Nine Inch Nails live on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 Show
By Zane Lowe for BBC Radio 1 on April 20, 2005
ZANE: Tonight's live music comes with a healthy amount of anticipation from all over the world as we welcome into Maida Vale studios and back into the fold, Nine Inch Nails. Hello Trent Reznor, how ya doing mate?
TRENT: I'm... doing really well, thank you.
ZANE: Back on stage and in the spotlight, those years away must seem like a very distant memory already.
TRENT: It has been a while hasn't it?
ZANE: [laughs] It has been, admit it! Uh, the obligatory "where the hell have you been?" question springs to mind, uh, so let's make this answer as brief as possible, because you're gonna get asked it a lot.
TRENT: I have been asked that question a lot.
ZANE: Yeah! [laughs]
TRENT: Y'know, um, really what it comes down to is, I started this record, um, officially, January of last year, 2004...
ZANE: How long did you..how long did you spend making it?
TRENT: Well I started writing it in January, it was written, and another half of another album done by May...
ZANE: [expels surprised air]
TRENT: ..uh, recorded over the summer, mixed it last fall. Um.. the time before that was really spent, from the last tour, up to that point... um, [coughs] just to be frank, I had to get my life in order...
TRENT: ...and I was uh... I was in pretty bad shape, with uh... dealing with the problem of addiction, I had to really come to terms with that, and... [coughs] and it had really gotten to a point where it was... die or get better.
ZANE: [expels air]
TRENT: And um, decided to take a little time... to get to... to feel like I'm on Earth again... and...
TRENT: ...get comfortable in a new.. life.
ZANE: You're back, and "with teeth", and that's the name of the album, and if we're talking art imitating life here, I guess... that's another good one, y'know? You-you've-you've, you know, you've really bitten into-into this process, and uh like you said it happened relatively quickly for you once you began, um... you know, you've always been at the front of Nine Inch Nails, it's your, it's, y'know, it's your revolving door, um, yet you surround yourself with great musicians, and who did you involve in the making of this particular record?
TRENT: Well this record, um... initially, I was um, talking with Rick Rubin a lot, and became a... kind of a "mentor", in the uh... way this came about, y'know...
ZANE: He's good at that, y'know! [laughs] He's got a history of doing that for people!
TRENT: Well he's a really great guy, and I...
TRENT: ...and a great guy that, um, was in-instilling confidence in me, in a time where I was... y'know before I started this I really was at a point where... y'know my life was.. getting back in order, and I was trying to put the pieces back in, and I was starting to feel human again, but.. the thing I wasn't sure of is if I had any... talent left. Y'know, if I had anything to say, or if I had the ability to say anything eloquently anymore...
ZANE: Crazy. [laughs]
TRENT: ...and uh, Ri-Rick helped in that.. department, and as things started off... ended up doing this whole record pretty much myself. And I brought in um... I knew from the start I wanted to have live drums..
TRENT: ..so I had Jerome Dillon, my drummer, play uh... a good portion of the record, and I had Dave Grohl play.. another portion.
ZANE: It's always nice when you can pick up your little black book and call Dave, and just say, y'know, "what are you doing this afternoon, do you fancy coming down...
TRENT: Yeah, and...
ZANE: ...dropping some drums?" [laughs]
TRENT: ...what's weird is, I was thinking, oh it would sound good if like a Dave Grohl-type drumming on this song and this song, and then I.. finally dawned on me...
ZANE: He's not dead yet, you can give him a call! [laughs]
TRENT: Why not?! [laughs] Yeah, well, the worst he could say no.. and he..
ZANE: Yeah, right!
TRENT: ..it just so happened he was.. he was into it, and... available, and.. a great guy.
TRENT: And uh, it really worked out well.
ZANE: The Hand That Feeds, uh, very strong reminder of the sound that you've cultivated throughout the years, but people keep focusing on the fact that it-that it definitely has, um, the most sort of "accessible" feel of a single that you've released in a long time, uh.. I guess both of those.. h-uh-sort of, facts, impact on your decision to release it, as your first single in five years?
TRENT: To me, what was frightening about that song, was that it felt pretty obvious..
ZANE: Yeah it does to me.
TRENT: ..and um, I thought in the scope of the record, it doesn't hurt to have a song or two that announces itself right off the bat as.. accessible. Um, at the same time, I think it's one of the ones that burns out the quickest. But um, it counteracts.. a song like With Teeth, which takes a while to understand, or the entire album of The Fragile, for that matter.
ZANE: Yeah.. yeah! [laughs] Although I was listening to that album again the other day and I still love it, I still think it's a great piece of work, but we have With Teeth now to concentrate on.. uh, and it's not out 'til May 2nd, and as is the case with any highly-anticipated release it's under lock and key, with armed guard until that day, so, uh, tonight ladies and gentlemen, feel very special as you get new music from Nine Inch Nails, and we begin with a song you're very familiar with, this is The Hand That Feeds.
ZANE: [expels impressed air] That is tight, man! That is a very tight performance from a band that I'd imagine hasn't been playing too many shows recently. I mean, it's pretty much a new line-up with a couple of obviously, y'know, regular collaborators with Trent Reznor but Nine Inch Nails, back with a vengeance. Track is called The Hand That Feeds, it's the single that outs-that's out this week, and the album is called With Teeth. It's a great pleasure to have Trent and Nine Inch Nails down the line at Maida Vegas this evening and of course, we've only just scratched the surface.
ZANE: It's Nine Inch Nails, live from Maida Vegas this evening, uh, Trent Reznor with a brand new band, tell us who you got down the line there now, uh, you mentioned your drummer before, Jerome Dillon, who else is joining you on this particular phase of your life?
TRENT: Uh, Jeordie White, a good friend..
TRENT: ..from the distant past..
TRENT: ..uh, is playing bass. Alessandro Cortini is playing keyboards, and.. Aaron North, is my new guitarist.
ZANE: Yeah, good shit that one. How did you sort of audition the new people for your band? Because I'm sure people out there, are, y'know.. will go through-who are listening right now with instruments in hand, uh, will go through auditions in, y'know, in the future. And how did you go about doing that? Is it word of mouth, existing relationships? How do you find people to join Nine Inch Nails?
TRENT: Well I always wanted Jeordie in the band, and Jerome's... is the band..
TRENT: ..essentially, so, it came down to.. Alessandro and Aaron, and Alessandro we found right off the bat. And what's interesting about the process is.. I realised I'm usually looking for the wrong.. thing. Like, when I saw Alessandro, he.. if-he wouldn't have been the guy I would have described I was looking for. And the same thing happened with Jerome years ago, when I..
TRENT: ..found him, he wasn't the guy I was looking for, I thought I was looking for a big brute..
ZANE: [expels air]
TRENT: ..tattooed caveman.
TRENT: And.. Jerome.. slinks in, and plays, and suddenly everything sounded.. sexier.
TRENT: The music sounded better.
TRENT: With Aaron, uh, I think we'd seen every guitar player in the Los Angeles area..
ZANE: [expels air]
TRENT: ..and.. as I was about to.. kill myself..
TRENT: ..uh.. he shows up.. the second he started to play, I realised I had been looking for the wrong kind of guy, and this-he is the right guy.
TRENT: And of everybody I tried he's the only person I would say.. "please play on my record"..
TRENT: .y'know? 'Cause he's not trying to sound like me, he's got his own.. thing. And uh, it-I feel... really good about, uh, the line-up I've got together.
ZANE: Looks lean and mean man, and print. I mean, I've yet to see the, y'know, you guys play live yet, but uh, it looks lean and mean, and uh, into the tour so far, a few dates in. So it seems to be more of a club tour.. from what you're actually capable of, uh, sort of what are the benefits of starting out on a modest scale for you and the band at this point?
TRENT: I could, uh, y'know, pull out a Spinal Tap answer of our.. audience being more selective..
TRENT: ..and how fortunate we are about that! [laughs] But uh..
ZANE: Come on, we all know you could play some enormo-dome somewhere!
TRENT: [laughs] The reality of it was, um.. y'know, it'd been a lot time since we'd been out, and, we were not going into this with any kind of preconceived notion that we're... bigger, or.. y'know, more important than we ever were. So, it's been a.. better response than we'd hoped... so far. And we-I mean we've sold more tickets than we did five years ago..
ZANE: That's what so-see that's what happens Trent..
TRENT: ..I can't explain that..
ZANE: ..that's what happens, Trent, when you set the bar so low, y'know, it's harder to trip! [laughs]
ZANE: [laughs more] Um.. I sort of-I guess that allows you the option to freewheel a little bit as well, y'know, you've got sort of six original albums and all manner of B-sides and rarities and stuff that you could play, um.. y'know, are you being liberal with the set-list at the moment? Or are you making it a bit easier on yourself and the new line-up by-by playing something that's a bit more set in stone?
TRENT: When I got the new band together, when I was-I was.. one of the many things I was concerned about was uh.. feeling.. vital, and feeling pertinent, and feeling, uh... meaningful. Um.. I got the band together to play the new record, and we started by learning that album and just sitting with it for a while, and when that started to really sound good, then... and we started to get our own identity.. then, we started working in selective.. older songs that felt good to us, and reworked some, and changed some, and ignored others. One of the problems we always had in the past was getting stuck on.. the good set-list..
TRENT: ..and then it was like.. being in a bad play that you wrote..
TRENT: ..and for a year. Doing that every night.
ZANE: Uh, so y'know-y'know-w-ps-ps-people don't often get a chance to explore the dry wit involved with-with Trent Reznor..
ZANE: ..but I tell you're on fine form tonight sir. Uh.. you and your band [laughs] down at Maida Vegas performing..
TRENT: It's called jet-lag..
TRENT: ..and.. caffeine overdose.
ZANE: I tell you, if that is the mystery equation, let's fill every band with that before they talk to me. Um, alright, more live music right now, the title track from the new album, like I said, May 2nd, you can pick it up for yourself and this should come.. as further incentive. Uh, this will be an exclusive, I'd imagine. If not, it is now. Uh, this is With Teeth, on Radio 1.
ZANE: Well.. Nine Inch Nails, title track of their brand new album called With Teeth. You think I've heard that before, you're dreaming. You think anyone's got a copy of that album.. go ask the big, burly bodyguard who's got it chained to his right wrist right now somewhere in America. That's absolutely amazing man, Nine Inch Nails back "with teeth", the second of three live tracks, and now we've got the new music done and dusted, I've been promised a classic from the band coming up real soon as well, so... it's great to have them down the line though.
ZANE: We have Trent Reznor down the line, uh, obviously representing, uh, a semi-new-and-improved, uh, version of Nine Inch Nails for 2005 with a new album With Teeth. You still there? I should ask that question. You still actually there?
TRENT: I am still here.
ZANE: Good news. When I remembered I was gonna speak to you tonight, even though I've met you, uh, once before, I felt a little nervous, I have to say. Moreso than I do with most. Uh, and I know many artists like to cultivate this impression to protect themselves, um.. but, I don't get that from you tonight, I mean, is that something that you think you've had a hand in the past and that perhaps is a misconception of you now? Y'know?
TRENT: Uh, I was drunk most of the time.
TRENT: I don't really remember... what does happen.
ZANE: [laughs more] I'll let you off the hook on that one! Um, y'know, but the image has been cultivated throughout the years of.. of you as-as a loner, y'know, on record and off the record, um, y'know. Is-is that something that you-you, y'know, that you don't obviously want to-to rely upon anymore, with this new record, d'you think?
TRENT: No I mean I think that's been.. kinda the way I've operated, y'know? And-and.. y'know, my-my strategy at.. dealing with life was, at age 23... lemme see what happens if I stop every bit of my life other than.. trying to work as hard as I can on something I always thought I wanted to do and thought I was good at, but never really tried.
TRENT: And I found that... uh.. the things that I thought didn't matter, like friends, relationships, girlfriends, whatever, any-anyone could have that stuff.. but I'm really gonna try to work on.. music and.. cultivating this... thing, and it.. took off, and... I could feel terrible about something, and turn it into something that made me feel good, and... got me things. It got me attention, it got me praise, it got me, eventually, fame, money, things that... I thought would fix everything.
TRENT: And... looking at that strategy now, and realising how kind of immature and.. juvenile it was, y'know, I still adhered to that through... y'know up until.. four years ago basically.
ZANE: [expels air]
TRENT: And, having some time to think about it... I-I reali-I remembered why I got into it in the first place, which was, I love music, and I love.. making music, and I love listening to it, and playing it. And, it's re-energised me to.. realise that.. y'know, the celebrity part of it is more a pain in the ass than anything else.
TRENT: It's not .. I'm not.. it's not why I do it.
ZANE: Exactly, y'know, you make the music and that follows whereas it seems a lot of n-n-d'y'know-y'know for a lot of people nowadays, they, y'know, they-they make the music so.. to get to that point, y'know and I mean it's almost like it's.. it's-it's-it's become sort of like a, a tool of the trade, rather than a [indistinct]..
TRENT: Very much so. I mean, I look at bands now that.. that.. I mean, um.. you see a lot of people praised for their... handling of money.
TRENT: Or how many units they sell..
TRENT: ..and a lot of things become ju-judged by that, as opposed to.. if it's any good or not.
TRENT: And I just... y'know.. I'm not saying I'm right and they're wrong, but.. I am right and they're wrong!
ZANE: [laughs more] Who do you rate, man? I mean, d'you lis-I mean I'm sure you listen to music still to this day, I'm sure you're a fan of new-of new bands and stuff, um..
ZANE: Y'know, who d'you rate? Who do you really like at the moment?
TRENT: The new.. LCD Soundsystem record..
ZANE: S'good shit, yeah.
TRENT: I like Saul Williams a lot.
TRENT: I like, uh.. M.I.A. record.
TRENT: I think is interesting.
ZANE: Uh this is-this is the taste we've come to expect you sir, these are all big records on our radio show, and these are very exciting artists, all three of them in their own way, y'know? Um, you're now ten years on from The Downward Spiral and you've-you've-you've been kind enough to sort of... trawl through that horrific experience enough for all of our benefit to find out where you are now and we appreciate it. Uh, but y'know you are celebrating that, y'know, that-that release with a deluxe edition, and uh.. y'know are you any closer to understanding why that record had the impact it did? Because it did change a lot of people's lives, and y'know, not for the least part, yourself.
TRENT: Uh.. I have no idea, to be honest with you.
ZANE: Good answer. [laughs]
ZANE: [laughs more] Uh, we have the larger US tour to look forward to this summer, um, y'know, how much, y'know, you said you were gonna tour this record a lot, will you be heading-heading back out here and doing festivals and stuff? I mean are we gonna see a lot of you this-this year?
TRENT: Yeah. Lot of, uh.. making up for... failed strategies in the past, so.. expect to see us over here.. quite a bit.
ZANE: We'll take it man. We'll take the charity. Um.. thank you so much for your time Trent, it's good to chat with you sir. And uh..
TRENT: My pleasure.
ZANE: ..and y'know, enjoy the-the process of being on the road, and enjoy the reinvigorating process of playing these new songs. 'Cause what-from what I've heard, when I've, y'know, been handcuffed to a security guard, it sounds fantastic. Uh, you're gonna end this now with uh, what many would consider to be a classic. Um.. y'know, it's obviously been uh.. immortalised by another great musician, uh.. called Johnny Cash, who did a great version of this before he passed away, and now, you're gonna bring it back. Uh, this is Hurt.
TRENT: Thanks a lot.
ZANE: [expels air and orgasms while clapping] Oh man! Y'know I got wind of what they were gonna play halfway through the show, just before we went across to Maida Vegas, and uh, it was hard to keep it from everybody listening at home who's a Nine Inch Nails fan because I know how special that was for all of you all over the world listening. Uh, Trent Reznor, reclaiming Hurt. Uh, what was an original Nine Inch Nails composition, and of course was done beautifully by Mr. Johnny Cash and he's reclaimed it, and he's stripped it right back again, and it's just absolutely stunning, and what a great live session from Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails. They are back, "with teeth". The single is on the shelf this week, the album is out on May 2nd I believe. It's called With Teeth, and there it is. Alright, I dunno where you can go from there. Anything you do is gonna spoil the mood...
Transcribed by kleptonin