Industrial alt-rockers Filter just dropped their first album in seven years. “The Algorithm” is not a reunion record, nor is there any big drama to cite for the lengthy period since the last release — just life, you know, getting in the way.
The band, led by singer Richard Patrick, is traveling as part of the Freaks on Parade Tour, along with Rob Zombie, Ministry, and Alice Cooper. The buses roll into town on Sunday for a show that night at Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre.
We caught up with Patrick, who discussed various things, including what he's been doing between records. And by the way, he’s pretty funny.
“I spent a lot of time doing movie scores. Filter is easy, and Filter is fun, but in rock these days, you can’t just pump out music and go on tour forever. You have to have a side hustle, and that’s why I do movie scores,” he says, noting a couple of titles like "Chariot," starring John Malkovich, and "The 2nd," which has Ryan Phillipe in the lead role.
Patrick seems jazzed about doing both but excitedly leans into the breathing room that comes with making a Filter record. “The processes are so different. With a movie, you get the movie, watch it with the director, think about key scenes, and then you do the writing. There are a few people involved. But, writing for Filter is just like man, that’s freedom. I can do whatever I want.”
What he wanted to do with “The Algorithm,” it seems, is to serve up some of that persistent, grinding industrial sound that was a part of his early years as the guitarist in Nine Inch Nails from ’89-’93 and, of course, early Filter, which he formed upon leaving NIN.
The band’s current single, “Obliteration,” exemplifies that style but doesn’t wholly define this new release. Sure, it’s a mix of that ‘90s industrial era sound, but it’s a rock record, overall, incorporating styles from hard rock to metal.
“I’m always exploring sounds,” Patrick says. “I’m always buying new guitars, keyboards, or something, trying new pedals and amps. Mainly with “Obliteration,” I got together with (co-writers) Sam Tinnesz, Ian Scott and Mark Jackson, and we wrote it in like 10 minutes. Then we did some overdubs and added some parts. We just wanted to make a great Filter song that was hinged in the now but still reflected where I came from and what we sounded like in the '90s, like that,” he added.
It seems like the whole process of making this new one, for him, was more fun than anything.
“Well,” he laughs, “It’s cool and easy when you have really talented people with you. It was like, ‘Hey, let’s write a chord progression that sounds like Filter,’ and then it happened. You know, you have so many ideas and then start wondering if they’re good or awesome, is anyone going to like it. But, you just have to get rid of your self-doubt and believe in it.”
“'Command Z' is one of my favorites on the record. It’s the one where I say, “That’s why I want to be high as a motherfucker,” Patrick says, laughing. “When I wrote it, my 25-year-old self was laughing my ass off, and my 55-year-old self was like, ‘You can’t say that' and my friend Sam also agreed maybe I shouldn’t. In the end, I was like, 'That’s exactly why I’m gonna say it' — ‘cause it’s wrong on so many levels, but it sums up how I feel on some days — I’d rather be high, you know?”
It’s just part of exploring the running thoughts that swirl through one’s mind on the regular. The act of actually getting high is not one Patrick has any plans for. He’s about to celebrate 21 years of sobriety later this month.
He says sobriety has been life-changing but hasn’t taken the fun out of anything. “I live a very, very, very sober life, and I’m a productive member of society. My kids are great, and they know I have a checkered past, but they love me. My neighbors know I used to be a crazy person, but I’m okay now. In my music, it’s no-holds-barred. I’m still rambunctious, say what I want to, and don’t mince words. That’s the beauty of music. I can still be this ridiculous guitar player and also be a father, husband, best friend, good person, and still make music that’s over the top and fun.”
His penchant for trying to find humor in life is definitely a way to keep on keepin’ on in a world gone mad. “There are so many different layers on this record and lyrics about how the world is just a catastrophe.
It’s all just a complete joke. Humans are a joke. Look at Donald Trump — all his supporters are just idiots. They’re ridiculous,” Patrick says, adding that he’d just like everyone to find the civility that he feels once existed.
Patrick says this current tour has been nothing but a blast, and he’s digging some of the extra stuff, like the VIP meet-and-greets. “It’s awesome to have fans that are excited. In the last few days, I’ve seen a couple of Richard Patrick tattoos. That’s awesome and weird (he laughs), like a guy put me on his back.”
His band is also giving him a whole lot of joy. “[Jonathan Radtke, Bobby Miller and Elias Mallin] are just ridiculously good at what they do, and so I have to match their level of professionality and rise to the occasion and be as awesome as I can be.”
Patrick adds another fun note about the upcoming Phoenix show. “We’re really excited to be playing in Phoenix with our drummer Elias Mallin — he’s from Phoenix and one of the best drummers I’ve ever played with."
Filter plays with Ministry, Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie at the Freaks On Parade Tour at 6 p.m. on September 24 at Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre, 2121 N. 83rd Ave. Tickets start at $22.25.