The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Are there any books or videos with Trent Reznor talking about his writing process?
Old 1st November 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Are there any books or videos with Trent Reznor talking about his writing process?

His lyrics always hit me in the core. He is amazing.
Old 1st November 2019
  #2
Lives for gear
 

I believe Pretty Hate Machine is a breakup album. Just a guess though
So there's some inspiration for you.
He definitely is creative with his words, 'Pretty Hate Machine' is a great term for an Ex.
Old 3rd November 2019
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerry123 View Post
I believe Pretty Hate Machine is a breakup album. Just a guess though
So there's some inspiration for you.
He definitely is creative with his words, 'Pretty Hate Machine' is a great term for an Ex.
Everyone always talks about his engineering and production. His writing doesn't get enough credit at all.
Old 3rd November 2019
  #4
Gear Nut
Not sure about books or videos, and I haven't found much about lyrics, but I've tried to collect a few articles with hints about his process. Here's what I found:

From EMusician - Raw Power:
Reznor's tools of choice for the [With Teeth] record's writing phase included really nothing more than a Digidesign Pro Tools rig, a microphone and a couple of generic synths. And to jump-start the writing process, he put himself on a strict schedule of trying to finish two songs with vocals every 10 days. “So instead of arranging and tinkering around with sounds, I just narrowed it down to starting with vocals and lyrics and melody,” he explains. “And given the amount of time I had to do these, all self-imposed, I didn't have much time to flesh it out with stuff. And I found at the end of it, I had 25 songs that I thought were pretty good.
One of main tactics for fleshing out song ideas was the use of loop recording. Ross often looped a section of music, and Reznor then either sang or played some other instrument over it, often for as long as an hour. The resulting audio files were then examined for possible inclusion in the finished song.

From Vulture: Trent Reznor, In Conversation
The first album [Pretty Hate Machine] came out of me being in my early 20s when I knew I had something to say but didn’t know what it was.... It wasn’t until I’d been keeping a journal and turning those thoughts into lyrics and setting incredibly painful and naked feelings to music that I stepped out in front as myself. That honesty gave Nine Inch Nails a power that carried through the first few records.

From Rolling Stone:
When I return to the writing process after being away from it for a while, the first part of it always is being honest with myself: What am I into right now? Is it rock bands and guitars, is it noise, is it dance beats and electronics? Is it space, is it clutter? And secondly, when it comes time to put pen to paper and express feelings, who am I right now? What do I, as a forty-seven or forty-eight-year-old man, have to say about anything? It takes time to rediscover that — in my day-to-day normal life I tend to not sit down and really think about how I feel. I’m not in therapy or in an AA meeting.

Reverb Machine deconstructed some of his songs in Trent Reznor Chord Theory.

Supposedly he's a customer of the lyric writing tool MasterWriter, though Trent's rich enough to just buy everything whether he uses it or not.

As far as video, there's the recording of the Mantra jam session in the Sound City documentary:



And more cynically, This Is A Trent Reznor Song:

Old 4th November 2019
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SyneRyder View Post
Not sure about books or videos, and I haven't found much about lyrics, but I've tried to collect a few articles with hints about his process. Here's what I found:

From EMusician - Raw Power:
Reznor's tools of choice for the [With Teeth] record's writing phase included really nothing more than a Digidesign Pro Tools rig, a microphone and a couple of generic synths. And to jump-start the writing process, he put himself on a strict schedule of trying to finish two songs with vocals every 10 days. “So instead of arranging and tinkering around with sounds, I just narrowed it down to starting with vocals and lyrics and melody,” he explains. “And given the amount of time I had to do these, all self-imposed, I didn't have much time to flesh it out with stuff. And I found at the end of it, I had 25 songs that I thought were pretty good.
One of main tactics for fleshing out song ideas was the use of loop recording. Ross often looped a section of music, and Reznor then either sang or played some other instrument over it, often for as long as an hour. The resulting audio files were then examined for possible inclusion in the finished song.

From Vulture: Trent Reznor, In Conversation
The first album [Pretty Hate Machine] came out of me being in my early 20s when I knew I had something to say but didn’t know what it was.... It wasn’t until I’d been keeping a journal and turning those thoughts into lyrics and setting incredibly painful and naked feelings to music that I stepped out in front as myself. That honesty gave Nine Inch Nails a power that carried through the first few records.

From Rolling Stone:
When I return to the writing process after being away from it for a while, the first part of it always is being honest with myself: What am I into right now? Is it rock bands and guitars, is it noise, is it dance beats and electronics? Is it space, is it clutter? And secondly, when it comes time to put pen to paper and express feelings, who am I right now? What do I, as a forty-seven or forty-eight-year-old man, have to say about anything? It takes time to rediscover that — in my day-to-day normal life I tend to not sit down and really think about how I feel. I’m not in therapy or in an AA meeting.

Reverb Machine deconstructed some of his songs in Trent Reznor Chord Theory.

Supposedly he's a customer of the lyric writing tool MasterWriter, though Trent's rich enough to just buy everything whether he uses it or not.

As far as video, there's the recording of the Mantra jam session in the Sound City documentary:



And more cynically, This Is A Trent Reznor Song:

Tbh I don't even think he knows how we comes up with his amazing lyrics. I think it's just who he is. There is no formula.

Dude is special.
Old 2nd January 2020
  #6
Gear Addict
 

It's not specifically about lyrics writing but this video touches upon his writing process in general:
Old 8th January 2020
  #7
Lives for gear
How strange.

I always thought NIN would have been well-served to get a REAL frontman, top-liner.

Reznor always sounded like a programmer trying to be a Rock n' Roll frontman, his lyrics felt clunky, awkward, pedestrian, they lacked any pizzaz or wit, no poetry, no romance....just.

"Head Like a Hole, Sucks out your soul, I'd rather die than give you control"

Say what? Who has a "head like a hole"? And what exactly is it about a head that, if it were made to be "like" a hole would be in the least bit interesting? So right off the bat, he's lost me.

Now, something "Sucks out your soul"? OK...That REEKS of "It rhymes...and it sounds
"tough...so ima say THAT"...

"I'd rather die than give you control" Yeah yeah...WHATEVER, more "That sounds HARD!" B.S

Trent Reznor is one of MANY lyricists in Rock (You can't get away with it elsewhere, but in Rock, the standard for lyrics has been so bad it's comical....ever listen to the Lyrics to RATT's 1984 hit "Round and Round"? HOLY SH!T!.......WOW!........REALLY??" I digress, one of the many who doesn't really write lyrics, he just SAYS STUFF. And try to make that stuff such that it doesn't actively damage the musical composition, which was the thing he obviously was good at and cared most about.

These are "Facsimile-Approximate-Lyric-like-content" which were all over the place during the Rock era when people realized "Hey, I don't think anyone really cares THAT much about what we are saying"

Reznor couldn't write a top line that sounded like a real topliner had written it. He always sounded like what he was, someone who didn't belong in front of the mic.

Conversely, I'd say his Buddy Marilyn Manson, while not a great lyricist WAS a great Frontman and therefore understood intuitively, how to get a top-line over, and also had a grasp of how words fit the music. Manson sounded like a real singer/lyricist. And no matter how basic his wordsmithing was, he could add some sizzle to the steak.

He probably should have been the singer in NIN.

As far as WANTING to write like Reznor?!?!? To each their own...BUT C'MON!!

You don't need a tutorial to just SAY STUFF, there's no technique he used to be mediocre.

Honestly, THAT'S ALL THERE IS......Just SAY SOME STUFF! BOOM! Instant "Facsimile-Approximate-Lyric-like-content"
Old 9th January 2020
  #8
Gear Nut
I'm not sure if it changes your point at all, but the lyrics to Head Like A Hole are "Black as your soul":

https://66.media.tumblr.com/9d759c29...w9fo2_1280.jpg
Old 4 days ago
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by terrible.dee View Post
How strange.

I always thought NIN would have been well-served to get a REAL frontman, top-liner.

Reznor always sounded like a programmer trying to be a Rock n' Roll frontman, his lyrics felt clunky, awkward, pedestrian, they lacked any pizzaz or wit, no poetry, no romance....just.

"Head Like a Hole, Sucks out your soul, I'd rather die than give you control"

Say what? Who has a "head like a hole"? And what exactly is it about a head that, if it were made to be "like" a hole would be in the least bit interesting? So right off the bat, he's lost me.

Now, something "Sucks out your soul"? OK...That REEKS of "It rhymes...and it sounds
"tough...so ima say THAT"...

"I'd rather die than give you control" Yeah yeah...WHATEVER, more "That sounds HARD!" B.S

Trent Reznor is one of MANY lyricists in Rock (You can't get away with it elsewhere, but in Rock, the standard for lyrics has been so bad it's comical....ever listen to the Lyrics to RATT's 1984 hit "Round and Round"? HOLY SH!T!.......WOW!........REALLY??" I digress, one of the many who doesn't really write lyrics, he just SAYS STUFF. And try to make that stuff such that it doesn't actively damage the musical composition, which was the thing he obviously was good at and cared most about.

These are "Facsimile-Approximate-Lyric-like-content" which were all over the place during the Rock era when people realized "Hey, I don't think anyone really cares THAT much about what we are saying"

Reznor couldn't write a top line that sounded like a real topliner had written it. He always sounded like what he was, someone who didn't belong in front of the mic.

Conversely, I'd say his Buddy Marilyn Manson, while not a great lyricist WAS a great Frontman and therefore understood intuitively, how to get a top-line over, and also had a grasp of how words fit the music. Manson sounded like a real singer/lyricist. And no matter how basic his wordsmithing was, he could add some sizzle to the steak.

He probably should have been the singer in NIN.

As far as WANTING to write like Reznor?!?!? To each their own...BUT C'MON!!

You don't need a tutorial to just SAY STUFF, there's no technique he used to be mediocre.

Honestly, THAT'S ALL THERE IS......Just SAY SOME STUFF! BOOM! Instant "Facsimile-Approximate-Lyric-like-content"
Thanks for this.
Now I'll have something saved that I can point to when I want to illustrate the idea of someone "not getting it"

It always helps to have real world examples.
Cheers!
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump