Interview with Trent Reznor

Originally published in FHM Magazine on January 1, 2000

FHM: You once lived in Sharon Tate's house, where the Charles Manson murders took place. Your new gaff is a former funeral parlour in New Orleans. What's up with you, then?

TRENT: You know, I'm always getting the old, "You used to live in the Tate house, now you live in a funeral house. Now you hang upside down at night and sleep in fresh earth." The reality was we had to build a studio from scratch, because there wasn't any in New Orleans with technology past 1975. The place we used just happened to be available.

FHM: Did you inherit any of the old funeral accoutrements?

TRENT: I discovered the only artifacts that came with it when we were renovating. A bunch of us were in the back with the hammers, sorting out the new laundry room - in what we later realised was the old embalming room. There was this horrible moment when someone twisted a pipe. I don't know what it was that came out, but it was the most foul- smelling liquid we have ever experienced in our lives. Three of us gagged, two of us were vomiting everywhere.

FHM: Still, a funeral home is good for your miserable, "darker-than- black" image...

TRENT: I'm always portrayed as a gloom and doom guy - and that's understandable from what I've written about. But I read about myself now, and I think, "This isn't really me." It's something to hide behind - a slightly altered past, something a bit more intriguing.

FHM: Are you a practical joker, then? Ever get so rowdy that the rozzers have to be called in?

TRENT: Yeah - a couple of times. Last year, I had an insane fan who was stalking me. She was doing weird things - like listening to or erasing the messages on my answer machine. We found out that she'd worked out my machine access code simply by dialling a hundred different numbers until she got it. She'd even found my credit card number, called the phone company and pretended to be my wife.

FHM: So what did you do?

TRENT: I don't know how much of this I should be saying. But I found this software on my computer that pitch-shifted my voice - not like Mickey Mouse, but so I sounded like a woman. I called up my manager and pretended that I was her - the insane fan. I was screaming, "This shit's really going to hit the fan now! I'm not happy with what you're doing!" - I thought for sure he'd know it was me, but he put the phone down and called the FBI. They went around to arrest the woman, and I had to call them up and explain. There's nothing like trying to tell the cops: "It was just me fucking around!"

FHM: Your manager must have been cock-a-hoop...

TRENT: Oh, we get him like that all the time. Once, I bet a friend that I could get my manager to go out into the middle of an algae-filled Louisiana swamp at midnight. I pretended I was looking at a house to rent, but the bridge was out. So we found these two guys, who were actually park rangers, but we paid them to act like serious rednecks. "Yeah, we'll give y'all a ride out," they said, and rowed us right out into the middle of nowhere in a tiny Cajun boat, and stopped. "Now let's talk about an exit fee, boys," they said. My manager went fucking white, and he was like, "Hold onto your beer bottles. We're going to have to fight our way out."

FHM: Eye-shadowed goth rocker Marilyn Manson - whose album Antichrist Superstar you produced - said in his autobiography that your antics on tour were utterly depraved...

TRENT: Hmm. Some revisionist history definitely went down there. But it's difficult to describe out tours out of context, because that context is madness. On the last tour, you'd have us, the Marilyn Manson guys and the Jim Rise Circus - an even higher level of freaks. Anything goes when you get an extreme bunch of people together - but there was a morality to it all.

FHM: What kind of morality?

TRENT: It was always just drunken stupidity with us - there was never any raping, drugging or taking advantage of people. It was more, "Everybody's feeling ridiculous, how can we outdo each other?" So I'd take a stungun, line up a queue of people and see how many guys down the line I'd shock - that kind of thing. But I was rarely the guy involved. Normally, there'd be Mr. Lifto from the Jim Rose Circus, out to prove again he could lift more with the ring in his cock than anyone else. So he's lifting a folding chair: standing on a table, he's swinging it around - then it rips, blood pours out and everyone's like, "Oh my God." But then the next man has to outdo him somehow, and it goes downhill from there.

FHM: You had your septum - the soft bone between your nostrils - pierced before the last tour. Doesn't it sting a bit?

TRENT: I don't know what the fuck I was thinking when I did that. It was some phase of self-exploration. It was done by this guy claiming to know what he was doing, but he put it in too high and it went through some cartilage. And I was wondering why it still hurt like a fucker eight months later. And on tour my nose often bangs against the microphone - once the ball went the whole way through, and blood was pouring out.

FHM: You've been voted Sexiest Man in Rock, Most Influential Man in Rock - yet in Britain you could walk into Burger King and no-one would know you...

TRENT: Right now not many people recognise me anyway. I've lived in New Orleans for the past few years, and that's a place where people are less enamoured of who you are. I also cut my hair when I started the record, so I went practically invisible. But there's times when you don't feel like being looked at. When you're standing in Wal-Mart with condoms and underpants, you don't want to be judged by the guy behind you.

FHM: Someone e-mailed the office last week with a movie clip of a woman being "entertained" by a friendly dalmatian. Shall we forward it on?

TRENT: No - I think I've seen that one.

FHM: How does it rate amongst your filth collection?

TRENT: Not particularly highly. I found a porn web page - God knows how I stumbled onto it - advertising home videos people had sent in for sale. There was this one called 'Roy's Nut Hang', with the catchline "Extreme Male Genital Torture". So I thought, what the fuck, I'll see what this is. A month later, the tape shows up in the mail with no markings on it whatsoever. I put it in, and it's an hour of Canadian parliament meetings.

FHM: Christ! That's filth...

TRENT: No! You see, all of a sudden it fades out - all that was in case Customs go it. Now, I thought I'd seen some evil shit, but this one is as bad as it gets. Nobody in the studio has made it through the whole tape. For example, I'm looking at something that I realise is some guy's cock and balls - but it has twine wrapped around it so tight it's unrecognisable. Next thing you know, he's sitting with it on the hot plate. His cock is bubbling away - and it's sticking, so he's digging at it with a spatula, flipping it over. And if that wasn't bad enough, next thing - it's time to remove the problem, man! Full penis removal - and I'll tell you the part that really gets you. The final little bit of meat - snap! - coming off.

FHM: Dear God...

TRENT: I know - and it can't be faked. It's not as if we sit around thinking, "Wow! That's great," but when the challenge for the worst porn comes, that one does the trick. It stuck with me for a while, I can tell you.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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