FILTER: Richard Patrick Recounts Trip to Iraq

It’s FILTER’s Richard Patrick talking about his recent trip over to Iraq…titled ‘Scene of the Crime’, have a read below…

I love going over to Iraq because to me it’s not only donating some rock to the troops but it’s an opportunity to see the scene of the crime.

A mess that has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives; where religion is taken to extremes and blood pays for oil. It is a world devoid of green life but fuels the American way.

I visited Iraq to learn about the region. To breathe in the dust and rub elbows with generals and service men alike. Too see water tanks and diesel generators. Learning about the mid-east in general is something I don’t think a lot of us do, and I wanted to dig in.

War! Oil! Power! Religion! Greed! Those are the main reasons the desert is on fire.

Religion! Superstitions and false profits often result in death! Can’t we just get over these silly books filled with hate?
Oil!!! America is willing to do anything to feed the monkey!
Power!!! If you have troops in Saudi Arabia, Iraq Afghanistan, Pakistan and a shitload of guns and M-raps, Iran doesn’t really scare us when leaders say they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

For me, to be able to sit down with the second in command Commander Sergeant Major Coleman and get a briefing was nearly worth the entire trip.
But it was the soldiers on the ground – so great and appreciative – that made this an unforgettable, life-changing trip for the band and I.

The Gigs
Getting to Iraq is a tough thing… even before you get on a plane and fly 20 hours. You have to fill out a bunch of paper work and you need to know your blood type – that’s in case you get shot. I can only imagine how many lead singers pussy’d out right there. Our lady in charge of this excursion is a wonderful little gal by the name of Jude. With a southern drawl strait out of Apocalypse Now, she laughed, “You wouldn’t believe how many rock and roll pussys need days off in between shows because they lose their voices after the first two.” I just smiled, lying straight through my teeth and said, “five in a row, no problem.”

I knew full well that five shows is a bitch but with the right warm ups, it’s worth it and doable.

Whenever I tell folks that we’re going to the scene of the crime, Iraq, many suggest we bring a photographer or videographer. Because of security concerns, it’s hard to bring extra people. However, when Bob Marlette asked to join us on our latest trip, I made sure to make it happen.

Bob has become an integral member of the Filter family with his outstanding work on “The Trouble With Angels” and although this legendary producer hasn’t done live sound in 20 years, he offered to do our front of house sound for these five shows. Bob said he wouldn’t mind slumming it and he could handle a rocket attack or two.

Camp Beuhring is a great place to start. Beuhring, a transitional military base for troops coming and going, is in an undisclosed area in Kuwait near the Iraqi border. The troops are going up north to Iraq or headed back to the States. So the crowd is going to rock out either way because they’re going home or because they’re headed to the war zone and have a LIVE TODAY DIE TOMORROW attitude.

The mosh pit during “So I Quit” off of The Amalgamut album is what really set these guys off; it’s somewhat strange to see a bunch of guys and girls armed with machine guns slamming into each other.

After the show we did our normal photo and autograph sessions. This is what its all about. We get to spend some time, talk and hang a bit with the men and women. They are so appreciative of our coming over and donating our time. But in truth, it is we who are appreciative of their service. It’s awesome.

The next day at the air base, getting ready to fly out to Iraq, I had a moment to reflect on another time when I was waiting on our transport two years earlier during the surge. A huge vehicle with tons of crazy shit on it pulled into the base parking lot. A young 20-something kid jumped out, obviously on his way back from seeing some kind of action. He looked around and dusted himself off, saw me and did a double take. Once he realized it was me, he ran over. His name was Adam (22) and he grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He was super surprised and said, “What the fuck are you doing out here?” I said we played a show last night. To which he answered that he missed it because he’s a gunner in an M-rap and they were on a mission. Just when I thought the conversation was just going to be small talk he interrupted himself and began to get a really concerned look in his eye. He told me that when the convoy gets going it doesn’t stop for anything because
it’s too much of a target. That’s when he started to break into tears a little bit and said, we can’t stop the convoy… even for a little kid who might run out into the street. I guess, judging by the look on his face, they didn’t stop on that last mission. I thought to myself, war is hell… Adam is going to have to live with that for the rest of his life.

We went north to Iraq in a C1-30 troop transport airship, which the pilots jokingly called trash haulers. The video we have shows what a combat take off looks like but not how it feels. Pulling G’s is awesome. Two members of our crew came very close to vomiting in their helmets.

The mood changes once you’re in country. When you think about your journey it takes a few seconds to realize that you’ve made it, but to where exactly? Your thoughts begin to swirl… Is Iraq a country of new beginnings or is it just going to a huge waste of lives, time and money? A place that could welcome democracy or a place that will continue to show how cruel the world really can be? A place where people are blinded by religion and not told how fragile life really is? A place where Al-Qaeda continues to preach martyrdom for murder? Will Iraq be a free spirit or will it be turned over to another power-crazed dictator? Will it be different or just more of what we’ve seen – death, oil mongering and heartache?

As the shows continue, our gear begins to fall apart, the days get longer and yes our voices get rougher. In Baghdad, the fires that they light every evening to burn all their garbage, plus the hot desert air, can seriously mess up someone’s voice… but it didn’t bug me that night. I really let it all hang out up there on stage. We almost started complaining one early morning when our call time was 4 am, but stopped quickly when we realized the troops that were helping us set up the stage and being our personal security all day had been up for two days straight to lend us a helping hand. They were so gracious and pleasant I could hardly believe that one female soldier had been up for almost three days in preparation for our show. In order to work with a visiting artist, they have to first finish all their normal work then do what’s needed to get our show going. All of us were shocked but that’s the kind of people they are. They said “I bet you guys
work that hard making a record” and none of us answered because we knew even on our worst day making albums, its still better than their best day in a war zone. Our military men and women are amazing. They work so hard for their country and put their lives on the line for us. And have been since the birth of our nation.

I remember on our last trip in ’09, we were signing autographs after a show and we heard this huge Digital alarm kick off with a prerecorded voice coming over the loud speaker saying “INCOMING INCOMING!!!” The two thousand folks on the line got very serious, and began yelling at us, “GET THE FUCK DOWN! ROCKET ATTACK! GET DOWN THERE’S INCOMING ROUNDS HEADED THIS WAY!”

When you hear that alert it means radar has picked up incoming missiles and they’re headed right at you. To me that meant right at my face. Filter’s bass player at the time, John Spiker and I “hit the deck” as they say and started laughing, mostly out of unfamiliarity. We quickly stopped when we realized the severity of what was going on and that very likely someone was going to get hurt or maybe even killed. John started crawling away towards one of those aluminum trailers you see out there. I yelled at him, “you’re just making the rescue harder” if the mortar or missile hits us, that trailer’s not going to do anything but make the rescuers have to dig through the debris just to find us. Right then we hear another crazy ass alarm saying “TAKE COVER TAKE COVER”! The troops got up and yelled, “Have to go find a shelter FILTER THIS WAY!” The major issue was that it felt like all of them were calling us. So imagine, two thousand people screaming Filter
over here and running off into a now darkened military base in Iraq. I just chose to run left for no apparent reason. As we were running, I asked the guy who seemed in charge where we were going and he said “there’s gotta be a shelter around here somewhere” so we just followed him. The next thing I know we’re in what could have been a drainage ditch. Once we settled down, I asked him how long he had been there at the base he said, I just got in this morning. A flashlight kicked on and we soon realized the ditch we had taken cover in was underneath a huge diesel fuel tanker. He laughed and said “dude just stay down here for a minute nothings going to happen”. It was right then and there, at that moment, I do believe, Mitchell Marlow quit Filter.

The last show:
Playing for the troops isn’t just about bringing the rock. I know that we made a difference. I looked out every night and saw the faces of a tired but happy bunch of people. The best part of the show is really after it ends. When you get to meet all of the soldiers. Some come into the military as a part of a family tradition. Others believe it’s their duty as Americans. For some, it’s just a way to stay out of trouble. Others, a way to get even. I would like to think that these fine people I meet with won’t get hurt but that’s not the case. I went to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC a few months after we played Operation Myspace to meet some wounded warriors and met a man named Louis. A triple amputee who lost both his legs and one arm, Louis loudly told me how much he enjoyed Filter at Operation Myspace. “We met at the show Richard, remember?” he said. “You probably don’t recognize me because I had legs then.” The reason why he was speaking so loudly was because he was also temporarily deaf. “An IED went off right next to me but I lived,” he said. He had a great attitude. He said he now knows that everyday is precious.

There are stories like that all over the Middle East. You just have to see it to believe.

Will Filter head back, if given the opportunity?
Damn right we would.

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