[Wednesday, March 14th, 2001 - 8:00 am ET] A new Trent Reznor interview can be found in the January/February Rock Sound issue, with Marilyn Manson on the cover, about Things Falling Apart, the Fragility DVD, the next allbum, Tapeworm and many other topics.
Below is the full two page interview:
Currently holed up in his studio in New Orleans, Reznor is busy putting the finishing touches to the next NIN release, a live DVD. After the recent release of 'Things Falling Apart,' which features tracks from 'The Fragile' give a makeover by various members of NIN, Trent has plenty more ideas up his sleeve. One of the main ones being the much-rumored Tapeworm project, with vocals from Tool's Maynard James Keenan and Pantera's Phil Anselmo among others. Trent wants to begin work on that as soon as the DVD is finished, but then there's a new NIN record to be thinking about. Will we have to wait for another fives years to see a follow-up to 'The Fragile'? Apparently not, according to Trent, who took time out to explain all to rock sound.
Why have you decided to produce a Nine Inch Nails DVD and what can we expect from it?
In the midst of the Fragility tour we had a full production together and it was a situation I was really proud of. We realized we needed to document that, and we didn't want to go out and hire a company to film us - we've done that in the past, you get some director's idea of what he thinks the show is. We did one where it was plain shots and it looked like a bad Bon Jovi HBO special kinda thing, so we threw it out. So we decided to make it like what it would be like be at the show. I bought 10 good digital video cameras and gave them out to a couple of guys in the crew and had a couple guys come out with us and just captured the last 10 shows of the tour from seven or eight different angles. It was a massive undertaking. We were gonna have it come out in December, but I made the decision to hold it up. I'd been playing those longs live for a year, recorded them for two years before that, rehearsed them in the midst of that - watching all that footage over again, you start to lose the objectivity as to what was good and bad. It's gonna be good, it's a good documentation of what we've done on this tour.
Do you enjoy the touring, especially on scale that you've been playing live in American?
That's a good question, cos I've been thinking a lot about that lately. I've seen a lot of bands at club level since I've been back in New Orleans. It's so much more fun to play those kind of shows, as a musician, and I think it's so much more fun for the audience too, cos it's real. You can see the band, for one thing. There's no delay where the band's out of sync cos the sounds' traveling 600 miles to back of the arena - you're in a venue that's generally made for music and not sporting events. When we finished the Downward Spiral tour we went out and just said, 'Fuck it, let's play clubs.' We went out for about three weeks and announced the show that day and that was the most fun we had on the whole tour. But then you get the backlash of people going, 'What the fuck man, you play here and by the time I even hear about it, it's sold out already. You're trying to fuck your fans over.' Someone's bitchin' no matter what we do. I feel like touring and I am looking forward to getting back out in some capacity, but the challenge is keeping it fresh.
What was the reason for releasing the recent remix album 'Things Falling Apart'?
Well, remix is not really it. I think remix applies to whatever dance culture's out there at the moment, replacing the rhythm track with speed garage or drum 'n' bass or whatever the fuck it is. Then some asshole DJ whose talentless butt has a name in clubs gets paid to do remixes, and that's totally not what this is about. It stems from when we were recording 'The Fragile', lots of unfinished songs were floating around. A lot of times, some of the other guys in the band would say, 'Hey, you're three-quarters done with this song - let me take it and throw it in a different direction.' This record is basically for fans that want to see some curiosities or look behind the curtains and see the different ways things could have gone. It's not meant to be a big statement. It's nothing to do with what we'll do in the future and the direction I'm taking Nine Inch Nails in at this time. The last three weeks, I've been in the studio writing new music, not thinking about it too much to see what really inspires me right now, and at the moment it's very aggressive but very non-guitar-oriented. So we'll see what happens.
So what direction are you heading in at the moment, musically speaking?
Synth-bass, but real aggressive and not in a synth poppy kinda way. Using the power of samples and electronics in a pretty violent, in-ya-face way - almost the opposite of 'The Fragile', which I consider to be pretty organic and textual. This is more minimal and abrasive.
Will the next NIN record be another double album?
I'm not planning on that. When I started 'The Fragile' I thought it was gonna be eight tracks only per song and I think we averaged about 95, so what was a complete miscalculation.
Were you happy with 'The Fragile' when it came out or did you think it could have been better?
No, I really, rally thought it was done. There was a lot of extra material that we had to be editorial about cos it easily could have been twice that long. When we start weeding things out and we finally got the order of the record together, Alan Moulder and myself both realized it was done. I'm very proud of that record. It's not fashionable in the climate of the kinda shitty music that's out right now, but I wanted to make that record and just get it out of my head.
So what can we expect from the next NIN album?
I'm kinda at a crossroads now where I've realized that sometimes I tend to over-analyze things and plan things out before I've really tried them out. I'd draw the plans for a elaborate house made of some exotic wood and then realized I don't like the way the wood cuts or smells, so I end up building a shopping mall down the street or something' - terrible analogy, but... in my head I think, 'Hey, it'd be cool to make a record like this,' but until I really sit down and start blindly fumbling around and subconsciously seeing what sounds exciting to me.... Right now I want to start a couple of different side-projects outside of Nine Inch Nails as a way to kinda let off steam. A way to work in an arena that's not has high-pressure. I think with NIN I put a lot of pressure on myself to make sure that every aspect of it is a working thing from the lyrics, sonically, to the production ideas.
You've obviously got the Tapeworm project on the go, but what other ideas do you have for side-projects?
I've been looking for a female vocalist to form another offshoot that would just be me and whoever this person might be. I t would be me being very sympathetic to their goal and vision, but I would hand the music production side. If you could juxtapose Sade next to Gary Numan albums of 10 or 20 years ago - I don't mean something that would be so off that it would be shitty, but to get a soulful but icy landscape collaboration, a collision of ideas. It could be a miserable failure but as a way to start off, an idea, that's the way I approach it - some vague idea and just start throwing these things together and see what fits and what doesn't.
What frame of mind are you in at the moment?
I'm energized and excited to be in the studio, it's all been redone, and I want to get in there and change everything that's wrong with music right now.
And what's wrong with it in your opinion?
Well, this is a completely perspective but over here, first of all, hip-hop has take over everything and I like hip-hop and think a fair amount of it is innovative and interesting on a cultural level as well as a musical level. It's real and it has a kinda legitimacy to it where it's not going through the motions. Now, when you carry that aspect over to the rap-rock crap that's out there - the only kinda of rock music is either Creed-type shit that sounds like... I was in the car last night listening to it and if you put a gun to my head I could not tell you - it could've been one of 10 bands, post-Pearl Jam. That means nothing to me besides being a fairly well written song. I don't even let it irritate me cos I'm past the point of being upset about it, but there seems to be an awful lot of fake angst, angry, post-Korn-type rap rock around.
So you're not a big fan of Fred Durst, then?
I can understand why a certain demographic likes Fred Durst, I can see why they appeal to people but I don't like them. The lowest common denominator strikes a chord with certain limited-IQ individuals or 13-year-old boys who wanna get laid, but there's a real insincerity in the rock world right now. I don't believe a lot of these bands when they come on whining and bitchin' and singin' in their cookie monster vocals and trying to act tough, there's fat guys from California with tattoos pretending they're black. All that's shit to me. It's follow-the-leader, these guys hung up their spandex pants when Guns N'Roses got blown outta the water and donned their flannel were and went, 'Oh let's go skateboardin', start eatin' cheeseburgers and pretend we're black."
How did you feel about Durst using lyrics from your songs on 'Chocolate Starfish...'?
That's an interesting story where I'd talked some shit about him cos at the time it was annoying me that something that bad could get so much attention and, you know.... He had to do some trash talkin' and then I start hearing, 'Ohh, he wrote a song all about you.' I'm like, 'Oh, OK,' and then it bugged him. Some amount of discomfort was caused by these comments, but dumb-ass uses different lines from several of my songs as the chorus to the title track of his album and then he has to ask me permission to use'em (laughs), which I gave to him. It's not like I'm gonna fuck his album.
If you're not into rap-rock, what's doing it for you at the moment?
I listen to an awful lot of hip-hop, but the new Radiohead record is fantastic. I never really gave them a chance before cos all I really heard was 'Creep' and I didn't really like that song. I just thought they were just another smug slacker band. That was very unfair of me. When their new record came out, somebody sent it to me and I'm impressed with the courage it would take to put a record out like that. I'm also envious that they seem to be on a label that's allowing them to do it and supporting them, something that we didn't have. I think the new Roni Size Reprazent album is fantastic, I saw them at Rockilde and they were the best band I've seen in a long time. The Dandy Warhols are one of my favorite bands, too.
Do you ever get to a pint with NIN where you think you're going to chuck it all in?
I do, and a lot of that comes when the business side and the lawsuits and all that fuckin' shit start over- taking the pleasure of making music. You start thinking, 'Why did I get into this in the first place?' That's another reason why I'm into starting side-projects; it's good to have other avenues to go down.