By Lars Beckung for MTV Sweden on June 29, 2000

Lars Beckung: We're here near the Orange Stage with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails. How are you doing?

Trent Reznor: I'm doing well.

LB: Good! Thanks a lot for taking your time to speak to us. Now we obviously want to speak a bit about The Fragile, your latest album. Now there's been quite a long period of time from The Downward Spiral, it was about five years. How's the music climate changed since that time?

TR: Ah, I think it went from bad to worse. I mean it seems that way. I think one of the added bonuses of now, and I mean it's cynical that record labels have all now been eaten up into one big thing and it's very difficult to try to put out music that doesn't sound exactly like what everything else sounds like. And it's very difficult to try to make art, you know. Here now it's dominated by commerce, products and units you ship, demographics you appeal to, all the boring stuff that I didn't get any music for. I'm not Britney Spears nor do I want to be. I don't think what we do is the same thing. But unfortunately now I think bigger companies own a lot of the labels that only look at bottom line profits and it's hard to try to fight to have some integrity especially in America. I speak from my American point of view here.

LB: Unfortunately, very much the same here.

TR: From what I've seen I'll have to agree with you on that.

LB: Now how was it different for you {recording-wise} from your previous albums and The Fragile?

TR: This record was more about me trying to start from scratch and try to figure out how to write music and construct it differently. And also at the same time trying to repair my head, which seemed broken when I started this process. The Downward Spiral took its toll and it was time to really remember why I got into music in the first place and rekindle my love for music which I got lost in the shuffle of money and people, and business and crap when it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. And we worked two years on The Fragile, we toured Downward Spiral for two years, and we spent a year working with Manson and doing some soundtrack stuff. And it was two solid years working on The Fragile. And it was the best period of my life creatively and I think as far as sorting things out so I don't think I have to do that again, or I hope I don't anyway.

LB: Cause you can really tell just listen to the album you can really tell that there must have been a good therapy. It seems like it's getting all out. Now we gonna have a look at the second single, video "Into The Void". How come you chose to work with Walter Stern for that one?

TR: {I liked the work Walter done, I had done it before}. I got on with him when we talked about ideas. I'm not happy with the video, just to be honest with you. It's like it was the video that made me say "I'm not gonna do any other videos, unless I do it myself", so...

LB: What was it you didn't like with it?

TR: It's just, in my head it looked a certain way, it was my treatment, it was my concept, and an execution because I trusted it to other people. It wasn't what I thought it would be. So starting at the bottom and realizing that I went about it the wrong way.

LB: The only thing for me that it seems like the close up idea is obviously a brilliant idea and its really cool but than the live that's from LA seems a little bit out of place. But it's a good video.

TR: It's... [Laughs]

LB: [laughs] I quite like it, I think we should have a look at it. Here it is, "Into The Void".



LB: Welcome back, we're still here at Roskilde and I've got an undisputed pleasure of sitting here with Trent Reznor. Now we'll talk about a little bit of live stuff now, we should. One thing on your album is that there's layer and layer with sounds and different things. How do you try to reproduce that sound live or is it a completely different thing?

TR: When I'm in the studio I never really think about how I'll do it live. I just threat the studio and instruments and try to make it the best I can make it. Than I realize later, I see how deep I've dug the hole for myself as far as trying to recreate it live. Generally what I do is I sit down with the band who I figure is the best that ever been, and I kind of lay the ground rules out and I say "Let's just see what sounds right and let's not concern ourselves with trying it to make sound like the album, cause it isn't the album." And then sometimes the ones you don't expect that would work take off really well, and others you do think would be obvious don't translate as well and that's kind of disappoints you. We spent a couple of months when the record was finished, or as we were finishing the record, just really feeling each other out musically, seeing the best ways to attack things. And some pleasant surprise is that I think we've accomplished what we were set out to do. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be in the beginning.

LB: Now I heard that you were looking for a singer, like you asked people to send you demos. Did you find anything by that?

TR: I've got a pile of five thousand tapes that's stacked up while I've been gone. I have to go through that some of which are pretty good.

LB: Some bad ones? [Smiles]

TR: Plenty bad ones too. But kind of the idea is I think one of the things that I'm gonna work on next is a project outside Nine Inch Nails. I'll write and play the music but I don't wanna sing. Just to get a just position of different genres of music thrown together and see what... just for stimulation. I think it's unhealthy to be too self-absorbed. And I'm pretty self-absorbed right now, so... [Laughs]

LB: [laughs] Let's have a look at some of the live performances from the ... this is from the Orange Stage live from Roskilde.


[Courtesy of STV Television Denmark]

LB: So there you go. That was some of the live stuff from the Orange Stage with Nine Inch Nails. Now I thought, well actually you were gonna have a choice of video here but then I decided I was gonna choose one for you. [both laugh] It's nice isn't it? Now It's a really nice video, that you did a remix of David Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans". Now how did that come about?

TR: The very last time we toured before The Fragile tour, I got a call from David Bowie saying that he just done The Outside album and he asked if we wanted to go on tour with him. And it seemed like it might be a fun thing to do and it was a nice way to compliment on too long tour for Downward Spiral where we could go out and just... We went on before him and we had our set that metamorphosed from my band into him where he came out and sang with us and then my band left and I sang with him and then I left and it was his band. It was a really cool experience to work with someone who had been like your major inspiration and hero and to find out that he is actually a great guy too. And after that he just called and asked if I was interested in doing a remix of his track off the next record. And it was fun to do and he liked it enough to decide it for a video.

LB: And whose was idea for a video?

TR: We kinda of a synchronicity going on where I got a treatment sent to me. It was kinda based on a "Taxi Driver", paranoia based thing. And at the same time I was in... Something was wrong with me when I was watching "Taxi Driver" like every couple of days.

LB: Every couple of days? [Laughs]

TR: It's... It's not a wise move at all! You start to lose it there for a while... and I thought this is really strange that these worlds came together like that so I decided to do it. I thought the video turned out good, it was fun to do. I'm proud of it.

LB: Could you stop watching "Taxi Driver" after the video? Was it a good therapy? [Smiles]

TR: It kinda of worried me a bit for a while. I haven't seen it for... [Smiles and looks at his watch] Oh it's been 2 weeks now!

[Both laugh]

LB: All right, let's have a look at David Bowie being chased through the streets of New York by this guy here [points at Trent]. And thanks a lot for talking to us.

[They shake hands]



Transcribed by Keith Duemling

View the NIN Hotline article index