Photo by David Hall
In a recent interview with the Daily Record (via Alternative Nation), Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor had a few choice words for today’s modern rockers. Specifically, Reznor called out current rock acts for falling into a drab routine and worrying more about popularity than artistic expression.
“When you see a lot more excitement generated from the dance tent,” he said, “I do think a staleness has permeated [rock music].”
He continued, “I get the sense that a lot of bands today are designing themselves to get a good review in the hip blogs and that is probably the safest and most cowardly thing you can do as an artist. If you have something to say, then say it. Express yourself and break the rules.”
Reznor used himself as an example, explaining that he tries to straddle “paying attention to what is happening in the outside world to some degree and at the same time becoming insular and really trusting my own voice and my own sense of what is right and appropriate. I don’t hear tons of that going on right now.” He added, “I’m saying this as an old guy.”
Acknowledging that his years of experience in the industry have turned him into the kind of guy “you railed against when you were younger,” Reznor said he’s still being true to his current identity. “I have thought about the nostalgia aspect of Nine Inch Nails, because I am not completely objective. I’m me and I’m seeing life through my eyes. But it’s sometimes hard for me to see how others see me.
“What I don’t want to realize tomorrow is that I have been this clown pretending to be someone half his age and thinking, ‘How did this happen?'” His advice to up-and-comers worried about falling into this realm of falsehoods? “I try to be mindful to keep myself in a place that feels artistically uncomfortable, unsure and makes me think and shoots me into some place new rather than resting on past achievements.”
In the interview, Reznor also commented on how fatherhood has affected him (“It’s been a profound change as a human being and one I think I was ready for”) and explained why working on film scores brought him back to NIN music (“The reinvention of working with people really ignited me”). Read the full interview here.