Filter are hoping to have their new album, The Amalgamut, on store shelves the week of July 4. While the songs on the disc would probably make ideal listening for the Osbourne Fourth of July family barbecue, they're not likely to raise patriotic fervor to a fever pitch, since frontman Richard Patrick vocalizes his discontent with the government, the prison system and the American way of life.
"Where Do We Go From Here?" one of several tracks being considered for the album's first single builds from an acoustic verse to a rousing hook-filled chorus and addresses the nation's fascination with firearms.
"There's a line that goes, 'Stop dreaming about your shiny gun,' and it's about kids being obsessed with guns instead of where they're going," guitarist Geno Lenardo said from the band's Abyssinian Sons studio in Chicago. "I have a four-year-old son, and he's totally into this whole idea of the good guy shooting the bad guy. Where are all these kids going to go after the world has changed so drastically?"
Another cut in single contention is "My Long Walk to Jail," an energetic ditty Lenardo described as "Led Zeppelin doing drum'n'bass." The song tells the bizarre story of a teenager who reached out to Filter for help after being arrested for selling pot. The incident happened one night while the bandmembers were hanging out in their studio and the phone rang. When Patrick picked it up, a scared voice on the other end said he was in Cooke County Jail and was using his one phone call to get advice from his favorite band. Thinking someone was playing a joke, Patrick initially dismissed the call, but when he realized it was legitimate, he recorded the conversation and used it as the basis for the tune.
"When you get a call from a jail, it starts out with a message that goes, 'This is a call from a correctional facility. Beware of any unlawful solicitation.' So if we can get the sample cleared we're gonna start the song with that," Lenardo said. "Basically, the song talks about how this kid fell off the tracks and is afraid of the gangbangers doing really bad things to him in jail. It has this vibe about how prison can breed criminals instead of curing them. People go in there and it's like Criminal University. You're scared as sh-- when you enter, but you have to learn all the rules of the place to survive."
Even more controversial if somewhat dated "Columind" addresses the April 20, 1999 high-school shooting from the shooters' perspective.
"It's basically a balls-out rocker about what Richie thinks they might have been thinking while they were doing that horrific act to their classmates," Lenardo said. "What the hell would possess these kids to pick up a little tablecloth someone's hiding under and go, 'Peek-a-boo!' and shoot the kid in the face. It's definitely one of the darker tracks on the album."
In the weeks ahead, Filter plan to post the punk-inflected album track "So I Quit" on their official Web site to get fans excited about The Amalgamut, which is being produced by Ben Gross. Lenardo said the album will be more "raw," but also more "developed" than 1999's Title of Record, with songs that range from hairy-chested ballads to bone-bruising anthems.
Starting in June, Filter will begin an exhaustive worldwide tour to support The Amalgamut. Or as Lenardo put it, "We're not coming off the road until everybody in China knows our name."
For the tour, the band will add second guitarist Alan Bailey to flesh out its live sound. Bailey was Lenardo's roommate at Berklee College of Music many years ago, and though the two lost touch after graduation, they reunited in 2000.
"He's an amazing guitar player," Lenardo raved. "He is a true muso coming from this total guitar universe. When we told him he was our guy, he just about sh-- his pants, 'cause he's gonna be going from playing to 200 people a night to anywhere between 2,000 and 20,000.
So that's exciting."
Track list for The Amalgamut, according to Lenardo:
- "You Walk Away"
- "The American Cliche"
- "My Long Walk to Jail"
- "Where Do We Go From Here?"
- "So I Quit"
- "The Only Way Is the Wrong Way"
- "The Missing"
- "It Can Never Be the Same"
- "Goddamn Me"
- "The Fourth"