Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor never withheld his frustration when confronting issues involving his music. With a career highlighted in critical success, Reznor's outspoken honesty produced a linear of top-quality insults.
To close the Grammy Awards Sunday evening, Reznor's all-star collaboration with Dave Grohl, Josh Homme, and Lindsay Buckingham fell victim to a CBS snub after the channel ended the telecast before the band concluded their set.
As a result, Reznor displayed his disgust with a profane-induced tweet decrying the Grammys' credibility.
He joins a long list of rock artists who have voiced their disdain after being snubbed or disrespected by the musical institution. But unlike his peers Reznor has built himself a reputation for his regular outspoken tendencies.
In 2005, Nine Inch Nails fans in Australia were distraught with the increased pricing of the record With Teeth
. After noticing the trend when visiting a record store, Reznor publicly denounced his label for gauging prices and monopolizing his artistic output. And when Nine Inch Nails returned in 2007, Reznor stated, "I remember last time I was here, I was doing a lot complaining about the ridiculous prices of CD's down here. My record labels all over the world hate me because I called them out for being greedy fucking assholes! I haven't had a chance to check. Has anyone seen the price come down?"
Once the crowd revealed the label's failure to reduce the price of Nine Inch Nails' music, Reznor encouraged his fans to protest by pirating his music. He said, "Okay, you know what that means. Steal it! Steal away. Steal, steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealing! One way or another these mother fuckers will get it through their head that they're ripping people off and that's not right."
As a longtime artist under Interscope Records, Reznor spoke with Sound Opinion
in 2009 about his label's persistence on collaborating with hip-hop producers during his recording of With Teeth
. Reznor mimicked his boss's aspirations, "Well, this urban thing is really taking off. You'll get it in the club?"
He revealed, "And the part of me that wants to be the open-minded artist says, 'I'll consider that.' I even went so far as Timbaland trying to do a remix at Interscope's dime of "Hand That Feeds", which was laughably terrible. And when I turned in Year Zero
, which I thought had the coolest beats I've ever come up with. I hear 'Yeah, we need some cool beats.' It's like, you know what? Suck me."
In 2009, Reznor issued a series of tweets demonstrating his genuine displeasure with vocalist Chris Cornell for working with hip-hop producer Timbaland on his solo album Scream
. Reznor felt Cornell sold out by abandoning his musical past for a commercialized product.
Reznor's accusations towards Cornell were fueled by his former partnership with Interscope Records. In an interview with Eye Weekly
, he said, "I have had Jimmy Iovine, the president of that label, come up to me on every record from With Teeth
onward saying I should do some sort of urban thing, it was Timbaland for a while, then it was Pharrell for a while because 'that's how you sell records.' The idea seemed so preposterous and insulting."
Reznor felt Cornell adhered to the demands of Interscope. He added, "And that's what Chris did. I think that when somebody who is respected like he is goes that route, it sends the message that it's OK to give up any kind of core values you had to be the fashion of the moment. I don't think that's OK. I think it's harmful. If I have one major fight in the world of the music business, it's trying to keep art first and commerce second."
Reznor's controversial tweets led to a small back and forth with Cornell on Twitter. Reznor concluded his statement by creating a website for a fictional Nine-Inch-Nails album sarcastically produced by Timbaland entitled Strobe Lights
In 2007, Reznor became one of the first prominent artists to abandon the business model afforded through major label's by releasing his music in alternative fashion. When publicly explaining his decision, he ripped into the decision making of major labels for the downward spiral of the music industry.
In an interview with The Herald Sun
, Reznor claimed, "I have one record left that I owe a major label, then I will never be seen in a situation like this again. If I could do what I want right now, I would put out my next album, you could download it from my site at as high a bit-rate as you want, pay $4 through PayPal. Come see the show and buy a T-shirt if you like it. I would put out a nicely packaged merchandise piece, if you want to own a physical thing. And it would come out the day that it's done in the studio, not this 'Let's wait three months bullshit.'"
Reznor's position seemed extremely progressive and fans were supportive of his aspirations to operate under his own terms. After spending years publicly detesting the business practices of record labels, some fans were disjointed with Reznor's decision to sign with a major label. In 2013, he partnered with Columbia Records to release his new project, How To Destroy Angels. Reznor conducted an AMA on Reddit
to promote his new project where the issue of his decision came up in the conversation.
Q: As millionaires, why did you sign up with a record label to promote your new album?
A: Sorry, the wifi on our yacht is having issues, we can't get your full question to load. Try sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout his 25-year career in the music industry, Trent Reznor has comfortably asked questions and pointed fingers, but has never responded very kindly when fingers are pointed in his own direction. Reznor hasn't taken home his own Grammy since 1996, but we can only assume that he'd happily accept an award from the institution in the future. As time passes by, Trent Reznor's beliefs are here today, but gone tomorrow.