NINEINCHNAILS Take off the masks

Originally published in Rock'n'folk Magazine on December 1, 1999

Five years that the rock'n'roll biz tracked the animal with the blackened claws. Income of all excesses of pure creation, the Trent Reznor dares " Fragile ", a monolith raised to the phantom glory of years 2000.

Far from the madness from the marathon tours and post-creative anguish of the artist, the Trent Reznor is finally ready to speak with R&F about his five years about quasi-silence. Today reinflated by the output of his double album who likes like symphony bruitist, the dark baron of the electronic rock'n'roll is on the point of breaking silence, the serene spirit and the easy verb. The thinking head of Nine Inch Nails approaches now on his past like a pit above which it finally dares to lean, his future like a break, and present... It is now. With a pessimism on flower of skin, of an introverted personality and a certain tendency to play with the extremes, Trent Reznor quickly get othe aura of a rock'n'roll-star giving the most glaucous phantasms. An aura where find themselves, Gothic crow, industrial Cyberpunk and metal kids satanic... which sees in him a big brother mirror, degaging the ground undermined their nightmares, catalysing their fears, their hates, their differences and also their hopes in survival vis-a-vis to a rock'n'roll standardized by the multinationals.

Removed of his life jackets lattices and his haircut like " The Crow ", Reznor raises today a less dark appearance, more posed, feeling increased by the first echoes of the American press according to which he had completed the crossing of his emotional desert and could finally reconsider his years of loneliness, of flirt with drug and terrible fear of the musical vacuum.

Quietly installed in a room of his London hotel, the Master of Nine Inch Nails distils his interviews with the dropper and requests to excuse it of his delay caused by a bad cold which condemned it to cancel its timetable of the day before. Unconscious wink at five years of apparent inactivity, he enters instantaneously the sharp one of the subject by approaching the last moments of the hard process of creation of " The Fragile ": " I am in a funny state of mind. I have just spent the two last years locked up in a studio with the five same people and now i'm here, speaking about an album from which the sense and the direction still escape to me a little " Some words suffice for Trent to explain the reason of long fragile waiting of " The Fragile": the doubt and the fear of the judgement. "If I had not doubted, I would have certainly badly lived the fact of being too trustful for the orientation which I finally chose. Fortunately for me, as soon as the disc was finished, I immediately had a positive feedback of those who were surround me. Criticisms were positive and in a certain way, it is only at this time that I really felt the pressure to fall down." This pressure has made his appearance when Nine Inch Nails starts a tour with the premonitory name of Self-service Destruct Tour. It's at this time than it passes from the statute of leader of cult alternative group to the one of universal pop-star. The incredible technological challenge and musical work revealed by "The Downward Spiral " are then destroyed by the feeling that Reznor lost his way, his relevance and that the world will not leave him any chance vis-a-vis of the failure " For the period which followed the round, I have been exceeded by the events because I had never really thunk that success can inspire to me at this point. In order to avoid bringing myself in first line, I thus invested myself in various projects (the Soundtracks of " Quake ", " Lost Highway ", " Natural Born killer ", the remixes, etc ) but, as long as I did not have the strengh to confront myself with my problems, the anguish of the blank page planed above me. It is one of the reasons which make that, in an unconscious way, I asserted myself an infernal rate when I finally started to compose. I slept four hours per night, I were awaked by ideas of texts, melodies and I was unable to sleep again by fear of forgetting some, so I took the path of the studio "

To face my daemons

Whereas each one started to believe in the output of this new album as in the end of the world according to Paco Rabanne, the thinking head of NIN locked up finally in his studio of News-Orleans where it records demos on demos... without general direction. It contacts then Alan Moulder, engineer producing with whom it had already collaborated on his preceding LP. " When I started to compose, I knew exactly what I did not want to make, but I did not have any idea from where I wanted to go, simply because I passed through an acute crisis (it raises the eyes to the sky and sighs)... and I was really unhappy, I depressed since too long without wanting to accept it. " In the case of Reznor and with the difference of many candidates to the "fashion depression", this one indeed for a long time hides some corpses in his wall cupboards: the man camouflages difficult family antecedents briskly (divorces of his parents, feeling of abandonment...), a major disappointment towards the business and, cherry on the cake, it loses blow on blow some close relations who really counted " the experiment showed me that I need to go at the bottom of the hole to be able to raise me. I know pertinently that during years, I refused to look at the bottom of my pupils, sit me vis-a-vis with myself to regulate my problems. I avoided confrontation. " Like whoever cross a rite of passage, Trent Reznor learn with his depend that it will be necessary to sacrifice some of his asset and plunge towards the unknown to become... a man " the more I have start to work on me, the more I have take conscience that if the music have already save me, it can do it a second time, for little that I have the courage to face my daemon " he taked his breathing " Finally, I have fear to can't get up if my investment in music was a failure " Trent so go by a therapy to take a necessary retreat, it see that things that haunted him, won't kill him if he can face them. " even if writing has a benefit effect on personnal problems management, you can also take refuge an them and, in my case, I needed to clarify my whole life before going back on it. I think that to recognize that I had a problem by beginning this album literally saved me, the process of creation of ' The Fragile' gave me again force and confiance in myself." Making finally abstraction of the fact that criticize, the fans and his principal rivals await him on the turning, Reznor lets speak his heart and Alan Moulder presses on play-record. " To go in directions which tightened too distant from my universe always make me anxious but, when Alan and I started to record, I felt that I was already released from my anguishes and I did not see any limit to what was going to come out of this studio. So I took various instruments and let to me go to play very abstract things, without real construction. What immediately rained us, is that what we did did not resemble to anything of what we had heard up to now. We did not put ourselves the question to know if that would give place to an instrumental album, a Movie Soundtrack or song... Besides I did not know still if I were going to put voices on all the titles. In fact, I let only my subconscious guide the music " Reznor then refers to the one with he shared the scene and that it also regards as its mentor, David Bowie. " At this time, we listened really much ' low', ' Heroes', ' Lodger', the period Eno and I think that, like them at that time, we did not know what would finally give the whole of the musical parts. The most positive aspect of this experiment is that we never found ourselves with court of ideas "

Therapy by the sound

With good on his head the fact that the musical matter could be always easily directed towards an song option, the NIN caravan arrives nicely at the end of its first year of studio " We then had an almost finished instrumental album but I knew that it was not a logical direction for Nine Inch Nails. I was in addition better in my skin, with the result that I had again all the necessary force to take again the pen and write some text " Result, those of " The fragile " leave perspire the glimmer of hope and of shift... as if Reznor didn't seek anymore to plant this nail of 9 on the middle of his own face. " This album is the witness of peace that I have try to found with myself, like some lyrics express my desire to reconcile myself with somebody that I have wound, neglect, damage... The process of creation of this disc helped me besides to exceed the crisis " By hearing his words, one reminds the account of excesses with Manson and the Jim Rose Circus, violence, sex and drug... " I was never addict with any drug at all. I consumed some (smile) more than reason in circumstances of extreme carelessness, because I tend to let me fell apart when I am bad in my skin. With the passing, excesses in any kind helped me to impose limits to me but there are places where I would not let myself any more involve by simple preoccupation of self-destruction or masochism. To write ' The Fragile' sincerely made me a better man " Effect most audible of this therapy by the sound, the songs that appears on the second part of the design of 'The Fragile'. " When we started to think about songs structures, the number of tracks was multiplied by ten, because we do not want to leave such tracks saturated of ideas. At one time, we found ourselves with nearly forty titles and the terrible responsibility to have to choose those which would be on the album. it is so in thus in all conscience and trying not to pass for dirty pretentious that I have decided to leave towards a double album. In a certain way, trying to separate the instrumental tracks or of the ambient ones would be amount to eject what we have bring until there, be unaware of a part of the history, and that would make lose much of general ambiance of the disc... " It start to laugh " And I can you ensure that when you've just make wait your label five year that you arrive to announce that you will deliver a double album, you have to be justified... " During all this period of creation, the musician and the gourous of show business ravel in suburb of new Orleans. we can see Page Hamilton, Adrian Belew, Bob Erzin - " Detroit Rock City " of Kiss is besides the only declared sample of this album - Rick Slayer/RHCP/Tom Petty... Rubin and more do everything to open the horizon of Nine Inch Nails.

Towards triple CD

" I met these characters at one time or another of my life and they all have me surprised by their state of mind my idea was thus that, if I could join together a group of people having radically different ideas but an unquestionable talent around this project, this one would take another dimension. Accordingly, I never made them play on structures but, each time that they found a passage that they liked, I made them improvise on loops until I hear something which titillates me and which I put it on side for later. It sometimes happened to me to be very abstract on what I asked them, of the style:' play something slow, melodic with phrased. ' Or ' uses your guitar only like percussions. ' That give much of prospect that I wouldn't certainly have only or with the band. " What can unfortunately also lead to plagiarism as on the ' Just Like You Imagine', which have easily can find its place on a album of Bowie. " Hum, that only allow me to make a light wink to ' Outside' and to collect its environment. But I did not do that voluntarily. This title on which find Mike garson and Adrian rev�t in my eyes an unquestionable interest in the final table of ' The Fragile'." Trent began to talk on a chronological explanation of the album, and we learn that the right disc (the second) has been all practically composed after the left one (the first) and that near than ten more tracks stayed on the drawer board... not fully closed. "We've just finished mixing them. They will be release next year on an EP or on singles, but they could very well have been on this album. In fact, I can ensure you that during the last months of mixing, I believed to become insane: the more we advanced, the more I had the impression that we'll go to a triple CD and that he would be released on the new millennium. So cuts have to been made."

Power of the sea

Trent Reznor does not seem to want to enter the competition of mortal tennis table to which were already registered Manson, Courtney Love, Jonathan Davis and other henchmen of MTV. He today learned how to save his emotions and prefers to concentrate on the music rather than on the rumours " I still remember the precise moments when I discovered Pink Floyd, Jesus & the Mary Chain, Bowie and of the pleasure that it gave to me, of the feeling of the feeling to be less only. Today, I do not want to find myself any more in a situation where the anguish to be judged or criticized makes me forget this pleasure of making and hearing music.

Then I try to take my distances with these stories of business which are only peripheral to my passion... " The representative of Interscope comes to let us know that the converstion must end, we just tke time to evoke an element very present in the texts of " The Fragile ": the sea, this Ocean which represents this force which led it to take again the reins of the machine Nine Inch Nails. " little time before the recording, Rick Rubin told me that I need holidays with calms. he borrowed me a house on Big Sur which view on the sea... I was really on my lowest, the aggressivity and the power of the sea reduced my problems to their real size. From now, this Ocean represents a little for me the traversed path... "

Dirty linen

" I have respect for Axl Rose, I wish him all the success that he deserves and if his album sounds a little industrial, I will take it like a compliment... On the other hand, when we played MTV awards, he made pass a press release announcing that it would cut of his disc all the parts of guitars played by Robin Finck (former guitarist of NIN with which Mr. Rose worked during two years and which finally joined Reznor a few months ago) and I find that a little ridiculous, it is a whim of star. Read the insanities written on my account by Brian (Marilyn Manson) affected much myself... He crossed a limit that a friend should not cross, speak about what was private parts. Courtney Love? This poor wretch bitch... Nothing of what she can tell can reach me "

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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