Originally published in Rock Sound Magazine on December 1, 1999

Meeting Trent reznor, is like, when you are kid, going up for the first time on the knees of a santa clauss on a shopping center. with the excitation also mixes the irrepressible desire for pull his beard, to see who hides behind. But the adults make well the things and the polaroid working on the chain (that mean work with a very big intensitivity), the occasion is presented rarely.

With Reznor, the malicious photographer is personalized here by a press (stress ?) attached who passes just the hand by the door. Five fingers tended in fateful own way of ultimatum. it seems the count of Enzo in " The Great Blue " and, at this time there, like him besides, oxygen does not arrive any more completely at the brain. Then, is this the truth Trent Reznor whom we met or one of the characters formatted for the press? What matters... Faked or not, the magic operated. And with those who would laugh of our credulity, we will answear to them that finally, it is not all days that we meet God. Consequently, forgive our devotion...

Generally, people compare a double album to a " concept " disc . Is this the case?

Trent Reznor: it obviously did not come to me before composing "The Fragile " to make it a " concept album "... I won't speak about concept, but about thoughts ", the idea to leave scene and to ask me why it took me four years for recover.

And precisely, why?

T.R.: Because it was already necessary to come out two years of tour for " The Downward Spiral ". This tour was necessary to transmit the message, since we did not have nor the TV and even less the radios in the pocket. We thus toured and toured again in America where we passed from the statute of average group to the large group. During this time, I lowered the arms vis-a-vis with my depression of which I had not been wary, that I had not felt coming and who embanked me. More especially as the tour finished. When I left the tour bus, I found myself in a state of major depression. I did not know any more who I was, I were not happy any more. fron the one's hand, I could have all that I wanted, and on the other's hand, I had never felt myself so unhappy in my whole life. I did not want to begin an album at this time . I wanted to pose to me and I felt that I was at a crucial time where it was necessary for me to sit down and to think seriously of my case. I thus started to work with Manson in " Antichrist Superstar ". That took me two years, we became friendly and it was a pleasure to work with him, I liked what he wanted to say in his art and his manner of doing it. It was a chance for me also to test myself on the role of producer. I think that it came out an album of there rather good, even if that us more time than envisaged.

You have the impression to learned something from it?

T.R.: That was for me a manner of returning in studio, to remain in the music. But in fact, all that resulted from this business was a destroyed friendship. The celebrity distorted it all. Our personalities changed and we choosed to follow different paths. And, at the place where I landed, there were no more friends, moreover, I had still not solved my own problems. My grandmother who raised me died, I did not succed in getting through this and I believe I still have a problem on this subject. I thus spent time to activate myself on parallel projects of production, movie Soundtrack... But all that I wished to do was to begin working on my next album, because I knew that my music (as for my preceding albums) had therapeutic virtues. I also knew that it was necessary to me that I pass by this period of introspection, that I have to take my head between my hands in order to know who I was really. I did not think having the force to do that, so pushed back the expiry until the end, until I touch the bottom. As I had courage to admit that I had problems, I succeeded in sitting with my piano and feeling creative again.i give myself the right of it. What came out of this... I found it very good and I felt myself immediately better. The creative process generated my own cure, my own quest. What was unusual on the other hand was my manner of conceiving my music.

an accessible album of rock'n'roll

What was different this time ?

T.R.: For " The Downward Spiral ", for example, I knew very well where I wanted to go, I had a kind of musical groundwork in my head whereas for this one, I did not have any idea of it. I started this album, it is my unconscious which wrote the music. My reason and all my musical logic missed. It is this form of " conscience " absent which, oddly, also helped me to cure. Alan Moulder, the producer, arrived later, and we both realized the completely organic approach and the turning that took the record. It for that reason that we worked with truths instruments, because it is this "fragile" quality which interested us and on which we want to deepen. I so decided to call the album " The Fragile ". This disc took me two years to be realised, of the beginning to the end, and half of this time were devoted to the subconscious. The second half was more conscious because on this second half, I really tested the desire to realise an accessible album of rock'n'roll. It is at the end of this adventure which I realise that this album was an entity, I listened to it as only one single part which had sense. It was necessary that I become vulnerable to make it takes place. In the middle of all these passive resolutions, this album landed at a precise place. It is a history, not a voice. Something which emphasizes ends, forms of a place that I believed destroyed.

It is difficult, almost impossible, to listen to your album from the beginning to the end...

T.R.: My goal was already to make that the titles are connected correctly (laughts)! If this album is so long and indeed rather heavy to digest it is that every piece was built with a single and enormous instrumental base. If we had removed all the ' grease' once the record was finished, it is true that we would have only one album instead of two. Personnaly I did not see it this way. Each element has its fundamental place, or else it would not remained the flesh but the bones! When I decided to make two albums, I wanted that it was seen like a face ' A' and a face ' B' which would give breath to the unit, and not like an asphyxiating punishment.

According to you, is this album fiction or non-fiction?

T.R.: It is absolutely of the non-fiction... I would like to say to you the contrary (laughts)! It's strange for me to say it today, but I came from a place where I was pitiful and this disc helped me to make me feel me well in my skin, I found the taste to be happy of myself. It is this disc which rebuilt me, I fell myself a million times better than when I began this album.

There is a strong contrast between two songs like " Closer " and then now " The Fragile " which are on their way, two love songs. One is raw, the other is softer and calms. Is this this therapy that you followed in parallel who helped you to accept this side of your personality?

T.R.: Yes, it let me at least made possible to look myself in a less critical way and to admit that certain people in my life made me good as others were harmful for me. " the Downward Spiral" was a hard, violent disk from somebody unable to have retreat on the things and people. " The Fragile " is a tolerant disc, which forgives the errors and the faults of the others since myself I have admitted mine.

Which role plays the country in which you were born and where you live?

T.R.: I think that to summarize, America is in any case a violent country. Television, the movie and particularly this manner of processing the data become increasingly hard. Sensational is needed. It is an odd paradox to see a movie like " Natural Born Killer " of Oliver Stone being censored whereas the track race against the car of O.J.Simpson was retransmitted on line on all the TV. I admit it, I was myself hypnotized by these two events. One displays the faces of serial killers projected like celebrities and it is what they are in some extent. But there is a second degree with all that that the young people are not inevitably capable to dissect. The life does not look like a video game. when you die, there is not two small blocks on the right in bottom of the screen which allow you play again.

the bad guy of the story

Your music, like the Manson one, was shown finger after the massacre of Columbine Highschool...

T.R.: What occurred to Littleton is a true tragedy. The medias have to find scapegoat but by occulting obviously completely their responsibilities. it was neede once more to "sensationnalise " this story and to put a face on the cover of magasine, so it was the music. I found ridiculous that they show Marilyn Manson whereas there is no connection with what occurred. he was the bad guy of the story. It is easy for the medias to point finger somebody like him. It is forgotten whereas the true faulty ones are the parents. But it is a so complex situation...

One of the most discussed European band is Rammstein. They were on an movie soundtrack in which you also took part. What do you think about it?

T.R.: Honestly, I do not know enough their music to allow me a comment. All that I know, is that David Lynch is a large fan of the group and that he wanted them on the movie soundtrack of " Lost Highway ".

Your fans has a very black and mysterious image of you. On Internet, we can even read that you compose only the night in your death chamber of News-Orleans...

T.R.: Oh no (laughts)! It hapens to me of course but I do not compose only during the night, I am not a vampire!

In your video " Closure ", we can see you destroying a backsatge and obviously it amuses yourself and your team, whereas all break in pieces. It is a relatively violent scene. How do you approach this next tour?

T.R.: The reason for which I called this video " Closure " was some share a manner of "closing" the chapter... this tour had become ridiculous, too long also... To be constantly with people like Marilyn Manson and the circus which goes around, use a lot of energy. The music and the attitude pushed us to come each evening to dangerous ends. We all are fallen in a state close to the madness (long pauses - ndr)... For me, that formed part of all this diagram of self-destruction in which I had engulfed myself. It was a manner of not existing anymore. The new album represents really the new Nine Inch Nails. I have other objectives now. I say that a few months before touring but I'll invite backstage in a few times so that you can see by yourself! (laughts) I do not regret anything of this period but this video is really for me an indelible print. So that I can never forget what I was able to do, so that I'll never forget the state of major despair in which I was at this time and where the music can also lead you.

heart and tripe

Do you feel an unspecified pressure of your public which precisely likes this destructor dimensions in you?

T.R.: I ask myself this question a lot while I composed... I felt which way was taking my music and I wondered well how the public or the critic was going to perceive this transformation. To tell the truth, I did not put myself the question a long time, since I quickly realized that my first concern was that to remain true and honest. This disc comes from the heart and the tripe. Such an amount of worse if there is not a ' title radio' or if the fans write their disappointment on the Net. Now that the disc came out, I am serene and I read without problems the articles or the comments made on my subject. I knew that this album was different, that it throws less blows of fists on the mouth than ' Downward Spiral' for example... But I knew that it was also the exact reflexion of what I had become. The Trent Reznor of this famous video does not exist any more. I lost a lot of people during this transformation and this album sprobably make me lose others. now, I sleep well the night and I look myself in the mirror each morning without dislike. I read positive criticisms on this album, and that pleases to me. Those people surely had to mature at the same time as me. For as much, I hate to think that I make music of old man! That that is there, I crossed the mark of the thirty years and all these stupidity...

Would you say that " The Fragile " is always an album of industrial music?

T.R.: I do not know, because in the United States, all is classified and ranged. Yes I'll probably be on store next than Ministry and Front 242 (even if I think of not being so hard). For me, there are the spirit and abstract quality to use the sounds like a way of carrying an emotional cross. On " Pretty Hate Machine ", I incorporated sounds, noises in this manner. But this album is much freer, I don't care to be still belonged or not to the industrial movement.

There are in " The Fragile " pure references to the music of the 70' S, had you conscience of it when you composed?

T.R.: Yes... At least I knew it pertinently after having taken a little retreat on my tracks that people would point of the finger some songs which refer to Bowie, Iggy Pop and even certain albums of Queen... The technique of production was completely abstract. We had some points of reference. On certain solos of guitars in particular, I realized it well, but it came so much from an unconscious and instinctive place, that I thought that it was good. You know, I did not listen to any music during the realization of " The Fragile ", but there are influences which flash back in one way or another at a certain time, it is obvious.

You give to one of your main titles a French name ("La Mer") why?

T.R.: it does not have a direct relation with France. It was the moment when I was the lowest. I went to install me in Big Sur, on my house on the Californian coast during a few months. I remember spending whole hours looking at the ocean, perched on my rock. The place was not a small sympathetic beach, but rather of abrupt cliffs where were crushed violently enormous cold waves. I was perched in top of this rock and it is from there that came this song. Calms, the beauty and the fear was inspired to me by the ocean. If I called it " La Mer " it is because I like his French name, it is all. I found it more poetic than " The Sea " (to smile)...

You agreed for the first time of your career to play live in TV for the time of last MTV AWARDS. What motivated you to go there?

T.R.: It was a difficult decision to take, more especially because I left a long period of silence. Our album came out simultaneously, and I was asked if I wanted to take part in that show. I wondered whether, in this context, we could make good impression, then I asked who was going to play live that evening. When I had the list of each artist, I saw that that was going to be contrary to what we want to want to show and I found that very stimulant (smile)...

Which effect does it do to be number one in famous American Billboard?

T.R.: It is very flattering! Nine Nails Inch in front of Backstreet Boys! It is not an album that I would have even imagined to go in that classification more especially as that had never arrived to us before.

at the edge of the pit

Considering the fact that making music is wanting to seduce, do you think that the seduction is dangerous?

T.R.: If I understood you well, hum... Much of what I aspire to do... I realized that my public was much more significant than it have to be, and I am surprised also that it buys this album, because I think that it does not know really what there is inside... I like the idea to go beyond what is subversive, to draw a feature on what is awaited. I spent so much time on this album to try to create a different and particular atmosphere by occulting precisely completely my seducing nature which had personally led me at the edge of the pit... That said, I like the idea always as much to give an apple to people inside whom would be a razor blade...

What brought Nine Inch Nails to you?

T.R.: I am happy today as I did not think any more of being it. I do not want to imagine what I could become if I had not had my music and this destiny. Oddly, Nine Inch Nails took me along to deepest before carrying me to highest. Today, I am finally happy.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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