Cleary, Trent Reznor is one very misunderstood soul. To some on the rock and roll periphery- those that only know Reznor through his thought- provoking albums like The Downward Spiral or his often unsettling MTV videos for songs like Closer- he understandably remains a figure of considerable mystery and intrigue. To many of his long time supporters, Nine Inch Nails' charismatic leaders stands as a man terminally shrouded in a clock of despair and darkness. From those that know him intimately, however, a far different character profile emerges. For the few, fortunate souls who live under the direct influence of his all-knowing, all-seeing artisitc umbrella, Reznor is appraently far from the self-possessed, intensely brooding figure his music often makes him out to be.
Yes, as one might expect this is one bonafide rock and roll chameleon. In fact, it seems that when he's separeated from the restrictive confines of the recording studio or kept away from the oppressive yolk of touring pressure, Mr. Reznor can apparently be a rather accessible, down-to-earth and don't believe us? Well then, ask his leading "pupil" in rock and roll perversity, Marilyn Manson, for whome Reznor serves the mulit-faceted role of spiritual advisor, album producer and record label honcho. Or bring up Trent's name to good friend David Bowie, for whom Reznor recently remixed the single, I'm Afraid Of Americans. They all seem to agree; not only is Reznor one of the most gifted rock and roll performers around, he's also a creative visionary... and on top of everything else, a heck of a nice guy as well.
"I've grown to know Trent quite well over the last few years," Bowie stated. "We had the wonderful opportunity to tour together, and that was an experience I'll never forget. I think we may have started out as a mutual admiration society; Trent may have been influenced by some of my work, and I certainly appreciate his. But we quickly moved beyond that and became friends. I'm proud to think of him in those terms."
Perhaps it's only fitting that Reznor seems to derive great satisfaction from radically divergent reactions his larger-than-life aura elicits. After all, here's a multi-faceted artist who appears to thrive in a world filled with tension, controversy and even occasional acrimony. Such emotions serve to supply his music with a healthy dose of its cutting-edge charm and provide his lyrics with their ability to dissect and then disseminate unique insights into the human condition. But apparently underneath it all lurks the heart of a true performer- someone who innately understands the impact his decidedly off- center musical stance will have on those around him... and who revels in that reaction. Today, with Reznor's latest masterk, Dissonance, adding new luster- as well as new mysteries- to NIN's ever-growing mystique, Reznor seems to be more satisfied than ever with his ever-changing role within the rock framework.
"When you become content, you run the risk of becoming complacent," Reznor stated. "I don't know if I ever really want to become too content with the music I make. I want it to keep changing, and keep challenging those who make it as well as those who hear it."
Certainly few efforts in recent memory can rival Dissonance when it comes to challenging the listener on virtually every level, as well as in virtually every conceivable aspect of it's presentation. There are many long- time NIN supporters who have already expressed outright shock (though very little dismay) over the myriad musical twists and turns presented throughout Reznor's radical new two-disk set. Certainly Nine Inch Nails' latest release already ranks among the most ambitous and adventurous creations in the entire history of the rock and roll form. And while Reznor may scoff at such a notion, viewing it as somewhat presumptuos and misleading, the undeniable fact is that thanks to Reznor's creative brilliance, NIN now stands head and shoulders above their rock and roll contempories in virtually every aspect of the Modern Music experience.
Rather than contenting themselves with merely playing music, Nine Inch Nails seems intent on becoming their music, utilizing a dizzying array of state-of-the-art electronics to create a sound explostion totally different from anything else currently inhabiting the rock and roll landscape. While it is true that much of the material contained on Dissonace is also radically different from anything on The Downward Spiral, at the same time there is clever evidence of the evolutionary process that Reznor's music has recently undergone in order to get it from "here" to "there." In both style and function, the disk is indeed "radical", a sharpy departure from the expected and the norm. But, then again, would Trent Reznor have it any other way?
"One of Trent's greatest attributes is that not only does he give an intense desire to keep pushing the boundries of music, he's got the talent to pull it off," said a well- placed source." A lot of performers would like to be on the cutting edge, but too often either their talent or their focus lets them down. I've never seen anyone work harder than Trent in the studio. You almost have to drag him out of there. I don't know how long he's stayed in there non- stop, but I'd bet it's been at least three days. That takes incredible willpower...and even more won't power. It's so hard to write, record and produce virtually single-handed. Yet Trent manages to pull it all off with relative ease."
For all his greatness, and all his industry-wide respect, the life of Trent Reznor is not without its occasional problems. After all, would you want you former girlfriend, Courtney Love, sarcastically referring to you as the "three inch nail" in a cariety of media interviews? And would you enjoy the experience of being sued (as he recently was in a California court) by somone who insist that Reznor lifted no less than six of his songs for inclusion on The Downward Spiral? But Reznor seems to not only have survived these ordeals, but actually benefitted from them- at least in a creative sense. According to those on- the- scence, he has managed to internailze these potentially embarrassing moments and allow them to serve as additional fuel for his remarkable human being.
"It's hard to ruffle his feathers," our source said."Trent isn't one to really let you in on how he's feeling. He keeps a lot of that on the inside. But he brings it out through his music, and it gives that music the little extra edge that will always make his so special."