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From September 99' issue of Guitar
Check out their webpage: http://www.guitarmag.com


Hey Man, Nice Title The Triumphant Reurn of Filter


S

tar Wars fever has struck Lounge A at the mix room in Burbank. During the time-consuming process of putting the finishing rouches on his group's highly anticipated second album, Filter frontman Richar Patrick has been amassing an impressive horde of collectible: light sabers, bantas, an AT-AT Driver,

Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, a custom Red Five X-Wing Fighter and the crown jewel, a gleaming white custom stormtrooper helmet.
.........."I just want to be a fuckin' stormtrooper for a day [in the next Star Wars movie]," Patrick announces with all the determination of a delinquent kid trying to negotiate with Santa, while guitarist Geno Lenardo looks on, bemused. "I would pay for my flight. I'd pay for anything. I would not smoke on the set. I wouldn't get in any trouble. I just want to be in it for a second."
.......... Though the four-year wait for the follow-up to Filter's platinum debut, Short Bus, can't compare with the media circus/marketing barrage that's preceded George Lucas's blockbuster prequel, expectations for the new record, Title Of Record, are running high, and Patrick has had his fill of disturbances. It's been a bumpy road to the Mix Room, and the ups and downs are reflected in the dynamics of the new disc. But it was a high-altitude incident involving alcohol and an uncontrollable urge on the part of Patrick to bare his soul - or something like that - which really put it all in perspective.
.........."So I'm nude on a plane and I've been drinking," he says, retelling the tale behind one of the albums's cornerstone tracks, a lively power ballad called "Take a Picture." "I wrote this song, but you wouldn't know it's about this humiliating thing. I wrote this chorus, 'Could you please take my picture because I won't remember,' because I don't remember a damn thing about what I apparently did. It's like this totally 'Endless Summer' song. Pretty and beautiful, and I was thinking, 'Oh my God! I'm really just a big pussy now aren't I?' But that was the goal of this record - to bridge all these gaps. On Short Bus, 'Stuck in Here' and 'So Cool' were two of my favorite songs, but they weren't really done right. They weren't fleshed out."
..........While the new material is certainly more full-bodied than that of Short Bus, the mood of the music is a product of feelings laid bare. Various factors lead to all the emotional turbulence, but the main source of friction was Patrick's relationship with Brian Liesegang, whom he'd originally brought in to help out with programming during Short Bus. When the time came to start preparing a follow-up, Patrick felt that Liesegang wasn't pulling his weight musically, and began suggesting, then pressuring him, to go his own way. Since the rest of the band members - Lenardo, bassist Frank Cavanaugh, and drummer Matt Walker (sub-sequently replaced by Steve Gillis when Walker became a Smashing Pumpkin) - were basically hired hands enlisted so Filter could tour in support of the album, there wasn't much social glue to hold things together during the ensuing personality clash.
.........."With Brian there was a power struggle going on. [Richard] and Brian were at odds, and I was in the middle of it, bouncing between the two," Lenardo says while Patrick quietly cringes. "I called it Brich."
..........At one point Lenardo, Cavanaugh, and Walker all walked out in disgust, but Patrick couldn't seem to rid himself of the one person he wanted to leave, Liesegang. "I met Geno at his audition, so I never knew Geno," Patrick explains. "The band was put together after the [first] record was done, which is what I learned from Nine Inch Nails (who Patrick played with on the Pretty Hate Machine tour). It's what Trent [Reznor] did: write all the songs, put a band together, and go on the road. And that creates a lot of tension.
.........."I kind of had to hit rock bottom," he continues. "I didn't have a band. I didn't have a studio. I had this platinum record that showed up in the mail, and I had nothing except for my own talents. So at some point, I forced myself to play the guitar. I would force myself to write lyrics. I was playing people's demos. I was still into the band. It's just that I didn't have anything."
..........And so he set out to build Abyssinian Son, the 3,000-square-foot studio in Chicago that would eventually become a home base for the re-formed Filter. But before that could happen, Patrick had to navigate a whole new set of obstacles involving realtors, property leases, and contractors. It took more than three years just to get the facility ready to record, and that was only a fraction of the battle. The real heavy-duty construction word was a people problem: putting the pieces of the band back together.
.........."So [after] two, three years of bullshit, the paint's finally drying, we have the carpet in, I'm starting to move furniture in, the computer's in, and I meet this guy, [engineer] Rae DiLeo, and we begin working on the record," Patrick says. "Well, a month into it, I realized I was a lonely son of a bitch and I didn't want to do the entire record by myself."
..........But while Patrick was grappling with the studio and his growing sense of isolation, life had gone on for his former bandmates. Walker was part of the Pumpkin fold, Cavanaugh was leading a nomadic existence that eventually led to a gig touring with Prong, and Lenardo got married and started a family, a situation that was as much of a mixed blessing as Patrick's lonely studio life.
.........."I made a choice in my life a long time ago that music was gonna basically pay my kid's way through college, and I had to stick to my guns," Lenardo says. "I actually went through a humiliating phase where I waited table again. Not more than a year [earlier] I was playing in front of 40,000 people at OZZfest, and there I was with this young child. I was kind of like, 'Wow. How am I gonna get back on track musically?' That was when I made a demo and I started writing songs - and luckily Rich was receptive. His ears were more open than ever - which was cool because I'm like 'Oh God, this guy's like Hitler with music.' As this album has grown harmonically and texture-wise he's opened up a lot."
..........But Patrick's openness wasn't limited to harmonies and textures. Some startlingly tender sentiments crop up on Title Of Record. Lenardo claims a couple co-writing credits ("Skinny," "It's Gonna Kill Me"), and Patrick unleashes his first guitar solo in "It's Gonna Kill Me." More importantly, his own experiences scraping bottom personally and professionally gave him a new outlook on what the band ought to be.
..........People's feelings were hurt," he says. "Me and him were mad at each other for a long time. I didn't understand the wife-and-baby thing. I didn't understand a lot of aspects of everybody else's lives. I certainly didn't understand my own. With this version of the band it was like, 'Okay, lets be professionals. Let's write the music first and see what happens, and hopefully we can all be buddies.' When you do that, one of two things is gonna happen: You're gonna sink or you're gonna swim."
..........If the tracks that Lenardo and Patrick proudly play are any indication, the new record went swimmingly. Title of Record is a stunning study in contrasts. Gentle swells of acoustic strumming break into surging waves of distorted riffage, almost orchestral in scope. Subtle layers of sampled percussion surface between stretches of roiling rhythms. Patrick jokingly calls Title of Record his "learn to sing record" because he stretches his vocals from his signature primal scream to some disarmingly earnest crooning. Yet the mood swings are never disjointed or jarring - they simply demonstrate the range and power of the unified force behind the music.
.........."'Welcome to the Fold' is a big, bombastic assualt," Patrick says as Lenardo turns up the volume on the lounge stereo and the pulsing, strumming into to "Miss Blue" floods out of the speaker. "This is our silly love song."
..........Warm and gently psychedelic, the song gradually picks up momentum. Awash with hints of the Beatles and Jane's Addiction, gleaming leads glisten as the sentiments build and the piece eventually settles into a wistful outro anchored to Patrick's hushed repititions of "god-bye."
.........."Pretty good, huh?" he says, pleased. "The song is about growing old with someone and at the end of the relationship, it's them arguing. 'No, you're gonna stay alive. I can't live without you.' It's like, 'God, this is incredibly sad.' It was worth it, though."
..........Lenardo shoots him a dubious glance and grabs the stereo remote. "Okay. This is 'It's Gonna Kill Me.'"
..........Patrick is amused. "Geno wants to put the testicles back on the band real quick."
..........On cue, the music starts bristlin again - titanic, brooding rhythms buttressed by layers of percussion, both live and programmed. The otherworldly sounds of nifty guitar gadgets made much of Title of Record sonically possible, but the album is really rooted in the songs, and those, both Patrick and Lenardo agree, are the bittersweet results of a lot of crucial growing pains.
.........."I was living pretty decadently at the time, and there were some chemicals floatin' through me," Patrick admits. "When I sang 'Miss Blue' I was totally sober, but still the emotion was there. They tell actors, 'Don't ever talk about what makes you cry because you'll get over it.' The only time I ever really told anyone how I felt was when I was writing it down and recording it. 'Welcome to the Fold' is based on being a crazed lunatic. That's what being a mid-20's decadent bachelor is all about. Not giving a flying fuck. I got money. I got a platinum record. I got a band. I've got everything I want and I don't give a flying fuck what I do. On the first record I didn't have these life experiences. Girls? I didn't give a shit as long as there was one waiting for me in bed. The sex was empty. The first record was about political things or philosophical, intellectual arguments. It was detached, but this record is different. I feel like on many levels I'm speaking for the rest of the guys in the band because when [Geno] heard 'Miss Blue,' he called me up and said, 'You nailed that one, 'cause this is the way I felt about my wife.'"
.........."It's defintely much more internal issues terrain," Lenardo adds. "Which goes back to being able to have the vulnerablility to do that and also the courage to do that, because there are gonna be guys who want to do this [he raises his hands over his head in a double-devil salute] and they're gonna hear 'Miss Blue' and do this [he swivels his hands around and flips the bird]. But we'll stand there and we'll do it with everything we've got. And it'll be cool and maybe by the end of it," he pauses with a mischievous gleam in his eye, "they'll be hugging each other. 'I love you, man.' 'No, I love you man.'"


............................... - Guitar Staff Writer Sandy Masuo