Filter is a summer band. All of their albums have been released in the summer (or right before it), and Filter singer Richard Patrick is ready for it. The band’s latest album, The Sun Comes Out Tonight, was just released, and the single “What Do You Say” sounds like the Nineties all over again.
The former Nine Inch Nails guitarist started his band 20 years ago and had a great run with albums including Short Bus and Title of Record. Now, with summer only two weeks away, Patrick is out with Filter on the Summerland Tour, something of a Nineties nostalgia trip, with Everclear, Live and Sponge. The Massachusetts-born, Cleveland-bred rocker took a break from playing to speak to Rolling Stone about summer jobs, Nineties music and outdoor grilling.
Summer is right around the corner. What do you think is the right length for a man’s pair of shorts?
Below the knees! Men’s legs are ugly! I don’t want to see your fucking legs. Daisy Dukes are acceptable for girls, of course, but there’s limits. If Rihanna or Jessica Simpson wants to wear ’em and they’re looking hot as hell, they should, but I’m sorry, if you’re rolling a 50-inch waist and trying to squeeze into a pair of shorts like that . . . If you’ve got it, flaunt it. But you really have to know the definition of “got it.”
Summer is high season for barbecues and outdoor grilling. Charcoal or propane?
We do a lot of grilling, but I prefer propane. It’s cleaner, and it’s fast. I’m great with chicken, but not so much with steaks.
Are you good about cleaning the grill?
Um . . . it gets cleaned for me. I hate to say it, but there are people that clean it for me. I’m terrible! [Laughs]
Do you use mosquito repellent?
No one wants to get eaten alive, but I’ve got worse things to worry about up where I live. There’s rattlesnakes and mountain lions near our home. We had a 25-foot diamondback that ate someone’s Abyssinian, and the thing got stuck underneath our garage because it had the cat inside it. Biggest snake I’ve ever seen, the rattle and everything. It’s fucking Wild Kingdom where we live, and you need more than Off!
What’s your preference – ocean, lake or swimming pool?
I grew up on Lake Erie. If you grew up in Cleveland and you swim in Lake Erie, you can swim anywhere.
So the Summerland Tour is underway. How do a bunch of dudes from the Nineties party on tour? Zima?
There are two people that are “normal” in the band, and I like to watch them get tipsy. It’s a far cry from the days in the Nineties. I was just so jacked up on beer and drugs then. Now the party is being onstage and feeling the energy from the crowd. But when I used to party, I wouldn’t be caught dead with a Zima bottle in my hand.
Did you ever get in a fight with the dudes from Stabbing Westward for sounding exactly like you?
That’s a real thing! Stuart Zachman was in my presence when I wrote the riff for “Hey Man, Nice Shot.” And he stole it. Trent [Reznor] let me do the demos and I got signed on it, but we had to have our lawyers call up his lawyers . . . It’s all fine now, and Chris (Hall, the singer) is a great guy.
Oasis or Blur?
Oasis. I like Blur, but they were a little too cute. You could see that Liam and Noel Gallagher had a lot of demons. I’ve never seen someone so angry, they hated everything. It was fantastic.
“Hey Man, Nice Shot” came out in the summer of ’95, but it is ubiquitous at hockey games, which most people would consider a winter sport. When you wrote that song, did you ever think it would become an anthem?
You know what? The moment the Detroit Red Wings heard that song they put it in their advertisements and started playing it at their home games because they loved it so much. I’m so proud of it, and I’m glad that hockey fans love it.
What is your favorite summer memory?
The summer after we recorded our first album. I was sitting on the beach, on Lake Erie, and the water was so calm and still, it was just like glass. I took a real chance leaving Nine Inch Nails and starting my own thing, and the record was out and doing well. And me and my friend Scotty K. were just smoking a cigarette near Lorain Lighthouse, and I remember thinking, “I did it.” It was incredible.
What’s the best or worst summer job you’ve had?
I was a caddy, when I was 14 until I was 17. My slice and my hook were so bad, I had no patience for the game. I think most courses are aesthetically pleasing to look at, but I’d just rather have a park so everybody can use the land.
What was the best tip you ever got as a caddy?
Oh my God – DeLorean. John DeLorean’s nephew owned a bunch of car dealerships in Cleveland, and he used to play where I worked. Everybody wanted him – this guy was so cool. He’d have his flask, his cigarette and his driver, and then he’d send me up ahead. This guy would take a swig – seven o’clock in the morning – have a cigarette dangling from his mouth, and then hit that ball at least 175 yards right down the middle of the fairway. A total badass. He’d drop fifties on me and I’d take the rest of the day off.
What’s your favorite song about summer or that reminds you of summer?
I have a few. The live version of “Bad” off U2‘s Wide Awake in America, “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince and “Stigmata” by Ministry really make me think of summer. And Pantera – “Mouth for War” and “A New Level” off Vulgar Display of Power. I just remember endless summer parties back in the Nineties listening to those songs. Incredible.
Why is summer important to you, and what are your plans?
Touring! For a lot of us, especially people in the Northeast, you only get three or four months of summer and then it’s a long, dark winter. So when summer comes around it’s like a big party, and that’s what the Summerland Tour is all about.