Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor recently sat down with Rolling Stone in Las Vegas before kicking off a three-night residency. The normally opinionated Reznor sounded a little more subdued in this conversation than he did in previous interviews on the Bad Witch album cycle. Of course, the healthy green juice he was sipping in the green room of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino could have contributed to the overall good mood.
After reminiscing about his pre-sobriety days during previous stints in Vegas, Reznor, a former high school marching band geek, discussed rediscovering the saxophone while making Bad Witch, which led to discussion of two recently deceased influences, David Bowie and Anthony Bourdain. The Bowie reminiscing kicks off when Reznor explains how the late “I’m Afraid of Americans” collaborator inspired the vocals and sax parts of the song “God Break Down the Door.” From Rolling Stone:
You also sang in a different way on that song.
The decision to do the Bowie-esque, croony vocal was just fucking around initially without the intent of it ever going to the outside world. And Atticus [Ross] spoke up and said, “You gotta keep that.”
With the saxophones, too, it reminds me of Bowie’s Blackstar.
I knew it would. I mean, I still think about that man all the time.
What do you think about Bowie now?
Let’s first talk about Anthony Bourdain. I never met him. But I liked the world with him in it better. I liked knowing he was out there in some fashion, especially in these times. That’s a loss; culturally, we needed that voice.
With Bowie, I did know him to a degree. I certainly studied his work and continued to do so. It felt like, “Man, we weren’t done. There’s more to go. I needed you in the world.” It was like a family member almost. There are these people that you feel you can rely on out there – not for support necessarily, but it’s good to know they’re experiencing life as we’re in semi-uncertain times and even when we aren’t. I think about that a lot.
It’s a bit surprising that Bourdain and Reznor never crossed paths considering how often the celebrity chef hung out with musicians, especially Bourdain’s good friend and former Nine Inch Nails tour mate Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age, but it just goes to show how much of an impression Bourdain left on people, regardless if they knew him personally.
Reznor also touches on his sobriety, his ability to tap into a hidden reserve of anger at will, and the distinction between being an artist and being an entertainer. The entire interview can be read here.