Trent Reznor: ‘We’re just animals who self-destruct… we’re not godlike’

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Trent Reznor is currently promoting some new music, in the form of three EPs, and a sort of low-key tour. Considering Reznor is a living legend of hard-rock badassery, he pretty much gets to do interviews with any outlet he wants. This time, he sat down with Rolling Stone. I’ve been covering Reznor’s interviews over the past few years, and every time, I’m just reminded of how much I’ve always liked him. The “angry young man” of Pretty Hate Machine grew into a beautiful angry butterfly who says some really thoughtful things about politics, Trumpism, addiction, and the music industry. You can read Reznor’s full Rolling Stone interview here. Some highlights:

Whether he was thinking of Trump when he wrote his new music, which focuses on societal decay: “It’s not Donald Trump. I don’t think he’s the cause of it, but he’s certainly the result of the conductivity and the social media. The more that people are connected together, seemingly the lower the level of discourse and the more extremities have found each other. It’s become sharper in focus for me and more concerning on a personal level being a father of young kids. It’s power being tribalized.

How pessimism has kicked into gear: “This whole idea that we are even important is a f–king illusion. We’re just an accident left to our own devices. With everything we could do, we’ve dumbed ourselves down to where enlightenment is ultimately the illusion. We’re just animals who self-destruct and we’re proving that we’re not f–king rulers. We’re not godlike. The illusion is thinking we are.”

The grotesque nation: “In this newfound time where the f–king leader of the free world is essentially announcing it’s okay to be racist and f–king ignorant and nothing is happening to him, people are testing the water and coming out of the closet. I find that mentality f–king grotesque….”

The comfort of nostalgia: “I have found a surprising amount of comfort in thinking about things that make me feel good that are nostalgic. I gave in and bought a turntable several years ago. I actually really enjoy holding vinyl, putting it on and the inconvenience of having to walk across the room to pick the needle up if the phone rings. And I find comfort in watching old Twilight Zone episodes, ’cause it reminds me of something that felt familiar. I used to never let myself romanticize the past or look at it through rose-colored glasses, and I’ve allowed myself to realize that I do like some things and I don’t think there’s any real harm necessarily in allowing oneself to think back to things that you sense some sort of comfort from.

[From Rolling Stone]

Towards the end of the interview, Reznor says a ton of insightful stuff about the music industry right now, and how the landscape of music currently is vehemently anti-rock. He also criticized some of the little indie bands for sounding like they were workshopped by comment sections. As for what I excerpted… it’s such a controlled rage. He’s 53 years old and he’s angry and upset at the state of the world. But he also finds it beneficial to self-soothe with some nostalgia. I completely understand. As for this: “We’re just an accident left to our own devices… We’re just animals who self-destruct and we’re proving that we’re not f–king rulers.” God that’s depressing. And true.

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