Filter Frontman Richard Patrick Talks Headlining Gig at Sunset Strip Music Festival and New Album 'The Trouble with Angels,' Rejects Mellowing with Age

Filter's Richard Patrick
Filter's Richard Patrick

File this under one of those "only in L.A." moments: You're at a concert with your arms crossed cooly, head nodding up and down, perhaps even stomping your foot once the chorus to your favorite song kicks in. Then suddenly, the Terminator T-1000 (yeah, the liquid silver guy that kicked Arnold Schwarzenegger's ass) appears next to you, knocking people over and shouting "Come on motherfuckers!" as he starts a mosh pit and you're dragged into the fray.

Another one of Sarah Connor's bad dreams? No, just another killer show on the Sunset Strip. Filter frontman Richard Patrick laughs as he recalls the story of his actor brother, Robert Patrick, raising hell and riling up the crowd just so during Filter's last gig at the Roxy in 2008.

Two years later and touring with a new album, The Trouble with Angels, Richard Patrick and Filter are back headlining the Roxy tonight, August 26, as part of the third annual Sunset Strip Music Festival. L.A. Weekly caught up with Patrick prior to the gig to chat about the festival, "mellowing with age," and about one night, back when Patrick was still in Nine Inch Nails, that he and Trent Reznor quizzically avoided paying $1,500 for a table at the Rainbow Bar & Grill.

L.A. Weekly: What have your experiences been like on the Sunset Strip?

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Richard Patrick: I really love playing the Roxy. It's a good place. I've never been to the Sunset Strip Music Festival before but I think it's fantastic. I have kids so I'm always in bed by 7 PM. It's funny -- when I was in Nine Inch Nails, Trent [Reznor] and I went to the Rainbow and felt totally alienated. This was right before Nirvana broke... the dark years. The Sunset Strip pretty much dominated every rock station and any music and it was all kind of this cock, hair, screaming... the only legitimate band that really had the goods was Guns N' Roses. So Trent and I found ourselves at the Rainbow and there were people [sneering at us], like, "What band are you from?" We're like, "Nine Inch Nails." And they're like, "Really? Well what kind of music do you play? You play metal? You play hair metal?" And we were just, "Ummm... it's kind of industrial." They're like, "Industrial? What the fuck are you talkin' about? What the fuck are you saying, industrial?" We said, "Well, it's kind of like Skinny Puppy and Ministry." They go, "Ministry? Skinny Puppy? What the fuck are you talkin' about?" [Laughs] And then they're like," How much did you pay for your seats?" And we were like, "Come again?" And they said, "How much did you pay to sit here? We paid almost $1,500 to sit here." We were like, "Wow."

At the Rainbow?

Richard Patrick: At the Rainbow. I remember thinking to myself, [the Sunset Strip] has gotten so bloated. But the new sounds were coming. After Lollapalooza in 1991 [with Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails], all of a sudden it was an alternative world. And then the Seattle scene broke it wide open. Then obviously, yeah, it wasn't as cool to play the Sunset Strip. But I think bringing this massive festival to it is an amazing thing because there were some incredible times. I mean, The Doors, for God's sake. I've played a lot on the Sunset Strip, actually. I think it's awesome. I love what they've done with it. It's so historical. The Sunset Strip has always been a rock world. I don't think anyone is going to turn their back on the Sunset Strip.

Filter Frontman Richard Patrick Talks Headlining Gig at Sunset Strip Music Festival and New Album 'The Trouble with Angels,' Rejects Mellowing with Age

What do you think the Strip's enduring allure is for musicians?

Richard Patrick: It's the history. The Whisky... Just to know that Jim Morrison was running around those places, trippin' on mushrooms or doing something crazy... It's this historic amount of incredible rock-and-roll. The allure is you get to grace the stage where a lot of amazing artists have either made it or broken it. They've either made or broke their career right there on those stages. Every night you've got to bring your shit, the A-quality stuff. The last time Filter played the Roxy was really wonderful. That's why we're coming back to the Roxy; the staff and the people that run the place are just amazing. At the last show, my brother Robert -- the actor who was in Terminator 2 and Walk the Line and all that -- started the mosh pit. He was like, "Come on motherfuckers!" [laughs].

Nobody wants to mosh with the T-1000.

Richard Patrick: No, they were like, the Terminator is starting a mosh pit so we better be badass because he's going to kick ass. [To the audience] I'm like, "There's no way that I'm gonna come home to Los Angeles and not have a mosh pit. There's no fuckin' way you guys are gonna do this to me." Then all of a sudden the Terminator goes, "Yeah you pussies!" and starts knocking people over. It was so funny. It was a couple of years ago. Now we're coming back with this brand new record, The Trouble with Angels. People are really digging it. I'm so excited. Yay! Mission accomplished. I'm proud of it. It's our fifth studio album in 15 years; we've had plenty of time but it's the first time I've really decided to go back to a particular sound. I frontloaded it with a bunch of heavy stuff that sounds like it could have been on our first record [Short Bus, 1995] with "Hey Man. Nice Shot." The second record got a lot of attention too, as well as the third. I felt like I'd expanded on the sound of the band so much with the second and third record that if people want me to [sound like] the first three records, it's actually a huge amount of creative license.

Filter Frontman Richard Patrick Talks Headlining Gig at Sunset Strip Music Festival and New Album 'The Trouble with Angels,' Rejects Mellowing with Age

Richard Patrick: Anthems for the Damned was such a big leap of faith; Our audience was like, "It's really beautiful and touching but we liked it when you were throwing shit at people on stage and you were crazy." I'm like, "I can do that again." It's funny because I actually read somewhere that I was "mellowing with age." I thought to myself, "What a sack of shit. What a bunch of crap. What, you don't think I can turn up an amplifier and play a mean guitar riff?" I'm not just a one trick pony. I believe in a world where "Hey Man, Nice Shot" and "Take a Picture" can come from the same band. I think that bands should be eclectic. What was I gonna do, write "Hey Man, Nice Shot" 10 times? I didn't want to. I didn't want to be the one guy that does the one thing. That's why there are songs that are joyful, there are songs about friendship. They actually have a word for it. They call it the roller coaster record. And that's what my records are. I know that certain people in my genre don't want me to change, but it's funny because the "Take a Picture" people and the "Hey Man, Nice Shot" people have somehow found a way to coexist. It's actually really cool.

The Sunset Strip Music Festival launches tonight, August 26, with a benefit in Slash's honor at the House of Blues and Filter's headlining gig at the Roxy, culminating Saturday, August 28, and featuring over 50 bands including grand finale headliners the Smashing Pumpkins. More details on the Sunset Strip Music Festival's full lineup and set times here.

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