20th Anniversary Ed: Reznor Interview
Originally published in Alternative Press on June 1, 2005
Why do you pull these fucking zingers out on me? [pauses] Let's see...Still alive and kicking.
Your current tour sold out in a matter of minutes, and With Teeth is pretty solid. Were you shocked at the response to things, since you've been out of the spotlight for five years? Sure. The reason With Teeth took a long time is because i had to get my shit together. Right after the last tour, it was time to seriously look into the mirror and make a visit to the clinic. At that point, the only thing i wanted to do was try to stay alive and turn my life around. The record came from a pretty humble place. I didnt know if i could write; I didnt know if i had damaged my brain. Then, several thoughts down the line, I didnt think anybody cared, being as there was another five-year gap between records. I can hypothesize that since music has gotten so shitty in general, I look less bad. [laughter] It makes me feel good, and i'm allowing myself to feel good about some things right now.
Despite the gaps between releases, you've done a lot for electronic-based rock, and in the process, you've surpassed many of your heroes. The scope of your influence has touched not only electronic and industrial rock, but also a lot of subgenres in punk and hardcore. Did you ever imagine having iconic status? In this wave of press, ive been asked how it feels to be citied as an influence. Does it feel good? Sure it does. I dont spend a lot of time thinking about it. I'm proud of the work i've done. There was a time when i was very concerned about what my icons thought about me. I didn't want to get big, and when the records started selling, i didn't think i was cool anymore because too many people liked my record. I was one of those people who would hate my band because it got bigger than the niche i was comfortable with. These days, what feels different is that in those days when i swore i didnt care, i did define myself by what people thought of my art. What feels different is that if it takes a shit tomorrow and nobody likes it, i'll be disappointed, but it's not going to change the way i feel about the record.
Looking over your tenure on the various covers of ap, your career parallels the trajectory of alt-rock. Is there anything that you find different-good, bad or hopeful-about the current state of music? It's tough to say. Two weeks ago, my new record was leaked onto the internet. I typed the name of the album [into a search engine], and in 40 minutes, i had the whole album in my computer, as good of quality as it could be as if i downloaded it legally or bought the CD. And i thought, what a ludicrous industry this is, to hope people dont do that. What could be more convenient? There's no real incentive to buy a disc. Now, i like to consider myself an optimist in terms of finding bands i think are exciting. what overshadows it is, more often than not, i've been told to check out a band that's "really cool-like this, like this," because it's been marketed up the ass. It just feels desperate. I don't feel any genuine groundswell of things cropping up.
Say something nice about AP. I used to really love reading your magazine before the Vans Warped Tour bought it. Sorry, man.
Quaint. Say something evil about AP. [laughs]I used to really love reading your magazine before the Vans Warped Tour bought it.
Transcribed by ninedead