SANTA MONICA, California — Trent Reznor spent much of the six years since The Fragile recovering from a near-fatal heroin overdose and recording With Teeth, but he also found time to collaborate with other rock icons.
For the most part, however, the fruits of his labor have yet to surface — and may never.
The exception is “We Want It All,” a Zack de la Rocha solo track produced by Reznor that appeared on last year’s Songs and Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11. As for what will happen with the other 19 or so tracks the two worked on together, Reznor has no idea (nor did De la Rocha’s spokesperson).
“We got together for a number of sessions in New Orleans just working on some material that, personally, I thought turned out excellent,” Reznor said in a recent interview to promote With Teeth (see “New Nine Inch Nails LP Takes Risks — By Being Accessible” ). “Over time, I think it was a matter of Zack not knowing what direction to go. I know the feeling of fear. He’s in a difficult position of leaving one of the best bands of the ’90s, and he wants to make an important statement when he makes it. And he will when he gets around to making it.”
Reznor had never met De la Rocha when got a call from the former Rage Against the Machine vocalist, but the two are friends now. “I liked Zack right off the bat. We hit it off,” Reznor said.
While the De la Rocha material is out of Reznor’s hands, he has more control over Tapeworm, his collaboration with Tool/ A Perfect Circle singer Maynard James Keenan (see “Nine Inch Nails, Tool Frontmen Recording Together” ). But with this project, he’s the one who’s unsure.
“It just didn’t seem like it was that great to me,” Reznor said of the project that also featured multi-instrumentalist Atticus Ross of 12 Rounds and one-time NIN bassist Danny Lohner. “At the end of the day I figure, if we are going to work together, it’s got to be the greatest thing ever. It didn’t feel like that to me.
“Plus I was starting to work on my thing and [Keenan] was on tour. It just got complicated and seemed like one not to pursue. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t put a record out of my own that I thought was ‘pretty good.’ ”
Keenan once angered Reznor by performing a Tapeworm song during an A Perfect Circle show, but the Nine Inch Nails singer insists there’s no bad blood between them. “I like him a lot and I really think he’s the best vocalist out there today and a good friend,” he said.
Reznor, who produced Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar and also produced several shelved tracks for Ian Astbury before the Cult singer joined the Doors of the 21st Century, has lost his interest in producing other artists in recent years, mostly because he finds few bands inspiring.
|Check out the feature “Nine Inch Nails: The Upward Spiral.”|
“I often find myself listening to a record because a lot of people or magazines have told me it’s good and I’m supposed to like it, and I try to stay in touch with what’s happening and I’m also a fan of music,” Reznor explained. “I find myself trying to like something that I really don’t think is that great. And at the end of the day, I’ve just been sold something that’s not that great, and I feel like it’s not really sincere. I feel like I’m buying into this hype and I don’t really feel this way and I don’t know if anyone else really feels this way. Those are the bands you see vanish because no one really did feel this way — you’ve just been told this is the new thing to like.
“I did that without naming anybody, didn’t I?” he added with a smile.
When Reznor does find an artist he likes, though, he takes care of him. For instance, he just took poet/rapper Saul Williams to Europe as Nine Inch Nails’ opening act.
“What ends up standing out to me is that occasion where you do hear something and it strikes me as, ‘Wow, something is being said there,’ ” Reznor said. “I heard [Williams' 'List of Demands'] on MTV. It sounded so unlike everything else, and something was being said and I believed that guy. I was afraid of him by the time the video was over. I went out and bought the record and, to me, it was like a breath of fresh air in a genre that I think is dying from just replicating itself, being a copy of a copy of a copy.”
For a full-length interview with Trent Reznor on With Teeth, check out the feature “Nine Inch Nails: The Upward Spiral.”