Nine Inch Nails' singer found the perfect setting to create the
_Natural Born Killers_ soundtrack.
Ever since Trent Reznor took up residence in a certain house on Cielo
Drive in LA, he's found himself plagued by the cult of the serial killer.
"The fucking Sharon Tate house," as he describes it, was the scene
of Charles Manson's most notorious crime, which Reznor decided to
move in to while working on Nine Inch Nails' last album _The
"I'm not personally infatuated with serial killers. I find them mildly
interesting at best, I have a curiosity about that, but by no means do
I wish to glamorise them. From living in that house I've met every
person in the world you can imagine who's obsessed with that whole
thing and it's given me more of a perspective on it."
Opting to "conceive, arrange, and produce" the soundtrack for Oliver
Stone's _Natural Born Killers_, the _Gone With The Wind_ of
serial-killer movies, Reznor is hardly retreating from the association.
"Oliver approached me about doing the soundtrack. I got a call from
his people to say he had used some Nine Inch Nails music in the film
and would I like to see a screening of it to approve its use? I thought
it was used tastefully for a change, which is unusual in Hollywood
movie-making. I went to another screening the following week and
Oliver asked if I wanted to put out a soundtrack on my label in the
States. I agreed without realising what the soundtrack was going to
"I thought about it and had another meeting with him and agreed that
it would be cool to make a record that followed the flow of the movie,
to layer the music just like the movie did and use a lot of dialogue. I
wanted to try to make something that's listenable to as a piece of
music but also to call to mind the feel of the movie. He told me to go
ahead and do it. So from that point on I had pretty much free rein to
use whatever I wanted."
Reznor assembled the album in Europe, largely as a relief from the
incessant grind of the Nails' year-long tour. "We set the computers up
in hotel rooms. It was a question of self discipline. Instead of having
fun, I sat in front of a computer." The claustrophobic environment
must have played an important role in the mood of the soundtrack, a
cacophony of insane dialogue and diverse sounds--from Leonard
Cohen's apocalyptic monologues to Dr Dre's def row
rhythms--punctuated with hysterical screaming and unnerving
gunshots. Even Juliette Lewis get an opportunity to sing, testing her
sandpapered tonsils with Cissie Cobb's 'Born Bad'.
The _Natural Born Killers_ soundtrack turned into an organisational
nightmare, a buck Reznor was more than happy to pass.
"I created hell for them by saying: 'Here's what I want to do.' Oliver
told me to make it happen, and some unfortunate team of lawyers
had the job of tracking everybody down. There was a lot of
co-operation required from all the different bands, artists and record
labels, not just: Can we use your song, but: Can we remix it maybe,
or edit it down to a minute-and-a-half and have someone talking over
it. Mostly everybody was pretty cool, a couple of snags here and
there but that's to be expected."
One of those snags was Reznor's contractual obligation
song--something that proved problematic, but which eventually
resulted in one of the album's finest moments, the blistering 'Burn'.
"Now we're getting into all that contracts bullshit that I try to avoid
as much as possible. What happened was, part of Oliver's deal with
Warner Bros was that there had to be some new music on the
soundtrack. So at one point he asked me to write a song for the
movie. I agreed to try, but didn't think I could do it because I'd never
written a song for anything. I was trying to get something
thematically without calling it 'Natural Born Killers'.
"With the 'Dogg Pound' track they busted their asses to get it done
but I didn't think it fitted very well anywhere. So I tried to place it
where it wouldn't disrupt the flow--in other words at the end."
Working on _Natural Born Killers_ (something that entailed Reznor
having to watch it 70 times) has left the frontman with a definite feel
for moving behind the scenes.
"I'd like to do a real soundtrack. I'm interested in composing, whereas
basically this was just editing. I made a little souvenir of the movie
but I don't really feel I've created anything. That, I would like to do...
if we ever manage to stop touring."
By Bob McCabe
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.