From May 99' issue of Alternative Press
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FILTER Gettin' Jiggled With It

.......... Richard Patrick had a whole lotta livin' to do before he could finish the second Filter album. Robert Cherry visits the singer in the studio and finds the muse - and the madness - behind the music.

.........."Which one of you white boys took my 808? I want to feel my balls jiggle! I can't feel my balls jiggle!" says Richard Patrick, laughing and waggling his fingers beneath his crotch.

..........The place is the Mix Room in Los Angeles. The white boys are producer Ben Grosse, engineer Rae DiLeo, and Patrick's Filter bandmates, Geno Lenardo and Frank Cavanaugh. The song is "Welcome To The Fold." And the 808? That's a vintage drum machine whose sound figured prominently on early rap albums. Somewhere on a hard drive filled with hundreds of overdubs lies a kick-drum file that will provide the song's psychedelic breakdown with elusive 'nad-quaking low end the Filter mainman requires.

..........But if you're searching for a reason why its taken the Chicago-based band a few years to follow up their platinum-selling 1995 debut, Short Bus, obsessive attention to detail is just one factor among many. Today, as the studio team works to complete rough mixes of the 10 tracks that will comprise the flatly titled Filter, Patrick's excited to be playing his songs for a fresh set of ears. He's also deeply immersed in the material and preoccupied with incidents that shaped the music

..........Repairing to a space adjoining the control room where his recently acquired Stormtrooper helmet stares balefully from a shelf, the singer recounts the inspiration for the songs. Recurring themes include overindulgence, heartbreak, the naked truth, and just plain nakedness.

.........."One time I got drunk, did a bunch of drugs, and I ended up on a plane," he begins, firing up one of many Winston Lights. "I blacked out, took off all my clothes, and I was running around the plane. I was in First Class, and apparently I was like, 'Hey, you motherfuckers! Let's get naked!' I was gonna get arrested, but someone said, 'Look, he's the singer for a band, and this will be horrible. Please, just understand - this isn't him. He's coming down from something, and we don't know what." He laughs and then relates how hanging 10 at 10,000 feet sparked the idea for a pure pop song that evokes endless childhood summers. "I wrote: 'Could you please take my picture? Because I won't remember.' And it's all about that [incident], but you wouldn't believe it because it sounds like the most upbeat song. That's the most rock-star thing that I've ever reportedly done, and I can't even remember one second of it."

..........Though Patrick's behaving himself during the album's final sessions - working out, even - Filter wasn't exactly borne of moderation. The singer counts the plane episode as a personal high, or low, in rock lunacy, but he also alludes to collective Filter moments that involved fist fights, property destruction, psychedelic camping expeditions and, yep, "naked night" at the band's Chicago studio. Somewhere along the way, however, Patrick lost more than his clothes.

..........After spending over two years on the road in support of Short Bus, Patrick first lost drummer Matt Walker to the Smashing Pumpkins, and then saw the rest of his band divided by ego clashes. Programmer Brian Liesegang left the group permanently in 1997, but Cavanaugh and Lenardo eventually returned to the fold once the smoke had cleared and it had become obvious that Patrick was getting on with the work at hand. During the hiatus, the singer overcame a "mid-20's crisis" and rediscovered a confidence he hadn't felt since he played guitar in Nine Inch Nails.

..........He also fell in love. The two-year relationship ended badly, but it brought a new dimension to Patrick's writing. "There are definetly songs about falling in love on this record and being completely fucked over," he admits.

..........Back in the control room, Patrick finds a DAT of working mixes and cranks the songs through the studio's enormoconed speakers. The coutless moments that went into making Filter are all present and concentrated in the songs' arrangements. "Welcome To The Fold," with the 808 accounted for and a-jiggling, rips from the speakers and raises adrenaline levels in the room. The ferocious anthem showcases the singer's trademark "Filter scream" and provides a glimpse into his philosophy on boozing. "You're celebrating nothing," he sings in the chorus, "and it feels A-OK."

..........During the playback of "Take A Picture," Patrick smiles to himself when he hears the line, "Hey, Dad, what do you think about your son now?"

.........."Does your dad know what the son's about?" I ask.

.........."No," he says, laughing. "He asked me, 'Hey, Rich, I couldn't help but hear that line.... You know I'm proud of you, right?'"

..........Finally, acoustic guitars and electric sitar introduce a startling ballad with stacked vocal harmonies, table percussion and a "Dear Prudence" vibe. It's called "Miss Blue."

.........."This one's about - the woman," he says without looking up.

..........The song rolls on, begging for answers in a one-sided conversation: "When do you think I'll be okay?" "Is this the last time I'll see you?" "Is this the last time we'll make love?"

..........When the song ends, Patrick plays a couple of loud, fast and snotty numbers just to pove that Filter haven't gone soft. It's clear, however, what's gotten under his skin. "Three years ago, if you were to ask me to write a song about the perils of emotionally involving yourself with someone.... I put my hand through a wall because this woman slept with someone else. I had to sit there in a cast for eight weeks, going, 'What the fuck is this all about?'"

..........Each song on Filter similarly reflects an intense experience for Patrick, and perhaps that's why the album's taken years in the making: It had to be lived first.

.........."It's so important for people to put their real identity in music," he concludes. "If I feel like a dork because I'm saying, 'Man, I fell in love and this bitch really screwed me over,' then so be it. The pain that I've gone through over the past couple years on many levels - if that's what I want to talk about in a song, it's gotta be that honest. It can't be faked.

.................................................. - AP Staff Writer Robert Cherry