By Stephanie Jorgl |
From the time his major hit Head Like a Hole broke through in 1989, through his late 1999 release, The Fragile (which was selected as Album of the Year by Spin), Trent Reznor has significantly changed the sound of rock music.
Strongly inspired by songwriters like David Bowie, Prince (the artist formerly known as The Artist) and Brian Eno, Reznor developed a unique sound and style that made him one of the most influential songwriters of the past decade.
Reznor even managed to return some inspiration to one of his idols, Bowie, while his immense success on the radio and with record sales sparked a new generation of alternative rock bands to add digital samples, sound design and heartfelt lyrics alongside their crunchy guitar tracks.
Hes additionally touched the worlds of film and video games by doing soundtracks for Oliver Stone and David Lynch, and by scoring the music for the original Quake.
Reznor now spends his days either touring the world with his band, Nine Inch Nails, or back at his New Orleans compound composing new musical arrangements from an unlimited palette of sounds, especially created for him by a dedicated team of audio engineers.
But how did he get there?
Check out this QuickTime VR movie of the smaller room at Nothing Studios.
Harvested at a Young Age |
At the age of 5, Reznor was forced into piano lessons, and got good pretty quickly. Music came naturally to him and at one point he considered dropping out of school to become a concert pianist. But when he hit high school, his musical interests tuned into rock & roll.
I always knew what I wanted to do, but growing up in Pennsylvania in a corn field, I just didnt have any idea how to go about pursuing it, says Reznor.
But he managed to reap a dream bigger than most farm town kids would ever know his own team of sound engineers, a top-notch sound studio in New Orleans and a life fully dedicated to creating his art.
His First Synth
Reznor got his first synthesizer in high school. I knew it was the right time for me, because all of the things I was interested in computers and music were coming together, reminisces Reznor. When I realized I could start making music on computers, thats when I found a direction to my life.
Reznor Calculates His Future
After high school, Reznor thought about designing synths or recording consoles of his own. To pursue this idea, he went to college to study computer engineering. But like a lot of creative kids, he realized he didnt enjoy doing calculus all day.
So he dropped out of college. I got a job at a studio, basically cleaning toilets and doing the odd jobs no one else wanted to do, explains Reznor, But this gave me the opportunity to spend time around recording equipment. And thats how Reznor got into audio engineering.
Fearing the Music Within
After teaching himself the basics, he felt it was time to test his ability to do some serious writing. But he was plagued by self-doubt.
I was afraid to write because I knew what I liked and what I didnt like, says Reznor, but I didnt know if what I could create would be something I liked. He had played keyboards in a bunch of bands, but the focus of the band had never been his vision.
As an experiment, he stopped every other aspect of his life and spent every waking minute writing music, using the studio he worked at.
Then a revelation hit him