How a Feud With Trent Reznor Spawned One of The 90’s Biggest Alt Rock Hits

Trent Reznor by Rob Sheridan.jpg: Rob Sheridanderivative work: Howcheng, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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In the late 80’s and early 90’s, a young guitarist from Massachusetts named Richard Patrick was a touring member of Nine Inch Nails.

After his relationship with Trent Reznor went sour in ’93, he left the band during the recording of The Downward Spiral. This is the story of how his falling out with the Nine Inch Nails mastermind ultimately led to his own wildly successful musical project that would go on to have numerous hit singles and sell millions of records.

Richard Patrick’s Initial Falling Out With Trent Reznor:

In an interview with the Stop! Drop & Talk podcast, Patrick reflected on the beginning of the end of his creative and professional relationship with Reznor in the early 90’s:

“We [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.

“The final straw [of leaving Nine Inch Nails] 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!’”

How Richard Patrick and Trent Reznor’s Feud Launched Filter:

Looking back at this time period of friction with Reznor, Patrick recalled: “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].”

While Reznor’s words were biting and hurtful at the time, Patrick did indeed internalize them and channeled them into a new-found motivation and hunger for success on his own artistic terms:

“But I sat there and I took his [Reznor’s] 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.'”

Patrick felt the sting of Reznor’s ire even after he left the group, later coming to believe that the track ‘Piggy’ on The Downward Spiral was essentially a direct jab at him:

“When a guy writes a song called ‘Piggy’ about you, there’s obviously tension or some leftover shit. My nickname was Piggy. He’s [Trent] writing songs about me … you know, I wish it hadn’t been so complicated and so weird. I wish it would have been a little more fun. Maybe one of these days we’ll talk and it’ll be OK, but it doesn’t feel like it’s a friendship, that’s for sure.”

In the end, though, all of this vitriol was fuel for Patrick to propel Filter forward, and propel he did. After locking in a record deal and releasing Filter’s full-length debut, Short Bus, it wasn’t long before Patrick had a major hit on his hand with ‘Hey Man Nice Shot.”

The song would go on to climb up the radio and MTV charts and helped Short Bus ultimately sell a cool million records back in a time when that was still a massive barometer of mainstream success. Patrick was able to further channel his creativity a few years later and prove that he wasn’t a one-hit wonder, selling another million copies of Filter’s second album off of the strength of another hit single, ‘Take a Picture.”

Trent Reznor and Richard Patrick’s Relationship Now:

These days, Richard Patrick and Trent Reznor are on great terms, thankfully. A few years back, Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails crew did a kick-ass rendition of Filter’s classic ‘Hey Man Nice Shot’ during NIN’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, featuring Patrick.

For those following closely, it wasn’t just a cover of a killer song. Symbolically, it represented a full circle repairmen moment for their relationship, and a fitting sign that time can indeed heal almost all wounds.