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 News Archive: Nine Inch Nails

Page 1

 Trent Reznor hits rock bottom, comes to terms with his addiction and embraces music again ...

Page 2

 Reznor explains why The Fragile didn't work and ropes in Dave Grohl for With Teeth ...

Page 3

 "I would hate to think I would ever be in a position where I'm faking it to get a paycheck." ...

Audioslave: Beyond The Sum Of Their Parts

System of a Down: Doubleheader

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— by Corey Moss

Trent Reznor is back where he belongs. Standing like a track star stretching his calf, sweat seeping from his face, hands choking a microphone, he stares far beyond the tens of thousands of fans in front of him.

"Nothing can stop me now!" he screams.

 Trent Reznor performs "Wish" at Woodstock '94

Eleven years after his "holy sh--!" show at Woodstock, the mastermind of Nine Inch Nails is announcing his return on another festival's stage. There's no mud at Coachella, only windblown dust dancing with the palm trees behind him. The band is different, and he's bulkier than when we last saw him, but otherwise all the same elements seem to be there: The black hair draping his face. The piano trickling over deafening synthesizers. The angst. Definitely the angst.

On the inside, though, things have changed. The "Nothing can stop me now" line, from "Piggy," carries far more weight than it did in 1995. At Coachella, a little more than 24 hours before With Teeth, his first album in six years, will hit shelves, Reznor is finally feeling invincible.

"Working on this record made it very clear to me how governed by fear I've been working on other records, how concerned I've been about what other people think," Reznor explains, a week earlier and much less sweaty. "I would never have admitted it, but I can see now I did care a lot about those things and it kept Nine Inch Nails, maybe for the better, narrowed into a certain thing. I'm less concerned about keeping it [so focused] now and [more concerned with] trying to make it more truthful and honest."

"I cannot go through this again."
— "With Teeth"

Before Trent Reznor could become the confident, content (dare we say happy?) man he is today, he had to hit rock bottom. That moment came about four years ago, while touring behind The Fragile, when he woke up in a London hospital after overdosing on heroin.

Watch "MTV News RAW: Trent Reznor" in Overdrive to see exclusive and uncut footage from this interview.

"I had to come to terms about becoming an addict, which, for a long time, I lied to myself about the status of until I couldn't lie any more, 'cause I was either going to die or get better," he recalls now, in a rare on-camera interview. "I couldn't go forward. So a few years ago I did what I needed to do to get my life in order."

Reznor, who completed a rehab program after touring behind 1994's The Downward Spiral but relapsed while recording 1999's The Fragile, checked himself into a New Orleans treatment center. When he finished the program, he left no longer knowing who he was or what he wanted to do. He took some time off, started working out, mountain biking. He considered not returning to music.

"I had wound up in a terrible, terrible place and I wasn't sure what got me there," he says. "I had to figure a lot of things out. Most importantly, I had to figure out that I still loved music."

During the break, music started to become a separate thing from his career and all the pressures that came with it. "I realized that I really loved music, it's the backdrop and soundtrack to every bit of my life," he says in a speaking voice that is throaty and slightly accented from his years spent living in Louisiana.

Eventually, Reznor got the itch to start writing again. The problem was he couldn't. It'd been four years since The Fragile and a decade since his biggest hit, and he worried that too much time had elapsed.

"What was going through my head was really questioning my own relevance," he explains. "I was wondering if I had anything to say or was any good."

Around that time, Reznor received a call from his friend Rick Rubin, asking if Johnny Cash could cover The Downward Spiral's haunting "Hurt" for the latest in a series of covers albums Rubin was producing. Reznor was flattered but knew the two were working on hundreds of songs and thought it would probably never see the light of day. Then it arrived in the mail.

 Johnny Cash
American IV: The Man Comes Around
(American Recordings/Lost Highway)

"I was in the middle of something else, kind of distracted. When I heard it, it surprised me that I felt a bit invaded, like his voice was in my song and it sounded funny to me," Reznor remembers. "Not long after that, I got the video in the mail and that's when [I got] goose bumps, wet eyes."

As bleak as director Mark Romanek's video is, Reznor found it comforting. "It was like a pat on the back in a way, like, 'You can do this. Go out there and write an album.' "

Suddenly, music became not just something the Nine Inch Nails singer enjoyed, but something he needed. Songwriting had always been a remedy, but never this necessary, and never so rewarding.

"It was incredibly therapeutic because I could actually think again," he says. "And I liked myself again and was more enthused about working than I'd ever been. I felt like I'm not anchored to this black cloud that's going to descend on me. I was taking certain chances and allowing something to sound a certain way because I felt more confident than I had. I felt good about things for a change. I'm not saying it's a happy record, [because] it's exploring a lot of things about coming out of that cloud and trying to figure out who I am and what I am with a lot of fresh terrible experiences to think about."

Reznor explains why The Fragile didn't work and ropes in Dave Grohl for With Teeth ...
Photo: Chapman Baehler

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 "The Hand That Feeds"
With Teeth
(Interscope Records)

 "March Of The Pigs"
The Downward Spiral
(nothing/TVT/Interscope Records/The Atlantic Group)

Natural Born Killers - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
(nothing/Interscope Records/The Atlantic Group/Warner Brothers)

The Downward Spiral
(nothing/TVT/Interscope Records/The Atlantic Group)

(Interscope Records/The Atlantic Group)