Filter’s Richard Patrick Explains Why He Quit Nine Inch Nails to Start His Own Band
Richard Patrick has been standing on his own as Filter for two and a half decades already, his past as the touring guitarist for Nine Inch Nails very much, well, in the past. But the topic came to the forefront recently when Patrick expressed some frustration at not being included in the group of former Nine Inch Nails musicians set to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in November.
On a recent episode of the Stop! Drop & Talk podcast, Patrick elaborated on why he decided to quit Nails and form Filter in 1993, and it’s a classic case of wanting to step up and run the show instead of being a sideman. He explained:
“[Trent Reznor and I] were just two knuckleheads from Cleveland, Ohio — we were not big yet. 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? He 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.’
“I got close to kind of getting a record deal, and [Trent] didn’t know it at the time, but I had already lined up Warner Brothers, and I was in Los Angeles to kind of work on ‘The Downward Spiral’, or just be around, and I had already kind of made a decision on a mushroom trip in the Grand Canyon. I had already decided. I was like, ‘You know what? I’m only getting on this ball one time, and if I don’t step out on my own now, I’m never gonna do it.’
“But the final straw was Trent goes, ‘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!’
“This was when I had ‘Hey Man, Nice Shot’ written, and I had five record companies ready to sign me. 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].”
The rest, as they say, is history. Although it’s worth pointing out that Filter never reached the heights Nine Inch Nails did, it doesn’t seem Patrick has any regrets… just a tad bit of resentment regarding the Rock Hall, perhaps.