Trent Reznor, founder and frontman of Nine Inch Nails, was a recent guest on Lauren Laverne's BBC Radio 6 Music programme along with frequent collaborator Atticus Ross. During his interview he claimed both Kanye West and The Weeknd had "ripped off" elements of the live Nine Inch Nails show.
In the clip, which you can watch above via Pitchfork, Reznor says his band's pioneering use of "screens and experimental production techniques” inspired other musicians. “I remember us watching a string of bands on Coachella from the comfort of our couch," Reznor says, "and every band has a video playing behind them. And every band is synced up with a convenient, polite lighting package, you know?
“And I saw Kanye West blatantly rip off – and the Weeknd rip off – our tours, production-wise, which I’ll say without any hesitation. And they know.”
Reznor says his current inspiration for live performance stems from early concerts by rock band The Jesus & Mary Chain. "[W]e went the opposite of the arms race we had been in of immersive, technological-based production... It’s music being played somewhat sloppily with an element of danger and uncertainty and unpredictability.”
His accusations are not unfounded: Both Nine Inch Nails and Kanye share a production designer named Martin Phillips. And Sooner Routhier and Robert Long, the lighting and production designers on The Weeknd's Starboy: Legend of the Fall tour, cited Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails lighting designer Roy Bennett as influences in a 2017 Billboard interview. “We’ve always called [the Weeknd’s] aesthetic the Nine Inch Nails of R&B,” they said in the interview.
Nine Inch Nails released the new album Bad Witch in June.
Thumbnail photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for FYF