Trent Reznor has been making the press rounds to promote Bad Witch, the final installment of Nine Inch Nails’ EP trilogy, which he’s calling an LP so that it won’t slip through the cracks of streaming services. Yesterday he was in the New York Times calling out “the Taylor Swifts of the world” for their self-protective silence about important political issues. Today, in a Q&A posted to NIN’s site, Reznor doubles down on his praise for Donald Glover.
When Glover released his “This Is America” video as Childish Gambino, Reznor tweeted a hearty endorsement: “I can’t remember the last time I watched a music video all the way to the end, let alone one five times in a row. Incredible work! #ThisIsAmerica.” In today’s interview, conducted by Meet Me In The Bathroom author Lizzy Goodman, he elaborates, explaining that he’s a huge Atlanta fan but was blindsided by the video. “It was bold and daring in a number of ways,” Reznor says. “And then you can appreciate, the dude can dance too?? Jesus Christ. You know what I mean?” He adds that he has found himself playing the video for people, telling them, “You’ve got to fucking see this.” Also: “I appreciated it being provocative and I appreciated people arguing about it. It’s important. It was done with excellence. And that’s what I miss.”
Read his full comments on Glover below, in all-caps glory.
ARE THERE OTHER ARTISTS YOU ADMIRE, WHO YOU THINK ARE DELIVERING WELL-EXECUTED WORK IN THIS KIND OF FULLY CONSIDERED CONTEXT?
I’M SIGNIFICANTLY BLOWN AWAY BY DONALD GLOVER’S THING. I MEAN, I THINK ATLANTA’S FUCKING GENIUS. THAT’S WON ME OVER, THIS GUY’S SMART. I NEVER WATCHED COMMUNITY. I LISTENED TO A COUPLE CHILDISH GAMBINO THINGS AND IT WASN’T WHAT I WAS EXPECTING. IT WAS ACCOMPLISHED – OKAY HE CAN SING, BUT I WATCHED “THIS IS AMERICA” AND I JUST THOUGHT, JESUS CHRIST, MAN. I THOUGHT THE SONG WAS GREAT, BUT IT WAS BETTER THAN IF I’D JUST HEARD THE SONG. I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS IN FOR. IT WAS BOLD DARING FOR A NUMBER OF WAYS. AND THEN YOU CAN APPRECIATE, THE DUDE CAN DANCE, TOO?? JESUS CHRIST. YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? HE’S TAKEN ADVANTAGE THE FACT THAT TELEVISION IS HOT RIGHT NOW. HE’S DONE SOMETHING EXCELLENT IN A NETWORK FORMAT. AND I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HE HAD A COMEDY SPECIAL. IT’S JUST: I’M IMPRESSED. I FIND MYSELF PLAYING IT FOR PEOPLE – LIKE, YOU’VE GOT TO FUCKING SEE THIS.
DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL AT ALL BETTER ABOUT THE STATE OF THE UNIVERSE, OR AT LEAST THE STATE OF MODERN POP CULTURE?
IT REALLY TRULY DOES. AND I’LL TELL YOU WHY. BECAUSE IN GENERAL IT FEELS LIKE THE BAR KEEPS LOWERING. TO SEE THIS COME OUT AND THEN TO SEE HOW LONG IT WAS STAYING IN THE CONVERSATION, SEEING HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE TALKING ABOUT IT, I APPRECIATED IT BEING PROVOCATIVE AND I APPRECIATED PEOPLE ARGUING ABOUT IT. IT’S IMPORTANT. IT WAS DONE WITH EXCELLENCE. AND THAT’S WHAT I MISS.
HE BROUGHT YOU OUT OF TWITTER HIDING! YOU HADN’T TWEETED IN WELL OVER A YEAR, BUT WHAT YOU POSTED ABOUT THAT VIDEO WAS SO EARNEST. YOU WROTE: “I CAN’T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME I WATCHED A MUSIC VIDEO ALL THE WAY TO THE END, LET ALONE ONE FIVE TIMES IN A ROW. INCREDIBLE WORK! #THISISAMERICA.” PEOPLE HAVE THIS IMPRESSION OF YOU AS MELANCHOLIC BROODER, NOT A GUY WHO SAYS THINGS LIKE “INCREDIBLE WORK,” EVEN ONLINE. ARE YOU A SECRET OPTIMIST?
LOOK, PESSIMISM IS A DEAD END. AND HONESTLY, IN LIFE I’M NOT A PESSIMIST. AROUND MY FAMILY AND MY KIDS, I’M NOT A PESSIMIST. EVEN WHEN IT COMES TO OUR FILM WORK, I’M THE ONE WHO’S ALWAYS SAYING, LET’S DO THAT FUCKING MOVIE BECAUSE WE COULD MAKE IT AWESOME. THAT’S NOT A PESSIMISTIC VIEW. IT’S JUST THAT WITH THIS RECORD, I COULDN’T KEEP IT FROM TAKING OVER, AS A WAY TO TELL A STORY.
There’s also a part where he talks about turning off the TV so he doesn’t have to explain to his kids “what a porn star or a pee tape is,” which is a funny thing to think about Trent Reznor doing. And when Goodman tells him she heard “Hurt” on the radio on the way to the interview, he replies, “Oh you did? On the Sounds Of The ’70s station? Were they playing it off Dad Rock Volume 62?” Read the full interview here.
Bad Witch is out tomorrow, 6/22.