Tonight, Zane Lowe will be speaking with both Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on Beats 1. Zane, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross recap their year and play through the new Nine Inch Nails EP, ‘Not The Actual Events,’ available this Friday 23/12 on Apple Music. Atticus Ross joins to discuss his collaborations with Reznor (and is now officially a member of NIN), including the new EP and film scores: The Social Network, The Girl With Dragon Tattoo, Before The Flood, and Patriots Day (coming in January).
1. Trent Reznor on the current state of Rock and origins of ‘Not The Actual Events’ EP
“The role of what we call Rock has been one that should feel untethered, and filled with expression and uncompromising, and at times, challenging. In general, it seems from my perspective (and I believe Atticus feels the same way), that most entertainment, whether it be film, particularly music, is pretty boring. Certainly rock is boring. I can’t think of anything that’s happened in the rock spectrum that’s felt – I’m sure there are that I’m just not thinking of right now but in general it’s not saying much either. Again, this is not a blanket statement. That’s certainly not including everything. There’s sure good stuff out there, but in general, I’m not blown away by 5 records a month like ‘man, that’s speaking to me.’ Everything feel a bit tame, a bit like something else that has happened, polite, I think that some of the tastemaker elements, certainly the hipster arena has leaned towards a praising of gentle, familiar R&B, twee, pop stuff, a lot of what’s blessed as the ‘cool thing’ feels pretty generic, and also feels like a desperate plea for commercial airplay and success, as there are fewer and fewer avenues for any bands to break out of obscurity these days.
That combined with just our own world view and a kind of daydream I was having lead to, let’s make a record that feels challenging and exciting to us, about something, I don’t want to get into what it is, but it’s a story that starts in one place and ends where it ends. I thought it was an ugly story to tell, and I wanted the music to sound kind of ugly, and I wanted it to sound unfriendly and I wanted it to not suck you in with a nice sexy hook.”
2. Trent Reznor on being the ‘same insecure person’ that made Pretty Hate Machine
I feel like I’m the same kind of insecure person that made that record you know, just older. I see who that person was. We just spent a lot of time with The Fragile putting out a new version of that, that adds an extra, as you asked for it, ninety minutes of music. We just made a different construction of that that we’re offering on vinyl. Living in that space for a while where I was in New Orleans totally different, pretty dark chapter but I know that person well. We just spent a lot of time with The Fragile we made a different construction that we are offering on vinyl. Pretty dark chapter. i know that person well. it all feels like me just different I’m glad i made it to here. I’m proud of what i did then and hopefully now. It all feels like me, just different. I’m happy about where I’m at right now. I’m glad I made it to here. I don’t feel like the best stuff was then but I’m proud of what I did then and before and hopefully tomorrow.
3. Trent Reznor on life before Pretty Hate Machine, Broken and Downward Spiral
My life before Pretty Hate Machine was a loaf of bread could last a week and my expenses were down to a couple hundred bucks a month I could survive till the next month you know. And then you make a record with no expectation other than your own trying to make the best record you can. And you’re in a van playing in front of people that you don’t know in cities you’ve never been to. And you can pay the gas bill without worrying about it this month. That’s nicer than it was six months earlier. When it comes time to write a new batch of songs now you have something you didn’t have before which is fans, followers, interest. And you know it crosses your mind what do they want? Cause life is a lot more interesting now that they’re around. You know do i cater to them? But if I’m moving this way and it’s not that close to the thing I did before you’re faced with a dilemma. You know when I turned in Broken I thought that would eliminate the people that were around the first time for Pretty Hate Machine. When I turned in Downward Spiral it was with an apology to Jimmy [Iovine] saying thanks for buying me out of my contract. Here you go. Sorry. I had to do it. With no agenda other than that’s what I felt I had to say.
4. Atticus Ross on the new EP being an ‘exercise in isolation’
It wasn’t contrived it really came to be thru experimentation. It has a particular sound but that sound was born out of a moment of excitement and honesty. Sometimes I listen to stuff. and think maybe there’s been a, some kind of equation, and the parts are being filled in. That wasn’t the case in the way that this came to life. Like Trent said we allowed ourselves a little bit of leeway and then something just happened and then you just follow it. When we were talking about physicality and history and whatever a lot of the albums that I love were probably made in isolation to some degree. The internet has given everybody access to everything at all times. On a personal level I don’t think its good, but on a creative level for me I switch stuff off when we’re doing this. This was an exercise in being isolated and not paying attention to whatever everybody else thinks is or should be doing. And just being, and that was the expression that came out of those several weeks, months was.