Reznor took time off from completing NIN's new album, The Fragile, to discuss
the personal renaissance that occurred during the making of The Downward
- How did the concept for the album come about?
- I'd come up with a good idea during the end of the Pretty Hate Machine
tour when things got kind of bad - personalities were conflicting, and
I was on a kind of self-destruct mission. I let many areas of my life get
out of hand and started being an asshole around people. And I felt this
frustration that I've worked my whole life to get to this point and now
I can't do it anymore. [Reznor was feuding with his label TVT at the time.]
There's always something holding you back and something fucking up what
could be a good situation. And from that I kind of plotted out what I thought
Downward Spiral would be. Musically, I thought it was going to be a real
heavy guitar record, and when I started working on music, I found synthesizers
and samplers a lot more interesting.
- In retrospect, was recording in L.A. good for the creative process?
- I kind of had a fascination with L.A. 'cause I'd never spent much time
there and it seemed so ridiculous that there must be something interesting
about it, or else there wouldn't be so many people there. It seemed like
a good way to try the city out. Going there definitely changed the course
of the record. It wasn't so much being in the Tate house [where actress
Sharon Tate and freinds had been murdered by Charles Manson's Family],
but being in this place that was like on the side of a mountain above Beverly
Hills. You could look down on this alien-landscape kind of vibe but feel
really detached from everything. And I found that I didn't fit in with
people there. It resulted in a lot of time spent by ourselves.
back at that now, I tend to over-romanticize it for the sense of excitement
and innovation and rediscovery of why I wanted to make music in the first
place. For me it was convincing myself not to be afraid to try things,
even if they're not the safe thing to try. Lyrically, I liked the way I
said it, but I wasn't proud of the motions I felt on there. The things
I was expressing felt a little too close to the bone for me. And at one
point I looked at myself and said, well, at least it's honest, and that
I think has a power of its own.
- Did you have any fun whatsoever?
- It wasn't all miserable. It was fun because [former drummer/programmer]
Chris Vrenna and I were tight at that time, and it was like a little team
going out on a new secret mission to try to rediscover the world and figure
out how to do this. Aside from loneliness, there were no real bottom-outs
through that whole time. I also discovered Timothy Leary lived right in
front of me. We made friends, and then that was an excuse to do psychedelics,
you know? [Laughs.] I figured, "I should; it must be meanth to happen!"
Overall I look back on it as wholly positive, to the point where I go back
to L.A., which I grew to hate, and I think, "It kind of feels like home
here a little bit." But then I come to my senses.
<< Previous Page