‘hey God, I really
don‘t know what you mean, seems like salvation comes only in dreams, I feel my
hatred grow all the more extreme, hey God, can this world really be as sad as it
Trent Reznor, who for all intents and purposes
is Nine Inch Nails, is the last in this long line of...‘products‘. He sits and
swings his spindly legs from the bottom branch of this bastardised family tree,
knowing full well that his generation - that‘s our generation, bucko - marks
the end of an era. (Or is that error?)
Reznor - this applies to the rest of us, too -
is the result of an experiment involving: a. A failed industrial revolution.
That great global putsch that ballsed up a chance to make life bearable… .for
everyone. b. The so-called psychological revolution of the 60s. The West didn‘t
give a toss about love and peace, it just wanted to keep the death and
destruction out of its own backyard. As for freedom, no-one had a clue what to
do with it. c. That unbridled spirit which acts as as the motor for change. d.
The style of an electronic age that has The Terminator as its apex. This is the
most important element because this added the superior logic that was able to
grasp the future, was able to realise what we would become. And this, in turn,
created a self-destructive urge, a desire to destroy the human monstrosity
before it was fully developed. We‘ve fucked up, we will continue to fuck up and
so it has to end. We must begin again.
This necessitates a contradictory approach. One
that involves an overblown theatricality Schwarzenegger, Dallas, modern industry, Perry Farrell... take
your pick - that acts as a common
denominator to which we can all relate and, at the same time, discards that unreal
quality, that bullshit, so we can see the truth. Thus, we have a constant state
of upheaval. “I’d like you to consider the whole theatrical element of our show
- those parts that you might consider bullshit- from this perspective. You‘ve
paid maybe 20 bucks to come see us. Ok, I want you to see that show. I want you
to remember it. I want you to say more than ‘Yeah, I saw ‘em, they were
alright‘. Come and see Nine Inch Nails and let‘s have something happen!“
“We‘ve tried to incorporate a chaotic kind of
feel on stage - an element of danger, of unpredictability that makes things
more interesting for ‘the fan‘. Sometimes this can come across as bullshit.
Sometimes we don‘t execute them well and they are bullshit. But some times they
are totally real.
“There has never been a time where I‘ve said
‘Ok guys, we‘re getting bored, let‘s break our equipment. Let‘s form human
pyramids on stage. We just stumble on to these things. “I’ll be totally honest
with you; I know there are things I can do on stage that get a reaction. Let‘s
say I’m there on stage and the mic cuts out. People look at you and go ‘Ha ha,
the mic‘s fucked up‘ I look at the sound man and he‘s not looking at me, so I
try to keep on with the show. I shout ‘Fix the mic, Hey, c‘mon. Fix the mic, please.
Fix the fuck... I SAID FIX THE FUCKING MIC‘. And then it‘s BAM!, I put the mic
through the side fill of the speaker.
“The mic is now a piece of crumpled up metal on
the floor and there are sparks shooting over my head. The audience is stunned
and you then have their attention.
“The trouble is that you realise these things
work and you get tempted to drop them in a couple of times throughout the set.
Most of the time though, it‘s just the reality of the situation taking over.“
But you‘re willing to admit that there are
preconceived elements to what Nine Inch Nails do live - didn‘t you once refer
to it as organised chaos - and that same of this is distraction is just for
“Yeah. You‘re right. When we tour, we play five
nights a week and we get tired. Some nights, nothing at all happens on stage.
Other nights, I met get mad at the crowd or the incompetent crew we had for
this whole tour and then something happens and the violence becomes more and
“We were told before we went on stage at the Astoria that if we were gonna break any
equipment we should break it there because it meant we didn‘t have to carry it
home with us. I realised, during that show, that it would probably be the last
time we‘d ever do that because it was beginning to get like EMF. Y‘know, we
break our keyboards.“ Very few bands - with the exception of Damon Blur who
tries to destroy himself, instead of
the equipment - actually try and destroy themselves, too. It was obvious that
Richard (guitarist), was not happy with being continually dumped into the
audience. And it can‘t be much fun playing keyboards when someone is clubbing
them to death with mic stands and guitars.
“I am not going to be pretentious enough to say
I never realised that if I break things it gets reactions. It is entertainment,
right? That‘s the bottom line.“
A lot of people would have expected
entertainment to be a dirty word for Trent Reznor. “Look, I have to work within
this stupid little set up that is now called my job. I go away, I record an
album, put it out, put the video out, go on tour till I can‘t tour anymore, go home,
take a week off and repeat the process till I burn out, right. “I’ll work
within the confines that are dictated. Sure I’ll support super-rockers, Guns n‘
Roses, what could be more ridiculous. Sure I’ll make a video - but I will not
make it easily digestible far people.
“Sure, it was lots of fun to break the
equipment, but it felt real at the time and we won‘t do it unless it feels
“The British press seems to be locked into this
story, it‘s all you can write about: Why do we break gear? We‘re not trying to
be The Who, we‘re just shooting far an element of realism and of danger.
Something more than just a live
How real and haw dangerous do you become,
though? The audiences aren‘t going to be as impressed by all the gear-smashing
next time, so what do you do to create that intensity? Isn‘t there a danger of
becoming a parody- a sort of hip-GG Alien figure - threatening to commit murder
or suicide on stage?
“We did a show in Rotterdam the other week and it was the most
real and painful show I’d ever done, I don‘t know if the people felt the same,
but I knew I could never do a better show. I was crying, it was real, I was
having same kind of breakdown an stage. Then I wondered just what I was leading
up to. The ultimate sacrifice? I shoot myself in the head on stage. The crew
were scared, I punched the road manager in the face four times, the crowd was
happening and I just snapped. That was real. I don‘t know how I’ll reach those
levels next time.
“Nine Inch Nails true purpose has been revealed
to me over the last couple of years and I have several ideas about the next LP.
It‘s pointing towards a total self-destruction kind of thing, which is kind of frightening
because I don’t want that.
I‘ve done more than I ever wanted to do, I‘ve
reached every goal I set myself, I thought that when I reached this point I’d
at least be able to find some kind of peace, but all I found is that there is no
peace. Just more pressure and more pain and more bullshit. “Where do I go from
Don‘t ask, just don‘t ask.
If Reznor is just some calculating con artist,
praying on the impressionable and fucked up fuckers of this world, and cheating
them out of their belief - as has been suggested he‘s doing a goad job. So
good, he bought the company. Please feel free to use any of this on a t-shirt.