Filter’s Richard Patrick Reveals Secret D’Arcy Wretzky Relationship Inspired ‘Title of Record’
Time flies, but great albums are timeless. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Filter's Title of Record and a special expanded reissue is ready to drop Aug. 9. We recently had a chance to speak with singer Richard Patrick about the hugely successful album, which came during a period of transition and tumult that helped spark some of his most creative and beloved work.
Patrick opens up about some of the album's key songs, speaks of how a secret relationship with D'Arcy Wretzky inspired a number of tracks and also reflects on being part of the Family Values tour during that album cycle. Check out the chat below.
Let's discuss the challenge of going into this record. At the time, it had been a few years since Short Bus and your partnership with Brian Liesegang had dissolved and you were now taking the lead with a new group of musicians.
Yeah, I mean, it's kind of the way I feel right now. It’s just a lot easier if I just grabbed a guitar and sit there with the dumb machine and write the lyrics, scream out the vocals and do my thing.
It takes longer being by yourself, and I'm the kind of guy, I love collaboration. Especially coming out of Nine Inch Nails, I was really, really trying to make everything work, every relationship. But even to this day, I mean, if I want to do a movie score it's best for me just to do it by myself, completely locked into a soundproof room with my equipment and I just do it.
I love Title of Record and I loved Short Bus, but I always felt this nagging sensation. It's just trying to get an idea out when I can, but I had to wait for something and when people ask you something and they want to wait around and think about it and things like that, I'm like, "Dude, let’s rock this shit, let’s get it done." For instance, "Take a Picture" actually took less time to create than it takes to listen to it.
"Welcome to the Fold," I surrounded myself with Marshall and Mesa stacks, I sat there and played guitar for 15 minutes and I wrote five parts. My engineer came back and I said, "I wrote five parts." "Let's get it into the computer as soon as we can," and then I said "Great." We got him in and then I recorded the bass and then we attempted to [record] drums, Steve Gillis came in a little later that evening, played drums for everything. The bass, I just played bass.
Geno Lenardo went back and try to help me add guitars to it but my big, holy shit moments are really like fact. "Hey Man Nice Shot" was the guitar riffs, you know, that was the main part, like, 'Oh shit, I got that, now what?' And then I just worked on it for a little bit of time, but it was always fucking around with all these other people that slowed me down.
And so as much as I hate to say, even in my current situation, I really just can't rely on anyone. I have to just be hooked up like via fucking, myself interfacing with the computer and that’s the best way for me to record. Do I like outside help? Yes. I love collaboration. But for me, I don't want to worry about what other people are doing. I just want to get in there and selfishly do it because the gratification of getting a great song written feels amazing.
You know I knew "Take a Picture" was a hit the moment it was done. I was like this is it. "Welcome to the Fold," I was like holy shit. This is it. This expresses who I am. I love this. This is fantastic. That’s when the best moments happen is when you know you're blowing your own mind. And anytime that I have been kind of like, "I don’t know about this," it usually means that is — if it is not wowing me and making me excited, then I don't know how anyone else would like it.
I have a really high standard. I like to have more guitar players that are way more skilled than I am. You know, I love that. But at the same time, they always come back to, you know, is this a good thing or is this a bad thing? Style and taste are everything in music. Because at the end of the day, anything can be done now. It’s being able to connect to people's ears to the point where they literally understand what you're going through or what you're trying to convey.
I have a pretty good quality meter on that hopefully. It’s been tough for the last 10 years, I've definitely loved most of the stuff I've done. But I was plugged in on the Title of Record, I was plugged in on Short Bus, but I was plugged in, you know, on this new record. I was plugged in several areas, you know working with the Crystal Method, I really felt connected to it. But you know other stuff sometimes it feels like other people are trying to mess around with it or interfering with it. So I won’t spend too much time on that.
You mentioned "blow your mind" moments and "Welcome to the Fold" on this record — I don't know how you do it, but you have one of the great scream vocals in rock. Can you talk about what you do to get that character and make sure you're taking care of your voice?
I really appreciate that. The raw and aggression of those performances are something that could really blow you out. You could wreck your voice if you don't take care. I started realizing when I was getting a little older, right around 34, when I got healthy back then, the first thing I did was I quit smoking, and I started eating better and I drank a lot of water. But the most important thing was just warming up.
A couple of years ago, I literally did 14 shows in a row and no days off, and that’s a massive accomplishment. I saw it on the itinerary and I'm like there's no way we could not do some of these shows and my manager was like, 'No, you're just gonna have to fuckin' wing it.' So I did everything, okay. Everything that I used to say, "I drink and smoke and that's my warm-up!" No, you've got to actually like being healthy and you have to warm up and you have to take 20 or 30 minutes to really make sure you zero in on the muscles that you need to warm up.
I went to one of the great vocal coach guys. His name is Eric Vetro, and he does a lot of the Broadway people and he taught me how to do it. So I do it every day. I do some form of warm-up every time I sing.
You mentioned "Take a Picture" in there, too, and I wanted to ask about the line, "Dad, what do you think about your son now?" Obviously, you've been through a lot of things. At the time that you were making this record and then there was a period where you struggling with sobriety after as well ...
So you have to imagine; I went from the kid that had bad grades, smoked and came home a little saucy from bars. My dad is this banker, this conservative kind of normal banker, and he’s like, "I don't know what to do with you, Rich. What am I to do with you, you're crazy."
Being kind of drunk and being completely like, "I'm going platinum for like the third time," and it's like, "Well I did it, I did everything that they told me I couldn't do." Yet I still wasn't ... I still knew that my parents were super worried about me because of my drinking. They were proud of me, but they were like, "My God." My dad, he calls me, "Do you even know, Rich, you call us when you're drunk and you scare the shit out of us," and I'm like, "Oh my God, I don’t even remember that."
So I was proud that I had, "made it," I guess financially or whatever it is where there's that level of success where you're like, "Okay the platinum records are here," but I still feel like shit.
But that whole line, we were in there and I just remember thinking, "What am I talking about?" It was all a stream of consciousness as if, what am I talking about in this song? And today, it's still very myopically about my drinking, but they didn't want to say it. At that point, I still believe that my parents don't really know I'm that bad, which is funny because alcoholics are always the last ones to know, you know?
I just remember thinking to myself, "Dad, what do you think about your son now," and being bitter, but at the same time, really hoping that he does know how much I love them and how much this meant to me and how much I missed being his little son. Now that I have kids, my kids are like, 10 years ago they were babies and now they're like, really just people, like full-on, smart, educated little great people. My daughter was teaching me how to boogie board the other day in the ocean, and it's wonderful.
But my dad saw me as this little skinny little thing which is like all of a sudden, this alcoholic and crazy leather pants wearing, mean spirited, bitter young man. Then I just screamed it out into the microphone and I was like, "You remind of that song in Repo Man," and the engineer Rae DiLeo goes, "Dude, it sounds fucking great, just keep doing it." Just don't write anything down and feel what you got to say in there. It was really beautiful, it was a beautiful moment.
Since then, my father has passed away, but every single time I sang it, I would point to my dad when he was there. He comes to the show in North Carolina, and I would point to my dad and I go,"Hey dad, what do you think about your son now?" Because music takes on different meanings as you go along.
And honestly, it means something different for everybody and that's really the most important thing is because I hear people that are like, "Man, that song really meant something to me and I'm really glad that you wrote it," or that it saved [their] life and I'm like, "Wow, believe me, it saved my life."
One of the things in reading the liner notes for this anniversary edition was the mention of your relationship with D'Arcy Wretzky from Smashing Pumpkins during the making of the album. I knew she was a special guest on the album, but can you talk about the emotions of putting this album together over the course of a relationship and split?
Yeah, there’s like, two or three love letters on this record. There’s "Miss Blue," there’s "I’m Not the Only One," there’s "Take a Picture," there’s "Skinny" and there’s "It's Going to Kill me." She was my favorite piece of plastic held to my ear because we were constantly on the phone, but we were never in the same room for more than one time.
But it was a massive secret. D'Arcy had her reasons for keeping it a secret. She was married to Kerry Brown at the time. The Smashing Pumpkins were the biggest band ever. She was playing Soldier Field and she would say, "Get a car and come out to see me at my house, in my little apartment." She spent the weekend and then she flies out on a Learjet, to go play some other massive show with the Pumpkins.
But, it was really amazing because she has such a clear vision and she was just spot on and she was a fantastic person to be around. I was just in awe. And it was just so weird keeping everything a secret — like people would ask, "who's the girl on this, who's the girl on this record?" while doing press on it. I just could never talk about it. But I talked to her recently and she said, "People at the time said that I was owed royalty on the number of lyrics that came out from the relationship." She was kidding.
You have to imagine that we’re both 27, and now that I’m looking back, I think that was pretty starstruck. I was with the hottest girl in the world. I mean, she arguably was one of the most attractive women in the world at that time. And it was all a secret! And it was just this crazy thing, but that whole half of this record is dedicated to her.
I still love her tremendously. She's still my friend. We ended up going our separate ways around '98. And literally, we broke up. I got into a cab, and I took something. And like 10 o'clock in the morning, I said roll. And I sang "I'm Not the Only One" at the moment of crisis and you can hear it that I’m just destroyed.
Then it was like, "Okay, do we go back and start writing lyrics and really performing it" and everyone was like, "No way, dude." Because that was the only way that I can really bring people in was to be in this moment and just be completely exposed. That’s why people love that song, it’s like it’s almost at the end. But you know a lot of it wasn’t making sense, it didn’t rhyme. It was weird but that was pretty much it.
Another one that you mentioned in that group was "Miss Blue." I know it's deeply personal for you and recorded at a very raw time, but how fond are you of that track and listening back to it now?
It's really weird. I do want to try and start up some kind of thing where I play a bunch of songs from Title of Record, and maybe do a 20th anniversary Title of Record tour. I'm considering it right now, but I'm listening to that — I've been performing "Welcome to the Fold" for 20 years and it's the highlight of my day because it was so cathartic to write it. It was so cathartic to sing it. Do you know what I mean? Wow! I dug all that shit.
But "Miss Blue," I have not heard that song. It's not like I sit around and listen to my records. As soon as their done and get the vibe of it I'm like, "My God this is amazing" and I listen really loud on headphones by myself when they're mastering it. I listen to every single detail, especially when they're mixing it. And then at the end, it's like OK done. It's go live, go do your thing, go live so I don't go back and listen to my records, but I was listening to the mastering on this one and was just like, "Holy shit, man." There was an existential gritty X factor. I don't want to say X factor, just it had an IT. There was something else in there that was making the record great.
Title of Record is absolutely still my favorite record. I love Sun Comes out Tonight, I love Crazy Eyes. I love all the stuff that I've done recently, I love The Almalgamut, but The Almalgamut is really hard to listen to because that was when I was really sick. That was when I was really strung out on drugs and everything. But Title was like, "OK I pulled it off! I got it done!" It wasn't dramatic, it was amazing and cathartic and beautiful and that's the way records should be. That was then. That's what happened. It was a moment in time, and I'm super happy it happened.
There was another moment in time during that album cycle. Family Values tour, which was the tour back in the day. You got to be a part of that. Any recollections from that tour that stand out to you?
I'm critical. I'm always just really critical of myself, and I wished I would have warmed up better. I go back and I see footage from it and I'm like, "Holy shit, that was really good." I actually really loved the tour.
It was at a time when Fred Durst and Munky and Jonathan Davis was there every once in a while. It was really wonderful to just hang out with different personalities. Especially Munky in Korn. Fred Durst is the best. Wes Borland, a man that was 21 or something and he was just such an interesting artist. He fully brought his art into everything, every single detail of his life he was expressing himself.
I just remember being really super fucking happy but wished I was a tiny bit more sober for my performances. But, all in all, I think it was really great.
Thanks to Filter's Richard Patrick for the chat. You can look for the 20th anniversary edition of Filter's 'Title of Record' arriving Aug. 9 via Craft Recordings. Pre-orders are being taken here. Stay up to date with their touring at this location.
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