Filter is back with their heaviest and darkest album to date Crazy Eyes! Vandala greatly appreciates the founder and frontman of It’s a quick one, but fans of Filter will appreciate the details Richard brought forth inside his answers to our questions! Industrial fans enjoy!
Interview by Chad Thomas Carsten
From May 2016 Vandala Magazine
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What one word best defines Crazy Eyes as a whole?
Richard: To be brutally honest, I wish I had two words. [Short Pause] Raw! It’s very raw! It’s very exposed and intense.
Let’s discuss the true meaning behind the album title Crazy Eyes and how it relates to your personal life?
Richard: We’ve had a stretch of mass shootings in America. My wife and I noticed, starting with like the VP guy, he’s f*cking crazed! He’s looking at the camera and he’s got a gun and he’s crazed, ya know. And the guy who shot Gabrielle Giffords, he’s got that look! Then another pops up and I’m like “My god, there is another one! We’ve got another crazy eyes over here!” My wife and I were like “Yea, Crazy Eyes, there you go, there’s another one!” It became this incredibly sad trend and there is something hysterical in the world today, ya know. I love Taylor Swift; my daughter loves Taylor Swift and all those people are amazing. People like Justin Beiber, they’re gorgeous and they love to sing about sugary sweet stuff, but the problem with that is who’s going to keep it real? That’s what music is about; it’s about telling the other side of the story. And there is this general feeling of just insanity out there in the world from my perspective. I mean, it’s always been there. It was a little bit more hidden back in the day. But it just feels crazy! It feels like it’s becoming unhinged. We’ve had three riots in three major cities in the last couple years. The government is trying to kill itself. But no one wants that, except for the people on the far right. We’ve got crazy eyed gunman’s showing up at kid’s schools. It’s crazy! It’s f*cking insane! All of that stuff is just amazing to sing about for me, because you have to really look at stuff like that.
Crazy Eyes takes Filter back towards its darker heavier industrial roots! What’s the main factor behind the reason for going down the darker/heavier path?
Richard: It was just kinda like it’s been far to long in coming. You can’t just throw distorted guitars and have a happy melody over it. You have to truly dig in and go minor. You have to go minor. You can’t just be in a major key and think that like people are going to be fooled with really distorted guitars. It honestly came about in the right way. We were playing, just messing around with sounds and then this mass shooting happened and I just started thinking about it and was like “Man, I really want to understand this!” And I just started singing. But I’ve always been into, ya know, like the end of “Kid Blue”, it was the funnest and easiest thing I’ve done in so long. And “Kid Blue” is probably one of my favorite jam moments in a band, in a very long time. The decision was like “Look. Beiber is going to have this shit locked away for five years” and honestly when I did “Take a Picture”, it was like a punk rock prank at the time. Think about who was big? Saliva, Limp Bizkit, Korn; all those bands were really big back then. And to me I was like “What’s the opposite of really heavy? And un-rap/un-nu-metal?” So I went and did “Take a Picture” because I was trying to musically give the audience what drugs felt like. Ya know, drugs and alcohol and why addiction was so evil, because it feels like that song sounds. It’s just the most luscious/amazing feeling when you’re high. For us addicts that’s where the devil is. In Japan the more petite and cute something is the more evil it is. A lot of the comic book characters and stuff like that. You gotta kinda remember that.
What’s the true metaphor behind the line “I’ve Got my Reason and my reason is sound” inside the track “Mother E”?
Richard: “Mother E” to me is about a mass shooter who is trying to convince himself internally and he’s got this mantra and he’s just sitting there saying “I’ve got my reasons.” and then he unleashes and he stops to reload. Then hears the crying and the whimpering of his victims. That’s when you hear the cello. And he’s sitting there saying, “My heart lies beneath. I’m a suffering fool” He knows he’s making a mistake! He gets it. But then he starts to whip himself up into a frenzy again. And then he’s like “I’ve got my reasons and my reason is sound.” Then he finishes with what he’s doing. To me, I have to understand that kind of crazy. Like you, most of us live our lives and we are compelled to help people. It’s a natural adaptation that we have through evolution. We are compelled to want to help people and that’s why we’re the most successful mammals on the planet. Because the by-product of being incredibly emotional and being very worried about your fellowman/kids/your wife or whoever, the by-product is all this intelligence. The ability to when we became self-aware and we understood each other, we started communicating to each other. That’s the point to where we’re at; a very high level of consciousness. So, none of us really know what it’s like to be a crazy eyed killer. And to me, as an artist, I kinda want to find out what the thinking sounds like. I want to find out what that kind of insanity sounds like. That’s what a lot of the record is.
Can we dive into the details of what motivated you to write the song “Pride Flag”?
Richard: I’m trying to understand why gay marriage is such a f*cking issue?! Well, it’s because the far right are Christians and they believe in certain pars of The Bible. Not the part about being nice to your slaves, because that one was about 150 years ago. 150 years ago that’s how they justified slavery. But now they’ve pulled that one back and now its, “Men can’t sleep together, that’s just icky.” So now they’re pushing this shit all through out the government and trying to do whatever they can to stop it. The reality is, it’s an ancient text. It’s something from the Bronze Age. As Bill Maher once famously said (and I think it’s totally right) “They didn’t know what the germ was, they didn’t know what the atom was, they didn’t know where the sun went at night and your letting this book tell the rest of us how to live.” It’s not cool, ya know. Our country is based on the division of Church and State. You tell that to Ted Cruz and he’s like “Its not! It’s about values”. He’s a f*cking douche! But Pride Flag is about “Can’t we just be happy that we love each-other?” Like can’t we just have that? Can’t we just accept the fact that people just want to be together? Who cares If they want to be married, who gives a shit! Ted Cruz: “It’s supposed to be between a man and woman!” No it’s not, that doesn’t f*cking matter! You don’t know what God thinks! You don’t know what any of this shit is. It’s just obvious shit to me. Lady Gaga said something about it in “Born This Way” and I agree with it. To me it’s like, let’s get at the root of it. And it’s this crazy old ancient text, let’s get rid of it!
How does the production/sound within the track “City of Blinding Riots“ capture the current state of society as it is today?
Richard: Well, the production; we grabbed a lot of fight scenes off of Youtube. We scoured around and found audible fighting. That’s another thing, when I was in Iraq there was an alarm that goes off and there was what they call “Operation Roundup”, which is someone who has broken onto the base. And so you have to go back to your part of the base and stay there until it’s all clear. And so we kept hearing this alarm sound [*makes alarm noise*] and so we used that. That’s how the production made it sound like society. But the attitude of the music is just like, “wreckless and abandoned”.
Just completely for example, like going back to the lyrics “Celebrating for nothing, but it feels ok”. Sometimes you gotta blow shit up! It’s kinda like some of the reasons why people are voting for Trump, because they want to blow up the Republican Party. I kinda see that. But I don’t want to blow up the government/I don’t want to hurt everybody. And i think that is what rioting is like. Dr. Martin Luther King JR said, “Riots happen when people feel voiceless.” I think there is a lot of sentiment in that. I think that what we’ve/I’ve heard for my whole life that people who are black get picked on and bullied by the police. There is something going on! And that’s why OJ Simpson’s case was so decisive. White people thought he was guilty and black people wanted him to be innocent. And you start thinking “Why?” Because it exposes the truth that there is racism within the police force and your thinking “Well he did kill her.” So there is this question mark. But when you see that when the average person now has an HD camera in almost every single phone and something starts going on and there’s a scuffle. And a guy who doesn’t want to go to jail, because he’s selling one single cigarette and he resists. Next thing you know he has a massive heart attack and he feels like he’s being strangled and he dies. Then you see another person who is running away from a police officer and he gets shot in the back you, start to realize that there is truth to these brutality claims. When the justice department did a huge report on Ferguson, you start seeing that they’re targeting that neighborhood of Ferguson and they’re targeting it to make money to make funds. So there is a lot of injustice out there and that’s why “City of Blinding Riots” makes sense to me.
Whom do you want to be the next president of the United States and why it’s important for the younger generation to go out and vote?
Richard: I want a democrat to be in the White House. It’s incredibly important for young people to vote, because old people are going to vote for sure. Many of the older folks are feeling like they’re going to lose what they have and they vote for conservative principals. I think that if you want to have a voice you’ve got to vote! If you want to talk politics, you’ve got to vote. You have to put your money where your mouth is and show up to vote. It’s just really important.
Filters latest album “Crazy Eyes” featuring “Take Me to Heaven” and “Nothing in My Hands” is out now and available at all the regular places such as iTunes. Also be sure to grab your tickets for Filters tour through the USA which is currently happening until the end of May. After that the band heads through Europe. Full details at any of the following links online.
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