Photo by Heather Kaplan
Nine Inch Nails is set to head down under this March for a co-headlining tour with Queens of the Stone Age. In anticipation of the double bill, Trent Reznor sat down with New Zealand’s 3 News to chat the tour, his work with director David Fincher, and, inevitably, the Grammys.
“It was an utter waste of time,” Reznor said regarding his Grammys performance with Josh Homme, Dave Grohl, and Lindsey Buckingham, which was infamously cut-off early. He admitted that being invited to play was “flattering”, despite a history of vocalizing his distaste for the awards. “But the way my head works is, to try to approach it from, ‘Okay, if we did do it, what could be the upside?’ And Josh and I spent a long time talking about the pros and cons. You know, ‘Do we want to be on a shit show on TV? No, not really. Do we want to be affiliated with the Grammys? No, not really. Would we like to reach a large audience and actually do something with integrity on our terms? Well, yeah.'”
Of course, what they actually got was nothing but “disrespect”. Reznor recalled how he had no idea about the broadcast drop until he left the stage, and how embarrassed he felt about having invited Buckingham into that arena. “So, lesson learned. And the other thing is if we hadn’t have done it, I’d be thinking, ‘Well, what would have happened it we would have done it?’ So I don’t regret that we did it, but would I ever – in any situation – ever consider possibly patronising that event in any form? Absolutely not.”
What Reznor will be doing again, however, is re-teaming with David Fincher on his new film, Gone Girl. Fincher was initially supposed to work on an update of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea before going into Gone Girl, but schedules changed and Reznor had to get to it in the middle of his tour. “So Atticus [Ross] and I have been working – we essentially had the month of January off, so we spent that whole month together working on Gone Girl stuff, which was a shift… always the first part of any work we do on a film isn’t so much traditional composing as it is trying to decide what instruments to use, what kind of sonic power to dive into. Is it more organic? Is it more electronic?”
Reznor and Ross have apparently answered those questions, and have written a “good sized first batch” of material. The sound is veering both towards “mellow” and “noisy”, as the film dictates. “It’s David, who brings an intensity to the material, and a conviction and integrity that is always exciting to work with, so it’s kind of going in two directions right now, at the same time, both, in terms of the music, and I think it’s going to be great, we’ll see how it goes.” Reznor also mentioned he hopes to find a few hours during the tour to work on ideas in hotel rooms. “It might end up with great results or it might be a failed experiment.”
Finally, Reznor spoke about the current incarnation of NIN (Reznor, Ilan Rubin, Alessandro Cortini, and Robin Finck) and what’s next for the band. He remarked that the recent reduction in members – from eight to four – frees them up in a number of ways. He pointed out that the problem with the type of elaborately choreographed shows that made up the “Tension 2013” tour is “they become very kind of rigid, and you kind of have to perform in a certain order and a certain – there’s a plot that has to be followed. The end result is after you do that for several months, you know – I’m not saying it’s not great to be on stage – but you can start to battle boredom. It just starts to get into a routine.”
With the smaller band, they’ll be able to play more “aggressive and electronic music” that wouldn’t have worked with a larger band, specifically songs from Fragile and Year Zero. “There was a burden that came with that many people, which was, ‘OK, what are you going to do in this song? Ah, well…’ The new material is pretty easy to fit new people into, having all that extra horsepower. . . [T]here’s a lot of Year Zero material we hadn’t been able to play, and again a deconstruction of some of the older material with a different set of criteria.”
Again speaking on Fragile, Reznor said they had finished mixing a reissue (“everything in surround, it sounds amazing”), and that they have a package “ready to go.” “I just stumbled across 40-or-so demos that are from that era that didn’t turn into songs, that range from sound effects to full-fledge pieces of music, and I kind of feel like – something should happen with that.”
Still, he’s hesitant to rush the re-release, wanting to make sure he can devote enough time and energy to putting out the best product possible. “I don’t want to pull the trigger on something and go, ‘Man, I should have done it in this way.’ And I just haven’t had a chance to be in a calm place where I can think it through completely and make that decision.”
With all of this on his plate, can he (or we, for that matter) really hope for new NIN music in 2014? Either way, Reznor may already be gunning for Busiest Musician of the Year.