Jahr 2007




Juni 2007


Man of the "Year"


Autor: James Gill



Trent Renor is clean, sober, and even happy. Which only makes his dark vision for the future, as heard on Nine Inch Nails new CD, that much scarier.

By James Gill

The Carling Glasgow Academy in Scotland is dense with smoke, but you can just make out a silhouette clutching the mic stand. “Hello, pigs,“ comes  a voice from the fog. Lights flash, the music starts, and the dark stars of this theater macabre emerge and throw themselves into the savage opener, “Mr. Self Destruct.“

* It seems like the two-hour gig to come will be just the sort of visceral, angst-ridden exorcism with which Nine Inch Nails won over so many black-clad outsiders throughout the Nineties. But then Trent Reznor smiles. He jokes with his bandmates and banters with the crowd.

* “Manchester sucked last night, but you guys are fucking awesome!“ he says with a grin, referring to the English soccer team Manchester United. No longer the spindly goth poster boy of old, the muscular frontman apparently follows—say it ain‘t so—sports. “Show me you‘re better than those fuckers!“

* It‘s hard getting used to the new Trent Reznor.

It usually takes more than half a decade for a new Nine Inch Nails album to surface. Not this time. Reznor, clean and sober for more than four years, is on a roll, With Teeth, the long-awaited follow-up to 1999‘s The Fragile (which committed to tape the helplessness and despair of drug addiction), was released just two years ago, in May 2005, And its successor, Year Zero, is already on store shelves.

Reznor admits that the new disc‘s origins owe a lot to boredom on the With Teeth tour. “It‘s fun to play the show,“ he explains, “but the rest of the day is just waiting around.“ So the classically trained musician embraced the “limitation“ that all he had to work with was a laptop, and “some cool stuff started happening.“

After the tour, he expanded on the ideas he‘d created on his computer, and thus the lyrical concept was born. This would not simply be another album of gloomy introspection but the first of two thematically ambitious discs: a big-picture political narrative about a dystopian future in which a selfish populace has abused its world and must suffer the consequences; and the story of an elusive force called the Presence.

At the time, Reznor had just moved permanently to Los Angeles, an incongruous choice for the antisocial frontman. “I didn‘t go to L.A. for the culture,“ he says with a wry smile. “I moved there to be around my peers. The fake tits and celebrity bullishit is all there, but it‘s not all there is there. You don‘t see me out, or see pictures of me shopping. I’m repulsed by it, to be quite frank. I needed to be around people who do what I do to make the whole Year Zero thing happen.“

In search of the right setting in which to build lyrics out of his concept, Reznor settled in a remote and “creepy“ house in the California hills. After three months on the far side of nowhere, he emerged with Year Zero. The singer explains that the main purpose of the album was to call attention to what he sees as a totalitarian political climate and the ways in which we are destroying ourselves and our planet.

“It was an epiphany of sorts. And it revolves around sobriety,“ he explains. “When you‘re an addict, you feel like your problems are the biggest problems in the world. I’m not saying I can change the world, but now feel like it‘s my duty as a human to try and do something.“

Reznor has admitted that when he quit drugs, he was worried that he wouldn‘t be able to write again but that With Teeth proved he could. So is working with a concept for this new album a substitute for personal-demon exorcising? Will he, like Korns Jonathan Davis, tap back into emotions that are fast fading in the rear-view mirror?

“This is a good question because…”  Reznor stops for a few seconds. “Let me just think about this for a sec.“

Again, he pauses.

The silence starts to feel uncomfortable.

“I’ll just keep my mouth shut.“


“I know you‘re baiting me,“ he says, smiling warmly. “I know how Korn did their last record,“ he starts, letting his guard down. ‘I know where a lot of [ Jonathan Davis’] lyrics came from, because he didn‘t write them.“

Reznor is referring to the songwriters and producers Linda Perry, the Matrix, and his own friend and colleague Atticus Ross, who worked on Korn‘s 2005 album, See You On The Other Side.

“When the day comes that I have to hire the flavor of the day to write my records for me so I can sound like I used to, just to make money, stick a fork in me.“

Reznor becomes animated as he asserts that whether or not you like Nine Inch Nails, or loved or hated this or that record, he made them all for the right reasons. “Because it means more to me than anything else in my life,“ he says. “I can sleep well at night—when I can sleep—knowing that I always kept that pure. I’ll never put making money ahead of that.“

Still, it‘s hard to believe that Year Zero‘s subject matter is truly as separate from real life as Reznor seems to want not only us but also himself to believe. There are many parallels between the album‘s story and Reznor‘s: abuse of body/planet, an ambivalent force against which you have no power (be it addiction or the Presence), and having to cope with the aftermath.

“It‘s just what came out,“ he says, though he acknowledges that you can only write what you know.

For anything to be believable it has to have ‘you‘ in it.“ And while the “you“ may be more obvious in intensity personal, self-flagellating discs like 1992‘s Broken EP and 1994‘s The Downward Spiral, every NIN album is a picture of where Reznor‘s head was at that time. As is YearZero—which is exactly why it lacks the darkness of those earlier records.

“I‘m not ready to jump out that window. And a few years ago I was,“ says Reznor. ‘I haven‘t found out the answers to everything, but I’m not at war with myself as much as I was.“

He goes on to admit that his troubles continued into sobriety, and that he felt compromised when he make With Teeth: He was clean, but he was still unconfident. “I was a fuck-up, and I had fucked a lot of shit up—maybe even my career. So I approached With Teeth with kid gloves, slightly afraid to touch it at all.

“I look back now and see things I wouldn’t do again,“ he continues, noting that he allowed too many people to comment on the album before it was finished. “I just wasn‘t in a confident enough place to say ‘Thanks for your opinion, but I disagree.‘ I don‘t want to officially say that I felt compromised on that record, but this time around I didn‘t let anybody in the room.“

Though the going was tough at times when he recorded With Teeth, Reznor says he was never tempted to fall off the wagon. When I’ll try it out. I spent several years making sure that I’d had enough. I reached a point where there was no romance, no illusion of fun, so even in dark times now, I honestly don’t look on [booze and drugs] like, Ah, if I could just... ,, And he taps his arm and simulates injecting, laughing at the thought.

“I’m not saying that can‘t happen. I could walk out of here, go get a drink, and within a week I could be,“ he looks pensively out the window, “dead, or...“ He pauses again. “Who knows what? But I‘m not interested in doing that. I‘m on a path of healthiness. The process of working on this record has been more rewarding than any other thing. I fucked up my friendships, my relationships, and my health, but I never wanted to abuse music like that.“