Contributors: Andrew Nosnitsky on Trent Reznor

Rap critic Andrew Nosnitsky looks back on his morning with Trent Reznor, the subject of FADER’s 2013 Icon Issue.

Illustration Jesse Aueraslo
September 26, 2013


From the magazine: ISSUE 88, October/November 2013

A couple decades after someone’s cool older brother turned him on to Nine Inch Nails, rap critic Andrew Nosnitsky met Trent Reznor for this issue’s centerpiece interview. Here, Nosnitsky looks back on their morning together and realizes that his childhood wasn’t so dark after all. naomi zeichner

Andrew Nosnitsky
I told my mom I’d gone down to LA to interview Trent Reznor and she was like, I remember folding your Nine Inch Nails shirts. I had a couple. I had the straightforward, Downward Spiral one. I had a cool one with a monkey on it. The little red monkeys that you hang, the monkeys in the barrel? One of those, with a Nine Inch Nails logo on it. I don’t think it was an official shirt. It was just like, If you like Nine Inch Nails and you like monkeys, this is the shirt for you.

I must have gotten into Nine Inch Nails at some point between Pretty Hate Machine and Downward Spiral. I don’t really remember—I think I’ve blocked out all the awfulness of that age. The funny thing is it wasn’t even that awful. All I was doing was playing basketball and hating school. You’re just like this testosterone wrecking ball when you’re a young dude, and Trent Reznor articulated the things I was feeling back then in a way that I hadn’t quite been able to do myself. It’s definitely really bleak music for a young person to be into. The interview was mostly stressful because it was early in the morning—not my best time. We met at like 10AM. I guess that makes me sound like a bum, but I write about rap music. What rapper meets for anything at 10AM? Trent seemed perfectly alert. He was super regular. I wasn’t sure what to expect—a lot of times in the press he seems like kind of shit-talker. But I didn’t get any of that; he was chill. I could have been talking about music with anyone on earth.

Hesitation Marks is definitely happier than anything he’s done, ever. And I actually like it a lot. Trent was a real perfectionist throughout most of the ’90s, and then he kind of freed himself from those shackles in the past decade, and I think it shows a little in the music. It’s not as tightly constructed, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I like pop music, but I’m not particularly fond of guitars, so the less of that, the better. When I was growing up, I was getting into Nine Inch Nails and A Tribe Called Quest at the same time. I don’t know if I’d say Nine Inch Nails specifically appeals to a rap listener, but I don’t think it’s weird that I was listening to all this stuff at once. I like dudes that are doing cool things with drum machines.

Contributors: Andrew Nosnitsky on Trent Reznor