Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor discussed his battle with TVT Records in the new HBO series The Defiant Ones. Alternative Nation transcribed his comments.
Reznor said, “TVT was just a collection of shit.”
He added, “The thing that was so frustrating to me at the time was my whole life I knew I wanted to be on stage doing this. I remember it was a slow build, where each little moment you could savor. Like hearing my song on college radio for the first time, holy shit! It was like the greatest thing in the world.
I had finally through a combination of hard work and luck, cracked the door open and signed to TVT. I recorded a collection of songs that we felt proud of, turned [Pretty Hate Machine] into [Steve] Gottlieb, and he said, ‘Well, this record is an abortion.’ That’s a blow coming when you’ve never made a record before, and he’s put records out, maybe he knows more than I do. He said to me, ‘You fucked up what could have been a good career.’
But that was the album, we put it out, and we just toured. As each small tier of success started to happen, the record started to sell. I thought that would result in Gottlieb saying, ‘Hey, You did know what you were doing.’ But instead it was, ‘If you sold 1 million copies of this album, you need to sell 4 million on the next one.’ I knew he wasn’t going to get out of the way.”
Gottlieb then said, “I didn’t see it that way. Trent would not be the first artist who thought gee, now I’m having a taste of success, wouldn’t it be nice to be off an independent label and on a big label.”
Jimmy Iovine then discussed helping Reznor get out of his TVT contract and signed to Interscope.