Nine Inch Nails Tries To Be All They Can Be

Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor

Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor wants you to know two things: restraint is good and his old songs sound better now. Today we finally see the much-delayed, multi-pronged media assault by Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails.

Completists will have to eBay their old KMFDM records to keep up with it all, too. Not only is there the live CD, And All That Could Have Been, which also features a bonus record of morbid piano-balladry called Still, but there’s an accompanying live DVD and VHS. Reznor says he’s using the live record to bring a sort of black harmony to the two faces of NIN.

The industrial disco of the songs on Pretty Hate Machine have angrier live interpretations. This makes them stand up better against heavier songs like “March Of The Pigs” and “Gave Up.”

“One of the reasons that I decided to put out the record was because the live band and the studio band of Nine Inch Nails have always been two different projects and some of the old songs like ‘Terrrible Lie’ are far better fleshed out live than it was the second time I’d ever sang it, which is the time on the [Pretty Hate Machine] record,” says Reznor. “I thought that justified people hearing it. I think it updates a lot of the older songs I really like and it’s nice to hear them in a non-cringing way, reinterpreted and given some balls or just manipulated differently, less meticulously and more off-the-cuff and emotional.”

While the live record may tap into those more visceral emotions, the Still album is a stark contrast. Cold, lonely and sombre, it’s a stripped down affair you could probably trick old people into listening to if not for the patented morbid lyrics.

“We were messing around with restraint as opposed to bombast,” says Reznor. “And there was a few of these floating around and when I finished [The Fragile tour] I felt it would be a good counterpoint to what the one disc was.

“You don’t expect it. You don’t expect it to sound the way it is. And it’s not just to do that,” says Reznor, before flashing a bit of his often-overlooked sense of coyness. “It’s to be all things to all people… Um, I’m just kidding, man.”

While Reznor’s still feeling jovial, the topic turns to the one-off festival show which took place a number of years ago at Molson Park in Barrie that featured Soundgarden headlining over NIN, Marilyn Manson, PWEI and other Reznor picks. During the show, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell frequently lost his voice and the grungers pulled themselves off the road not a week later.

Says Reznor, “I know better than to laugh at that one because it comes back to get you instantly. But that was the only date we played with them and they were fucking cunts. Complete superstar cunts. And I like Soundgarden but it was like, ‘Everybody back in your trailer. Soundgarden is walking by.’ Fuck you!”

After talking to the guy who’s played in Revolting Cocks, 1000 Homo DJs and covered Adam Ant songs, it’s obvious there is a bit of humour underneath the angry sloganeering. This, of course, just sets the imagination racing as to what Reznor’s next project will be like. Dark? Light? Funny? Industrial? Ambient? Metal? He’s playing his cards close to the vest on this one.

“It depends on what happens,” he says. “There’s a few things in the pot right now. I’m looking forward to a good several months in the studio starting right now. And I just want to get a few things going so we’ll see what happens.”

This feature was originally published January 22, 2002 via Chart Communications.

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