Climbing out from underneath Trent Reznor must be quite an experience. I have to admit, I’ve wondered what it would be like before. In a markedly different way, Filter’s Richard Patrick actually managed to do just that way back in 1993, when he left Reznor’s iconic act, Nine Inch Nails to pursue being a frontman in his own right. And he’s been garnering quite the following ever since.
After touring with NIN for Pretty Hate Machine, Patrick parted ways with Reznor while Trent was recording The Downward Spiral. While Patrick had been a stellar live guitarist, I’m sure being second to Reznor isn’t an easy thing to do. As a musician and frontperson myself, I’ve always wondered how badly it must ache to have your own leadership and vision come second to someone else’s project that you are a member of.
Patrick was smart. I’m sure his membership in NIN set him up pretty good to get his own project going, and I’m sure he knew that going in. And I’m sure Trent is not exactly easy to work with, if you know what I mean. ( Hell, even Courtney Love couldn’t stand him after a while and had Hole defect from the NIN tour back in ‘95, which says a LOT!) So when founding Filter member Brian Liesegang got in touch with Patrick, it wasn’t long before Filter was born.
Liesegang had been roommates with Reznor shortly after graduating college, and eventually moved in with Reznor at the infamous Sharon Tate house while recording the milestone album The Downward Spiral with NIN. Leaving that group somewhere around ’93, he joined forces with Patrick to record Filter’s 1st album, Short Bus in “a small brick house somewhere in Chicago”. Short Bus was released a few years later in ’95, selling over a million copies.
I clearly can remember hearing the single from that debut the then ubiquitous “Hey Man, Nice Shot”, all over the radio that year, and I can also remember digging on it pretty hard. Although many a misguided misanthrope confidently declared the song was about the one and only Kurt Cobain, Patrick immediately refuted those speculations, letting critics know that it was actually the subject of the public suicide of an indicted government official.
Anywho, the importance of that single was that it had done it’s job of presenting Filter, and implicity Patrick, as an entity all its own. Hey Man, Nice Shot announced that the band had a unique identity and sound, executed in Patrick and Liesegang’s partnered vision. ( Leisegang amicably left the band in ’97 to work on his own project, Ashtar Command, and remains friends with Patrick to date.) Short Bus identified the band as a hard-edged, precise, aggressive yet accessible version of alternative rock with an impressively wide range of songs in their armory.
The band continued to expand their fanbase and already solid portfolio with their next big single, “Take A Picture”, from 1999’s Title of Record. The song, of which the chorus asks, “Do you want to make my picture?/ Cause I won’t remember” is reportedly about when the confident, perhaps cocksure, Patrick began undressing on an airplane following an inebriated dispute miles up in the air.
To date, the band has released about a half dozen albums, with the latest, The Trouble With Angels, released last year. Not just a one-trick pony and true to his own artistic muse, Patrick continues to expand on the concept of what exactly constitutes the band’s sound.
“The first three songs are for people who are super-pissed and want Short Bus, and then everything after that, it’s like what we did with Title and Amalgamut…There’s one song that’s maybe as soft as ‘Take a Picture.’ [But] I truly believe to this day my audience should be as eclectic as I am. If they can listen to Radiohead, then Pantera, they should be able to listen to that within the same band.”
Fans are in for a treat when Filter brings its epic live performance to The Stone Pony this Saturday, June 11th with area favorites Bind and the nationally known hard rock act Avatar. I’m personally ready to get ground into dust by wicked sharp guitar lines, pounding drum beats, and the machine-gun-carved-from-marble beauty aesthetic Patrick and Co. have been honing for over a decade now.
And at only $20 a ticket, the fellas have made sure to keep the show accessible for all. Loosen up that neck and get ready to bang your head. And you might want to take a picture—cause I won’t remember.