Trent Reznor On Recording ‘The Downward Spiral’

This month sees Nine Inch Nails‘ seminal second album The Downward Spiral celebrate its twentieth anniversary.

Originally released on March 8, 1994, the album was not just the record that broke NIN on a mass, international scale, but it set the blueprint for dance and industrial-fused alternative music for the two decades that followed and turned Trent Reznor into an icon. For many, it’s still the album that has defined his career, and as we found out when we dropped the man himself a line earlier this week, the fact that it’s now celebrating its twentieth birthday is a somewhat unsettling thought.

“It’s weird for me, too!” laughs Trent. “But then, I thought about this the other day, if you look out at the audience, they still look the same! Clearly it’s not the same people, but the first rows that I can see still feels like… I’m not at an Eagles concert with a bunch of orthodontists on a night out, smoking pot!”

The NIN mastermind also looks back on his time recording The Downward Spiral with memories of a young, confident artist finally getting the chance to spread his wings a little bit.

“That was a kind of wide-eyed innocent time in a lot of ways,” he muses. “We were getting bought and sold from record companies and Interscope had just bought us. I went out to LA to look for a place to record an album in a house, and I had a grand idea of what I wanted this record to be about. I had the concepts, the titles of songs, and some written songs, and I had a feel of what I wanted to do. And I’d just been able to afford some samplers that actually had some memory, so I was able to create sound in a way that I hadn’t been able to do before.”

“I can say this honestly, if I listen back to everything I’ve done, I was very proud of it when I did it,” he adds. “[The Downward Spiral] was the best I could do, when I did it. Would I make Downward Spiral today? No. Am I the same person that I was? Not really. But I don’t regret it, other than a lyric I’d change here and there, after twenty years of reflection. I’m proud of that record and I proud of all my records.”

Catch Nine Inch Nails on the following UK dates this May:

May 18 Birmingham LG Arena

May 20 Glasgow Hydro

May 21 Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

May 23 London O2 Arena

May 24 Nottingham Capital FM Arena

May 25 Manchester Phones 4U Arena

Support comes from Cold Cave.