Nine Inch Nails' Upward Spiral
7:50 a.m. ET (1450 GMT) May 5, 2000 By Dan Aquilante
NEW YORK — Nine Inch Nails is one of the most important American rock
bands today.Spin magazine named The Fragile last year's top album, while
the band sold out Madison Square Garden in 14 minutes.
Reznor rewound for his new album: 'I remembered I didn't get into this
to make money or get fame or meet girls or anything else. I loved music'
Driving this upward spiral is NIN frontman Trent Reznor, a keyboard
player who can nimbly move to guitar or saxophone or just about anything
else he can get his fingers on.
He is known as a dark, brooding, intellectual — but unlike other rockers
who merely cop the "misunderstood artist" pose, Reznor really is.
In a rare interview, the reclusive 32-year-old tells The Post how the
fame and excesses that followed 1994's The Downward Spiral plunged him
into a sad journey all his own.
Only through serious soul-searching was he able to make The Fragile.
"I sat at a piano and played," Reznor told The Post. "I remembered I
didn't get into this to make money or get fame or meet girls or anything
else. I loved music. I had to come full circle to that idea to start
The album has received raves from critics, as has NIN's national tour,
which swings into the Garden Tuesday and the Nassau Coliseum on
Here, Reznor speaks candidly about being a lonely superstar, and about
why he decided to end his feud with Marilyn Manson.
Post: People say you're a nihilist, that you don't believe in anything,
that nothing is important to you. Is that true?
Reznor: That's a pretty tough question. I think my outlook has changed
pretty dramatically over the last few years. When I wrote "The Downward
Spiral," I was on a mission to deconstruct everything around me. I
didn't need anybody, I didn't need God, I didn't need anything to
Post: What about friends?
Reznor: I certainly didn't need friends. I was suspicious of everybody
and everything. I was disappointed by faith, people, love. That's what
that record was about, and I lived it. At the end of the tour [in 1994],
I was on a level where I had gotten things I never dreamed of.
Post: Material things?
Reznor: Success. And all the resources that come with it. I also got all
the bad things I wasn't equipped to deal with. I was vulnerable, and you
can't be vulnerable when you're on the firing line like I was.
Post: You're a hero in music. Doesn't everyone love you and put you on a
Reznor: For all the ones who put you there, there are twice as many who
want to rip you off it. Anyway, I found myself in a position where I had
a decision to make ... whether to keep on or end all. It sounds pretty
fatalistic, but even on a career level I realized that all the success
didn't make things good. I thought it would fix things in my life.
Post: Did it?
Reznor: It did the opposite. I didn't have the excuse of hiding behind a
career that hadn't happened yet. It had happened, and I was more
miserable than I was before I started.
Post: Are you a nihilist?
Reznor: I have a much more positive outlook than I had in the past. I do
believe there is a higher power, I believe in karma, I believe when I
looked out at the audience these last few shows and saw an energy coming
out of them and felt some connection.
But I'm a pretty lonely person in real life. It may seem strange, but
being on stage in front of several thousand people there to see you is
the loneliest place.
Reznor: You couldn't be more detached from them. You're not one of them
and you're not treated like one of them. Even when you meet them, you're
not one of them.
Post: Are you a shy person in a public life?
Reznor: Yeah. I like to hide. I live in New Orleans because I love it
there and it's out of the way.
Post: Can Marilyn Manson's appearance in your video "Starsucker, Inc."
be read to mean that you two have made amends?
Reznor: We have. There was a long chunk of time that we weren't each
other's favorite people, but I have since realized he is very much like
the brother I never had. The feeling is mutual.
Post: What happened between you two?
Reznor: You sprinkle a little fame on two stubborn people in close
quarters, and they both think they know what is right and wrong, and
there's going to be a fight. We both did some growing up.
Post: Did you write "Starsucker, Inc." about him?
Reznor: The song is about the concept of celebrity and the
ridiculousness of it. And of course, Manson was also an inspiration for
Post: How did you patch things up?
Reznor: I heard rumbling from mutual friends that he felt the fight had
gone on long enough, and I felt that way, too.
Post: Is the girl in the video Manson?
Reznor: When you watch the video, you don't realize that until the end -
that the girl I'm on a date with is really Manson.
Post: I've heard that the fat lady in the video is supposed to be
Reznor: Without naming names, the heavy-set woman is an acquaintance
that has been in both mine and Manson's life, and she epitomizes the
state of starsuckers today.
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