After a four-year hiatus, Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails are back with a new lineup and new album, Hesitation Marks (out September 3), and are preparing for a fall tour. He's married and recently welcomed his first child, too. All is peachy for Reznor, now 48, as his revamped band look to the future, reinterpreting their industrial-electronic roots for a younger crowd hellbent on the contemporary EDM scene.
But in a new interview with the Guardian, Reznor looked back at his dark past, recalling a time when he turned to his "mentor" David Bowie for help beating his addiction to drugs and alcohol.
"When I was in the throes of that was when we toured with Bowie, and this was the Bowie that had come out the other side and was happily married," Reznor said. "I was nearing the peak of my addiction, and his role to me was kind of mentor, big brother, friend, and also he'd give me kind of shamanish advice."
Reznor also reflected on the troublesome period around NIN's classic 1994 album, The Downward Spiral. "[It] felt like I had an unending bottomless pit of rage and self-loathing inside me and I had to somehow challenge something or I'd explode," he said. "I thought I could get through by putting everything into my music, standing in front of an audience and screaming emotions at them from my guts ... but after a while it didn't sustain itself, and other things took over – drugs and alcohol."
Reznor made a failed attempt at rehab, and later accidentally overdosed on China white heroin, which he mistook for cocaine, in London in 2000 during NIN's tour behind The Fragile.
"I was so deep in the throes of addiction that it was sh-tty, but it didn't seem that much sh-ttier than a lot of other things, other surprises that kept happening," Reznor said. "You tend to accumulate dramatic bad things when you're in that place. My house got broke into, how did that happen to me? Oh my car got stolen, oh I woke up in hospital … it doesn't sound that out of the ordinary when everything is sh-tty. For me, it was another brick in the wall of realizing at some point, enough."
But over the years he's learned to cope and channel his feelings in more creatively constructive ways. "The despair and loneliness and rage and isolation and the not-fitting-in aspect that still is in me, but I can express that in a way that feels more appropriate to who I am now," he said. "And often that rage is quieter."
Read the full interview for more on Reznor's songwriting style, family life, side projects and more.