Richard Patrick reminisces about the band’s sophomore album & its muse, Smashing Pumpkins’ D’arcy Wretzky.
With great suffering comes great beauty, and the same is true for great music. For Richard Patrick and Filter, the journey to the band's platinum album Title of Record was a soap opera of a dangerous liaison and substance abuse.
Looking back on the project two decades later, the Filter co-founder and frontman says, “Title of Record means so much to me. It was a really amazing part of my life. I listen to that record, and I know that was definitely one of the high-water marks of my career, certainly the one that was the most visible to the world.”
The breakout industrial rock act is celebrating the 20th anniversary of it second studio album with a multifaceted reissue. Due Aug. 9 on Craft Recordings, Title of Record has been remastered and will be available on CD and digital, as well as on vinyl for the first time as a double LP. The vinyl and CD will feature new liner notes by Billboard contributor Bryan Reesman. All formats feature four bonus tracks, including remixes of the singles “The Best Things (Humble Brothers Remix)” and “Take a Picture (H&H Remix).” The digital album also offers five additional rarities, such as a live version of “Take a Picture” and “The Best Things (Dub Pistols Club Mix).”
Patrick cut his teeth as a touring guitarist for Nine Inch Nails when Trent Reznor was just starting out. He toured with Reznor from 1989-1993, supporting the Pretty Hate Machine album and the Broken EP. (He’s is credited as an influencer on the EP for pushing Reznor to, as he puts it, “make it meaner.”) He also appeared in NIN videos for such songs as “Wish,” “Down in It” and “Head Like a Hole,” and performed with the band on the inaugural Lollapalooza tour.
Patrick left NIN in ’93 to form Filter with NIN engineer Brian Liesegang. Their 1995 debut, Short Bus, went platinum, establishing the group as a heavy electronic rock outfit that moved Patrick out of Reznor’s shadow with the hit “Hey Man, Nice Shot.” “That song was on the Demon Knight soundtrack, and some DJ somewhere played it and it just took off. The record company called me and said referring to audience call-outs to radio stations], ‘It’s crazy phones, Rich! It’s crazy phones!’ ”
Filter toured for a solid two years, and afterward, Patrick decided he wanted to build a studio. As time dragged on, Liesegang quit over creative differences. Patrick moved forward with guitarist Geno Lenardo, bassist Frank Cavanagh and drummer Steven Gillis, and began writing Title of Record. At the time, Patrick was having an affair with Smashing Pumpkins bassist D’arcy Wretzky, which further complicated things. He also was heavily indulging in alcohol and various narcotics.
As Patrick recalls, “I can honestly say, and I truly fuckin’ mean this: They probably don’t make records like that anymore. And the reason I say that is because I can’t even believe I survived the making of that record. I was not a happy camper to begin with, and I was experimenting with all kinds of craziness — this was before drugs started ‘not really working’ for me.”
In spite of this, Filter recorded a scorching rock album adorned with lush electronic arrangements tying alternative rock to the mainstream. Songs like “Captain Bligh,” “It’s Gonna Kill Me” and the blistering “I Will Lead You” stand out and hold their own among the album’s hits, like “Welcome to the Fold,” “Take a Picture” and “The Best Things.”
Billboard has an exclusive stream of the H&H remix to “Take a Picture.” Listen below:
“I was twenty-six, twenty-seven,” he recalls. “I had secretly started dating D’arcy, and that was taxing on my soul because I knew I was not doing the right thing — she was married to Catherine bandmember] Kerry Brown — but I had no scruples. It wasn’t going to change a damn thing, I was in love with her. That was a massive part of that record: When I’m talking about a girl on Title of Record], it’s fuckin’ her.
“‘Take a Picture’ is a perfect example,” he continues. “I had gone out and gotten drunk and made a fool of myself and later thought, ‘Someone should take a picture of this because I just don’t remember,’ because I had started doing blackout shit … That’s what I’m trying to say when I say they don’t make records like this anymore. The only guy who makes records like this is maybe Lil Pump.”
The incident in question took place on an airplane, when a self-medicated Patrick decided to fully disrobe while in his seat. When he awoke, he was covered with a blanket and didn’t understand why the flight attendants were avoiding him. “The incident on the plane,” he says, laughing, “it was like that scene in The Wolf of Wall Street, when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character] takes the quaalude and wakes up strapped to the chair. That was me.”
And so he wrote “Take a Picture.” “When I turned in that song, Reprise Records president] Howie Klein said, ‘This isn’t “Hey Man, Nice Shot.” You don’t think you’re going to alienate your audience?’ It was never about that. I was challenging our fans to come along with me on this journey. I wanted the world to know what drugs felt like; the lyrics were all about what they were doing to me.” But the uptempo ballad had the opposite effect. It entered multiple Billboard charts, peaking at No. 3 on Alternative Songs and No. 4 on Mainstream Rock Songs, as well as at No. 12 on the Billboard 100. It has sold 581,000 downloads, according to Nielsen Music.
“ ‘Welcome to the Fold,’ ‘Captain Bligh,’ ‘Miss Blue’ and ‘I’m Not the Only One,’ were literally written when D’arcy broke up with me. I went in, the music was already there, I was wondering what I was going write about,” recalls Patrick. “It was right after lunch. I took a bunch of stuff and sat there in front of the mic and just bled. Just bled out through my mouth and my soul, we put it all together, and I was done. But it’s all good memories, man. I love that fuckin’ record, and whenever we play that, it just feels great.”
The rerelease also features bonus tracks “Jurassitol” and “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do,” which remain staples of Filter’s concerts. While both were written for the soundtracks to The Crow: City of Angels and Spawn, respectively, they were recorded while Filter put Title of Record together. “It was the first time we just unleashed and used a ton of programming stuff with multiple drum machines and crazy guitars, which was a real big accomplishment for Brian and his big shining moment, and I really loved it,” says Patrick. With “Trip,” “the whole gimmick of the record was rock guys work with electronic guys, and I heard the Crystal Method were fans and I liked them, and they asked me to put some lyrics over what they’d written. Then we put some guitars over it and added that ‘rockness’ to that EDM thing, changed the arrangement and boom! Another beautiful song for us.”
Patrick is considering commemorating the rerelease and the 20th anniversary with a tour, one that he would like to take to Australia and New Zealand as well as the States. A planned reunion between Patrick and Liesegang was put on ice after PledgeMusic became insolvent, causing a campaign they were running on the platform to go belly up. Patrick is currently working on a new album, his first since 2016’s Crazy Eyes, for which he already has a title — They Got Us Right Where They Want Us, at Each Other’s Throats — and hopes to incorporate some of the songs he has worked on with Liesegang.
“At a certain point, you have to put out a record,” he says. “I want to turn up the amps and make some noise!”