|For some, music is exorcism. Richard Patrick battles his demons in the heavy, aggressive, and eclectic electric musical blend of Filter, the mesmerizing, multifaceted band that has been his artistic voice for 15 years. Whether unleashing belligerent blasts of metallic sound or spaced-out excursions into ambient space, Filter's compelling music reflects the open and unsettled mind of its creator. It is a road map to his soul.
Offering many spontaneously jammed moments, "Short Bus" (1995) was ripe with aural and emotional claustrophobia, combining industrial propulsion, metallic riffs, incensed vocals, and the occasional acoustic respite. The angst-ridden hit single "Hey Man Nice Shot" was inspired by the televised suicide of Pennsylvania state treasurer Budd Dwyer in 1987, while other songs like "Stuck In Here" and "So Cool" reflected a dreary, post-adolescent worldview. Just as Short Bus was being released, Patrick relocated to Chicago, started building Abyssinian Sons Studio, and recruited guitarist Geno Lenardo, bassist Frank Cavanagh, and drummer Matt Walker to tour nationally and appear in the video for "Dose". (Liesegang was also an early touring member.) Their profile was rising, and the group offered "Jurassitol" to The Crow: City Of Angels film soundtrack (1996).
Between contributing to two X-Files-related compilations, Filter participated in the Spawn movie soundtrack (1997), the first major album teaming up popular heavy rock groups and electronica acts. Not everything went so smoothly. While following up his platinum-selling debut with the superior "Title Of Record" (1999), Patrick was consumed by his addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, but the music opened up sonically, and he literally started finding his voice. Band members Lenardo, Cavanagh, and new drummer Steven Gillis joined him in the studio, while engineer/sound designer Rae DiLeo and producer Ben Grosse (who had mixed "Short Bus") came on board for what Patrick dubbed the "kitchen sink record", which embraced a broader sonic palette. Looped hand percussion and ambient sounds emerged. Sitar, mandolin, and trumpet surreptitiously seeped in. The album featured cellist Eric Remschneider and Smashing Pumpkins bassist D'arcy Wretzky.
With the platinum-selling Title Of Record, more concerts (including the Family Values tour) ensued. There was pressure to maintain a steady pace, especially as "Take A Picture" achieved notoriety in terms of chart position and personal revelation. The simultaneously more metallic and mainstream follow-up, "The Amalgamut" (2002), reflected the chaos in Patrick's life. Producer Grosse and engineer DiLeo reenlisted, and Lenardo and Gillis made some contributions, but Patrick struggled to stay focused. "The Amalgamut" was a heavier, more intense offering than its predecessors, reflecting Patrick's view of a world mired in chaos. Filter recorded their fourth album, "Anthems For The Damned", in his home studio and Pulse Studios with producer Josh Abraham. Guitarist John 5 co-wrote two of the songs and played guitar, and Borland, Freese, and DiLeo contributed as well. The result was the most melodic and mature, and in some spots mellow, Filter work to date.
As anti-authoritarian as ever, Filter roared back onto the live scene after years of being absent, playing 80 shows in four months, including the Operation MySpace gig before 10,000 soldiers in the Kuwaiti desert. It was the first high-definition Internet transmission and reached one million viewers. With its new touring band - which included Mitch Marlow, John Spiker, and Mika Fineo - Filter made a strong comeback. A compilation, "Remixes For The Damned", arrived last November.