With a new live album
and concert DVD, rock’s Godfather of Gloom, Trent Reznor, actually seems ready
to get himself declawed and turn that crappy frown upside down.
“You might want to
skip the funny questions and sort of play it straight,” says Trent Reznor’s
publicist, who’s so stiff you could iron your pants on her back. Trent, she
takes great caution in explaining, is a pretty “intense artist” who’ll
certainly want to limit the scope of our conversation to his new project, Nine
Inch Nails Live: And All The Could Have Been, a live CD/DVD/VHS hat documents
their two-year Fragility tour. We can understand that, so we follow her
instructions to the letter.
STUFF: Can you
recommend any good makeup removers? A cold cream, perhaps?
TRENT: I’m a Pond’s man.
Your shows are pretty
dark, emotional, cathartic and all the rest of that hooha. Do you ever wake up
in a good mood, whistling a happy tune?
That’s actually a good question.
Some days it is daunting to think of being
onstage for two hours in this intense situation when you’re not really in the
mood. One if the reasons I named this thing And
All That Could Have Been is that we’re at the end of this phase of Nine
Inch Nails. It’s run its course. It’s time for me to reinvent. I’ve been in a
lighthearted spirit onstage some days, where it’s like, “I am not about to go
through this self-hatred”. But it usually passes as soon as the first song
starts out. It‘s like you‘ve injected the drug into your System.
Ever inject any real
drugs into your system?
Well, years ago, back in the ‘90s, we‘d drink
our share of tequila. The idea was to become as fucked up as possible and see
if we could get through the show. It had a nice hallucinogenic quality to it
and a bulletproofing effect before the show.
Did upchucking onstage
ever become an issue for you?
I have vomited onstage. The good thing about
our live show is that there‘s enough weird lighting and strobes that you start
to realize when you‘re visible and when you‘re not. There‘s enough shadow and light
where I know that at this part in the song, I‘m not doing anything. So there
are plenty of good vomiting areas.
For all the ladies in
the house, do you have a nine-inch fleshy nail?
You‘re not much for
the concert banter with the crowd. Have you ever been tempted to ask a crowd to
It‘s much more difficult to try to come up with something to say onstage than
you‘d ever imagine. It‘s always horrifying when somebody‘s monitor breaks and they‘re
like, “Talk for a moment - I gotta fix this thing.“ Dumb shit just starts
flowing out of your mouth, and suddenly you‘re David Lee Roth and you‘re like, Wait a sec— how did / turn into such an ass?
Oh, you‘re not an ass.
So tell me, why is it that you tend to kick the crap out of your bandmates
onstage so much?
There have been mishaps. Usually they‘re not
intentional, but there have been some misfirings. A mic slips out of your hand
some nights, and after the show, you find out it hit the drummer in the head.
assistant said he was in a mosh pit at Woodstock and you moshed into
him while another band was on. Is he lying about this, too?
It could be true. You know, when you‘re on
tour, you‘re sequestered backstage in some room with people you‘re tired of
being around, and it sucks. You forget that the people out there are there for
a concert. So when I‘m starting to have a pity party for myself about how they
don‘t have this color cheese in the fucking party tray, I like to go out into
the crowd before the show. My disguise is a big cup of beer that I just stick
in front of my face. I usually sit down in the back while the opening acts are
playing to kind of remember what going to a show is like.
On the new album,
you‘ve got two songs with the word pig
in the title. Do you have something against pork?
No, just fresh out of ideas. Actually, once
when we opened for Guns ‘n‘ Roses in Germany, we were pelted with meat. About 10
seconds into the first song, I realized we weren‘t going to win the audience,
and then about 60.000 dudes in rock T-shirts from the ‘70s—but not in a hip,
retro way— actually threw sausage at us. I thought that was kind of cool.
Does it make you sad
that kids don‘t give shoutouts to their friends on TRL while one of your videos
“This one goes out to all my homies!“ The state
of pop music can drive me crazy if I start thinking about it. But I think
there‘s a place in the world for carefree, escapist pop. I‘ve never turned oft
the “Bootylicious“ video. If it‘s on, I’ll stop in my tracks and sit there,
just to make sure I see the whole thing. And when the Spice Girls‘ first song
came out, I have to admit: It was catchy. There’s something about them—they‘re
not that hot, but there‘s collectively sexy about them and their jiggling
boobs. I‘m a consumer; I bought into it.
What do you think of
the Limp Bizkit-ization of America?
I think it‘s run its course at this point. I
mean, I understand that you don‘t need 100 Radioheads, but you also don‘t need
armies of dumb-dumbs.
Do us a favor and watch the language. In a lot
of your videos, you‘re in these wind tunnels or surrounded by entrails. Do you
ever find yourself sitting there with a cow skull on your head thinking, What the hell am 1 doing?
I‘ve often thought that. We were doing the
“Starfuckers“ video with Marilyn Manson in the desert outside of L.A., and it was freezing cold at night
with this miserable wind kicking up. We were all shivering in our silly
outfits, and I was standing watching playback on this little monitor. I saw
Manson dressed like a drug-addict chick. Then the playback stopped and the tape
cut into a D‘Angelo video that the crew had shot prior to our shoot. D‘Angelo
was sitting back in his silk bed with a superhot chick next to him, they were
making out, you saw her laughing and he was bullshitting with her. And I was
thinking, Where did this all go wrong? I
could be doing any number of things, and I chose to be making out with Manson
in the fucking desert in the middle oft the night. Time to reassess.
You‘re just being hard
on yourself. Tell us, have you, at any point in your life, had Pac Man fever?
I had a mild temperature rise over Pac Man. I was into Space Invaders, so I‘ve got a soft spot in my heart for video games.
I‘ve gotten involved with the music for Doom and Quake. I’m really into the technology and complexity of
these games. Plus, I‘ve found girls are really into talking about computer lighting
and shading techniques. TaIk about video games when you really want to go in
for the kill with a girl.
What album would you
define as the absolute opposite of what you do?
Oh, unquestionably the worst - or maybe the
greatest - album ever is Billy Bob Thornton‘s. Somebody picked it up, and we
were driving around in a convertible, listening to it with the top down and
roaring with laughter after each line. I just thought how terrible it would be
if you were him and you were sitting at a café, heard your CD playing and saw a
carload of guys pull up dying laughing.was catchy. There‘s something about
thern—they‘re not that hot, but there‘s
So, apart from how to
make self indulgent movie stars cry, do you have any advice for Stuff readers?
Parting words of advice? Hmmm, while we were
touring in Europe, one of the guys thought the
funniest thing in the world was to throw weird lines into conversation with
people he knew didn‘t speak English well. He‘d say something like, “It was
great to meet you. Punch your balls off.“ So that‘s my advice: Punch your balls
Punch your balls off. I
Punch your balls off.
Bob Responds (Sort Oft)
In the spirit of kindness (and in the hopes of
igniting a bloody feud), we gave Billy Bob Thornton the chance to respond to
Trent‘s critique of his record, Private
Radio. Here‘s what Thornton‘s publicist said:
‘No, were not responding to that. We‘re not
commenting on that. No, I don‘t want to hear what he said. We‘ve gotten very
positive reviews of the album. As a matter of fact, I‘d say about 90 percent of
reviews from critics were all positive. We‘re very happy with how it turned
out. So that‘s one man‘s opinion. He‘s entitled to it, I guess. It is of no
concern to us.“