Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor

Reznor performing with Nine Inch Nails at the Music Box in California, on September 8, 2009.
Background information
Birth name Michael Trent Reznor
Born May 17, 1965 (1965-05-17) (age 46)
Mercer, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Industrial rock, industrial metal, dark ambient, electronica, EBM, experimental rock
Occupations Musician, songwriter, sound designer, Record producer, film composer
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, synthesizer, mellotron, keyboards, bass guitar, saxophone, cello, double bass, drums, tuba, sousaphone, harmonium, marimba, pan flute, harpsichord, vibraphone
Years active 1982–present
Labels The Null Corporation, Nothing, Interscope, Universal, TVT
Associated acts Option 30, The Innocent, Exotic Birds, Lucky Pierre, Nine Inch Nails, How to Destroy Angels, Tapeworm, Atticus Ross, Marilyn Manson, Saul Williams, Karen O

Michael Trent Reznor (born May 17, 1965) is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, record producer, and leader of industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. Reznor is also a member of How to Destroy Angels alongside his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, and Atticus Ross. He was previously associated with bands Option 30, Exotic Birds, and Tapeworm, among others. Reznor left Interscope Records in 2007, and is now an independent musician.

Reznor began creating music early in his life, and cites his Western Pennsylvania childhood as an early influence. After being involved with a number of synthesizer-based bands in the mid-80s, Reznor gained employment at Right Track Studios in Cleveland, Ohio and began creating his own music during the studio's closing hours under the moniker Nine Inch Nails. Reznor's first release as Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine (1989), was a commercial and critical success, and he has since released seven major studio releases. Outside of Reznor's chief project Nine Inch Nails, he has contributed to many other artists' albums, including Marilyn Manson and Saul Williams. In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time magazine's list of the year's most influential people, and Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music."[1]

Reznor, in collaboration with Atticus Ross, composed the score for The Social Network, a 2010 theatrical film about the founding of Facebook. The duo won the 2010 Golden Globe for Best Original Score and the Academy Award for Best Original Score for their collaboration. The soundtrack album was released by The Null Corporation, Reznor's own independent record label. Earlier this year, Reznor announced that the pair would once again be collaborating with David Fincher by composing the score to the US film adaptation of the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, set for release in late 2011.


Personal life

Early life

Michael Trent Reznor was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie, the son of Nancy Lou (née Clark) and Michael Reznor.[2] After his parents divorced, he lived with his maternal grandparents, while his sister Tera lived with their mother.[3] Reznor is a direct descendant of George Reznor, founder of the Reznor Company (founded 1888), a heating and air conditioning company. The family sold the business in the 1960s.[2][4]

Reznor began playing the piano at the age of five and showed an early aptitude for music. In a 1995 interview, his grandfather, Bill Clark, remarked, "Music was his life, from the time he was a wee boy. He was so gifted."[5] His former piano teacher Rita Beglin said "Reznor always reminded me of Harry Connick, Jr." when he played.[5]

Reznor has acknowledged that his sheltered life in Pennsylvania left him feeling isolated from the outside world. In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, he references his choices in the music industry.

I don't know why I want to do these things, other than my desire to escape from Small Town, U.S.A., to dismiss the boundaries, to explore. It isn't a bad place where I grew up, but there was nothing going on but the cornfields. My life experience came from watching movies, watching TV and reading books and looking at magazines. And when your fucking culture comes from watching TV every day, you're bombarded with images of things that seem cool, places that seem interesting, people who have jobs and careers and opportunities. None of that happened where I was. You're almost taught to realize it's not for you.

—Trent Reznor, Rolling Stone[6]

However, Reznor later said, "I don't want to give the impression it was a miserable childhood."[7]

At Mercer Area Junior/Senior High School, Reznor learned to play the tenor saxophone and tuba. He was a member of both the jazz and marching band. Former Mercer High School band director Dr. Hendley Hoge remembered Reznor as "very upbeat and friendly."[5] Reznor also became involved in theater while in high school. He was voted "Best in Drama" by classmates for his roles as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man. Reznor graduated from this high school in 1983 and enrolled at Allegheny College, where he studied computer engineering.[8]

Reznor married Mariqueen Maandig in October 2009[9] and their son, Lazarus Echo, was born in October 2010.[10]

Drug abuse and depression

During the five years following the release of The Downward Spiral, Reznor struggled with depression, social anxiety disorder, and the death of his grandmother, who raised him. During this period of intense grief, Reznor began abusing alcohol and other drugs. He eventually became addicted to alcohol and cocaine.[11] Five years elapsed before Nine Inch Nails' next album, The Fragile, a double CD that debuted in September 1999 at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 228,000 copies in its first week and receiving favorable reviews.[12]

In 2001, Reznor successfully completed rehab, and eventually moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles. In a 2005 interview with Kerrang!, Reznor reflected on his self-destructive past: "There was a persona that had run its course. I needed to get my priorities straight, my head screwed on. Instead of always working, I took a couple of years off, just to figure out who I was and working out if I wanted to keep doing this or not. I had become a terrible addict; I needed to get my shit together, figure out what had happened".[13] In contrast with his former suicidal tendencies, Reznor also admitted in another interview that "[he is] pretty happy right now."[14] Nine Inch Nails' next full-length album, With Teeth (2005), reached number one on Billboard 200.[15][16]

Music career

Early musical projects

While he was enrolled in Allegheny College, Reznor joined local band Option 30, playing three shows a week with them. After only a year of college, Reznor dropped out and moved to Cleveland, Ohio to pursue a career in music.[5] In 1985, he joined The Innocent as a keyboardist. They released one album, Livin' in the Street, but Reznor quit after just three months. In 1986, Reznor joined local band Exotic Birds, during this time, Reznor also contributed on keyboards to the band Slam Bamboo. He also appeared with them as the fictional band "The Problems" in the 1987 film Light of Day.[17]

Reznor got a job at Cleveland's Right Track Studio as an assistant engineer and janitor.[18] Studio owner Bart Koster later commented that Reznor was "so focused in everything he [did]. When that guy waxed the floor, it looked great."[5] Reznor asked Koster for permission to record demos of his own songs for free during unused studio time. Koster agreed, remarking that it cost him "just a little wear on [his] tape heads".[5] While assembling these, the earliest Nine Inch Nails recordings, Reznor was unable to find a band that could articulate his songs as he wanted. Instead, inspired by Prince, he played all the instruments himself, except drums.[19] This role remains Reznor's on most of the band's studio recordings, though he has occasionally involved other musicians and assistants. Several labels responded favorably to the demo material, and Reznor signed with TVT Records.[18] Nine selections from the Right Track demos were unofficially released in 1988 as Purest Feeling; many of these songs had appeared in revised form on his 1989 debut studio album under the stage name Nine Inch Nails.

Formation of Nine Inch Nails

Most of Reznor's work as a musician has been as founding and primary member of Nine Inch Nails.

Reznor performing at the Lollapalooza festival, 1991

Nine Inch Nails' debut album, Pretty Hate Machine was released in 1989. It was a moderate commercial success, and was certified Gold in 1992.[20] Amid pressure from Reznor's record label to produce a follow-up to Pretty Hate Machine, Reznor secretly began recording under various pseudonyms to avoid record company interference, resulting in the Broken EP, released in 1992.[21] In the summer of 1991 Nine Inch Nails was included in the Lollapalooza package tour. They later won a Grammy Award in 1993 for the song "Wish" in the Best Heavy Metal Performance category.[22]

Nine Inch Nails' second full-length album, The Downward Spiral, entered the Billboard 200 chart in 1994 at number two,[23] and remains the highest-selling Nine Inch Nails release in the United States.[20] To record the album, Reznor rented and moved into the 10050 Cielo Drive mansion, site of the 1969 Manson Family murders.[24] Reznor built a studio space in the house, which he renamed Le Pig, after the word that was scrawled on the front door in Sharon Tate's blood by her murderers.[24] Reznor told Entertainment Weekly that despite the notoriety attached to the house, he chose to record there because, "I looked at a lot of places, and this just happened to be the one I liked most".[24]

Nine Inch Nails toured extensively over the next few years, including a performance at Woodstock '94, although he admitted to the audience that he did not like to play large venues.[25] Around this time, Reznor's studio perfectionism,[26] struggles with addiction, and bouts of writer's block prolonged the production of a follow-up.[13]

Collaboration with other artists

Reznor produced Marilyn Manson's first album Portrait of an American Family (1994), several tracks on Marilyn Manson's albums Smells Like Children (1995), and Antichrist Superstar (1996), as well as the film soundtracks for Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers (1994) and David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997). Reznor is credited for "Driver Down" and "Videodrones; Questions" on the soundtrack for Lost Highway, while another track, "The Perfect Drug", is credited to Nine Inch Nails instead. Reznor sang backing vocals on Tori Amos' 1994 album Under the Pink on a track called "Past The Mission." In 1998 Reznor produced a remix of Notorious B.I.G.'s song "Victory" which also featured Busta Rhymes.[27] Reznor also sang vocals for the song "Black Bomb" on the Josh Wink album Herehear (1998).

Under the band name Tapeworm, Reznor collaborated over the span of nearly 10 years with Danny Lohner, Maynard James Keenan, and Atticus Ross, but the project was eventually terminated before any official material was released.[28] The only known released Tapeworm material is a reworked version of a track called "Vacant," retitled "Passive", on A Perfect Circle's 2004 album eMOTIVe,[29] as well as a track called "Potions," off Puscifer's 2009 "C is for ..."

In 2006, Reznor played his first "solo" show(s) at Neil Young's annual Bridge School Benefit. Backed by a four piece string section, he performed stripped-down versions of many Nine Inch Nails songs.[30] Reznor featured on El-P's 2007 album I'll Sleep When You're Dead, guesting on the track "Flyentology". The accompanying music video for the song and its artwork was created by Adult Swim, who aired the music video.

Reznor co-produced Saul Williams' 2007 album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! after Williams toured with Nine Inch Nails in 2005 and 2006. Reznor convinced Williams to release the album as a free download, while giving fans the option of paying $5 for higher quality files, or downloading all of the songs at a lower quality for free.[31][32] Reznor was also credited as "Musical Consultant" on the 2004 film Man on Fire.[33] The movie features six Nine Inch Nails songs.[34] He has produced a number of songs for Jane's Addiction in his home studio in Beverly Hills. The first recordings, new versions of the early tracks "Chip Away" and "Whores," were released simultaneously on Jane's Addiction's website and the NINJA 2009 Tour Sampler digital EP.

How to Destroy Angels

In April 2010, it was announced that Reznor had formed a new band with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, and Atticus Ross, called How to Destroy Angels. The group released a self-titled six song EP digitally on June 1, 2010, with the retail edition becoming available on July 6, 2010.[35]

As an independent artist

Trent Reznor and Robin Finck, Santa Barbara, California 2009

In May 2008 Reznor founded The Null Corporation and Nine Inch Nails released the studio album The Slip as a free digital download. In his appreciation for his following and fan base, and having no contractual obligation, he made "The Slip" available for free on his website, stating “This one’s on me.”[36] A month and a half after its online release, The Slip had been downloaded 1.4 million times from the official Nine Inch Nails website.[37]

In February 2009, Reznor posted his thoughts about the future of Nine Inch Nails on, stating that "I've been thinking for some time now it's time to make NIN disappear for a while."[38] Reznor noted in an interview on the official website that while he has not stopped creating music as Nine Inch Nails, the group will not be touring in the foreseeable future.[39][40]

Video games

The original music from id Software's video game Quake is credited to "Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails";[41] Reznor helped record sound effects and ambient audio, and the NIN logo appears on ammunition boxes in the game.[42] Reznor's association with id Software began with Reznor being a fan of the original Doom. He reunited with id Software in 2003 as the sound engineer for Doom 3, though due to "time, money and bad management",[43] he had to abandon the project, and his audio work did not make it into the game's final release.

Nine Inch Nails' 2007 major studio recording, Year Zero, was released alongside an accompanying alternate reality game.[44] With its lyrics written from the perspective of multiple fictitious characters, Reznor described Year Zero as a concept album criticizing the United States government's current policies and how they will affect the world 15 years in the future.[45]

Film composition

In 2001, Reznor was asked by Mark Romanek to provide the score for One Hour Photo, but the music didn't work for the film and was not used. These compositions eventually evolved into Still.[46]

Reznor collaborated with Atticus Ross to compose the score for David Fincher's The Social Network, a 2010 drama film about the founding of Facebook. Says Reznor, "When I actually read the script and realized what he was up to, I said goodbye to that free time I had planned."[47] The score was noted for portraying "Mark Zuckerberg the genius, developing a brilliant idea over ominous undertones,"[48] and received nearly unanimous praise across the board. On September 16, 2010, Reznor announced that the film's score would be released in October 2010 in multiple formats, including digital download, compact disc, 5.1 surround on Blu-ray disc, and vinyl record.[49] A 5-song sampler EP was released for free via digital download.[50] In 2011 Reznor and Ross won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score[51] and the Academy Award for Original Score[52] for this work.

On January 7, 2011, Reznor announced that he would again be working with Fincher, this time to provide the score for the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.[53] A cover of "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin produced by Reznor and Ross, with Karen O (of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) as featured singer, was released by way of a trailer for the film. The cover extended for the entirety of the trailer and was well received by critics.[54]

Business activity

Suit and counter-suit with John Malm

In 2004, Reznor's former manager John Malm Jr. filed suit in the United States district court of Ohio against Reznor for over $2 million in deferred commissions. The suit alleged that Reznor "reneged on every single contract he and Malm ever entered into", and that Reznor refused to pay Malm payments which he was contractually entitled to.[55] Weeks later, Reznor filed a counter-suit in the U.S. District Court of New York, charging Malm with fraud and breach of fiduciary duties.[56] Reznor's suit arose from a five-year management contract signed in the early days of Nine Inch Nails, between Reznor and Malm's management company J. Artist Management. This contract, according to the suit, was unlawful and immoral in that it secured Malm 20% of Reznor's gross earnings, rather than his net earnings, as is the standard practice between artists and their management. The suit also alleged that the contract secured this percentage even if Malm was no longer representing Reznor, and for all Reznor's album advances.[57] The suit also described how Malm had misappropriated the ownership rights regarding Nine Inch Nails, including the trademark name "NIN".[58] According to testimony by Malm, Reznor gave him half of the "NIN" trademark "as a gift."[58]

Reznor stated that he began to fully understand his financial situation after tackling his addiction to drugs and alcohol.[57] Reznor requested a financial statement from Malm in 2003, only to discover that he had only $400,000 in liquid assets. "It was not pleasant discovering you have a 10th as much as you've been told you have," Reznor told the court.[59] Malm's lawyers, however, claimed that Malm had worked for years "pro bono", and that Reznor's inability to release an album or tour and his uninhibited spending were the reasons for Reznor's financial situation.[60]

After a three week trial in 2005, jurors sided with Reznor, awarding him upwards of $2.95 million and returning to him complete control of his trademarks.[59] After adjustment for inflation, Reznor's award rose to nearly $5 million.[58]

Independence from major record labels

Following the release of Year Zero, Reznor announced later that Nine Inch Nails split from its contractual obligations with Interscope Records, and would distribute its next major albums independently. The last Nine Inch Nails release on Interscope was Year Zero Remixed, based on material from Year Zero.[61]

Criticism of the music industry

In May 2007, Reznor made a post on the official Nine Inch Nails website condemning Universal Music Group—the parent company of the band's record label, Interscope Records—for their pricing and distribution plans for Nine Inch Nails' 2007 album Year Zero.[62] He labeled the company's retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia as "ABSURD," concluding that "as a reward for being a 'true fan' you get ripped off". Reznor went on to say that as "the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more."[63] Reznor's post, specifically his criticism of the recording industry at large, elicited considerable media attention.[64] In September 2007, Reznor continued his attack on Universal Music Group at a concert in Australia, urging fans there to "steal" his music online instead of purchasing it legally.[65] Reznor went on to encourage the crowd to "steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin'."[66]

Musical style and influence

Reznor is a fan of David Bowie, and has cited Bowie's 1977 album Low as one of his favorite albums. Reznor has stated that he played the album constantly during the recording of The Downward Spiral for inspiration.[7] In 1995, Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie toured as a co-headlining act on the Outside Tour. Reznor also appeared in Bowie's video for "I'm Afraid of Americans", cast as Bowie's stalker. Reznor also made several remixes for the single release of the same song, as well as a remix of "The Hearts Filthy Lesson".[67] Reznor also states in the 2010 documentary Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage that the band Rush had played a major part in his childhood influences. He also stated that he considered Rush to be "one of the best bands ever" and had gained a perspective on how keyboards could be introduced into hard rock after listening to their 1982 album Signals. Reznor also stated "Freddie Mercury's death meant more to me than John Lennon's" and covered Queen's "Get Down Make Love", which was produced by Paul Barker & Al Jourgensen of Ministry and released on the single for "Sin". In many interviews in Musician, Spin, and Alternative Press, Reznor mentioned The Cars, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Soft Cell,[68] Prince, Gary Numan, and The Cure's 1985 album, The Head on the Door, as important influences. In a radio interview, Reznor stated the first song he ever wrote "Down in It" was a "total rip-off" of the Skinny Puppy song "Dig It." [69]

Reznor's work as Nine Inch Nails has influenced many newer artists, which according to Reznor range from "generic imitations" dating from the band's initial success to younger bands echoing his style in a "truer, less imitative way".[70] Following the release of The Downward Spiral, mainstream artists began to take notice of Nine Inch Nails' influence: David Bowie compared NIN's impact to that of The Velvet Underground.[71] In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time magazine's list of the year's most influential people, and Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music."[1] Bob Ezrin, producer for Pink Floyd, Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Peter Gabriel, described Reznor in 2007 as a "true visionary" and advised aspiring artists to take note of his no-compromise attitude.[72] During a rare appearance at the Kerrang! Awards in London that year, Reznor accepted the Kerrang! Icon, honoring Nine Inch Nails' long-standing influence on rock music.[73] Timbaland, one of pop music's most successful producers in recent years, has cited Reznor as his favorite studio producer.[74]



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  • Trent — is the name of severalPlaces:* Trento in Italy, famous for the Roman Catholic Council of Trent * Trent, Texas, USA * Trent, South Dakota, USA * Trent, Dorset, UK * Trent, Germany, a municipality on the island of Rügen, GermanyRivers:* River Trent …   Wikipedia

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