner Bros. and Atlantic and all these people. I had decided to go with Warner Bros. because I loved the way they treated Jane’s Addiction. They technically never had a hit until “Been Caught Stealing.” You could tell the label didn’t demand they write hits. I came back with that record contract and sat in a little house in Rocky River and we sat and we made a bunch of songs. We went to Detroit to mix it and by the time we were done mixing, it was already number five and it was the number one requested song on WMMS for several weeks during that nightly show.

And you and Trent are on good terms?
Recently, we have made up. There wasn’t much to make up. It was like, “Hey dude, what are you doing?” Having lived parallel lives, we’re the leaders of our bands and we had drinking problems and now I have kids and he has kids. We should know each other because we’re going through the same stuff. Drinking the way I used to and the way he used to is just insane. I remember we saw some important shows at Peabody’s. I remember seeing Skinny Puppy and Jane’s Addiction down at the old club that’s gone. I love Cleveland. I miss Cleveland.

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