Filter were popular during the mid-‘90s wave of industrial rock championed by Nine Inch Nails
’ Trent Reznor. The comparisons to NIN are apt since Filter’s founders were originally part of Reznor’s backing band before forming their own group. On the strength of the singles “Hey Man, Nice Shot” and “Take a Picture,” Filter were a favorite among alternative-rock audiences before taking a lengthy hiatus for much of the 2000s. The group returned triumphantly with 2008’s Anthems for the Damned
Most would associate Filter with the band’s lead singer, Richard Patrick
, but when the group began in the early ‘90s, they were actually a partnership between Patrick and Brian Liesegang. Both men were involved with Nine Inch Nails, but they decided to strike out on their own to record material that had been written by Patrick.
Finding Success on the 'Short Bus':
Filter’s 1995 debut, Short Bus
, represented a more melodic version of the snarling industrial rock Nine Inch Nails had perfected a year earlier with The Downward Spiral
. Patrick’s songs weren’t as devastatingly misanthropic as Reznor’s, but on tracks like “Dose,” Filter demonstrated they could merge hard rock and industrial skillfully. Short Bus
went platinum thanks to the single “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” although the album did not impress some naysayers, who asserted that Filter were riding the coattails of Nine Inch Nails.
Filter’s second album, 1999’s Title of Record, helped to silence some of those detractors. Liesegang had left the group prior to Title of Record’s creation, and the resulting album felt more personal and assured. As exhibited on the pop-leaning single “Take a Picture,” Patrick was writing in an even more introspective and confessional tone than on Short Bus. Audiences embraced Title of Record’s lyrical candor and pronounced hooks, and the album went on to platinum sales.
Casual Filter fans might have assumed that the band ceased operations after Title of Record, but Filter returned in 2002 with The Amalgamut. Despite boasting the engaging single “Where Do We Go From Here,” the album failed to gain much traction in a changing musical landscape where industrial rock was no longer as popular. The other major obstacle to the album’s commercial chances was Patrick’s decision to enter rehab shortly after The Amalgamut’s release, negating the possibility of the band touring to support the record.
Richard Patrick put aside Filter for the next several years, focusing on other projects like the supergroup
Army of Anyone, which included members of Stone Temple Pilots
. When he decided to reactivate Filter, he came up with arguably the band’s greatest album.
'Anthems for the Damned':
Anthems for the Damned, which came out in 2008, addressed social and political ills. A combination of personal examination and current-events commentary, Anthems was not a strong seller – only one single, “Soldiers of Misfortune,” managed to enter the Mainstream Rock charts – but its anger over the ongoing Iraq War and the destruction of the planet makes it a memorable snapshot of rock’s growing disenchantment with the Bush administration. In addition, Patrick came up with his strongest batch of hard rock songs, balancing unsettling ballads with guitar workouts.
'The Trouble With Angels':
Title of Record
Anthems for the Damned
Remixes for the Damned
(remix album) (2008)
The Very Best Things (1995-2008)
(greatest hits) (2009)
The Trouble With Angels
Richard Patrick, on writing about political themes on Anthems for the Damned.
"It's all based on experience - you write what you know. I know what it's like to be me, and I know what it's like to be an observer of what's happening in the world. If a president makes a tragic mistake to the tune of 4,000 people being killed - and hundreds of thousands of people from another country being killed - all for the so-called sanctity of the country's interest, which is oil, then you're gonna write about it." (About.com, July 25, 2008)
Richard Patrick, on feeling fortunate.
"I'm blessed. I have a beautiful wife and a baby and a safe place to live ... People pay money to see me sing and play the guitar. When we leave the stage, there's a moment where I take the guitar off and I just listen to the applause. Some nights, it's more applause than others, but think of all the people in the world who don't get to have that experience." (About.com, July 25, 2008)
- Filter have contributed songs to the soundtracks of The Crow: City of Angels, Spawn and The X-Files.
- Richard Patrick's brother is the actor Robert Patrick.