Title of Record by Filter
Filter was almost a one-hit wonder, but they followed their hit up with a great record.
There’s a world where Filter are just a 90s one-hit wonder thanks to “Hey Man Nice Shot” and then the world forgot about them. That guy from Cleveland who played guitar in Nine Inch Nails and whose brother was the bad guy from Terminator 2 made that one song on an album with a title - Short Bus - that would never fly in today’s more sensitive culture.
“Cool video though! Remember when MTV used to show music videos?!”
Richard Patrick and his creative partner Brian Liesegang created Short Bus after Trent Reznor encouraged Patrick to make his own record. Reznor was finished with Broken and went off to work on what would become The Downward Spiral. Richard Patrick went off and did just that, retaining much of the industrial rock sound from Nine Inch Nails, with more of a focus on guitar. And if he never did anything else, it was a huge hit. It never hit the top of the charts, but anyone who listened to alternative radio in the 90s - and who didn’t? - will certainly remember this song as an absolute staple of the era.
A bit of trivia that I barely remembered but verified on Wikipedia is that the same guitar riff from “Hey Man” also appeared on the song “Ungod” by Stabbing Westward from their 1994 record of the same name. Guitar player Stuart Zechman showed the riff to the Stabbing Westward guys too in the same time period as he played in both bands.
I know calling a band a one-hit-wonder is kind of harsh, but if that’s where Filter had stopped, that’s exactly what they would have been. I can prove it graphically. Look at that fall-off from one to two!
Spoiler alert… they didn’t stop there.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Short Bus. Back in those days, I would consider that record to be one of my brother’s CDs. I didn’t own a copy because my brother did. Having two copies of the same record in the same house seemed silly at the time with finite financial resources for CDs being what they were. So, I never got into it as much as I might have if it had been mine. Still, I got plenty of access to “Hey Man Nice Shot.”
Fast forward to August 1999, and I’m in college and buying every CD I ever wanted to buy. I remember hearing “Welcome to the Fold” for the first time on the radio as it exploded into Richard Patrick screaming “A O K!” at the top of his lungs, and somehow it worked. It’s a silly lyric in all reality, but Patrick’s incredible, guttural vocals pull it off.
I bought the record and fell in love. “Welcome to the Fold” is longer on the record, clocking in at 7:40 where the radio version is significantly shorter. That riff-heavy song can play for 15 minutes for all I care. It just rocks from beginning to end.
“Captain Bligh” follows “Fold” and it has one of the coolest choruses the band ever wrote.
I am a grieving man
I can't believe the things I've done for you
I couldn’t really relate to any songs about high level relationships in 1999, but the emotion of the song hit me in all the right spots. It has a sense of loss and yearning in it.
“It’s Gonna Kill Me” feels like it takes a page from “Nice Shot” with the opening bass line before exploding into an anthemic power pop metal song. Once again, Patrick writes an incredible chorus that explodes out of some electronic theatrics that turn his voice into a screaming staccato, machine-gunning his high tenor all over the place.
I bought a single ticket to go see the band on November 20, 1999 at Avalon in Boston. I couldn’t believe how great Patrick was able to pull off the vocals live. The set was a bit short, but it was really powerful. The band opened with “Welcome to the Fold,” which just brought the place down. It’s a perfect set opener. After playing “Dose” from Short Bus, the band played “The Best Things” which really hit live in ways it didn’t on the record. It’s a good tune on the record, but some songs just crush live.
They played “Bligh” which made me very happy. But the way they finished was unbelievable.
After playing “Under” from Short Bus, Patrick took to the mic and told a story. I will never forget it, but at this point I have to paraphrase it. Patrick started talking about his dad. “You know my dad’s from Boston. He went to MIT. He doesn’t think much of my career or my band, but now I drive a nicer car.”
With that, the band launched into “Take a Picture.”
That is the band’s biggest song of its career. It sheds some light on the lyrics, “Hey Dad, what do you think about your son now?”
That song was ubiquitous on radio at the time. It probably wore some people out to the point that they never needed to hear it again. It sounds so happy and a total ear worm with the happy chord progression to open it. “Awake on my airplane I feel so real!”
And then to turn it so angsty was a surprise at the time. I remember just bouncing up and down joyfully as the band played that song.
Of course, Filter closed the show with “Hey Man Nice Shot” and just melted the room. The band that could have been a one-hit wonder could be called a two-hit wonder, but that would be mean-spirited and mostly untrue.
True the band sputtered through the early 2000s with Richard Patrick mostly struggling to put material out. He had an interesting project called Army of Anyone with the DeLeo brothers from Stone Temple Pilots. It resulted in a record in 2006, four years after Patrick got sober.
Patrick spoke to The Fix about checking into rehab.
“When I checked into rehab, the doctor told me my kidney was failing, my liver was damaged and I had a 74% capacity for breathing. Basically, I was dying. I was scared to death. When I came back from my physical six months later, after having quit smoking, my lungs were at 95% and the doctor said it was the biggest turnaround he had ever seen. It was amazing. I honestly can’t believe my heart could withstand the amount of drugs that I did, especially since so many of my friends who were drug addicts are dead now.”
Patrick released a Filter record in 2023 that I haven’t listened to yet, but I’m going to now. It’s called The Algorithm and going down memory lane with Title of Record makes me want to check it out. There’s even a song or two with his long-departed collaborator Brian Liesegang.
But no matter what it sounds like there will always be Title of Record.