Trent Reznor already went at Kanye West once during the press cycle for Nine Inch Nails’ new
EP album Bad Witch, telling The Guardian that Kanye has “lost his mind.” Now he’s accusing Kanye — as well as the Weeknd — of ripping off the “immersive” live shows he claims NIN pioneered.
In an interview with BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, Reznor explains that although NIN used to be in an “arms race” to put on the most technologically advanced live show possible, the band has now pivoted in the opposite direction toward a sort of spartan rock ‘n’ roll simplicity Reznor associates with his early experiences watching the Cure and the Jesus And Mary Chain. Reznor’s been hyping up this more scaled-back approach since 2013, when NIN released Hesitation Marks. Remember when he took a job at Beats Music (which became Apple Music) and then turned around and heralded vinyl as the ultimate listener experience? It’s kinda like that.
In the midst of his comments about how NIN swerved primitive once they realized everyone else had gone high-tech, Reznor called out Kanye and Abel Tesfaye in particular. He claims, “I saw Kanye West blatantly rip off, and the Weeknd rip off, our tours, with production-wise, which I’ll say without any hesitation. And they know.” Here’s his whole spiel:
I’d been obsessed with, since the beginning, attempting with whatever resources I had access to, of transforming the live venue into as much of an immersive experience as possible. And then usually relied on, when we finally had access to it, screens and experimental production techniques. I remember us watching a string of bands on Coachella from the comfort of our couch, you know, and every band has a video playing behind them, and every band is sunk up with a convenient, polite lighting package, you know? And I saw Kanye West blatantly rip off, and the Weeknd rip off, our tours, with production-wise, which I’ll say without any hesitation. And they know. And I thought what would be exciting to me is just to see — when I think back to the Cure, when I saw them the first time or Jesus And Mary Chain when we opened for them, all I remember of that was smoke, maybe a color, a little bit of someone’s hair and real, real loud guitars. That’s exciting, and I don’t see that happening much. So we went the opposite of the arms race we had been in, of immersive, technological based production and went for a “It’s music being played somewhat sloppily with an element of danger and uncertainty and unpredictability.” And we mean it, and we’re sweaty, and it hurts on stage at times. It worked. So that became a template for what we’re doing now.
— BBC Radio 6 Music (@BBC6Music) June 26, 2018