September 3, 2004
Some Much-Needed Sophistication
isclaimer: I don't know Trent Reznor. I don't know what Trent Reznor does in private. I don't know what Trent Reznor's childhood was like. I don't know what Trent Reznor's favorite TV show is. Quite frankly, I don't know a goddamned thing about Trent Reznor aside from bits and pieces He mentions via the occasional vague song lyric or magazine interview. But I'm going to tell you all about His life anyway. And even though I lack what some would call a "formal education beyond high school" (in fact some doctors would have you believe I'm "borderline retarded"), much less anything remotely resembling a degree in psychology, that's not enough to stop me from writing a completely uninformed thesis on Trent Reznor's background and the innermost workings of His mind. Enjoy!
Trent Reznor is awesome. Seriously, He's the coolest guy ever, and the music He makes blows away all other music that anyone else has ever made in the history of mankind. If I ever get the chance, I would like to buy Him a steak (or if he's vegetarian, perhaps some broccoli). I have all of His albums, organized in chronological order in a neat row, not on the rack with the rest of my CD collection, but in their proper place on my bookshelf, right next to my leatherbound novels by Tolstoy, Voltaire, and Descartes. I don't mean to be an asskisser, but I would throw myself in front of a speeding train without a moment's hesitation if I knew it would somehow make Trent Reznor's day even slightly better. But even more fascinating than Trent Reznor's perfect music is His dark, enigmatic, delicate web of dark emotional pain that permeates His dark, tortured being. I believe that I can understand the origins of this dark pain by reading stuff about Him from the NIN FAQ on the internet, as well as an old copy of SPIN that I found in a box in my closet.
Trent Walter Reznor was born on May 25, 1967 in New Orleans, Louisiana to parents Mark and Nancy. Like most couples in the wild, psychedelic 60's (as opposed to now), their marriage ended in divorce after Trent's younger sister, Sarah, was born. Trent ran away to live with His grandparents in Oregon. It's unclear what happened to Him during His stay there, but it can be reasonably assumed that His grandparents beat Him regularly, according to the following lyric from the Nine Inch Nails song "I Am Becoming":
"I beat my machine"
Obviously this song is told from the perspective of Trent's alcoholic grandfather, who viewed poor Trent as nothing more than a machine for doing chores around the house. I know what it's like to have to do the dishes, so I can totally relate to the pain He must have been going through during these difficult years. Trent remained there in that hell until the age of 17, when He met future guitarist Chris Verne at a Boy Scout meeting. They moved to Cleveland so they could start up a new band called 30 Options, which would later become Nine Inch Nails. Shortly afterward, Trent (and Chris) released NIN's first album, Pretty Hate Machines. The songs on this brilliant recording are filled with sad, tortured lyrics, and it's unlikely that they're all about the trauma Trent suffered at the merciless hands of His psychotic, evil grandparents. So what else can we speculate went on in Trent's young life to make Him so dark and brooding?
"I was up above it! Hoomp!"
The interviews I've read on The NIN Hotline suggest that Trent is an intensely isolated person. He doesn't like to associate with other people, and on the extremely rare occasion that He is forced into that type of situation, He dresses all in black and hides in the shadows to make Himself harder to see. This is more than likely the result of severe teasing by Trent's classmates in school. Trent was shorter than the average student, and therefore was relentlessly picked on by all the taller, "cool" kids. If only these bullies knew that they were actually inspiring the most important music that would ever be made! And obviously Trent never had a girlfriend, because He was too tortured by all the teasing to be capable of love. Since He had absolutely no friends while growing up, this made him hate people as an adult.
"You know me, I hate everyone"
Yes, this pure, unbridled hatred that poor Trent felt grew more and more with each passing day. He rarely made new friends, and even when He did, He hated them too, just not quite as much as other people. By the time He became famous, He even hated other famous people.
"I fucking hate Pearl Jam"
Since Trent was raised by his Satan-worshipping grandparents, He didn't get to see His parents much, so He got confused and started thinking His grandparents were His real parents. Every once in a while He would remember that they weren't His parents, and this would result in unfathomable feelings of hopelessness and despair. But then His real dad would visit and take Trent to a rock concert, and He would feel better for a little while, until He went back home and His grandfather beat him again. Evidence of this can be seen in the lyrics to the song "The Great Below".
"And I descend from grace, in arms of undertow; I will take my place, in the great below"
Trent would often hide below His bed when His grandfather was looking for Him. When Trent "descends from grace" (gets back from the Eagles concert), "in arms of undertow" (in His dad's Buick), He hides under the bed until Grandpa drags Him out and hits Him with a belt. If you think of the song in this context, it makes perfect sense.
"Talking to myself all the way to the station"
All the constant physical and psychological abuse Trent received from His horrible grandparents caused Him to talk to himself frequently. Every time He needed to take a bus somewhere, He would have to walk to the station since his grandfather was always too drunk or stoned to drive. During these long, lonely walks, Trent would talk to Himself to quiet the voices in His head. This attracted the attention of nearby street thugs who began throwing large rocks at Him. One of the rocks hit Trent directly in the head, sending him into a coma for several weeks.
"Kill my brain, yet you still remain"
Trent has never been married because, as mentioned earlier, He is incapable of feeling love or sustaining any type of relationship with anyone. Therefore, He has never known a woman's touch. But that is fine with Him, since He prefers to work on music all day instead of interacting with other people in any way. So in a way it's like He's happy, because He's not happy. Or something. That's kind of trippy.
"Hey God, why are you doing this to me?"
Trent has occasionally referred to God in an unfavorable light in His lyrics. Unfortunately, he never specifies why He is angry with God, so I guess it's just because Trent hates everybody else, so why not.
So does this stuff I just talked about sum up exactly why Trent Reznor's mind works the way it does? I think so. But it doesn't matter to me whether I'm wrong or right, as long as nobody proves that I'm wrong. I have killed so much time writing this article. I have finally taken up the amount of space I needed on this page. I can only hope that Trent never sees this.