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the music business, a power player whose pioneering moves—surprise releases, extreme secrecy, fanbase cultivation, big budget commercial soundtrack jobs—have become global-pop-star S. For longtime followers of Reznor, a few scenarios suggest themselves. So when he boldly introduces his surprise new EP as “an unfriendly, fairly impenetrable record that we needed to make” there is some cause for both intrigue and healthy skepticism.Released shortly before Cash's death in 2003, the track came to be seen as a poignant epitaph to the country singer's troubled life.In January 2004, Reznor moved from his old adopted home of New Orleans to California, and there consulted Cash's latterday producer Rick Rubin on how to go about making records so he didn't almost kill himself every time.Maybe he's hoping to stoke enthusiasm for a slight, 21-minute EP that mainly serves as a promotional tool for a trove of concurrent reissues. Optimists and diehards might wish for a third option: Maybe he's legitimately produced powerful and fresh music under the Nine Inch Nails banner.To Reznor’s credit and detriment, he's managed to touch on each scenario.Within nine months - an unprecedentedly brief period by Reznor's standards - he'd completed With Teeth, which was released a couple of months ago.Neutral observers might suggest that it sounds much like previous Nine Inch Nails albums, full of angst and anger, only with more concise and structured songs."It's not happy, don't worry," Reznor confirms with satisfaction."Everything isn't fixed, but there's a functional human being at the helm, for a change.
The audience, who were draped in goth's wildest regalia - a riot of piercings, tattoos, hair dye, PVC and netting - screamed out his lyrics in unison.His skin is tanned, his eyes are blue and clear, and, in conversation, he is well-spoken, articulate and utterly charming.One might wonder how any of the dysfunction that Reznor exorcises in his music could ever have attached itself to such a healthy, good-looking Alpha male.His most extreme record thus far, The Downward Spiral (1995), which, famously, was recorded at the house where Roman Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson family, sold five million copies worldwide. More damagingly, he hid from himself, in alcohol and hard drugs.This, he says, is when his problems really started."Fame, power, and people treating me differently - I wasn't equipped to deal with all that. These were his way of coping with his fear about making a follow-up to The Downward Spiral."It had been fun to tour," he says, "but it's not fun to sit in your room by yourself for a year - or two years, as it turned out."When he listens now to 1999's comparatively ethereal The Fragile (which was nevertheless a massive international seller), he says that, to him, "it sounds like a paranoid, terrified person."After touring that album for two years, he was "a complete mess".
He tells Andrew Perry why he had to change Trent Reznor, one of the megastars of gothic rock, is a surprisingly civilised fellow.