Reznor Has Issues With Technology
Despite having a foundation based on using computers for recording, Reznor
voices some active discontent about how high-end recording technology is so
accessible these days. I have found myself reacting against music made on
computers and Ive noticed that as technology and great programs have become
more readily available to people, its easier to make perfect, polished
music, says Reznor. Ive seen a lot of programmers who assume theyre producers
just because they can make things sound professional. They can cut some
engineering corners and its really easy with some plug-ins to make things sound
polished and great and perfect and I think, ultimately boring.
The spirit of music that inspires me or excites me is something that still has
some sort of feeling behind it, or emotion or rawness or danger, he adds. And I think
a lot of the time now when everything is composed purely in a Pro Tools or
sequenced environment its so easy to perfect everything. So thats the way
youre supposed to do it which just seems flat to me.
|photo: rob sheridan
But Reznor does still swear by using computer technology for his own recording projects. The idea of trying to work
with tape is stupid to me, seems archaic and is not something I want to
embrace, he clarifies. But I do think you can take the aesthetic
of humanity and imperfection and spontenaity, and use it with computers. And
thats in kind of a rough, raw way one of the things weve stumbled
into with this record.
Macs, Pro Tools and Logic
We have one main G4 running OS X with Pro Tools
as our recorder, explains Reznor. The main problem is that there is no top quality software
sampler available other than the EXS24 in Logic. I love using the EXS24, but I have to use it inside Logic and
we dont use Logic for very many things.
So they run Logic on a second Power Mac. We have a third G4 for running Reaktor primarily, and every
other VST plug-in in the world, including Battery
and all the Native
Instruments plug-ins, which we run using Logic as a host, he says.
Two additional G4s and a PC run digitally in and out to the main Pro
Tools computer. If there is a little bit
of MIDI trickery that we need Logics MIDI engine for, then we can bounce it back
and forth between the computers, says Reznor.
Processing: Avalons and Pro Tools HD
Weve got a couple of Avalon DIs and mic pres, explains Reznor. But generally were using
the converters in the new Pro Tools HD. Its funny because we were like, Lets
get the high definition Pro Tools and then have everything be as low-fi as
possible. But if we do need to go 192k, we could. They also deployed
the use of a Pro Control 24 for the mixing of the tracks.
When working in the studio, Reznor and Ross struggle to not get sucked too far into certain
directions. I can come in here and get obsessed with
noise levels, or I can get obsessed with a couple pieces of gear that sound
really cool, says Reznor. Ill want to spend time really learning to program and it is
fun to do that, but the hobbyist in me gets carried away with that
side of things.
I can think It would be great to go through all the samples and get
them all organized so theyre perfect, he says. Yet that really
is a lot of work invested in something that might be nice to have. But the real
thing Im trying to do here is make music that affects me, that matters to
me and comes out of my heart and has something to it.
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On New Technology
Despite his protests about over-perfection of mainstream music, Reznor is
generally happy that more people have access to computer-based recording these
days. I think its great that, for a very little amount of money,
anyone has access to the tools to make good sounding music, he says. But I think often,
its misconstrued that something that sounds good says something.
Im not saying in an elitist way that no one should be able to make
good records, says Reznor. I think its cool that you can make
records in your bedroom now. But I think the danger inherently is that its
real easy to make generic crap. And to that end, from what little time Ive spent
with Soundtrack, it seems to say exactly that: Heres a
music construction kit. Weve eliminated the musician!
TR Takes No Shortcuts
Unlike some of his former engineers and programmers who relied heavily on key
commands, Reznor openly admits that he has no desire to use short cuts. I
like to take a second to think about what Im doing instead of going,
Heres the macro that does ten steps and then having the
computer do it, he says. I like taking that extra minute of time to
figure it out.
He adds, I think a lot of times with computers we overlook the importance of
aesthetics and that making music still has something to do with whats coming out
of the soul and isnt all about doing it in the most efficient, sensible,
push-button operation sort of way.
However, Ross clarifies, Its not like we dont
take advantage of everything. Its just that most of the tracks
arent like 120 tracks. Theyre pretty sparse. And I think thats
an important thing on this record.
Its much harder to get a song to sound cool without adding, he
says. Its much easier to add. Because of everything thats
available, its easy to want to do that.
Continued on next page