Jahr 1993




Summer 1993



Autor: Stephanie Young





Trent communes with his demons to stoke the flames beneath NIN‘s powerful sound.

When we last interviewed Nine Inch Nails‘ Trent Reznor back in the summer of 1990, we learned that much of the fire & brimstone and anger on the PRETTY HATE MACHINE Lp came from Trent‘s own acute disgust with the world and personal isolation. Three years and millions of record sales later, we find that this sentiment is still the engine that powers the industrial locomotive known as Nine Inch Nails. Though his anger no longer stems from the frustration of obscurity and failure, it still feeds off his contempt for the way things are — his battles with record company weasels, a hostile press and legions of new “fair weather“ fans who have recently jumped on the bandwagon only because they think being into NIN is cool.

“I‘ve become nothing more than a commodity,“ laments Trent. “When I first got into this — making music — I naively believed that it was an act of making art, an act of purity. Over the years you begin to realize that it‘s only about making money, it‘s about marketing yourself. Now all of a sudden, have this marquee value status, and there‘s this intense pressure to live up to it. This is one of the reasons I made BROKEN (the Ep that came out last year) the way I did. I wanted to say ‘screw you‘ to all those expectations out there of what Nine Inch Nails was suppose to be. People started lumping me in with light-weight, techno-pop stuff like Depeche Mode, which I admit some of PRETTY HATE MACHINE resembled at times. But, by the time I started to record BROKEN, I was light-years removed from that. I mean, even on the tour for PRETTY HATE MACHINE, we started playing the material much more hardcore.“

The BROKEN Ep is indeed much heavier and harsher than the early incarnation of Nine Inch Nails — and the new Lp Trent is now just completing promises to continue down this rough and tumble musical path he has chosen. To maintain his intensity and fire, Trent has once again sequestered himself away in isolation, so he can commune with his hostilities. And what better place to do that than in the very house where Sharon Tate and three of her house guests were savagely murdered by wild-eyed, knife-wielding Manson Family cult members almost 25 years ago. He moved into this in famous, isolated Bel Air abode to set up his own recording studio and create what will surely be an album of true emotional and aural turmoil. It is no coincidence that the Lp is titled THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL. It is also no coincidence that he has nicknamed his studio “Pig“ and placed candles throughout it to set the proper mood. The door to the studio is the same one that Susan Atkins used to scrawl the word PIG on with Sharon Tate‘s blood. Knowing Trent‘s propensity for the shocking and the macabre, this should come as no surprise.

“I realize no one believes this, but when I first went to Bel Air and looked at this house, I had no idea about it‘s history,“ claims Trent. “I liked the place at first sight. I will admit though, when I did find out about which house it was, I kinda dug the idea. What more can you ask for in terms of atmosphere. [should we say atmosfear.] I‘ve always had this strange interest in the psychology behind murder, especially the premeditated serial or mass kind. Who better exemplifies this genre than Charles Manson. Don‘t get me wrong, I think what he and his followers did was awful. I‘m just in to the motivation behind it all. And from the amount of books that have come out on the subject, apparently a whole lot of other people are interested in it. I read somewhere that the serial killer is ultimately our own fearless, uninhibited selves, that he is actually acting out what we all subconsciously want to do.“

Chilling foreshadowing indeed to what we can expect on THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL. Apparently, Trent has channeled this “killer instinct“ within himself into his art. The videos Nine Inch Nails have made are particularly extreme and brutal. All but one, “Head Like A Hole,“ have been banned from MTV. The others, like “Happiness In Slavery,“ “Sin“ and “Down In It,“ have all the gore and violence of a “Hellraiser“ sequel. In fact, in “Hapiness In Slavery,“ a man trapped in a mechanical dungeon is sexually tortured and then torn to pieces by the mechanized hooks. The only thing missing was an appearance by Pinhead himself.

“People have accused me of selling out the whole industrial genre,“ says Trent. “What I‘m doing now will prove them wrong. It‘s meant to shock. But I‘m also expressing my artistic freedom. There‘s not much room for happy music in Nine Inch Nails, because I‘m more comfortable expressing my negative feelings. I‘m glad Interscope [new label] just lets me do what I wanna do — consequences be damned. I‘m not used to that kind of freedom. TVT [former label] really screwed me over. It‘s important that I be allowed to express myself. I enjoy hearing it when a fan tells me he or she can relate to what I‘m saying, that they also feel the pain, alienation, or whatever. I remember when I was growing up — listening to really down stuff like Pink Floyd and The Cure made me feel better when I wasn‘t feeling so great, because it was comforting to know that there was someone even more depressed than me. Thank you Roger Waters and Robert Smith. I‘d like to think my music is having the same effect.“

Before all the MTV exposure with “Head Like A Hole,“ and subsequent mega-success of the band, the typical NIN fan was very much the alienated, rebellious variety. Trent‘s words struck a resonant chord deep within their tortured souls. For Trent, an extremely introspective 27-year-old from rural Pennsylvania, the intense scrutiny of his lyrics by critics, the media and millions of fans also had a down side to it.

“When I first wrote much of PRETTY HATE MACHINE, I was just a kid from the sticks with no conception of how popular that material would become someday,“ recalls Trent. “The lyrics were extremely personal. It was almost like my diary. Then to have that diary flung open for all the world to read was not only uncomfortable, but downright embarrassing. You feel completely naked knowing that so many people are analyzing your inner-most thoughts. Despite that, I‘m no less candid with the new material on the upcoming album. I feel that honesty is very important in my lyrics.“

Trent has never compromised the integrity of his words. How will the new Lp differ from what he has put out in the past? He has given every indication that the new material is worlds apart from what he‘s done on previous Nine Inch Nails releases.

“The main difference will be musically, not lyrically,“ reveals Trent. “I‘m experimenting with unconventional arrangements... none of the traditional chorus and bridge stuff I‘ve done in the past. Besides being heavier, it‘ll also be more ambient and minimalist. I‘m not gonna clutter the sound with too much sampled stuff like a lot of so-called industrial bands do. Anyway, I think the term ‘industrial‘ has used up its usefulness. It‘s becoming as meaningless and catch-all as the term ‘new wave‘ became. The bands that have been lumped into this ‘industrial‘ category are doing such vastly different things now. DOWNWARD SPIRAL will be as different from Ministry and Skinny Puppy as lets say Clannad is. I want to head in a totally unexpected direction. The new material also has a different inspirational direction. While I‘m still down on some of what‘s going on around me, I have a much more positive outlook about myself. I‘ve learned to divorce myself from my surroundings.“ [And who wouldn‘t considering where he‘s living.]

Trent‘s new circumstances are indeed much brighter. Interscope will allow him to sign new bands on his own sub-label. Hopefully, there are many more Trents waiting to be discovered.