Trent Reznor: The Nine Inch Nails rocker talks addiction, scoring David Fincher films and his David Bowie epiphany

When you don't really want to stop being a drunk or a drug addict, you can find any excuse that validates what you're doing I used the excuse that I need to do this because it's fuelling my art. It reached that point where death was around the corner. Having the courage to find redemption was worth it to me, even if it cost me my artistic life. Because it was going to cost me my actual life if I had kept on that path.

I'm not who I used to be I'm aware that people say Hesitation Marks [released last August] is Nine Inch Nails' "happy" album. I don't really understand that, but I'm not in active addiction now and not trying to kill myself, and I'm happy for that.

I'm very lucky to have people interested in what I'm up to The way I've treated that is to give it the respect it deserves. I'm always pushing myself so what I do doesn't become routine. I stopped Nine Inch Nails in 2009 as it was on the verge of becoming that.

Stumbling into scoring films with David Fincher was one of the most creatively rewarding things I've done [Reznor scored The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.] It was challenging and stimulating to be around smart people from a different discipline and thrust into a place where you're functioning at 1,000 per cent. Oddly, it made me long to see what would happen if I placed myself centre-stage again [which he did by reviving Nine Inch Nails and releasing Hesitation Marks in 2013].

I started weeping when I saw the Johnny Cash video for 'Hurt' [Cash covered the Nine Inch Nails song in 2002.] Not to sound ridiculous, but I got goosebumps. It felt like, we're all connected here through music. The fact that this confessional I wrote in my bedroom had made it to this iconic figure, who had turned it into a statement of his own life, was incredibly flattering.

Touring is method acting Playing "Hurt" and other old songs, you become the person in that song again. You're going through that cathartic thing, night after night. I don't know if that's healthy or not. It's not just physically tiring, it's emotionally draining.

David Bowie, in a subtle way, provided me with a framework [Bowie offered Reznor some advice on their joint tour in 1995-1996.] He got through a dark phase and somehow emerged even cooler. He had something I wanted. He seemed happy and excited to do his art, and not on the verge of dying. He wasn't alienating everyone around him. The things he said to me didn't take immediate hold but, believe me, I remembered them at various intersections I came to in my life.

I was flattered that Josh Homme put me on a pedestal of friendship [when the Queens of the Stone Age's frontman sought Reznor's help.] Josh didn't come to me in despair. He came to me in a state of, I'm not sure what to do right now and I'm feeling insecure. I recognised myself in that. Not from abuse issues, but creatively. I was happy to give advice, because I know how valuable those moments are that I've received from people.

I'm feeling the confidence I need to dive into creation mode There'll be many forks in the road ahead. It'll be like, has everything I've ever done sucked? That's ahead of me, for sure. There's nothing worse than that blank sheet of paper but, generally, I'm feeling optimistic about the well of ideas right now.

Trent Reznor, 48, is the foremost member of industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails, an Oscar-winning film composer and a father of two. He put the band on hiatus in 2009 then revived the name in 2013. Nine Inch Nails begin a UK tour on 18 May in Birmingham (

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk