Filter’s Richard Patrick: Why I Quit Nine Inch Nails Before They Exploded
In 1993, Richard Patrick left Nine Inch Nails to form Filter. At the time, he was a touring member of the group and his departure came right before the release of The Downward Spiral, which hit No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and landed NIN on some the world's biggest stages. So why did Patrick leave? He revealed as much on the "Stop! Drop & Talk" podcast.
Patrick's time spent in Nine Inch Nails was strictly as a touring musician and he first joined as the industrial group was set to open for The Jesus and Mary Chain in 1990. Remaining on board for the rest of the Pretty Hate Machine touring cycle, the guitarist began contemplating his exit from the band for a myriad of reasons, including finances and personal aspirations.
On the podcast, the Filter mastermind recalled his early experience with the Trent Reznor-led group, which he said was the only time in his life that he ever had a boss. The band had performed at the very first Lollapalooza festival and linked up with Guns N' Roses on a European tour, which didn't sit well with GN'R fans. "[Those shows were] kind of a weird thing, because no one in Europe knew us at the time, and they actually booed us off the stage, which was crazy. Imagine Nine Inch Nails being booed off the stage," Patrick said (transcription via Blabbermouth).
Life on the road was a far cry from growing up in a major city in America's midwest.
"[Trent Reznor and I] were just two knuckleheads from Cleveland, Ohio — we were not big yet," said Patrick, "But eventually, we did get big and there was a point in time where Trent just kind of looked at me, and I said, 'Wow, you're going down to New Orleans to go live in this beautiful house that you're getting, and I'm gonna go back to my mom and dad's house.' And Trent goes, 'Well, go write a record.' And I was, like, 'Wow!' What do you say to that?"
Further detailing the moment, Patrick continued, "[Reznor] goes, 'You should have seen your face. 'Cause you were kind of pissed at first, and then you were, like, 'No. I should.'' He said that to me in Paris. And I remember thinking to myself I'm gonna literally go back and eat out of my mom and dad's kitchen every night, and this guy is gonna go off and write Broken and whatever else he was gonna go work on. But I sat there and I took his words of advice, which was, 'Go do something.' His advice was, 'Go get off your ass and do something. Don't wait for me to do it. Don't wait for me to write a record without you. Just go off and do it.'"
The erstwhile Nine Inch Nails guitarist noted that he had made the decision to leave the group while on a mushroom trip in the Grand Canyon as Reznor readied work for the album that became The Downward Spiral. Meanwhile, Patrick was sorting out a record deal with Warner Bros. before announcing his exit.
As he weighed his decision, one moment in particular pushed him further toward pursuing a career in music of his own. Patrick relayed, "But the final straw was Trent going, 'Hey, listen, Rich, I know you need some extra cash. Listen. Down at the end of [the street], there's a little pizzeria, and they need drivers. So maybe you can go make some extra cash over there. And I'm, like, 'Wow!'"
The timing, however, was convenient.
"This was when I had [Filter's] 'Hey Man, Nice Shot' was written, and I had five record companies ready to sign me," Patrick looked back, "And I was, like, 'Hey, dude, I hate to tell you this now, but I quit. And I'm so sorry. But I fucking quit. I'm not gonna sell pizzas and I'm not gonna drive for a [pizzeria]."
Although he acknowledges he has made mistakes since leaving Nine Inch Nails and he's entirely grateful for the path he opted to take. "There is nothing like being your own boss. Since that day, I have literally woken up, and the only person I have to answer to is myself or my wife and my kids," he affirmed.
In 1995, Filter's first album, Short Bus, was released, aided by the smash hit "Hey Man Nice Shot." The record was certified Gold by the RIAA later that year and by 1997 it had gone platinum. The band's following album, Title of Record, would go on to accomplish the same feat.
Richard Patrick on "Stop! Drop & Talk" Podcast
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