After several months holed up in his Chicago studio, Richard Patrick had to get his Jack Kerouac on. So the Filter frontman packed up his new BMW early last month and headed out "On the Road" to look for inspiration for the band's Americana-themed third album.
"I recently bought a new car and I wanted to put some miles on it, and I looked out from my microphone and just said, 'Let's get the f--- out of here,' " Patrick said Wednesday.
Over about 20 days, the singer/guitarist and his road-trip partner, Filter engineer Rae Dileo, swung through the Southwest en route to Los Angeles, spending time in such towns as Tombstone, Arizona, and Monument Valley, Utah. They visited Billy the Kid's gravesite near Fort Sumner, New Mexico, and took a helicopter ride through the canyons.
The trip reinforced Patrick's belief that Americans should stop inhaling trash culture and focus on living their lives and that's the theme he plans on carrying through on Filter's as-yet-untitled follow-up to 1999's Title of Record, which the band hopes to release in August.
"There's so much more to America than just a ... Subway sandwich being eaten by Sally Jessy Raphael, being sh-- out by pop drivel," he said. "They're taking the American experience and turning it into the biggest heaping pile of sh-- that you can possibly imagine.
"I feel like I'm wrapped up in the American cliché, and it's my job to break out of that."
The band which also includes guitarist Geno Lenardo, bassist Frank Cavanaugh and drummer Steven Gillis has demoed eight songs for the new album. They have not yet picked a producer.
Though the bandmembers collaborated on all of the eight finished songs, the singer said he plans to write the album's final batch of tunes alone and play all the instruments himself.
"I've really been astounded by [the bandmembers'] creativity, and I think it's wonderful that we're working together, but this last writing spurt is going to be purely me because I truly think that's what keeps the straight-up unmolested Filter sound alive," Patrick said.
The first incarnation of Filter centered around Patrick and multi-instrumentalist Brian Liesegang, who stayed for only one album, 1995’s Short Bus.
Besides offering a critique of American culture, the new album features two songs that deal with tensions within the new group, Patrick said. The rocker "You Walk Away" is about "the first time the band tried to leave me," while the ballad "Goddamned Me" is "kind of a backhanded apology, like, 'You're stuck with me What are you gonna do?' "
Also planned for the album is the hard, anthemic rock tune "My Long Walk to Jail," which was inspired by a random call Patrick received in the studio from an inmate serving time at Chicago's Cook County Jail. The song begins with an operator recording, announcing that the call is coming from a prison.
"This guy gets on the phone, and says, 'I don't know who I'm talking to, I just want to talk to anyone, I'm losing my mind in prison, I've been here for two weeks and I've got to talk to someone,' " he said. "I sat there and talked to this guy for the allotted 10 minutes."
The conversation got Patrick thinking about his own brief brush with imprisonment a few years back. He spent 12 hours in an Arizona jail for hitting a fan with a beer bottle at a concert; the singer claims the bottle slipped from his hands by accident when he was attempting to cool the crowd off.
"[The song] is almost like I'm saying goodbye to my mother and my family and my friends but optimistically [vowing to] get through this just like I get through anything else," he said.
The album's artwork will include pictures Patrick took on his trip; a few shots will be posted at officialfilter.com.