Richard Patrick, the man at the forefront of the rock band Filter for the past ten years has enlisted with bassist Robert DeLeo and guitarist Dean DeLeo –the brothers and musical architects behind Stone Temple Pilots. Add veteran drummer Ray Luzier, formerly of the David Lee Roth band and you have Army of Anyone. Together, the sum is even greater than its parts and the proof is in their self-titled debut album.
Army of Anyone is a musical journey that spans the emotional gamut. After years of hitting the top of the charts and selling millions of records all four artists have a greater mission in mind: to bring political and emotional awareness to today’s young society. Tracks such as “Generation” and “Stop, Look and Listen” tap into the importance of social responsibility while reminding us of the grim reality of a country at war. On a more personal level, “It Doesn’t Seem to Matter” recounts Patrick’s lowest low in his life, whereas “A Better Place” is an arresting ballad that rings with redemption and the promise of a new start.
Produced by Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, KISS, Jane’s Addiction) and distributed by EMI Music, Army of Anyone will headline the Sno Core Tour starting January 18th.
Glide had the opportunity to share Richard Patrick’s thoughts on life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
How do you feel when critics classify you as a “supergroup”?
There’s a lot of supergroups out there that I’m not really in love with, so initially I flinch when I hear that. But at the same time, you’ve got to be a successful guy to be in that “club” so that makes it easier to swallow. For example, I think of the ultimate supergroup -Led Zeppelin. If it’s a trend to label groups, it’s been going on for years and years. They called me “new metal” back in the day when I was in Filter and I thought I was industrial or rock. So they’ve always found a way to “label” bands. I kind of just roll with it.
Where did the name Army of Anyone come from?
Army of Anyone happened spontaneously between me, my wife and my drummer, Ray Luzier who was on the phone with me at the same time. We had been trying to figure out the name for eight months. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Once all four guys get to a point where they like something you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the dot. com, dot. net, dot.org, etc. There were a lot of names thrown out there. Bob Ezrin had sent in a list of names to help us out. There was one name that stuck out: “Army of Ants” and I thought the short version, “AoA” was kinda cool. And I think that’s why Bob put it on the list. I used to be in “NIN” and the DeLeos were in “STP”, so he probably thought there was a tie in there with the three initials. We also wanted a name that was inclusive – a name that was “all of us” or “anyone”. So, we’re still on the phone and my wife goes, ‘Hey, how ‘bout Army of Anyone?” and I’m like, “Ray, what do you think about Army of Anyone?” and he thought it was really cool. To me that says it all. We’re all in this world together…everyone on the planet. I know this concept isn’t so popular right now. If you’re in a hard rock band, you’re supposed to be “down with the devil” (laughs) and talk about your misery and pain. But to me, I want to put a different message out there. I want to be a part of a band that has a little bit more solutions as opposed to just complaints.
Can you describe your initial songwriting sessions with the DeLeos…
Initially Dean and Robert were going to help me write for the Filter record. I had written 20 or 30 songs on my own. It was me and a computer and a guy named Ray (not Luzier) who’s the sweetest guy in the world. We’re sitting there working and you definitely get lonely in there. Your ideas start to sound similar to each other and you start to wonder what else is going on. I had met them [DeLeos] on the road and we always talked about doing something together. So we met for dinner and it was really nice for everyone to see each other. I was really healthy and they were like, “Wow, Rich you’ve really gotten it together.’ So at that point, they came into my world. I was going back to my industrial roots from the early 90’s – my Short Bus record where it was all done on the drum machine and put together on the computer. So Dean came in with a stratocaster and Robert had an acoustic and they looked at me like, ‘Where is everybody?’ and I said, ‘This is it, man…everything gets done on this little computer’. Now they’re from this world where you get into a rehearsal hall with dudes, you hammer it out and you’re done. So the two worlds collided that day. But they adjusted quickly and worked with the recording medium that I’m used to. The song “A Better Place” was the first one that we recorded. They gave me a few days and I came up with some lyrics and sang and then they came back and did their part. And there was this gorgeous song within a couple of days.
You’ve mentioned that the chemistry between the three of you simplified the production process…
Yeah, because we all have the same understanding. When you write industrial music you’re really making a pact with technology. But it still goes back to one thing: melody. The DeLeos understand melody – they understand that when you play something on an acoustic guitar and the verses’ sound like verses’ and the choruses’ sound like choruses’, you can do anything you want with the song. You can make it heavy or you can make it light. If I’m hitting you over the head because every song is hard, that’s writing the same song 10 times. Our album is an emotional journey with peaks and valleys. It’s ultimately like listening to a 45-minute song. I want to keep up with what I’m trying to accomplish emotionally in the music and I can do that with this band.
How did Ray Luzier join the Army?
He’s one of these guys that just plays the drums and is very popular in the drum world. He also played with David Lee Roth. I met him at a Deftones concert and he came up to me and said, ‘Hey man, I’d just like to let you know that I’m a great drummer and I love Filter and I love what you’re about as a singer.’ Then the DeLeos met him at the NAMM show. They were playing on the same bill. They [Dean and Robert] were elbowing each other and Ray thought they were making fun of him, but they were actually really impressed. So they called me up and said, ‘We just saw this drummer—this blonde-headed guy with a crazy china symbol up in the middle of his set. His name is Ray Luzier.’ So I said, ‘Wait, a minute, does he have a white kit?’ And they replied, ‘Yeah, how’d you know that?’ I knew that ‘cuz I was looking at his business card from when I met him at the Deftones. We had an audition for him and he played for about 8 hours. He was fantastic. Robert DeLeo was just drenched in sweat by the time they were done. They were having a blast and I was just sitting there hanging out. He’s an amazing drummer and we’re really lucky to have him.
During the “crazy years”, as you’ve referred to them – with Nine Inch Nails and then Filter you were an alcoholic. In the past four years you’ve completely turned your life around. You have a lot to be proud of…
September 28, 2002, was the hardest day of my life but it was also the best day because it was a new beginning. Obviously, when you check yourself into rehab there’s a huge low in your life. You can’t believe you’re actually checking yourself into rehab. But on the other hand, it was the beginning of this gigantic learning experience. I quit smoking because I wanted to help my voice, but the reality is it really changed my voice. I can sing so high now…I went from an alto to a tenor. It’s wonderful because my voice is clearer, my attitude is clearer and my soul is clearer. A lot of things can happen when you decide to be healthy.
Did your music change from this whole experience?
Yes, the music has definitely changed. It’s much more concise. When I listen to Title of Record I’m like, ‘Good lord’ because it was this whole stream of consciousness approach to lyrics and recording. If I didn’t feel it, I wasn’t doing it…and when I was an alcoholic, 12 hours into the day I was no longer “feeling it”. I was like, ‘Give me a beer’ and for about an hour I was feeling great and then I was just drunk. When I was younger and not quite as bad as I could get as an alcoholic, I could kind of function. It actually worked for a little while. But you can hear my fight with alcoholism from Short Bus all the way through to Title of Record. If you look at the lyrics I’m doing now they’re completely different – you can actually read them on a piece of paper and make sense out of them. All of the sudden there’s this whole recovery element to my lyrics. I’m not fighting alcoholism in the sense that I’m still drinking; I’m fighting it on a different level.
Does “It Doesn’t Seem To Matter” describe when you hit rock bottom?
Yeah. Those lyrics, “It doesn’t seem to matter when it’s all aimed at you” mean those rationalizations [for being an alcoholic] no longer matter when their love is directed at you. When you’re faced with your family and friends begging you to quit –almost like an intervention – the excuse, ‘I’m a rock musician and this is who I am’ no longer works. My family said, ‘No, Rich, most rock musicians are not like this… you can’t talk your way out of it anymore. You’re a fuckin’ mess and you need to get help.’
Your vocal ability is strong. You range from a deep growl on songs such as “Father Figure” and “Generation” to a soft melodic tone on “Better Place”…
Having an arsenal of sounds is really important to a singer that wants to have an impact on an emotional level. For me, I’m blessed to have a voice that allows me to show a big emotional range of sound. Having a scream like I do with this really raspy quality to it and then going to a very clear voice is pretty much what I do on every record. Back on Title, “Welcome To The Fold” is this really intense kind of screaming and then on the same record “Take a Picture” comes up really super-clear. On this album, “Father Figure” is where I have this raspy intensity and then with “Stop, Look and Listen” I have this really calm, little voice.
On the album several songs have that big-stadium feel from the 70’s. Would you say there’s an “old school” style to it?
I don’t necessarily agree that we’re old school. As much as we use stratocasters and amplifiers that are vintage. There’s a G-5 sitting in our studio and there’s an amazing amount of electronics going on. We draw from all angles of music. There are no rules. The reason why Robert, Dean and I really like making music together is because we have really similar tastes. I love big choruses. Ones that wrap it all up, nicely and neatly and make you feel like “wow”. Our main thing is to have these soaring, elegant sounds. And when it gets big like that people think “arena” or “stadium” and that’s the kind of stuff my heroes did…like Bono, for instance. To me it’s all about capturing the emotional element of the song. There always has to be this ”rush” at the end of each song. On “Goodbye” there’s this moment where Ray kicks into this huge drum solo. That was a climaxing moment.
You’ve mentioned that in order to set yourselves apart in the rock world, you’ve rebelled against some of the trends. How so?
Our form of rebellion in the entertainment world is to have a point. It would be so easy to bitch and complain in music and just “cash in”. But because we’re who we are as people, we want to make a difference and send a positive message out there. I know that sounds grandiose, but that’s how I feel. I get emails all the time with people saying, ‘I’m finally sober, you’ve helped me, you’ve been an inspiration to me’ …and that is just the best thing I can do. One email that really touched me came from a military man who returned home from Iraq and wanted to kill himself. He said the song “Goodbye” kept him alive because when he heard the word “goodbye” he realized that’s what he would have to say to his family and he didn’t want to leave them yet. There’s the positive spin. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do.
What’s the spin on “Stop, Look and Listen?"
It’s a song that I look at in two different ways. On one hand, it’s about a relationship where we have to stop look and listen sometimes —just stop and think about what we’re doing. But actually the double entendre that I was writing about from my point of view is concerning nuclear proliferation. It’s not about one person killing themselves but all of us killing ourselves. So literally the lyrics, ‘In just a blink we could shrink to something that might not make it back’ – when you have a nuclear war, there’s not much that’s gonna be left more than one-celled organisms. ‘The cold reality’ is in reference to nuclear winter. I intended that song to have more than one meaning, but ultimately it’s saying, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t hurt yourself. Don’t hurt your friends.’
What is the message in this CD that you would like to render to today’s young society?
It’s okay to be entertained and sit back and play some video games and watch TV and have fun – but just remember there are forces on this planet that are ruining it. There are companies that are dumping millions of tons of waste into the ocean. The average household with its SUV’s, two car families and furnaces puts out five tons of toxins into the air. Five tons! There’s a war in Iraq right now and it’s all based on oil…it’s not based on freedom or democracy or terrorism. It’s about U.S. control in the Mideast for oil. Just remember that –we need to be aware of what’s going on. Planet Earth is a very fragile thing.
What is the status of your former band, Filter?
Well, I haven’t said that Filter is dead or over. Filter is the band I created when I split from NIN and I have a great fondness for it. But remember, it has always been my thing. The first record was me and Brian Liesegang. He was my engineer/producer. The second and third albums I worked on with my live band. I was the only guy on the record deal, so it’s always been my band. If I were to go solo again I guess it would always be just Filter. But this [Army of Anyone] is my priority. This is what I want to do. I love these guys and as long as we continue to make great music and be friends then we’ll continue to be a band. This is where it’s at right now. We love making music and we dig what each other’s about.
Will you be acknowledging your past while in concert?
Absolutely. We do “Take a Picture”, “Hey, Nice Shot” and “Big Bang”. We also do several STP songs. But I don’t want to give it all away. I want there to be an element of surprise when you come to our show. But we definitely honor and respect each other’s past. It’s fun singing Scott’s [Weiland] lyrics …he comes from such a cool point of view. I love what he’s done as a singer. There’s much respect for him. I’m a huge STP fan plus I’ve known the De Leos for ten years. We did radio festivals together…about five shows a year.
Does the world know what huge Star Wars collector you are?
I have a pretty huge master replica collection. You can read about over there at Starwars.com. (laughs) I have storm trooper helmets and my original toys from when I was a kid. It’s a collection that spans like 30 years. Now it’s nostalgic, but when I was a kid, man…when you’re a 10-year-old boy and you see that blockade-runner fly over your head [on the big screen] and then this huge Star Destroyer, it’s pretty awesome. As for the remakes, I didn’t like “Phantom Menace” or “Attack of the Clones” as much as the original trilogy. But there’s so many things about Star Wars that I love.
Catch Army of Anyone at the Bowery Ballroom on Feb.1st in NYC
Joanne Schenker lives in New York and is a contributing writer for Glide, Blogcritics.com, SanityCentral.com and other publications. Check out some of her other thoughts at jocoschenker.typepad.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .