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Members include FrankCavanaugh, bass;SteveGillis, drums; GenoLenardo, guitar;BrianLiesegang, programmer, guitar, keyboard, drums;RichardPatrick, vocals, programmer, songwriter, guitar, bass, drums; MattWalker, drums. Addresses: Record company--Reprise Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019 Phone: (212) 275-4500.

Filter's use of electronic sound is one of the characteristics that sets the band apart from the rest. The group expressed their philosophy about technology and artistry on the back of their 1996 debut, Short Bus: "There is a certain subset of musicians who for reasons unknown adhere to the false premise that `electronic' music or the tools involved imply a lack of creativity or inspired performance. Technology in the hands of creative, intelligent individuals is a tool for art, not a hindrance. Filter, being members of the current millennia, admit freely to the use of such devices."

Filter founder Richard Patrick began experimenting with electronic sound on a small eight-track in his parents' basement in Cleveland, Ohio. While at the University of Chicago, fellow Filter member Brian Liesegang did some of his own electronic sound experimentation in his small studio situated across the hall from Bob Mood, the inventor of the modern synthesizer. The band originally featured Patrick on vocals, guitars, bass, programming, and drums, and Brian Liesegang on programming, guitars, keyboards, and drums. After Liesegang's departure from the band in 1997, Patrick continued to work with bass player Frank Cavanaugh and guitarist Geno Lenardo, both of whom he and Liesegang worked with on tour.

Patrick began his musical career as a guitarist in the original touring band for Nine Inch Nails. Lead singer for Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, introduced Patrick to Liesegang during a shoot for a Nine Inch Nails video. After the lengthy tour ended, Patrick left the band in 1994 and began recording industrial rock with Liesegang, incorporating the influences of bands such as Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. In the summer and fall of 1994, Patrick and Liesegang produced, recorded, and engineered Short Bus in a small brick house in the outskirts of Cleveland. Short Bus was released in 1995 as Filter's debut album. The album, recorded solely by the two band members, proved a challenging endeavor; however, Filter managed to reach the mainstream, earning platinum album status. There was some controversy over the name of the album which refers to the short bus that transports "challenged" students to school. The biography on the Rolling Stone website stated that the title was in no way a sarcastic joke to poke fun at the expense of others; instead, "Filter believes there is much to be learned from the special and the different. Difference is just that, and it is only through the vision, ambition, and drive of those with an outlook and perspective outside the norm that original thought and real change can actually occur."

"Hey Man, Nice Shot," a career launching hit off of Short Bus also led to controversy. Patrick, inspired by the suicide of indicted Pennsylvania treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, wrote the song in 1991. The event of Dwyer's death was captured on live television in several United States markets, including Cleveland where Patrick watched. The Filter record label received an angry call from Dwyer's widow demanding an explanation. To this day, however, some believe the song was about Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain, who took his own life around the same time. The accusations angered Patrick. He told Blair Fischer in Rolling Stone, "when it started to come out that it was about Kurt Cobain, that really freaked me out because the last thing in the world I want is Courtney Love or Krist Novoselic or Dave Grohl to think that I'm pushing my song's success just by saying it's about [him]. That's a horrible thing. That just drove me crazy."

After the release of Short Bus, Filter spent the next two years touring and promoting the album. Patrick and Liesegang were joined by bass player Frank Cavanaugh from Outface, Chem Lab guitarist Geno Lenardo, and drummer Matt Walker for the tour. Apart from Filter, Patrick also toured with the Smashing Pumpkins in 1996. Filter lost drummer Walker to the aforementioned band shortly thereafter. Although Patrick respected the talent Walker brought to the group, he admitted that Walker was spread a little thin. "I want to record with Matt, but I don't know if I want to tour with him," Patrick told RollingStone.com. "I need a real go-getter. [Matt] is a married guy with a baby. Plus, he's working with three bands.... He's been touring non-stop for three years." Filter also contributed to several soundtracks during the time between recording. The soundtracks for the The Crow 2 and Spawn both reached platinum album status. Patrick's cover of the Three Dog Night track, "One," was contributed to the X-Files movie soundtrack, which went gold.

Meanwhile, tension built between Patrick and Liesegang while working on Filter's next album. Liesegang wanted to record some of his own songs for inclusion on the next album. At the time, Patrick felt the songs were too experimental within the context of Filter. Patrick said on the official website, "when it came time to write songs, [Liesegang's] songs weren't very good. All I wanted him to do was to program and co-produce. When it came time to do the record, I told him to assume the position behind the computer. He wasn't about that, and obviously, it wasn't going to work." In late 1997, Liesegang severed his relationship with Patrick and Filter to pursue his own recording career.

Patrick spent the next two years writing songs and preparing for a new album, joined again by Cavanaugh and Lenardo. Filter also enlisted a new drummer, Steve Gillis, who replaced Walker. In 1999, Filter released their second album, Title of Record, which basically reflected Patrick's life for the previous four years. Fischer said the album was filled with "bitter anger" which seemed to permeate the album including the first cut, "Welcome to the Fold." The song tells the story of people trying to steal his money. Patrick says the song was inspired by an audience member in Arizona who sued him after claiming that she was hit in the head by a beer can that Patrick allegedly threw from the stage. "Some girl got hurt," Patrick told Fischer. "Got a combat boot in the face out in the desert playing some gig and, `hey, I got hurt.' It's all about the lawsuit and you take my money.... Welcome to the fold."

"I'm Not the Only One" reflected a devastating ending of a two and a half year relationship with his girlfriend. "The title says it all. I'm not the only one," Patrick told Jon Wiederhorn of Allmusic Zine. "I found out she had slept with someone.... I couldn't hit her, so I smashed the platinum record that was on the wall and broke my hand.... Before they took me to the [hospital] I'm like, `Put me in front of the mic now.' And that was the whole first verse of `I'm Not the Only One'," Patrick confessed to Fischer.

Patrick admits his emotions were running high while making the album. In fact, he also confessed that he spent a lot of time drinking. Patrick said he was under a lot of pressure and "it's not necessarily the best thing to be going through [in your late 20s]," Patrick told Wiederhorn. "So I had to make a choice; Was I gonna drink all the time, or was I gonna get my shit together? And I decided I wanted to get my shit together. So I made some rules, and I stuck by them.... I just don't believe in wasting a lot of time anymore."

After the break with Liesegang, Patrick was leery to allow any of the other band members to contribute to the album; however, Lenardo wanted to contribute more to Filter than just showing up for the recording, rehearsals, and performances. Lenardo respected Patrick as the driving force of Filter which enabled Patrick to let go of some of the control. "Geno wanted to write for the band and I was put off by that," Patrick said on the website. "But his attitude was `You're the boss, and I'm gonna do what I can to realize your musical vision'.... His songwriting embodies the spirit of Short Bus with a completely different vibe over it. He didn't demand to be in videos or interviews. He came through the back door, the proper door, and said, `This is my music, can you work with it?' I'm proud to say he is in the band."

Patrick felt that his individuality and dedication to Filter are what make the fans responsive to his music. "Fans of Filter are fans because I am my own person," Patrick said on the official website. "They don't give a shit about what I'm wearing, or what I think is cool. My life is about Filter. If the kids dig it, great. If they don't dig it because I'm not wearing a gold chain, I don't care.... All I believe in is writing music and articulating my own opinion out of millions of opinions and seeing if anyone else agrees."

Moreover, Patrick believes it is important for musicians to remember their responsibilities as artists and performers. He stated on the official website, "Every word that you hear on this album, I lived through personally. I think that's what is lacking in music today, the lack of the human emotion. Being a musician gives you the responsibility to create musical journeys.... If there's a kid in Ames, Iowa, who hears my record and says, `I can do that,' I'm stoked that I was a catalyst for him. I have a responsibility; and it's not to talk bullshit."

by Julie Sweet

Filter's Career

Patrick founded band while attending the University of Chicago; released debut album, Short Bus, in 1995, which reached platinum status; released Title of Record, 1999; Filter contributed to several movie soundtracks, including The Crow 2, Spawn, City of Angels, The Cable Guy, and the X Files.

Famous Works

Further Reading



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