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Rock of ages

Filter returns to road after six-year hiatus

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Age is just a number, or perhaps only a state of mind. Filter's Richard Patrick agrees with those sentiments. The singer, who turned 40 on May 10, doesn't see a problem with continuing to play music for as long as he can. After all, he's not the only one.

"Look how long Frank Sinatra did it," he says by phone from his Southern California home. "Look at Pavarotti. Pavarotti was singing up until last year then he died. You can sing forever. God forbid the Bonos and Mick Jaggers give it up. If I'm supposed to give it up, why isn't Trent Reznor? Why isn't Thom Yorke? Why isn't Dave Grohl? We're all approaching our 40s. We're not gonna stop. Look at Chris Cornell -- one of our generation's best -- and Eddie Vedder. If you love music and you're a musician, it's what you do."

Patrick created Filter in the mid-'90s after leaving his gig as a touring guitarist for Nine Inch Nails. In 2002, he released the band's third album, The Amalgamut, before heading into rehab. The band was put on hold while he got his sobriety in check.

Now, more than five years later, Patrick discusses his alcohol-free life openly and is hitting the road with Filter once again. The last five years weren't music-free though -- he formed and toured with Army of Anyone, which also featured Robert and Dean DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots.

"I enjoyed working with Robert and Dean," Patrick says. "We did Army of Anyone together and we released that and started touring and I realized I missed 'Hey Man, Nice Shot.' I missed 'Take A Picture.' I missed all these songs. Let's go out and play 'em again and put out a new record. I just missed Filter. Filter's my baby. Every time I get Filter going, something gets in the way of it, but not anymore. Uh-uh."

With his voice as strong as ever -- a doctor's examination showed years of alcohol, drugs and smoking didn't do damage to his vocal chords -- Patrick is ready to rock. His energy is overflowing no matter what the topic is -- music, family, sobriety or his newborn daughter.

"I have a beautiful baby named Sloan," Patrick says. "I just want to be the best man I can be. My wife is worried about me being on the road, but uh-uh. I took a vow. I was a little bit of a nut bag when I was in the using phase of my disease, but now I have a high set of standards and principles I live up to. I just want to make money so she has a future. I want to sing the best that I can because she depends on it. Your priorities change, but it accentuates who you are. You sing with more passion. You write with more intensity ... I love it!"

While some people may prefer to keep any discussion of past problems and rehab under wraps, Patrick is an open book. He knows that if he can help one person get sober even an hour earlier than without his words, it's worth it. He readily talks of people he's helped over the last few years -- fans who have written to him or that have called.

"I have directly impacted three lives that I know about," Patrick says. "This is why I talk about my alcoholism publicly because a kid read somewhere that his idol in Filter got sober. I answered his e-mail and gave him my number and told him he could talk to me. I even sent him demos from the record as payment for him to concentrate on being sober. I can help people -- whether it's my music or my story. I love talking about my alcoholism because there's a shred of possibility in the humility of that -- if I can help people, I try."

Patrick says the band's new album, Anthems for the Damned, is more socially conscious than previous efforts. "It takes a look at the damned, which is us, the people on the planet that are kind of flawed and shitting and pissing in their own house by polluting and destroying and fighting a war," he says. "These are their anthems ... for the damned, the people who are gonna fuck themselves out of existence."

Patrick has been working on the album for the last five years, writing before and after his time with Army of Anyone. The album runs the gamut of hard and soft, which should appease the fans who favor the heavier side of the band and those who like the lighter. There are also songs in between, reflecting the average iPod -- Patrick wanted to show all sides of the band. He doesn't want all of the songs to sound the same, instead having a range of sounds that all come from the same band, though he says he favors the harder side -- "as I get older, I just want to turn the fuckin' amps up and rock a little more."

To those that worry he's getting too soft in his old age, he has a message: "I defy them! I refute them! I rebuke you, Satan! I tell them to go out and buy the new album because you will easily get three or four songs that will satisfy that [hard rock] urge."

One thing Patrick is sure of is that he has a long musical road ahead of him. Whether or not he'll reunite with Army of Anyone is unknown. For now, his focus on Filter and making music.

"I never say never," Patrick says. "The only thing I say never on is drugs and alcohol. Music, I'll do anything I want. I could release a country record, I doubt it quite heavily though. If Robert and Dean came to me with 20 songs and they needed someone to sing and wanted to put a record out again ... who knows?"

Filter will perform at Amos' Southend on May 21 with Ours. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 on the day of show.

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