If you were to walk up to Filter frontman Richard Patrick and tell him his band's new album, The Amalgamut, sounds schizophrenic and kinda unfocused, you might expect to get clocked in the nose. But he'd more likely smile, thank you and walk away proud as a peacock.
It's not that Patrick has become blithely happy or immune to criticism. He wanted the new record to sound like six bands rolled into one.
"It's about individuality and freedom and being able to do whatever the f--- you want regardless of how different it is from what everyone else is doing," Patrick said. "When we were working on this record, I noticed how amazing it is that people can blend in so well in one culture, and I realized how much I love this country" (see "Filter Inspired By Hopelessness That Drives Backyard Wrestling").
The first four tracks on The Amalgamut epitomize Patrick's personal and eclectic take on free expression. The pounding "You Walk Away" starts with a surging rhythm and a choppy, methodical riff, and segues into a crafty, melodic refrain. The album's first single, "Where Do We Go From Here," capitalizes on the appeal of the band's last major hit, "Take a Picture," by pitting strummy, airy guitars against fuzzy blasts of guitar and then creating balance with a slick, infectious chorus. The stealthy bass line and brooding, spitting guitars of "American Cliche" yield to a rousing anthem that recalls both Mötley Crüe and Nine Inch Nails. And the caustic, industrial-tinged "Columind" layers clattering beats and crashing guitars over distorted vocals reminiscent of Ministry's Al Jourgensen.
"It's all about creating a great big melting pot, and I think that's what America is all about. Especially here in southern California, you can't tell what [ethnic backgrounds] people are. You can't go, 'Oh, that's a black guy, this is a white guy.' Of course, there's black and white guys, but there are so many diverse, incredibly unique people all over this country because of the melting pot idea."
For guitarist Geno Lenardo, creating such diverse music was refreshing because it allowed him to expand his creative boundaries.
"We wanted to develop and do things differently," he said. "The heavier songs are even harder than before, and then we have stuff that's as melodic as 'Take a Picture,' but it has a mixture of both acoustic and hard rock elements in it. It's the best sh--we've ever done."
The spontaneous and impulsive sound of The Amalgamut is largely a reflection of the environment in which it was created. Instead of working in isolated environments, the members of Filter spent much of the past year workshopping the material as a band in their Chicago studio Abyssinian Sons.
"In the past, it's been just one guy on his computer writing and then another guy on his computer writing and then we'd just trade tapes, and if we liked it, we'd put it into the main computer and all start working on it," Lenardo said. "This time we were actually rehearsing the whole time. The whole band came together, which was great because when you're jammin' it live, the ideas have to live or die right there by what comes out of your amp. So that live element is in the songs and you can really hear that."