The Best Of Trent Reznor’s Reddit AMA

Senior Pop Culture Editor

It’s been a busy week for Trent Reznor. When asked by Rolling Stone whether the industrial rocker has any plans to reunite his former band, Nine Inch Nails, Reznor said, “All signs point to yes. Yeah, there will be new music…Stay tuned. We’ll see what happens here.” He followed that by releasing his theme song to Call of Duty: Black Ops II, before putting out an EP, An Omen, from his other excellent band, How to Destroy Angels.

Reznor also participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything on Tuesday, in which he answered questions about Year Zero, working with David Fincher again, and, of course, Nine Inch Nails. TIL: despite the gloomy, terrifying music he makes, Reznor is hilarious. Anyone who answers a long-winded question with “poop” is OK in my book.

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

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.


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?

Clearly, he was bullsh*tting. 30 people I can believe. 20? I don’t think so.


Someone really has to ask this… Can you disclosure any future plans for Nine Inch Nails?

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.

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.


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

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


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.

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.


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

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.


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

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.


How is the creative process different working with your wife as opposed to a NIN studio musician?

She’s a better kisser.


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?

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?

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.


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?

Good idea…


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?

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.


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 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.



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