Trent Reznor: Q&A from Reddit

On november 13th, 2012 Trent Reznor answered few questions on Reddit. Reddit is a great platform, but if you want to read right away questions and answers, it could be a little bit messy. On the same day, a new EP called “An Omen” by How To Destroy Angels came out, as well as a track by the man himself for “Call of Duty : Black Ops II” soundtrack.

I decided to just collect the answers Trent Reznor gave in this post. He said a few things really interesting in my opinion, and since I really respect Reznor and all his works, I want to share with you. You can find the original and complete Reddit session here if you want (there are tons of stupid questions over there…it seems like people miss the opportunity to talk with their hero just for the sake of it).

Trent Reznor

I had a English teacher who said he has been a fan of yours throughout your rise to fame. If I recall correctly, he said the first show he saw was in a very small venue and it was just you (no band) performing Pretty Hate Machine material to like 20 people in attendance. Did such shows ever take place or was he lying to try and earn some cool points in the eyes of the class?

Trent: Clearly, he was bullshitting. 30 people I can believe. 20? I don’t think so.

Are you going to be releasing multi-tracks of the HTDA songs for remixing?

Trent: We’re open to this. I’m a big believer in remix culture and would have loved to have had access to my favorite artists’ stems when I was coming up. Of course there was the issue of primitive technology way back then… I don’t know, do you want them?

 Any updates (good, bad or otherwise) on a Year Zero mini-series?

Trent: Let’s start on a down note! This is currently in a holding state. We didn’t find the right match with a writer, and really have been avoiding doing what we should have done from the beginning: write it ourselves. We = Rob and myself. This project means a lot to me and will see the light of day in one form or another.

Can Rob really play instruments? How did he get promoted to musical responsibilities? He seems like a cool guy.

Trent: He’s sitting right next to me so I can’t really talk right now.

Someone really has to ask this, so there it goes… Can you disclosure any future plans for Nine Inch Nails?

Trent: Sure I could.

Could you talk a little bit about how involved you were with the lighting setups for your NIN shows?

I went to Lights in the Sky in 2008 and I have to say it was the best lighting / visual setup that I’ve ever seen at a concert. How does that all come together? Do you plan out the setlists and then sync up specific lighting sequences to the songs beforehand or is it a bit more of a live, fluid process? I would kill to see NIN again, what a great show.

Trent: Thank you. I spend a lot of time and energy thinking about how music is presented live. Lights in the Sky was probably my favorite live show I’ve worked on so far. This was a real collaboration between myself, Rob, Roy Bennett, and Moment Factory. We set out to make an experience and I really felt proud to put that on every night. Cryptic additional comment: 2013.

Aside from destroy angel’s new EP, what’s next for you?

Trent: A number of things. Tweaking some things for the HTDA full LP (coming in Spring), helping Josh out on a new QOTSA track, working with Roy, starting rehearsals for two bands.

Hi Trent. Thanks for the years of music. What’s the status on The Fragile reissue? I know you talked about how Alan was doing a 5.1 remix a few years ago during a New York Times interview during the promotion for The Social Network.

Trent: The 5.1 mixes are done and sound amazing. Alan was the only person who could have possibly done it, and he did not disappoint. There are a couple other elements involved that we want to get right before we put this into production. These involve packaging and additional content. Patience, my friends.

How is the creative process different working with your wife as opposed to a NIN studio musician (Lohner, Finck, etc)?

Trent: She’s a better kisser.

Trent, thank you for taking the time to talk to us we really appreciate it! I have only had the opportunity to listen to An Omen once thus far and I absolutely love it. I want to say it is a very different direction (genre-wise?) from previous work both HDTA and NIN. Would you say this was a team decision or did one of you push for the newer sound the album brings? Thanks again for the IAmA, you have made a profound impact on my life with your music and I thank you for that.

Trent: We worked on this batch of songs for a long time. We didn’t start with a clear direction, we wanted to experiment and see where we wound up. With the luxury of time, we were able to get away from things and return with a fresh perspective. We all feel good about where we’ve wound up.

What was the first computer and software you used for music?

Trent: I had a Commodore 64 with, I think, the Sequential Circuits Model 64 Sequencer Cartridge. And it was the greatest thing in the world (or so I thought at the time). Moving on… The first “real” platform I used for composition was a Mac+ running Performer. Pretty Hate Machine was done with this.

Hey Trent. I’ve really enjoyed your new EP and I had a question about ‘Ice Age’ (Great track btw). How did this come to be? On the surface, it sounds poppy and maybe a little bit hopeful, but the lyrics and the underlying effects suggest something a bit darker. Should we expect the full album to sound more like this or will it be something entirely different?

Trent: Thank you. We were experimenting around with the juxtaposition of something familiar and almost folky sounding sitting in a very cold and sterile environment. Mariqueen had this melody that would have been happy living in a Fleetwood Mac record, and we created this plucky accompaniment that sounded acoustic but was anything but. Then we put all that in the freezer. The full record expands the boundaries of the EP a bit more.

Was there anything you didn’t/couldn’t do for the Year Zero arg/promotions because it would have pushed the boundaries too far?

Trent: Several ideas came up, including blowing up a building, actually incarcerating fans, and staging an appearance of the Presence in real life. Can’t win em all.

What’s your favourite piece of gear you’ve ever owned?

Trent: My Dad got me a Wurlitzer 200a electric piano as a preteen, and it pretty much changed the trajectory of my life. That piano is long gone, but I did recently pick one up, which I love.

Will you ever work on a side project with Robert Smith from The Cure? That would be awesome. Maybe get Eric Avery to play bass and John Frusicante to play guitar. I’d love to see some more collaborations with you and other artists. Even if just a song or two and not a full CD. Thoughts?

Trent: Good idea…

How did you come up with the “Halo” number catalog? Did you have the foresight to now it would take on a life of its own with collectors? Why did you chose the word “halo” Was there any deep meaning behind it? Also, can you shed some light on “Null”, “Seed”, and “Sigil”? What was the goal behind all of these?

Trent: I remember Depeche Mode did a similar thing and I thought it was cool. Somebody please remind me what the word Depeche Mode used was, I’m too old to remember what it was.

Trent, Thanks for doing this. Love the new HTDA stuff, love the Black Ops theme (but enough fellating you – you’ll get plenty of that here!). I’m really interested to know what your involvement may be in the rest of the “Millennium Trilogy” films. Last I read, Fincher wasn’t sure if he was going to be “brought back” to complete the rest of the series or not. If Fincher does return, will you and Atticus be doing the score? Thank you for all the great music you’ve created that has enriched my life over the years. You, Bowie and Tom Waits are my holy musical trinity and when I say you’ve enriched my life I genuinely mean it… good art is prone to do that, huh?

Trent: Thank you. I’m not sure I belong in the same sentence as Bowie and Tom Waits, but I’ll take it. Regarding the Millennium trilogy, my interest in this would be contingent upon Fincher’s involvement.

You are probably one of my biggest influences and inspirations, and I hope one day to be on your level. Creepy shit aside, I saw a video a few years ago about how much you love Mainstage. Do you still use it, and will you/have you used it with How To Destroy Angels? I’m taking my band on the road early next year, would you still recommend it for live use? Thanks for doing this AMA 🙂

Trent: Mainstage worked well on the last NIN outing. It was my keyboard, guitar, and vocal rig, and was very stable. We’re getting into HTDA live shortly, and I’ll re-address the situation.

Just to get it out of the way, Lollapalooza, the Charter One Pavilion Show, and then the Goodbye show at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago are three of my favorite shows I’ve ever been to: calculated, succinct, and powerful. I consider them pivotal moments in my own musical history. So, here are my questions:

  1. What do you see as the pitfall of modern live shows and what would you improve on your own?
  2. Your scoring on the Social Network is obviously beyond exemplary. What did you do differently going about it compared to putting together an album or ep?
  3. You left the record industry and then came back, with what I see as legitimate reasons on both ends. Do you think a compromise is possible with the industry where you’re leaving wouldn’t have been necessitated in the first place?
  4. The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust was a sort of success and failure at the same time, your own endeavor in that manner being much more successful purely from the range of your own fanbase. Now that you’ve learned from that experience, what would you have done differently in both cases?

The video where you have the Spinal Tap Stonehenge come down and Fink collapsing from laughing while techies dance around it is one of my favorite live moments I’ve found. To close it off, thank you for the highs, the lows, and everything in-between, and reading a pig’s ramblings. Your music pulled me up from the deepest depths, for that I really can’t thank you enough, and it stands today as my favorite tracks to turn on any day of the week. Hope to be looking up at ya again one day soon


  1. Generally, they’re lazy, sound bad, and are somewhat boring. I’m always looking to blur the line between the theatrical and the visceral. I strive to make a show that resonates on a purely emotional, raw level, and at the same time smartly evolves from one place to another quite unexpectedly.
  2. Thank you. We were working purely in service to the picture and the director’s vision. Both films with Fincher were immensely creatively rewarding for us, primarily due to the respect each camp had for the other.
  3. Probably not. Both decisions were the right decisions at the time.
  4. I look at Niggy Tardust as a complete success in terms of what matters to me the most: The creative experience. My own naivete in terms of business models and who was willing to actually pay for music led to the disappointment around that project. As far as the actual music, it’s still some of my favorite stuff I’ve done.

Total geek question right here and sure to get 1000 down votes: (from a fellow SSL large format console owner) How’s the SSL Duality treating you guys?

Trent: Simple: We love it. I hadn’t had a chance to really use it before purchasing, so there’s always that risk it might not suit your workflow. But it’s been really great.

Why on Earth would you sign back up with a label? I’ve heard your logistical reasonings, sure. To get the word around and become more well known, sure. I get that. You spent years being trashed by these kinds of entities. Not only you, but your fans. Outrageous pricing schemes and forcing extra releases out of you to milk more money out of your fans to name a couple reasons. As someone who has a stack of every halo on the shelf in my office, I’m really upset to hear you’re dealing with the devil again. Times might have changed, blah blah blah, sure. To quote the supreme leader George W “Fool me once, shame on…..shame on you…….you fool me, I can’t get fooled again.” Aside from that, congrats on everything in your personal life, including HTDA. Not my cup of tea, but not every cup is meant for me. I hold The Fragile as my favorite piece of art in any medium ever very dearly. And for that, I thank you. Good luck.

Trent: Poop.

What drew you to Ilan Rubin as a drummer, for the last NIN tour? Considering he’s so young, were you worried he wouldn’t be able to fill the shoes of Freese?

Trent: Ilan is a star.