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Trent Reznor: Death to Hootie

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You've talked a lot in the past – and on Downward Spiral – about self-loathing. Would you say that you now like yourself better than you did before?
I've got more thanks and praise and more money than before. But from a self-esteem perspective, I've liked myself more. . . . I've lost friends. I've lost band members. I've lost a sense of self-worth in a way. And while I always wished I'd get to this place of success, once you get it, it's not that great. I'm not bitching about it. I mean, it is great in a million ways, but it's not self-affirming on every level, and you wish it was. I don't go to sleep thinking, "I'm Kevin Costner," you know, "I've done it!"

And the bigger you get in the rock arena, the more people want to fuck with you, to tear you down and criticize you. For example, you write a song that you think is dangerous to write because it says something that you're embarrassed to say. But because it's embarrassing, because it's extreme in its nature, then you've got everyone saying, "He doesn't mean it. He's just trying to cash in." You find yourself initially saying, "Yes, I did. I meant it. I am that bummed out."

I would only hope that maybe, in a world of insincere, bullshit, pop-music crap, this music might make a difference. And that's why I do it: I think it does. But at the same time, think how much easier it would be to be a bland rock band that doesn't mean anything and just make money.

What will the new music be like?
There will be two records that will probably come out around the same time. One will be with people I had with me in the live band. We're playing and writing together in a group called Tapeworm. That one will be a bit more like what you think industrial music is like now. The new Nine Inch Nails will be more like a funk hip-hop record. It will piss a lot of people off, and it's going to change the world at the same time, I hope. That's all I can aspire to. That and staying 10 steps ahead of Billy Corgan.

This story is from the March 6th, 1997 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

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