Trent Reznor: “David Bowie Took Me Under His Wing”

NINE INCH NAILS’ NABOB Trent Reznor has revealed the debt he owes to David Bowie in the latest issue of MOJO magazine. “I met Bowie at not a great time in my life,” Reznor concedes in an interview with MOJO’s Ben Mitchell. “He was sober and I wasn’t. He took me under his wing as a kind of mentor and offered me some words of wisdom that haunted me and ended up helping me.”

Reznor, who has revived the Nine Inch Nails imprimatur for an eighth studio album, Hesitation Marks, talks MOJO through his career, initially inspired by Kiss and classic rock, and re-motivated by the ’80s synth explosion: “I think that Thomas Dolby’s first shit was cool.”

“When I did get clean I reached out to him to apologise for being a f**k up.”

The mid-’90s saw Nine Inch Nails’ music ascend to another level, encapsulated by the dun hues and grainy textures of 1994’s The Downward Spiral album, but at a cost to Reznor’s health and sanity. Cocaine and heroin cut into the frame. “On top of that my art was sucking,” he adds. It was around then that Reznor ran into Bowie.

“He’d been there. He saw the path ahead of me and of course I had to go down that path a little bit further, but when I did get clean I reached back out to him to basically apologise for being a f**k up. He’s really cool and a nice guy, suave and funny as hell.”

In 1995, Reznor recalls, Bowie asked NIN to accompany him on his Outside tour.

“One of the first meetings we had, he said, ‘You guys are going to blow us off the stage because we’re going to play music that nobody wants to hear off this new album. This is what I have to do right now.’ That made a real impact on me. Like, that takes balls but it’s kind of dumb. I wouldn’t do that. Then, at the same time, I’m thinking, ‘I want to be like that guy where he’s not afraid to try things.’”

For his part, Bowie was under no illusions as to the fit: “I personally did like the combination of NIN and me, but my fans didn't. Bad luck!!” he told HUMO magazine in late ’95.

Hesitation Marks is released by Columbia Records on September 3. Read more about Trent Reznor’s intense life and work in the new MOJO magazine, out now.