06/10/2013 03:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

"Sun Comes Out: An A-Sides Interview with Filter's Richard Patrick & Contest

I knew my friend Stephen Spruck since we went to preschool together. While we were in different classes, we went to the same elementary school, and while we took a brief break to attend different schools for grades 5 and 6, we attended the same middle and high school together. While I knew him for most of my life, I can honestly say our friendship really blossomed once we went to college together at Pace University in Pleasantville, NY. For whatever reason, Steve had been reserved in high school and in previous years. Yes, he was fun to hang out with and had a reputation for being a delightful wise ass (I mean that in the best sense), he really came out of his shell in college. From orientation to graduation day, the two of us bonded like brothers. We had our own inside jokes, we finished each other's sentences, and introduced ourselves as brothers to whatever girls we hit on at bars who ignored our IDs and served us. Steve was a riot. He had this wickedly odd sense of humor and never minded being the butt of a joke. Neither did I. But, he had a big heart too. Each semester, I had difficulty affording my books, and he always laid out the money without any hesitation. To this day, I'm still not sure if I paid him back for all of them - yet he never brought it up to me.

The reason I write this about a dearly-departed friend in today's A-Sides is twofold. Today marks what would've been Steve's 37th birthday, and this post features an interview with Filter front man Richard Patrick. Steve and I arguably bonded most of all over music - particularly grunge and alt-rock in the 1990s. So, naturally when I'm about to post a story on Filter today I'm automatically taken back to that time when the band's "Hey Man Nice Shot" and "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do" made us sing and mosh. Anyway, I could go on about Steve but I've already taken a lot of print away from the main purpose of today's A-Sides: Filter.

While they never really left and continued to make music, and tour often since the "Want to touch the hiney" decade, Filter's enjoying a bit of a Renaissance lately. Their cover of The Turtles' "Happy Together" sold over 80,000 copies since it appeared in trailers for The Great Gatsby, and their terrific sixth album "The Sun Comes Out Tonight" dropped last week.

I recently spoke with front man Richard Patrick about the Turtles cover, the new album, and the legs 1990s alt-rock has had. Case in point: this summer, Patrick and the boys will join Everclear, Live, and Sponge on The Summerland 2013 Tour. The tour rolls into Port Chester, NY's Capitol Theatre Sunday, July 21. Want to attend? A-Sides wants to give you a free pair of tickets to New York's hottest venue. How to win: Share a story in the comments section below that evokes the nostalgic trip that I took in this post. Can't You... trip like I do?

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Onto the interview...

Happy Together" is among just about everybody's songs ever. It's so iconic - when and why did you decide to cover it and give it a dark twist?
A director Nelson McCormick asked me to do it for a movie called "The Stepfather." I thought it was a good idea. I just put a dark vibe on it. Acting isn't all about more more more...sometimes it's about less. So by giving the performance (a soft Norman Bates vibe) you can really catch peoples ears. The song itself is such a sweet tune that when you just creep it up a bit you have very interesting spine on it.

The Sun Comes Out Tonight is an interesting title for your album, and to a lesser degree - a sequel to Annie, how'd you decide on that as a name?
It was really a recollection of what drugs did to me in the nineties. It was when I was in my Gonzo writing phase. When you peaked on drugs during the middle of the night at the top of an abandoned smoke stack overlooking Cleveland in the middle of winter...we would sneak into old factories when I was in-between NIN tours on whatever we could find. One time we got into the old Cleveland jail and found old filling cabinets filled with arrests made back in the 20's on some good LSD. That shit would blow your mind!

I can imagine... Talk to me about the process behind the new album - did it differ from approaches of years past?
My new guitar player helped me do the whole thing. He's a very talented man. I'm so glad I have him. I feel like he's my long-lost little brother... Jonny Radtke is a genius.

You're touring with Everclear, Live & Sponge this summer --- why do you think alt-90s rock is arguably as popular today as it was back in the day?
For me the tour is about getting together with old friends and doing what we do best. I love my friend Art (Alexakis) and we will have fun. The reason why it's successful is because we wrote some good songs.

Amen. Lastly, does it offend you that people sometimes tag their photos on Instagram as "No Filter?" They don't mean you... but still.
Nope! I've heard so many variations of the "take my picture" or "hey man, nice shot" joke. Nothing offends me.

Delve Into Twelve- SJS Special Edition
This add-on to the A-Sides brand typically countdowns my top songs based on what I'm currently playing out that particular week, tunes publicists and Facebook buds have turned me onto, and ditties that get my toddler son moving. Today, however, I'm listing the definitive playlist of my late friend Stephen Spruck based on songs he (or he and I) bonded over during our college years. I miss and love him every day.
12. "Sliver" - Nirvana
11. "Santa Monica" - Everclear
10. "Mr. Self Destruct" - Nine Inch Nails
9. "F.O.D." - Green Day
8. "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me" - U2
7. "Kitchenware & Candy Bars" - Stone Temple Pilots
6. "My Name is Jonas" - Weezer
5. "Daughter" - Pearl Jam
4. "Here and Now" - Letters to Cleo
3. "Frail & Bedazzled" - The Smashing Pumpkins
2. "Joy & Pain" - Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
1. "I Alone" - Live

Jon Chattman's "A-Sides Music" series usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing. Support A-Sides' Kickstarter campaign here!