Atticus and I have a working situation where often were inspired by each other, says Reznor.
Prior to With Teeth, he worked with Ross on two other projects:
Tapeworm and 12 Rounds. We realized that we have a similar aesthetic and
working together seemed fresh and immediately lots of ideas popped out, says Reznor.
Once I get some parameters set up to work within, its a lot easier
for me to execute my ideas, he says. Weve
narrowed down how we work and what were trying to work on. This
album has come out very different than The Fragile. Its
more song-focused and less sprawling.
NIN: Solo For The Most Part
Reznor explains that, despite his
heavy collaboration with Ross for the engineering of the record, NIN is still
a solo project. The only part where external performances come into play is in
the percussive realm. Reznor and Ross spent several weeks recording Jerome
Dillon playing drums for With Teeth in New Orleans, following
that up with having Dave Grohl guest perform on a few of the tracks once
recording operations shifted out to Los Angeles.
We usually use real drums, some analog synths and some guitar and those are
pretty much the only instruments on the record, says Reznor. The
creative process with Nine Inch Nails has always been minimal. On the last
record, The Fragile, Keith programmed, I played everything, Alan Moulder helped
with engineering and sound shaping sort of stuff, and someone would play drums on
the occasional track.
Its never been a Lets everyone sit around and jam
type of arrangement, stresses Reznor. There were people who played
parts in occasionally, but its never been any sort of a collaboration. And
with this album, Im not even pretending that it is. Its just the two of
us going at it.
A New Approach And Line Up
While writing the music for With Teeth, Reznor actively tried to picture what the music might look like
while it was being played live. I tried to see it as if it was just somebody playing a real drum
kit in a room, and a couple guys with
Minimoogs and guitar pedals, he says. A
band that rocks within that format. So I asked myself how that could work. By trying to
execute something that followed that plan, we stumbled into some stuff that we never would
have come up with in The Fragile era. Were in a different kind of mindset now,
its been fun, and that sort of inspiration has really defined the record.
In addition to cleaning up his health, Reznor cleaned house, keeping only Jerome Dillon from the previous line up for the coming tour. Ive
said this before, but I dont want to go out with the same set up as we had
last time, says Reznor. I think it worked and we did it well. But if I did it again, I would be
living in the past. Its tough sometimes to say goodbye to something, but I
think that has run its course. And Im not saying Ill never
play old music. But I think the format has been documented, we played a million concerts and its time to risk failure at something else.
Were trying to keep it fun, too, being open minded, trying new things and
being adventurous, he says. If theres one kind of music I hate, its corporate-safe
sound-alike bullshit. It infuriates me to hear it.
Im sure I fucked my career up by not putting
out enough stuff, but thats not why Im doing it, says Reznor. Weve never been the type
of band where somebody sits down and says, Book your tour because youve got this much time to get your record done, and then were going to
shoot your video. The most important thing to me is making great
music and the rest of the world has to fit to that schedule. That is to me the
most important thing. And in my own brain, Ive had to work some issues out
to be able to make music. But Im fortunate that Im in the space that Im in
right now, where it feels good.
Previous page: Synths: Soft and Hard for With Teeth
Nine Inch Nails
A Different Audio Equation
An interesting thing that Ross brings to the equation is that he programs
much differently than Reznor does on the computer. Atticus perspective in
the world of recording, programming and arranging is interesting because I
was always one to work pretty strictly MIDIwise, leaving millions of things
running in MIDI so I would be able to tweak and fuck around with until the end, says Reznor.
But hes more of an
audio guy that uses Pro Tools as a tape deck and he is excellent at manipulating
audio which is beyond my skill set, he adds. Mine is that I can do anything with a
sampler or a keyboard, but once its in the computer, I look at it like its on
tape and dont fuck with it much.
So its shifted the way I work, says Reznor. I would never
lay down a drum beat out of a sampler or something like that as audio
until I was completely done with every possible fill and arrangement and
shifting of time and feel that I could possibly want to do. I would be really
hesitant to even get into the world of audio editing because I cant
MIDI control it. But, with Atticus, I can now play in stuff like its audio
and treat it like a tape deck and somehow it ends up being presented back to me
in a way that I never would have done if I was the one cutting it up or moving it
Its so different for me because I learned on all-MIDI sequencers that might have
audio thrown in in the world of StudioVision where you just prayed to god
that you got it down on tape before it crashed,. he adds. So audio is the last thing you
wanted on your computer because it didnt work. So its interesting to me
now because it does all work.