Nine Inch Nails‘ Trent Reznor had some harsh observations about the current state of rock music in a recent interview, calling out contemporary rock acts for their “staleness” and obsession with worrying more about popularity than artistic expression.
“When you see a lot more excitement generated from the dance tent, I do think a staleness has permeated [rock music],” Reznor told Scotland’s Daily Record. “A pretty conservative nature has crept into music and I don’t mean sonically.”
“I get the sense that a lot of bands today are designing themselves to get a good review in the hip blogs and that is probably the safest and most cowardly thing you can do as an artist,” he continued. “If you have something to say, then say it. Express yourself and break the rules.”
Reznor opened up about Nine Inch Nails’ return to the touring circuit, having been on indefinite hiatus for three years. He said his primary motivation was not nostalgia but a dedication to “push ahead and try new things.”
“What I try to straddle is paying attention to what is happening in the outside world to some degree and at the same time becoming insular and really trusting my own voice and my own sense of what is right and appropriate. I don’t hear tons of that going on right now.” He added, “I’m saying this as an old guy. You start to morph into the guy you railed against when you were younger.”
The self-aware 48-year-old explained how Nine Inch Nails was “starting to get comfortable and routine,” leading him to get involved with film scoring on David Fincher movies and the creation of new band How to Destroy Angels. He said the “reinvention of working with people” ignited his creativity, ultimately leading to the creation of NIN’s Hesitation Marks in 2013.
“What I don’t want to realise tomorrow is that I have been this clown pretending to be someone half his age and thinking, ‘how did that happen?’,” he said candidly. “I try to be mindful to keep myself in a place that feels artistically uncomfortable, unsure and makes me think and shoots me into some place new rather than resting on past achievements.”