Over the last few decades, Richard Patrick has certainly made a name for himself. In the early ’90s, he was Trent Reznor’s guitarist/punching bag in Nine Inch Nails. Not long afterward, he resigned from NIN and started Filter, garnering both attention and hit singles. In 2020, though, Patrick may be known as the guy who pissed off Fox News, red states and (possibly) a huge chunk of his fanbase. Because today, Alternative Press is premiering the video for the new Filter single, “Murica.”
In the video, Patrick is putting up his perception of a right-wing voter. Clutching his gun like an iron teddy bear and surrounded by empty prescription bottles, he ramps up and amps up that side’s rhetoric in no uncertain terms. It’s not a comforting or funny video to watch. But that was never the point. Sure, Patrick has had chart success with diverse-sounding singles, from Gen X post-grunge (“Hey Man, Nice Shot”) to songs your aunt likes (“Take A Picture”). These days, he describes Filter as his soapbox and the “personal mouthpiece for how he feels.”
Patrick swears to Alternative Press that he isn’t radicalized. He’s just wondering how long Americans are going to continue to vote against their own interests. He’s also putting together a new Filter record with various tracks recorded with a cast of players such as original band member Brian Liesegang and guitarists Jonny Radtke and Alex Crescioni. He admits that he’s going to alienate some fans and pick up some with the, um, unfiltered stance of “Murica.” Simply put, Patrick didn’t want to tell his tween daughter he did nothing while America was in the biggest fight for its soul.
Who are you aiming at in the near-last sequence of the video?
RICHARD PATRICK: The character in the video is a Trump-supporting, gun-loving, unmedicated, super-freak ’merican unhinged and at his wits’ end. And he’s trying to take control of something that is not out of control. And he’s afraid. He’s the super-afraid white male. The Trump-supporting nutbag that I hope I can reach.
These guys that are so far right that they think CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC [and] BBC are all out to get our President Trump. Like they’re all in a conspiracy to be super-left-wing, crazy liars. I’m trying to make an attempt to show them what they look like. These are the guys that can only listen to Fox News and Breitbart and that type of news outlet. They believe every fucking thing that the Rush Limbaugh’s, the Alex Jones’ [say] and listen to only the right wing, “the truth, man.”
They “do their own research” and believe 9/11 was an inside job, President Obama wasn’t a real citizen and the lunar landings were faked. Hillary Clinton personally went out and killed people in Benghazi and it’s her fault, she’s [a] criminal and “lock her up.” It’s those people that I’m portraying in the video.
Who is the character aiming at at the end of the video? He’s aiming at anyone from the left and at anyone from the normal middle. The regular folks who make up the country that are pretty much normal and just want to raise their kids and stay COVID-19-free and try and make a living.
Do you think “Murica” is going to piss people off, or is it going to be a rallying point?
I just wanted to show this surreal, crazy side of what America looks like. I literally am doing it just so the record shows that someone was willing to fuckin’ say something about the right. Something about how crazy they are. A lot of my fans are from the right, and they’re like, “Man, I like ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot.’ Why are you fucking talking about politics?” Because it has to be done. Someone has to say it. I’m not hearing a lot of hip-hop guys sayin’ it. Country music represents the right. I’m not hearing anyone from the left say anything. Let the public record show that I tried something during this time period that at least maybe 100,000 fans are going to see on YouTube. At least I know that I said something, and I tried, and that’s it.
I don’t make music to try and get rich. I have built up my scoring career, and I can make money other ways other than just selling records. For me, Filter are my mouthpiece.
I just wanted to make a video that was like what Ministry in 1988 might’ve done right now. From my earliest upbringings, something like U2’s “New Year’s Day.” They were a political band. They wrote “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” and they were talking about things that were important to them in Ireland. I just feel like there’s no other choice for me right now than to examine the craziness of America. This place known as Murica.
For the last four years, we’ve been soaking up all the stuff going on in this administration. When did you finally say, “Fuck this, I’m going to write this song”? What was the tipping point?
The tipping point was just watching people being interviewed at Trump rallies [in] 2016. [imitates redneck dullard.] “Trump that bitch.” “Do you like Muslims? They don’t respect their women.” But you’re wearing a shirt that says “Hillary Clinton: Trump that bitch.” That attitude of “Fuck wearin’ a mask, man.”
They were people being interviewed to find out what they’re voting for. And they reveal that they’re just voting for a personality they think is a real-life billionaire that will solve all of their issues. Because their issues are immigrants and [the memory of] a Black president. They don’t want to say it, but that’s they’re giving off.
Would you consider yourself radicalized?
Hell, no. I consider myself 100% right in the middle.
Near the last sequence of the video where you’re in the middle and there’s two sides warring, there’s that crucial line: “They got us where they want us/At each other’s throats.”
The ultimate sin of the entire thing is that it’s poor people versus poor people. If Americans actually learned the real truth of what was going on with their finances, with everything that’s going on in the world, rich people have a stranglehold on them. It’s outlets like Fox News and Breitbart and the Mercer family. It’s rich people that are keeping us at each other’s throats so that we don’t fucking see what they’re doing with their finances.
And it’s so obvious. Trump is just playing along in the game. He’s not rich. He’s not seriously wealthy. Like [2.5] billion wealthy. You know, he’s sleazy. He’s a bottom dweller, just like the rest of us. It’s the people that are super-insanely wealthy that are really fucking controlling us. For the last four years, the right has owned the government. They’ve loosened up their taxes. They can pollute more. And they’ve got the right mad at the left. And it keeps us all occupied.
If Joe Biden wins, what do you think will happen with the state of America?
It depends on how far Joe Biden goes. Within that first two or three years, there could be a shit-ton of stuff done. There could be a massive stimulus. There could be a complete refocusing of subsidies and everything going to green energy.
Let’s downshift. Tell us about the next Filter album. Who, when, how?
Right now, my thing is releasing singles one at a time. Because they’re topical, and they get out faster. The new Filter record… There’s like two or three songs I did with Brian [Liesegang, original co-founding member]. Then there’s a bunch of songs I’m doing with my friend Alex Crescioni, who’s more of a metal guitar player. And of course, Jonny Radtke. These last couple of years, especially with Crazy Eyes, I just feel better being angry and industrial. My favorite singer right now is scarlxrd. He’s the most amazing fuckin’ young talent. Him and REZZ: That’s the music I listen to every day. I’m more into stuff that’s intense and in your face.
There’s a hip-hop song I wrote with this guy named Tweeze. He raps in it, and he’s a fucking genius. I wrote the music and the hook by myself, and then I asked Tweeze to come in and rap. And it’s fucking solid. It’s called “Everybody Is Talking And No One’s Listening.” It doesn’t sound like Filter at all. It’s a complete left turn.
Nice. Wrapping it up: What happens if Trump gets in four more years?
More angry fucking music from me, for sure. It ain’t gonna be too much pretty shit. It’s gonna be fucking mean.
Check out Filter’s “Murica” below. And make sure you’re registered to vote.