Jahr 2000

 Danke, Nils!

Salt Lake City Weekly


15. Juni 2000


In This Together Now


  Autor: Jeff Inman



After battling inner demons and record label devils, Trent Reznor does Fragile.

Trent Reznor is ranting. He‘s going off about the current state of the music business: its lack of vision; its complete disregard for music; its focus on the bottom line. “I don‘t even work for a record label anymore. I work for a liquor company,“ Reznor says, getting angrier. He blasts labels for pushing Xerox copies of bands rather than bothering with real talent. And even when they do stumble on to something, they don‘t know what to do with it unless it goes platinum in the first two weeks.

“Musicians try to make art, but it‘s not art anymore,“ Reznor says. “It‘s a program on a piece of plastic that makes the sound of money. And that‘s all they care about. All those bands that changed the face of rock, they couldn‘t do it now. The record companies wouldn‘t let them. They don‘t hold on to bands long enough to let them develop to the point where they could change some thing. It just gets to me.“

Reznor stops for a minute, like he‘s realizing he‘s spent the last 10 minutes bitching. “You know, I‘m not mad all the time, man,“ he says rather sheepishly. “I want you to know that. I just get angry about this sometimes.“

The frustration is understandable. Reznor‘s in a tough position. Last year, his band, Nine Inch Nails, released the two-disc anger opus The Fragile. Five years in the making, the record is as personal as Reznor has ever been, taking listeners step-by-step through the layers of his psychosis. But while critics lauded the album, praising its innovation and destructive beauty, it has failed to connect with audiences to the extent that Reznor‘s last record, 1994‘s Downward Spiral, did.

And because of the sheer time and emotion invested in the project, Reznor is taking it personally. He wants the world to hear this album, and he‘s doing anything within his power to get that. Example: He recently changed “Starfuckers, Inc.“ to “Starsuckers, Inc.,“ so the track could get some air time (the video, featuring Marilyn Manson, the reported subject of the song, is currently in rotation on MTV). Normally opposed to changing his lyrics, Reznor feels that because of the current industry climate— boy bands et al—he has to make compromises to reach out beyond his normal legion of depressed fans, “I just can‘t leave this record in the doorstep like a baby and hope people will listen to it,“ Reznor says. “I want to show everyone that there‘s people smarter than Kid Rock out there making music. It‘s a verry artless music scene right now, and I‘m trying to bring some thing different to the world and I‘ll do it anyway I can.“

Reznor put everything he had into The Fragile. As harsh as it is delicate, the record swings between fierce blasts of nihilistic rage and gentle caresses of melancholy, Reznor stepping beyond the industrial pop confines he created for Nine Inch Nails. While his previous two albums—Spiral and Pretty Hate Machine—elevated programming to an art, Reznor managing to turn computerized fury into a wholly human timing, rarely did the records descend below a roar. The Fragile is full of quiet, subtle moments—the kiss before the kill. Near-soothing and playful instrumentals like “La Mer“ are slapped next to gritty dirges like “No, You Don‘t.“

“The Great Below“ is a billow of understated tension, atmospheric keyboards hiding behind Reznor‘s breathy delivery. And “Into the Void“ is Pop perfection disguised as an example of Pentium power, Reznor seamlessly meshing programmed beats and humming keyboards with an ever expanding wall of guitars. Reznor says he had to play with the formula or Nine Inch Nails would have just become a cynical farce.

“I knew this record couldn‘t be darker and less hopeful and faster than before, because it  would have been on the verge of self-parody,“ Reznor says. “It had to be different. I had to broaden the canvas, so to speak.“ But Reznor had a difficult time even stepping up to the canvas for a while. The reason: He spent several years battling depression and writer‘s block, unable to bang out anything that was up to his standards. The years on the road had left Reznor tired and out of touch.

He says he got lost in his own world of anxiety and insecurity, nearly driving himself insane. Reznor still isn‘t quiet sure what triggered it all.

“I think what happened was when I finished Downward Spiral, we embarked on a two year tour. During that time, the level of the band changed—its popularity went up, my status as a musician went up—and there wasn‘t a break from the tour to realize where I was at. This had changed, that had changed. I had money. And it drove me to a state of insanity. Being out that long, I wasn‘t ready as a human to handle that change.

“The thing was, I had gotten everything I‘d wanted as a person, but I was less happy than - when I started,“ Reznor continues. “I‘d misplaced the music in it all. All this bullshit got in the way of making music. And the act of doing it—making music—is very difficult. It‘s a cathartic process turning anger into beauty, but it‘s hard to do. I couldn‘t motivate myself for a long time to do it—give up the bullshit and start writing. Once I started, though, I got back to feeling like myself again.“

Reznor says he‘s not going to let that happen again. He‘s got his priorities straight now. This time he‘s working on the road, recording new material while the band tours this summer. He had a custom-built studio put in the back of his tour bus. Using song templates left over from The Fragile sessions, he says he‘s already to the halfway mark with the new record. Reznor says much of the new material is even angrier and harder than before. “So all that stuff I said about the canvas, I guess you can disregard that,“ he says, chuckling.

But ultimately, Reznor wants to forget about the past. He‘s made it to the other side and has no intention of going back. “I don‘t plan on climbing into a hole for five years again. I cleared the cobwebs out of my head now and I can move on. And that‘s exactly what I‘m doing.“