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'" When I ask what the last thing he does at night is, he says, "I try to have time to write a little bit in my journal. That was the last time he cried: Grandma was ill, he was staying in a Howard Johnson, and one day nothing made more sense than sitting down for a couple of hours of unfocused weeping.
And I have a vigorous masturbation routine." The first time Trent smoked pot was with his father when he was fourteen. His grandmother cried when she read his interview in USA Today, because it mentioned that Trent has taken drugs. The only record he could find at the local Kmart that seemed remotely interesting to play in the rental car was Sting's greatest hits.
Afterward Trent took a shower, then went into the tour bus and started crying. They got married when they were still teenagers because they had to. All he could think about was their Saturday trips down to the drugstore, where they'd sit at the soda fountain. Several times he tells me how much he loves them: "I don't want to give the impression it was a miserable childhood." Trent Reznor tells me this, sitting in his Cleveland hotel suite. He will see a regular doctor, and a homeopath, who will tell him to immerse himself in a bath of lavender and peppermint and chamomile and stuff, and to cover himself with green clay. She tells him he'll know her when he sees her-she's the one who sings "Hurt" really loud at every concert. "Nobody wants to hear you." Most of the fans don't get that far. The day the Bionic Woman died on "The Six Million Dollar Man", that was a tearful day in our household." He considers this, "When i think back, I had a degree of felling mildly depressed, of melancholiness." As he got older, he made the mistake of discovering horror films. "It was the ultimate scary thing because it couldn't easily be disproved." Then there was "The Omen". He went looking around his scalp for the three sixes which would confirm the truth. Trent Reznor took the piano up when he was five, and he had talent. The mention of this record and photograph causes the most touchy and embarrassed reaction Trent will exhibit in my presence. He was asked to be in a rinky-dink synth trio who are derided midway through the film: "They used to be called the Sins, but now they're the Problems," mocks one character, which seemed obliquely appropriate. You understand true art." There is no doubt that a certain type of outsider is drawn to Nine Inch Nails. He had his septum pierced for a year, but it was a nightmare when he had a cold. I've been in situations where there's men involved, but not directly interacting.
His father was named Michael, so they always called their son Trent. Cleveland was the city he moved to when he struck out on his own, but now it's just another stop toward the end of a yearlong tour. Over the last few years, Trent has stripped his life down. His idea of a drug experiecne is to take psilocybin mushrooms and cycle through Louisiana parklands, sucking in the experience. Monday in Cleveland: I loiter in the dressing room. Trent is waiting for a cortisone shot form a doctor. This is the last I see of Trent for two and a half days. In hotels across Ohio and Michigan, callers who ask for Trent Reznor will be told there is no such guest registered. He played the saxophone too, and even the tuba for a while. He had always told himself that when the time came, he would be able to write songs, but this was a theory he had carefully avoided testing. It was scary to sing about these feelings, and they weren't the sort of inner thoughts he was particularly keen to share with anyone, but somehow they made sense. The tattoo and body-piercing brigades have adopted them enthusiastically. As a rule, he doesn't even like to wear jewellery: "I don't like shit on me." It strikes me that the real message of all this is less an unwillingness to embrace modern masochistic rituals than a more primary impulse: Don't Pin Me Down. There is something else close to this, but even more fundamental. Me: So are there a lot of orgies around the Reznor household? When I'm in a relationship that overpowers the desire to...these usually arise from casual situations, usually intoxicated situations.
Last year he released "The Downward Spiral", an album about one man's descent into suicidal depression, about letting go of everything. Those words that they holler at him-out of imitation and, sometimes, invitation-weren't really ones of lust but of self-hatred.
"It's supernegative and superhateful," he explains. "It's 'I am a piece of shit and I am declaring that and if you think you want me, here I am.'" And now it's a modern nasty-as-nice catchphrase.
He was brought up Protestant and went to Sunday school.
His favourite candy is Reese's peanut butter cups: "It's the perfect balance of shitty peanut material and chocolate." I ask him what the last book he read was and he says he's got a book of pathological crime stories somewhere, but he's not really reading right now.
"I want to fuck you like an animal." That's what they shout at Trent Reznor these days.
"I didn't think it would become a frat-party anthem or a titty-dancer anthem," Trent Reznor snorts, and it's hard to tell whether his principal emotion is pride or embarrassment or despair. "I think my next album is going to be called "Music for Titty Bars"".
If the growing celebrity of Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails is centered around "Closer", "The Downward Sprial", and the inspired collage soundtrack for "Natural Born Killers", Woodstock '94 clinched it.
As with so many things, Trent is concerned that people shouldn't think the band's mud-covered appearance was a deliberate ploy. In college he studied computer engineering and music. He was in endless other local bands, playing keyboards, biding his time. Band members shout, "It's all good." That's the latest Nine Inch Nails catchphrase. "You don't know what you're missing out on," says Trent. One by one the band head into the bathroom, where the white powder sits on the basin. They cover themselves from head to toe; Trent spares his hair. During one song he stops singing and says, "Can someone do me a favour and beat the shit out of the asshole with the red light before I kill the asshole? It is a hefty self-published book of poetry and prose.
Backstage they were clowning about and pushing each other, and soon they realized they'd reached the point of no return, and so they plastered the mud all over themselves. In high school he appeared in a couple of musicals: "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Music Man". Before the first year was up, he knew he wanted to play music. He worked in a keyboard store and then he worked in a local recording studio. "It was the first time we'd ever acknowledged to another male that you actually masturbate. Trent fell out with the boss of TVT, his first record company. Trent boards the coach carrying a plastic shopping bag. In the copious video library on board are all the 'Planet of the Apes' films, except for the fourth, 'Conquest of the Planet of the Apes'. I think he only says this for the cheap laugh, and because he knows it is expected of him. " Someone has been tracing a red laser beam over his body. "I'm just waiting to have my arm blown off," he'll explain later. The letter, from Brett, twenty-three, is heartbreaking.