Filter emerged as one of the most popular bands in the mid-'90s post-industrial alternative scene. Vocalist and primary member Richard Patrick had been a guitarist with Nine Inch Nails during the Pretty Hate Machine and Broken eras. In 1993, Patrick decided to leave NIN to form his own band. He met Brian Liesegang through a mutual friend and the pair began to record together. Patrick handled vocals, guitars, bass, programming, and drums, while Liesegang covered programming, guitars, keyboards, and drums. Since they both experimented with electronics early in their careers, the band's early sound was reminiscent of a more-muscular brand of industrial than that of NIN. Their debut album, Short Bus, released on Reprise in 1995, was recorded by the two at a small house on the outskirts of Cleveland. Short Bus became a surprise hit, thanks to the MTV and the alternative radio hit "Hey Man, Nice Shot"; by the end of the summer, the album had reached gold status. In order to tour behind the record, the duo recruited guitarist Geno Lenardo, bassist Frank Cavanaugh, and drummer Matt Walker. Liesegang departed in 1997 over creative differences, but Patrick retained the Filter name for 1999's Title of Record, which eventually went platinum and spawned another radio/MTV hit in the single "Take a Picture." The album also included new drummer Steve Gillis after Walker left to work with the Smashing Pumpkins.

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