Trent Reznor Talks NIN

Originally published in Rockview Interviews on July 28, 1998

NIN founder Michael Trent Reznor was born in Pennsylvania. He began studying music at 5 years of age and he learned to play piano, sax and tuba. When his parents divorced he was raised by his maternal granparents. He studied computer engineering at college and after a succession of groups formed Nine Inch Nails to explore dance music and techno. Reznor did all the writing, performing and producing and save for the drummer he only brought musicians in when he was touring. This ultimate control factor is the success of Trent Reznor's NIN- even to the extent of forming his own record label and signing with bands such as Marilyn Manson. In a period of two years he went from nothing to a platinum selling artist/band. NIN giged everywhere they could because the band had something to say and they stuck to their guns. From "Woodstock 94" to "Grammy awards" to film soundtracks and personal encounters with Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain's widow, Trent Reznor has ascended from underground to pop mainstream and as he says "I focus on the pain/ the only thing that's real."

"When alternative music became mainstream and wiped out LA Metal bands that was good" says Reznor, "however people have been hoodwinked into believing that bands like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots were alternative bands and they're not."

Most of today's music is lifeless, he says, boring and bland and very few bands challenge or do anything new- unlike Nine Inch Nails and Reznor.

Reznor's unique determination has moved him ever forward in the music industry and he has his finger on the pulse. In this exclusive interview [Rockreview Interview - "Trent Reznor Talks NIN"] he talks about past record company problems and the effects this had on his creativity and attitude. He certainly has no love for the media nor the marketing process of the music industry and he tells us his opinion on magazines like NME and programmes such as MTV. "Hype is great for launching or making a band, he syas, but unless they have substance they have nothing to stand up by when the media hype discards them."

He is very much a loner and has found that his greatest influence has been his aggression and frustration which came out in the EP "Broken." This came at a time when he was in a major conflict period with his record company and going through a personal trauma. From that he saw where he was boxed into a corner and he decided to explore musically and move to synths from guitars. He uses organic sounds- such as swarms of bees- and he explores textures and tension through synths rather than loud guitars.

As a young person he decided that he didn't want to work at the gas station down the street and he had to get out. He found things through reading, movies, and music and doing things his own way. Does he mean to come across as aggressive, over indulgent and miserable? He says no, he sets out to be extreme, over the top and it is meant to be that way. He doesn't believe in wasting money unnecessarily especially when it comes to recording videos. "Videos are a necessary evil in marketing of records today," he observes, "all videos look the same and those that are controversial will not get played- it's stupid and doesn't need to be that way." Reznor is controversial and he wants to set people thinking. Controversy sometimes isn't deliberate though- like the time NIN recorded the album "The Downward Spiral" in the mansion where Charles Manson's minions murdered actress Sharon Tate. Although NIN have become a big band they have done it without using the channels of mainstream. As Reznor maintains "I've done things on my own terms."

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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