Filter’s seventh studio effort Crazy Eyes was released for mass consumption today via Wind-up Records. The record has received largely positive reviews by the press with most critics often highlighting that the new material harkens back to the more aggressive sound of Filter’s industrial beginnings.
Frontman and brainchild of Filter, Richard Patrick, sat down recently with AntiHero Magazine to discuss amongst other things the production of the new record, fan input into Crazy Eyes’, why the new material is, for lack of a better term, crazier than some the band’s more recent recordings, and even if he’d ever consider collaborating with Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails again somewhere down the line.
Heading into the early production of Crazy Eyes Patrick decided to take a different approach to recording. Instead of having an outside producer help shape the record’s direction Patrick chose to take the reins himself.
“Every single producer I’ve ever worked with the last 10 years has been like your voice is so fucking good and you sound so pretty when you sing on tracks like “Take a Picture.”
“The funny thing is they don’t get it. “Take a Picture” is one of the most punk rock things I ever did. It’s like the practical joke that got away from me,” Patrick explained while letting out a big a laugh. “Take a Picture” came out alongside Korn and Limp Bizkit, and all that shit was just really a massive punk rock ‘fuck you’ statement on the state of the music business at that time,” Patrick further explained.
Patrick talked a bit about the band’s more recent records and why he chose to produce the new album himself. “I did ‘Surprise’ (off of 2013’s The Sun Comes Out Tonight). It’s a song about how I feel about my wife, my kids, and how those things are important to me. It’s still daring and bold to show tenderness and love but when you’re recording something like that with an outside producer there’s always going to be that little variance where the producer will say something like, yeah that was great but you’re going to sing that again right.”
Continuing to expand on the topic, Patrick further went on to say, “When you’re the producer you’re able to keep everything fresh. At the end of the day there is only one person that truly understands Filter and that’s me.”
Patrick thus partially embarked on the recording process for Crazy Eyes by freeing himself of traditional music industry shackles, however, the direction the new album would ultimately take on eventually ended up being heavily influenced by Filter’s fan base directly.
Patrick chose to employ the direct-to-fan music platform PledgeMusic to help create Crazy Eyes. Although PledgeMusic is similar to other crowd funding websites such as Kickstarter, it’s also unique in terms of it’s musically oriented focus and format.
PledgeMusic sees musicians directly reaching out to their fan base to help pre-sell, market and even distribute recordings. Throughout the recording process fans known as “Pledgers” are also granted the opportunity to interact with and provide feedback directly to the artists they are choosing to support.
Patrick commented, “The fans were going to buy something like $30,000 in pre-orders and they all thanked me for the last few records but they all wanted crazy Rich. So when I did Crazy Eyes I was like I’m just going to do what I feel and let it figure itself out.”
“Every record I’ve ever done I stand behind and I’m very proud of but on this record I was like hey guess what Rich, the fans literally put their money where their mouths are. For the audience to have that type of appreciation all of sudden it was this breathe of fresh air, so when the fans said we want Crazy Rich, you do it.”
On the direction or theme of Crazy Eyes Patrick explained, “Filter’s music has always been about the question and the fact there is no filter. It comes right out of my mouth and right or wrong it’s real. Crazy Eyes is about how fucked up things are right now. What does a mass shooter think about? Why are people rioting? People riot when they feel like they’re voiceless.”
Diving into some of the songs off of Crazy Eyes and the direction the record took on as production progressed Patrick went on to say, “The best singing I’ve ever done on a song in my life is ‘Welcome to the Suck.’ It was recorded in one or two takes and I’m just going for it. The song itself took about 15 minutes to record and that’s the kind of vibe the rest of the record has. We didn’t pain and sit there and struggle with it or go well now we have to record 40 different guitar parts.”
Continuing on this same topic Patrick explained, “Under the Tongue” ended up breaking down because I couldn’t play the bass. I was recording it with an 8-track and I’m sitting there trying to step on the pedal and I kept missing my queue so I just stopped. With all this strangeness to the record I was just being creative in an unusual way. The more I played into that more results I got.”
Although Crazy Eyes has a harder edge to it there’s still quite a bit of diversity on the record. Songs such as “Take me to Heaven,” “Head of Fire Part 2,” and “Under the Tongue” seem to speak to that sentiment. Crazy Eyes thus ends up feeling like more of a complete record that fans can enjoy from beginning to end while also finding something new to explore on each additional listen.
As my time with Patrick began to come to a close I decided to deviate from the Crazy Eyes subject matter and dive into his industrial music legacy a bit.
Patrick only contributed guitar parts to a single song off of Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 classic Pretty Hate Machine and was technically only a touring member of the band for just a few years. However, to this day many fans still associate Patrick with Trent Reznor’s industrial juggernaut thus I was curious about his thoughts regarding the time he spent with NIN.
“I transcended the trappings of being poor, angry and being young at that time and that’s just who I was when I was Piggy in Nine Inch Nails. I was kind of this angry white kid and I didn’t even know why I was angry,” explained Patrick. A lot of great stuff came out during that period like my understanding the weirder darker sides of life and not really having an answer for it but questioning it and putting it into music.”
When specifically asked about the possibility of ever combining musical forces with Reznor in the future Patrick replied while laughing, “I’ve always been out of town when he’s (Reznor) invited me to come out and play with him but the real question probably is when is Trent going to jump up on stage and do a Filter song with me?”