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Nine Inch Nails waved goodbye to New York this week with gigs at Bowery, Webster (featuring The Downward Spiral in its entirety), and Terminal 5 (featuring Peter Murphy). Chicago, Toronto, and LA are on deck, and then it’s an “indefinite hiatus” for NIN while Trent focuses on QAing Android apps or something. One thing’s clear, though — no matter what the digital music prophet ends up doing he will find opportunities to dis Chris Cornell. The beef started with a tweet in March, inspired a prank in April, and continues this week in the Canadian press.

Via Eye Weekly:

“We had a chip on our shoulder about Soundgarden because their record [Superunknown] came out the same day Downward Spiral came out, and they beat us to No. 1 on Billboard. That became a kind of professional showdown. And we did show them.

I really have no personal issue with Chris at all. The thing I said on Twitter… it goes deeper than what have may appeared on the surface. We were on [Interscope]. And I have had Jimmy Iovine, the president of that label, come up to me on every record from With Teeth onwards 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.

I’m not talking about ’let’s go make a record with Dr. Dre,’ because that would be kind of cool. What he’s talking about is making your record sound like what’s on the radio, whether it’s appropriate or not. 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.”

“Had” a chip on our shoulder? Trent might wanna avoid Virgin Airlines for a while.

Comments (52)
  1. Jay Gerland  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 +1

    “Timbaland knows the way to the top of the charts, maybe if i work with him i can perfect the art” – Rivers Cuomo

  2. for some reason, this post made me feel like Trent Reznor and Chris Cornell are both suffering from a case of Rip Van Winkle-itus. Get outta the 90′s DUDES !!!

  3. fuck, I would love to hear the beats dre + reznor could come up with

  4. Hasief  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    Not sure how I feel about this. On one hand Trent slams Chris for bowing down to his label’s request that he go urban, but on the other he’s been pissed for over a decade due to losing out on Billboard’s no. 1, which is just as much an industry construct as hiring Timbaland.

    And what if working with Timbaland was Chris’ idea without having the label twist his arm? Regardless of whether or not you like the results, I don’t think you should diss a guy for wanting to try something different.

  5. Joey  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    1. Dr. Dre DID collaborate with Trent…he’s somewhere on The Fragile.

    2. Weezer is also under the Interscope umbrella…and Rivers wrote that song as a response to the label asking for more hits/singles…hmm…

  6. Sounds like he’s using artistic integrity to justify a personal beef with Interscope and/or Cornell. His explanations don’t hold water: he’s not above working with hip hop beatmakers like Dre so why diss Cornell for wanting to experiment the same way? By all accounts noone pressured Cornell to do anything, just because the results weren’t great doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have the right to expand his sound just as Trent does.

    • He didn’t work with dre out of a desire to sell records, he wanted to work with an artist he enjoyed. Artistic integrity IS the argument, clearly you don’t know much about Trent Reznor (And inasmuch as it’s laid out in the article and you still choose to refute his version perhaps you are best satisfied doing or listening to something else)

    • Well said.
      He’s making baseless attacks.

  7. Hotrod  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    The saddest thing about this whole thing is that “Strobe Light” would have been the most interesting thing Trent had done in over a decade.

  8. Trent’s right. NIN and Soundgarden were two of the best bands of the 90′s but while Trent has retained his integrity, Cornell sold his cheap. Like Trent says it’s one thing to collaborate for artistic reasons and another thing to collaborate for purely commercial reasons. It disappoints me hugely that Cornell compromised his glory so lightly.

  9. Anonymous  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    Reznor can’t fathom the idea that change doesn’t necessarily mean selling out. In many cases change is vital for an artist to avoid getting stale. What if Cornell had carried on churning out “Son of Superunknown”? Or reformed Soundgarden? Wouldn’t that have been a much more effective moneygrab? Scream was dangerous for Cornell. And as the man himself said in a recent interview – “If you don?t feel [danger] then I don?t know what you?re doing. Just being a homogenized sellout, I guess.”

  10. ThRobert  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    fuck both of these musically irrelevant perma-teens. jock bullshit.

  11. Kanye  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    “trying to keep art first and commerce second.” Once again ART WINS

  12. Kevin  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    Has anyone actually heard the Cornell album? All of this stuff aside, it’s pretty ill ass [when my ass is ill, it ain't pretty].

  13. jjazznola  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

    Open question to all of the haters: Someone please name one artist who started in this decade with as much talent as Trent or Chris. I didn’t think so. There is a reason fans still flock to the NIN’s, The U2′s, Springsteens,Cornells, McCartneys etc…. Today’s newer bands/artists just don’t compare. NIN were great this week in NY. They can still bring it live.

    • Right. Chris Cornell and NIN are the epitome of art. CMON.

    • FlimFlam  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

      Radiohead.
      More creative. Just as talented if not more. Sells a shitload of records. Hasn’t “sold out”
      Personal taste aside (I have a soft spot for Soundgarden AND NIN) RH has matched and surpassed both of these fools at what they claim they are trying to do.

      NIN has peddled too much of the same, but is pretty good at what they do. Chris Cornell gets kudos for trying something new, but bores me to sleep. Fuck man, your mom loves Audioslave. Both of them are about as edgy as an overripe peach.

      Not trying to be too dickish, but you seriously think no one can name an artist more “talented” than these two? Hell, if its “talent” you are interested in go listen to some Jam bands or Dave fucking Mathews.
      I’ll take art thanks.

    • FlimFlam  |   Posted on Aug 27th, 2009 0

      Oh wait.
      When you said “this decade” I thought you meant the one these cats came from.
      Sorry.
      Still, thats an even worse question.
      First of all, those cats have the advantage of time (you would never know from listening to the first NIN or Soundgarden album that they would stick around. Believe me, I was buying albums at the time)
      Second, its really silly to hold these two up as the example.
      Third, The music industry has changed. We don’t wan’t or need superstars anymore.

      • jjazznola  |   Posted on Aug 28th, 2009 0

        “Third, The music industry has changed. We don’t wan’t or need superstars anymore.’ Why not? I like going to see bands that can rock an areana or a stadium with 2-3 hours of songs that everyone knows. (Not Dave Mathews or Phish!)You do make a good point that acts likr NIN & Soundgarden were around for a long time. Who knows which bands today may replace the stars of the past. I like seeing interesting music in small clubs and certain acts in big venues. Two different types of experiences. But it takes a certain type of artist that can be true to their art but appeal to large crowds. Radiohead, & Arcade Fire come to mind over the last decade but there used to be a more decent big acts.

  14. Reznor is completely right. The new Chris Cornell album is as awful as it gets. It’s one thing to tone down your sound a bit, but he made an album that sounds like The Pussycat Dolls.

  15. john  |   Posted on Aug 28th, 2009 0

    keep in mind, Reznor’s also probably just making an educated guess… since they were both on the same label and had the same guys talking to them saying, “You should do this to make your album sells, etc.” It seems more than likely that Cornell followed that route. Sure, it is also possible that Cornell wanted to do it, but who’s to say.

    also, it is a bit contradictory for him to be praising art over commerce, yet claiming that they had a beef with Soundgarden for beating them to No. 1. But, at the same time, as a member of a struggling band, sometimes when a band gets credit you wish you had, it adds a touch of competitive, “Well fuck them then!” Even if it’s stupid to get upset, it just starts a rift that snowballs over time. Even for the dumbest things… Maybe not necessarily just in the music biz, but that happens between friends, family… anything.
    So … maybe that’s what it is?

  16. In order to make up for the shitty album he made, Cornell will now have to reunite Soundgarden and shut every hater on here once and for all. I know even Trent is with me on this.

  17. Andrew's Basilisk  |   Posted on Aug 28th, 2009 0

    Dude, just come out with it and say you think Chris Cornell’s album sucked balls. Don’t sugarcoat it with “Well, I personally think that he could’ve changed his sound and still maintain his artistic integrity”. We all know that is NOT what you mean. Your twitter post about Chris was ?You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell?s record? Jesus?. You clearly had no qualms about putting your opinion plainly out there for everyone to see, so why stop now? What, you felt the backlash that ensued your MISUSE of Twitter and now you want to rectify it?

  18. The Kid   |   Posted on Aug 30th, 2009 0

    Your such a class act Trent. We?re millionares, we?re stars, what should we do next? Let?s trash or peers!!! 90?s all over again. yeah the new generation love you, they think you are the coolest, right? hate doesn?t give you relevance. The strange thing about Reznor dissing Chris Cornell is that I completely see Reznor going the same direction as Cornell.The techno-pop balladeer.

  19. Kittycatastrophe  |   Posted on Aug 30th, 2009 0

    Kinda immature to claim one of your reasons for speaking against another artist’s music is because they beat you on Billboard 10 years ago *insert violin concerto on that one*. Did Chris Cornell’s album suck? Yup, but the point of artists playing to trends because of pressure from “suits” could have been made without name dropping someone you suspect of giving into the pressure. Urban music sucks hard these days and the record company pushing that auto-tuned trend shows how anti-creativity they are. That all being said, Radiohead has been designing crop circles around Reznor and Cornell musically for the last 10 years and their new marketing plan is going to work greatly in their favor.

  20. in rainbows  |   Posted on Aug 31st, 2009 0

    I hate when NIN’s fans get sick of NIN and try to latch on to Radiohead.

  21. I actually agree with Trent but at the same time disagree as well. I don’t necessarily agree with the bashing of Cornell as he was only trying to expand his creative potential, something Reznor should compliment him on. I do agree with Reznor that he resisted his label’s input to put out something he thought was something new and innovative. I actually think that Reznor should take a page from Cornell and expand his musical horizons beyond industrial beasts and angst to try somthing entirely new. Hopefully this “end of NIN/ Hiatus” will do something to accomplish this.

  22. kittycatastrophe  |   Posted on Sep 2nd, 2009 0

    I like both NIN and Radiohead musically, and have since each hit the scene; I just think that Radiohead has been more committed to determining their future outside of the record industry model. Granted you have five guys bouncing ideas off of each other and coming to consensus in Radiohead whereas NIN is only Reznor and being the sole decision maker can be as detrimental as it is beneficial…it can also be exhausting. Reznor tagged out of the game and I don’t fault him for that since he was the only one carrying the weight. There are artist that want to try to work from within the system and those that want to tear away and start something new…no reason to personalize on those who don’t make the choices you have/would make.

  23. TRENT WAS RIGHT………….WE GET INTO THE MUSIC BUSINESS TO MAKE ART, NOT MONEY
    IF THE MONEY COMES GREAT!
    IF NOT…………WE STILL HAVE OUR ART
    YOU CAN LISTEN TO TRUE MUSICIAL ARTISTS, AND KNOW WHICH ONES ARE THERE
    BECUZ THEY LOVE MUSIC…………………..MR. JIMMI / ARIANA RECORD COMPANY U.S.A.

  24. Bootyfish  |   Posted on Sep 2nd, 2009 0

    trent reznor can eat the corn(ell) out of my poop.

    thank you.

  25. Trent is right that art should always come first, BUT remember what art is and what it stands for. Art is using a medium to convey expression without boundaries. Chris in fact took a step that very few musicians have the courage to take, he stepped outside the box. He took everything he has done and set it aside to try a different venture. When the Chili Peppers changed their sound, many wanted them to play their old songs. Artists should continue to evolve as artists. If not, you end up with Nickleback or Buckcherry, pathetic excuses for art.

  26. Trent is right that art should always come first, BUT remember what art is and what it stands for. Art is using a medium to convey expression without boundaries. Chris in fact took a step that very few musicians have the courage to take, he stepped outside the box. He took everything he has done and set it aside to try a different venture. When the Chili Peppers changed their sound, many wanted them to play their old songs. Artists should continue to evolve as artists. If not, you end up with Nickleback or Buckcherry, pathetic excuses for art.

  27. Boracho  |   Posted on Sep 3rd, 2009 0

    Radiohead came out of the 90′s, FYI. Not this decade. Pablo Honey, The Bends, and OK Computer were released in the 90′s.

  28. Dre was a “mix consultant” on Even Deeper and Trent is speaking the truth. Chris has been lost for quite a while, IMO. And I don’t think I’ve seen one positive comment about his last album here at Stereogum. Trent is saying that he’s a better person, he’s just calling Chris out on his motives/motivation. They’re peers and I don’t really see anything wrong with that.

  29. Aaaarg! Isn’t! Isn’t saying he’s a better person.

  30. You can’t claim artistic integrity, and start the argument off with: they beat us to No. 1 on Billboard.

  31. Sure you can. He’s merely expressing his frustration that his album didn’t debut as high, and he should be TDS was great and every bit the definition of music as ART not a product\t. Now with that said, Superunknown was an awesome album too so I’m not really that upset about how it turned out.

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