Trent Reznor Intentionally Sabotaged Nine Inch Nails Lyrics, Ex-Drummer Explains

During a new interview with 101 WRIF, former Nine Inch Nails drummer Chris Vrenna revealed how Trent Reznor deliberately altered Nine Inch Nails lyrics in ‘Closer.’

He mentioned that ‘Closer’ is catchy but has a naughty word, making it tricky for radio. Vrenna and producer Flood were surprised by the lyrics. They think Reznor might have made it provocative on purpose. He talked about what he said after Reznor shared the lyrics:

“And I said, ‘But you totally now ruined it. We’ll never have a hit single because you say ‘I wanna ‘F’ you like an animal.’ And Trent’s like, ‘I know, I did it on purpose to make sure it can’t be the pop single!’ And me and Flood are like… How do you argue that? Like, ‘OK.’ So, he did it completely on purpose to mess with it, because he also thought it was too pop, and that was his way. But he loved the song. And we just bleeped the word out, it didn’t seem to affect the radio airplay at all.”

What Did Reznor Say About The Track?

Reznor also spoke about the song and said Keyboard Magazine in 1995:

“‘Closer’ was the scariest song to write because there would have been a time when I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be that obvious, I would have been afraid that it wasn’t tough enough, or it was too disco. When I was writing it and I came up with that bass line, I thought, ‘This is so obvious, but f*ck it.’ I mean, if you listen to the whole album, that song, musically, is the most digestible if you’re trying to pick a single, but it’s also crippled from the start because of the chorus.”

The singer had his own difficulties understanding it:

“What I hoped would have been a higher art thing became a frat house, date-rape, strip club anthem thing. Sad. I mean, it is an ugly song, no doubt. It’s not nice. It’s not life-affirmative. It’s probably the ugliest on the record, which is why I dressed it up in nice easy-to-listen-to music.”

‘Closer’ hit Number 41 on the US Billboard Hot 100, Number 25 on the UK Singles Chart, and Number on the Australian Singles Chart. Censored versions of the song and its music video got lots of airplay on radio and MTV.

Below, you can watch the full interview and listen to the song.