Trent Reznor’s Former Boss Calls Him A Liar

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Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor recently ripped TVT Records and its former head Steve Gottlieb on the HBO series The Defiant Ones. Reznor said, “TVT was just a collection of shit.” He added, “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.’”

Gottlieb hit back at Reznor in a new Billboard article.

“All I can say is what he describes is clearly a fabrication. The album was produced in five studios on two continents over a period of six months. It was not that he went away and delivered me an album and I said, oh, what a surprise! Every mix, every song was reviewed. The public now has all those mixes. The reality was, Trent never chose to reissue the album differently than it was. The album as released was what he wanted apparently. And we were supportive of it from day 1.

The story he says that he delivered the album and I made a comment — clearly not true because I was involved in every step of the album production. I went to Boston for the sessions with Flood. I intervened when he felt John Fryer wasn’t taking enough of his input. I was at the sessions in New York. Trent said, my dream list of producers would be Flood, Adrian Sherwood, Keith LeBlanc and John Fryer, and I got him those people. Those who were who he wanted. I helped manage those relationships to make sure they listened and gave Trent his due respect. He was a first-time artist — sometimes, first-time artists [are people] producers don’t want to take direction from. They feel hey, I’m a successful producer, I made tons of records. I was Trent’s advocate in this process and certainly recognized his talent.

So whether Trent needed an excuse what is not an unnatural desire for an artist — to make a lot of money and get on a major label — and felt that this was the best way of portraying it, I don’t know. But at this point his story is clearly not true. And I think our record of commitment to him is pretty demonstrable.”

He later said, “In my mind there’s a real question to what extent this was scripted from the beginning. To a certain extent, Trent is a performance artist. He wrote me a ten-page letter early in the relationship which he signed, “your paycheck.” Most of my dealings with Trent were through a manager that he ultimate sued. I don’t know how it was resolved but the accusations were that the manager who stole from him and lied to him and all the rest. So I don’t know what to extent it was an impression created by management when there wasn’t a lot of contact directly between Trent and I. I can only speculate.

I can tell you what he described didn’t happen. And in all these 27, 28 years, he’s never really specified — this was the first time he specified that I said something. Years ago, it was I didn’t get paid. Then it was other things. But there’s never been anything really specific. Look, I feel terrible. I’m not happy about it. It’s something I wish I could talk to him about.”