Trent Reznor On Nine Inch Nails’ Stage Production: “I Want To Keep You From Looking At Your Phone”


Nine Inch Nails have long been reknowned for their elaborate stage production. While you’ve likely seen what goes into making the magic happen, band nucleus Trent Reznor recently gave Buzzfeed a more succinct response. According to Reznor, the reason he goes through all the trouble isn’t just for artistic expression. He told the site:

“My goal is that — I can usually see the audience because I’m lit from behind a lot — is that I want to keep you from looking at your phone. I want to make you hold your pee because you don’t want to miss something. We’ve thought about all this stuff, and want to make this experience something that was worth your time.”

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Reznor also later spoke of the cost of the bands current ‘Tension Tour ‘, offering:

“Economically, it’s pretty stupid, and I’m being reminded of that right now. The bills are showing up while I’m trying to pull this shit off. I can lose money, but I can’t lose that much money.

The other side of it — and I think this is something I think is pretty valid — is that if you make a presentation where, by its nature, it becomes very rigid, it’s easy for it to become a bit tedious as a performer.

Something that’s keeping us all feel sane, though it ends up being more work, is to look at each leg of the tour as its own mini-tour. The festival tour was focused on aggression; this tour the focus, I would say, is the new album, deep-groove stuff.

I think the next one is going to lean a bit more into electronics, and experiment with that a bit.”

He continued:

“Today, if you’re being troubled to come out and experience a show, I want that to be the best it can be. I want the experience to be the best, I want to challenge conventions. Who wants to see a show in an arena? Not me, usually. But fate has put me there, and there’s no better option that I can come up with, given the size and the economics and every other thing.

So if that’s the place where you’re going to go experience a rock show, what can I do to make it something that becomes as immersive and interesting for that space? The buildings are made for sporting events, generally. How can I make it sound better? How can I make it immersive and interesting, like an art project instead of just another band rolling through town?

If I can figure that out, either by thinking harder or spending more time, then I’ll do that.”

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