With the release of
the live album and DVD “nine inch nails live: and all that could have been”,
Trent Reznor has ended another chapter in Nine Inch Nails‘ career Here, he tells
Jason Pettigrew where he‘s been and where he‘s going, and wonders what triumphs
await the music scene next year.
Since you came off the
Fragility tour, you‘ve turned into a techno geek, learning how to edit Video
and mix this live DVD.
Instead of spending all the money to make it
look like a Bon Jovi pay-per view on HBO, we decided to do it our selves. The
new technology had progressed enough that we didn‘t need a $100000
video-editing suite - you could do it on an iMac - we didn‘t need a bunch of
corporate assholes that are cookie-cutter filmmakers. Rob Sheridan and I worked
on it. He‘s 21; life hasn‘t beaten him down yet. He‘s got great ideas, and he’s
a great friend to bounce ideas off of. It was an interesting process, knowing
that the tools were available to do this, as well as learning how to mix in
surround-audio, which is a whole other can of worms. And chicks really dig guys
who know about DVD production. [Laughs]
The edits are really
interesting. It‘s like the viewer is actually there, but without having to be subjected
to sweaty people, security goons or exorbitant parking fees.
I‘ve had people say to me, “Christ, did you
have 500 cameras out there?“ No, we had eight, but we filmed it 20 times on
tour, so we had 160 cameras. We weren‘t aware we were being filmed after the
first night, so it seemed less inhibited. This way all the variables - the
venue sucked, the crowd sucked, you sucked - were controlled.
By the way, thanks for
omitting “Down In It.”
Wait: You didn‘t get the version with that on
there? [ laughs] That‘s a good
example of a song that doesn‘t mean anything anymore. I can‘t get back in that
mindset, so it seems insincere to play that song.
You don‘t seem like
the kind of person who would he at an arena concert unless you were the attraction.
Incorrect! Why, not long ago, you could have
seen me enjoying the sights and sounds of ‘N Sync at the Superdome in New Orleans.
Why? You got a hummer
from Britney Spears while her boyfriend was onstage?
Everybody was going on about the production. I
thought, okay, in a world where money is no object, what could they do with limitless
production? Because I do the set design for NIN, I was intrigued about the
possibilities. And [their show] was boring. There was a lot of shit there, but it
was very Rob Zombie-style. “You know what? I’ll bring It all! Fire, dragons,
With Closure, the longform
video documenting the Down ward Spiral Tour, you said in the notes that this
was the end of a chapter in NIN history. Do you have the same attitude toward
this recent body of work?
I was thinking about this a lot as I was
working on the DVD. This disc is a pretty well-rounded retrospective of what I‘ve
done. My confidence in my abilities is up right now. I’m excited about tearing
some things down in my world. This record caps off that time period, and it‘s
time to change. There will be personnel changes, without being too specific. A
lot of the reason why I‘ve had a band around is because I haven‘t had a lot of
confidence in myself. I always wished we had a real band where we all shared in
the responsibilities, but I don‘t think I need that, right now. I‘m kinda
excited about facing the challenges of success and failure.
A quick career
overview: You helped redefine electronic rock in a big way. Much of your output
has surpassed that of these artists who have influenced you. You released new
electronic artists on your nothing label, as opposed to a bunch of NIN clones.
What haven‘t you done yet?
Right now, I’m learning to live my life differently. That
might be maturity creeping in, or me getting things out of my system. Flirting
with darkness, depression and self-destruction isn‘t that romantic when you are
face-to face with the edge. Right now, I think I have a lot more to say, and I
finally have the courage to be able to say them. Musically, Im’ intrigued by
stripping away some of that ego and that barrier. I want to broaden the palette
and hopefully, explore more emotions in music.
This year, rock
critics put Radiohead on a pedestal for taking a lot of artistic chances while
still being able to sell records. You took chances with “The Fragile”, yet
because it didn‘t sell, it was perceived as failure. Is something wrong here?
lf you were to look at the way Kid A and Amnesiac
were marketed and the way it was perceived, units-wise, there‘s not much
difference between them and us. Perception-wise, our record didn‘t do well, and
Radiohead saved rock ‘n‘ roll. I’d say Radiohead‘s record label did a wonderful
job framing [their records] as chance-taking art. Much like the movie industry,
my label ran away after two weeks. I’m not trying to point the finger at
anybody, and I haven‘t changed my attitude towards The Fragile. There‘s the
Stigma: Was it good and it didn‘t sell as much as you thought it might? Or is it
shitty? You don‘t get the differentiation, and that‘s when I get defensive
Your mind will
probably change 50 times by the time this comes out, but I still feel compelled
to ask you what your next project will be.
I‘ve got some stuff I’m working on, but I‘m not
sure if it‘s the direction I want to go. So I’m taking a few months off from
it, to see whether I should proceed or shitcan it.
And what is the status
of the mysterious Tapeworm project?
I put Tapeworm on hold until the DVD was
finished. The DVD is finished now, so I’m working on it.
And how are you
feeling about yourself these days?
Being able to make art is dependent upon me
having some well-roundedness. I‘ve got some work ahead of me on an emotional
and spiritual level. But knowing the need for It, I’m more willing to work on
those things. I‘ve realized that there is a resolution from self-destruction:
death. [Laughs] I’d like to put that off
for a while.