After six years, the leader of Nine Inch Nails is back with a new album ("With teeth") that reveals the darkest period of his life, during which
By Silvia Maestrutti for Clarin (Argentinan Newspaper) on March 25, 2005
”At least I am consistent," says Trent Reznor with a little smile that is short from ironic when he recalls that in May 2000, in Miami, the first question Sí! asked him was the same question we are asking now: why did you take six years to put out a Nine Inch Nails album, back then it was The Fragile (successor to The Downward Spiral) and today it is the successor to The Fragile: With Teeth.
In that occasion he talked about writer’s block, the death of his grandmother, having been busy producing an album for his then friend Marilyn Manson. This time, the question opened the door for brutal honesty. "On my way here (a very hip Los Angeles hotel) I was wondering how much was I willing to talk about what was happening in my life. And I realized that I cannot talk about the album without talking about how it was born… I would be dodging a lot of questions if I don’t tell the truth. And the truth is that I had to assume I was an addict and an alcoholic, which is something I had been denying for a long time. My addiction was also the reason why it took me so long to release the previous album."
Very serene, very paused, informally dressed, not at all “produced”, with a few extra pounds that do look good on him, Reznor sips from a glass of water and clears his throat every time he picks up the story… which eventually ends with him entering rehab and feeling sober for the first time in many, many years. "I hit rock bottom by the end of the last tour (The Fragility Tour). Then I understood I had two options: salvation or hell,” he confesses.
—What was it that had you trapped?
—Alcohol, mainly, but after drinking, cocaine seemed like a good idea... a week afterwards I would not remember what had happened, and I felt like shit. Making The Fragile was my lowest point. I went into rehab for a while and kept it secret because I was embarrassed. The first lesson I learned was that an addiction is a disease, and that alcoholism is an addiction. While recording The Fragile, I stayed sober for two years, but I was far from being recovered. When the album came out and went straight to No. 1 I had to go and have a drink, and then the whole process started again. I spent a year on the road feeling sick all the time, feeling withdrawal symptoms… feeling panic that if I didn’t drink, I’d get sick. Fit was a very dark period of my life, and I ended up hating myself.
—How was it that you decided to stop all that?
—Had someone told me I had to cut an arm to get out of it, I swear, I would have. I realized I had moved out to New Orleans to be in the middle of nowhere, because that is a great city to drink and hide.
Trent has been living in Los Angeles since 2004, in a house hidden in the hills of Beverly Hills. However, he keeps his recording studio in New Orleans, which was built where a funeral house used to exist -where else! It was in 2001, he explains, when he removed the blindfold, and was able to see that the world had not changed… but he had.
"I didn’t wanted to rush into writing another album, I wanted to give myself some time to get used to my new skin, to do therapy, to put this gigantic closet full of shit in order. The truth is, I was also afraid I might not be able to write again. I was afraid my brain had blew out of my nose.” He also says that, in a very disciplined fashion, he began writing two songs a week, and that at some point he realized he had enough material for two albums. "While writing I began to realize that instead of being limited by sobriety, I was actually free, and that I was able to think. That made me feel like I had new superpowers." He also thanks his record company for the support: "In my own defence I can say that I haven’t released bad albums just to make money."
—Who is, in short, Trent Reznor model 2005?
—Someone who struggles to find his place in the world. I feel I’m like coming out of a cave from a time machine, and I find I’m 39 years old. How did that happen?
—Well, not 39 for long. Next May 17 you’ll be 40...
MARILYN MANSON. "I haven’t seen him in years. We were very good friends, but he invested a lot of energy trying to destroy our friendship. More than I did. Once he became famous he started to talk shit. However, I don’t wish him bad...".
DAVE GROHL. "I met him a few years ago when we played a festival in Australia together. He’s a great guy. I’ve used his way of playing drums as a point of reference several times. For this album, I called him and he said Yes, so we did it….and it sounds great!"
ARGENTINA. "I hope to go there by the end of the year, it is something I’m discussing with my new team. I fired my manager, who was my best friend: he said we shouldn’t play South America because if we stayed in the States we would make more money."