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38 Trent Reznor Quotes About Music, Mental Health and Gaming

38 Trent Reznor Quotes About Music, Mental Health and Gaming

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The man who needs no introduction, Trent Reznor, has been a stable of rock music (specifically industrial rock) for the better part of three decades. Seen as the Industrial Rock version of David Bowie, Trent Reznor and his outlet (band), Nine Inch Nails, was a voice for an entire generation of disenfranchised and forgotten about misfits and goths.

Trent Reznor is a unique performer and song writer whose style leans into industrial rock, synthpop, metal and noise rock. Ever the evolving composer, Trent has created numerous soundtracks with his song writing partner Atticus Ross, resulting in a Grammy Award and the soundtracks for Film/TV projects including (but not limited to) The Social Network, Watchmen and Soul.

Despite the success, Trent’s work in Nine Inch Nail’s has always had the mark of a damaged creator looking for an outlet for his rage and depression. We’ve included some of his most memorable quotes from interviews over the years about Art, Writing Music, Gaming, Life and Mental Health.

We hope you enjoy this list.


Trent Reznor Quotes About Art and Writing Music

“Where I come from, there are no artists; artists were teaching at the high school down the street.” – Trent Reznor

“I could sing you every hit from the 70s, every word to every song, because I heard them all constantly. The idea of having a chorus and a melody, it’s beaten into my head.” – Trent Reznor

“As an artist it’s an incredibly dangerous time to pay attention, too much, to what other people think. Because it inevitably leads to either homogenous, crowd-pleasing, meandering work, or it leads to something that’s just as insincere.” – Trent Reznor

“The self-destruct button was pushed when I first started writing. There was a sense that I couldn’t fit in anywhere, I couldn’t relate to people; I felt alone, I felt angry about it. And part of me is still that. I felt like I was heading down into something that wasn’t going to have a good ending. That ended up being addiction: its claws were in me but it hadn’t fully revealed itself.” – Trent Reznor

“What I was hoping to achieve with Nine Inch Nails was not so much some adrenaline-pumping, “let’s go kick ass,” Rob Zombie kind of music, but more like the music in films by John Carpenter, the tension and uneasiness, or David Lynch, the dissonance or sound as atmosphere enhancement.” – Trent Reznor

“What I’ve learned about creativity is that it’s not something you can force.” – Trent Reznor

“Where I grew up it was kind of isolated, so I wasn’t exposed to a lot of underground stuff until later in life. I’d always been a keyboard player, piano player, and I’d always been into computers and when they kind of melded together in the late 70’s it was a hobby of mine. Using drum machines was always interesting to me.” – Trent Reznor

“It takes a fuckload of discipline to write on the road. When you do have time off, you just want to sleep. But I’m looking forward to getting back to the safety of this studio.” – Trent Reznor

“The Fragile was about no restrictions. If you have any idea, take it as far as it can logically go. “What if we had a marching band? In fact, how would you make one?” “ – Trent Reznor

“We made Hesitation Marks kind of inspired by a lot of what’s happened in hip-hop and club stuff, where there’s a lot of information happening down in the low end that you won’t hear out of your computer speakers.” – Trent Reznor

“I still think in terms of album formats: collections of songs and how they relate to each other and how they integrate and tell a bigger story than what’s contained in each little four-minute parcel.” – Trent Reznor

38 Trent Reznor Quotes About Music, Mental Health and Gaming 1

“I aspire to make a record that sounds better 10 listens in than it does after two — and still, at 50 listens, you’re picking out things that add a depth and a thoughtfulness.” – Trent Reznor

“I remember The Downward Spiral being fair-ly easy to write and record. There was an experimental feel in the air, and there was no great commercial pres-sure or expectations at the time. When I handed the record into Inters cope, I recall apologizing to them because I thought it had no commercial, “single” potential.” – Trent Reznor

“Myself, Rob Sheridan — my art director and collaborator on pretty much everything creative — we spent an enormous amount of time really studying the behavior of people: how people wanted to consume music, how they learned about music, what formats they liked, what felt insincere to them, what they felt the value of music might be. Really just watching. But it tuned us in to that feedback loop of commentary, and you can easily go down rabbit holes with niches of people that are unpleasable, regardless of what you could possibly do as an artist.” – Trent Reznor

“Nine Inch Nails is kind of an anomaly because we’ve never had hits. We had one kind-of hit, “Closer,” but we’re not like a singles band.” – Trent Reznor

“When I was approached to do Natural Born Killers, I watched a screening of the movie, and really liked it. It was a different cut than what came out, it was a bit more over the top. But what I really liked about it was the collage of sound. Oliver Stone had put in a lot of songs over each other, and I really thought that worked because the music complimented the way the movie was shot in different formats and had a real collision of pop culture all at once.” – Trent Reznor

“I think a lot of indie music feels like it’s based on the comments section. “What would be the thing that everyone would like right now?” How can I create a cocktail of things that would be accepted by that camp?” At the end of the day it feels more like market research than true expression.” – Trent Reznor

“I actually really enjoy holding vinyl, putting it on and the inconvenience of having to walk across the room to pick the needle up if the phone rings. And I find comfort in watching old Twilight Zone episodes, ’cause it reminds me of something that felt familiar.” – Trent Reznor

“I was watching Shawshank Redemption the other day, and it really struck me how the score to the film really enhanced the movie. But with games, I’m usually irritated when it’s pop music blasting out at me. I don’t want to hear the four shitty bands who were desperate enough to put their music on the game.” – Trent Reznor

“There are pop stars I don’t feel angry about. I don’t like what they do, but I feel like they’re an entertainer. But don’t confuse that with – and I’m saying this to sound pretentious – the artist that is actually trying to make art that may or may not intersect with commerce.” – Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor Quotes about Gaming

“When Doom came out, we were rehearsing for the downward spiral tour, and I was like, “Oh my god.” It’s politically incorrect, it’s gory, it’s satanic. I just appreciated the fact that a game had come out and changed the industry but hadn’t come from Microsoft. In fact, it couldn’t have come from Microsoft, it had to come from a kind of rag-tag, not a hundred people to approve it, kind of company.” – Trent Reznor

“With the music of Quake, there was the approach: it’s dark, depressing, dingy, kill everything, tense. Okay, what films have that same sense of dread? The decision on my part was not to make it amped up, so I kept everything subtle, so you wouldn’t get sick of the second time you play the game, but it would set up elements of tension.” – Trent Reznor

“Video games have always been a soft spot for me. I remember when the first arcade machines came out. One of the most fun times I had was stealing quarters out of grandmother’s jar to go play Space Invaders.” – Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor About Life and Mental Health

“I found out I’m depressed for real. I’m not just saying that as a joke, which I’ve done my whole life.” – Trent Reznor

“If you found out you’ve acted or felt a certain way and there is actually a clinical reason, it’s not just that you’re a piece of shit or you don’t have any friends and you don’t want any friends and you never stay in a relationship. You realize, ‘All right, there is a reason I’ve felt this way, and I’m not a bad person.’“ – Trent Reznor

“I don’t gamble. That’s one addiction that has escaped me.” – Trent Reznor

“There were times when I kind of believed what I read about myself because I wasn’t sure who I was in the first place. In the mid-’90s, I certainly fell prey to that. Nowadays, I don’t care as much about what people think, and certainly what the press thinks.” – Trent Reznor

“I think I always knew what I wanted to do with my life, but I seemed to have spent a lot of time governed by fear-in this context, fear of failure.” – Trent Reznor

“I have a secret storehouse of aggression that I tap into. I’m not particularly filled with the unchannelable self-destruction and rage as I felt like I used to be. And I’m very grateful for that.” – Trent Reznor

“You know, at song 22, I’m completely exhausted with a sore throat, saying, “Did I just sign up for a full year of this?” I’m a hundred years old right now. It feels a little different in that way. But it’s felt great.” – Trent Reznor

“My life has been many examples of shortsighted goals that I thought would fix things. If there’s something broken inside me, if there’s a hole in there, I thought if I could just write a good song someday, then I’d be OK. You know, if I could just get a record deal, or if I could just be onstage in front of people I’d never seen before and be validated by them. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to achieve those things, and there have been moments of feeling good about it, but it didn’t fix things, you know? It wasn’t the solution to me feeling spiritually complete or whole.” – Trent Reznor

“I think we live in very dangerous times right now with the Internet and the feedback loop you can get from people who somehow feel their fingers are connected to an impulse — first second of hearing something, I need to write some reaction that gets blasted out to the world.” – Trent Reznor

“I wasn’t the guy who aged 12 had a beer and turned into a werewolf. It kind of crept up. I wasn’t prepared for the transformative effect of fame and recognition. Now everyone’s here to see me, and I still feel like I don’t belong there, that I don’t deserve to be there, that I don’t know how to act. I don’t know how much of that is learned, how much is experiential, how much is in my DNA, how much is in how I was raised. But I found myself uncomfortable in a scenario where everybody wants to be your friend. Having a drink or two was a tool. It did help, for a while, until it started to define who I was. In every scenario I had to drink, because that was me now.” – Trent Reznor

“We’re just animals that, left to our own devices, will kill each other. We’re only out for ourselves anyway. This illusion that we’re more than that is nothing but that: an illusion.” – Trent Reznor

“It feels like things are coming unhinged, socially and culturally. The rise of Trumpism, of tribalism; the celebration of stupidity. I’m ashamed, on a world stage, at what we must look like as a culture. It’s seeing life through the eyes of having four small kids – what are they coming into? And who am I in this world where it feels like every day the furniture got moved a bit while I slept?” – Trent Reznor

“We aren’t these enlightened beings, here to take care of each other and think about our benevolent role in the universe as protectors and creators – we’re just a fucking mutation and an accident.” – Trent Reznor

“My peers were Skinny Puppy and Ministry, and if you sold a hundred thousand albums you were on the upper echelon of that tier. I never thought about what was above that, and I never cared about it.” – Trent Reznor

“Rock is not dead. Although I’m drinking green juice, so it’s not helping the cause.” – Trent Reznor


What are your favourite Trent Reznor quotes?

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