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Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor Calls Out ‘Conservative Nature’ of Today’s Rock Acts

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails
Mary Ouellette, SheWillShootYou.com

Bow down before the one you serve / You’re going to get what you deserve.” That line became famous thanks to an angst-ridden youngster named Trent Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails. But a lot has changed for Reznor over the years and he reflected on how his music and perspective has shifted with age in a new interview with The Daily Record.

Reznor says in the interview he’s trying to be true to who he is as a person now, but he’s still interested in pushing the envelope and not relying on past glories. The singer, who revived Nine Inch Nails after retiring the group for a few years, stated, “I have thought about the nostalgia aspect of Nine Inch Nails, because I am not completely objective … 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 that happen?’ 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.”

The frontman adds that he’s not exactly excited by what he’s seeing in rock music these days, explaining, “If you have something to say, then say it. Express yourself and break the rules. What I try to straddle is 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. I’m saying this as an old guy. You start to morph into the guy you railed against when you were younger. But I’m being true to who I am now.”

Addressing what he’s seeing outside of his own band, Reznor states,“When you see a lot more excitement generated from the dance tent [at a music festival], I do think a staleness has permeated [rock music]. A pretty conservative nature has crept into music and I don’t mean sonically. 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.”

As he pushes forward as a rocker in his late 40s, Reznor admits he doesn’t have the hardened view he did in the early days, citing fatherhood as a big change in his life. He adds, “Entering into fatherhood profoundly changed me in a sense. It’s another piece of the puzzle but it’s not all about me and it’s OK that it’s not all about me. That’s what I never understood when I was a younger musician. I felt like maturity, or any lessening of rage, was about surrender, giving up and settling. But it’s not that. That’s the kind of thing that, when an older person tells you, the younger person rolls their eyes … But that’s just the process I’m discovering.”

For more deep thoughts from Reznor, read the full interview at The Daily Record.

Reznor and Nine Inch Nails will be balancing the past and present this summer as they co-headline a tour with Soundgarden while promoting their recent ‘Hesitation Marks’ album and celebrate the 20th anniversary of ‘The Downward Spiral.’ Three more dates have been added to the run, with shows now scheduled in Wheatland, Calif. (Aug. 27), Ridgefield, Wash. (Aug. 29) and Auburn, Wash. (Aug. 30). To see the rest of the itinerary, click here.

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