Interview with Trent Reznor

Originally published in Ralph on May 1, 2000

David Bowie has called Trent Reznor “one of the greats of modern American music”. Time magazine described the leader of American industrial rock giants Nine Inch Nails as one of the 25 most influential people in the US. Like all good geniuses, though, he's a little screwed up. His battle with depression meant it took five years for Nine Inch Nails to release their latest album, The Fragile, He's also responsible for the rise of Marilyn Manson. He produced most of Manson's albums, although the gothic duo had a falling out.

Have you made up with Marilyn Manson?

It's on the horizon. We were in L.A and played practical jokes on each other, so it's around the corner.

Your live show is very physical. What's the worst injury you've inflicted?

Our old drummer caught a mike stand in the forehead and got stiches. It should have been a lot worse. Everything should have happened worse than it has. We’ve all gotten off lucky - just, a cut here and there, nothing too bad.

The Downward Spiral was recorded in the LA house where the Charles Manson murders took place. For The Fragile, you opted for a New Orleans funeral parlour...

It reads as all spooky and calculated. The reality was for The Downward Spiral we needed to rent a house in LA. The one we liked happened to be the Manson house. We found out later that dav, "Fuck! That's the house where Sharon Tate was murdered! "It was half the price of a11 the others, I'm not afraid of fucking ghosts. So we went and saw it again. That time it was spooky because we'd looked through ‘Helter Skelter’ (a book on the Mason slayings) and checked it all out. But the house wasn't scary. It was a cool house that served the purpose we needed it to do. I now have a studio that exists in a former funeral parlour in New Orleans. I live in New Orleans, where there are no studios. 1 have a lot of equipment, so 1 need a building that 1 can set my shit up in. With the zoning laws in New Orleans, for some reason funeral parlours and music studios come under the same sub-code - I'm not making this up. There were about four or five abandoned ones, and one had been empty for 10 or 15 years. It wasn't like there was fresh meat coming out. So we took the place. Then I started thinking how all these rumours will start. To fuck everybody off, I took the door from the Tate house and put it on the door of the funeral home.

Are drugs an Issue for the band?

They aren't an issue now. There have been times when they have. They've been used creatively and they've been used abusively. When we did Downward Spiral, we did mushrooms a lot. Timothy Leary lived right in front of us so we'd sit around talking about the fabric of the universe and the level we’re at. It helped me in a bullshit, pseudo-enlightened kind of drug way.

We were on tour, last time for two-and-a-half years. It got into madness. You didn't want to think too much – you just wanted to do shuttled to the next place. Being immersed in a world where your arse is kissed by everybody, and everywhere you go, there's anything you want. "Here, what do you want? Here's everything. Do everything."

That works on you after a while. That took its toll. It made me realise at the end of that tour, and at the end of producing Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar record. that I'm on a train heading somewhere 1 don't want to go. I'm kind of turnig into somebody that 1 don't like.

What car do you drive?

Right now I have a Porsche. That's my one rock-star kind of thing that 1 have. Here's how it's justified. My life for the last couple of years has been sitting in the studio and that’s, it. Come about four or five o'clock there's always a tropical rainstorm in New Orleans. When it rains, it rains. Like jungle rain! We’d alwavs say, “Let's go for a drive!” and we’d just take it out for an hour, come back refreshed and get to work for the rest of the night. Whats better therapy - driving the Porsche or playing with a computer? They're different things. 1 love sitting in front, of a computer and I'll come up with any reason to do it. But getting outside and listening to something loud and going fast for a minute that undoes a lot of the shit.

Mucking around with Photoshop [a graphics program] and mucking around with an audio program are too similar. I spend all day doing that, so it's good to get out. We have jet skis, and we'll go down the canals to where the swamps are. That’s another good thing that we did. Full speed, alligators in the water, totally stupid, but fun. Rea1, real fun. Everv time someone would fall in, you'd see a fucking tail coming at them. "There's an alligator". But you get used to it. That was our once-a-week, once-every-two-week outing just to clear your head out. You'd come back to the studio and have a BBQ and be ready to vanish into the darkness for another week or so. It was a lot of fun, and I really miss those times.

Is Nine inch Nails good music for sex?

Not for me. 1 can't quit listening to it, and I get distracted.

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