Reznor posts on ‘Network’
Nine Inch Nails front man, who had worked with director David Fincher, scores film.
Trent Reznor, the dark mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails, has long aspired to score a feature film, so when he got a call last fall from director David Fincher — who had used Nails music in his especially savage film “Seven” — the rock star naturally assumed the assignment would lead to some scary places.
He was right, sort of, because Fincher was eager to use Reznor’s unsettling soundscapes for “The Social Network,” the Friday release that is being met with especially enthused reviews and some snarling punditry with its unlikely drama about social-media billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.
“In all honesty, when David mentioned it was a movie about the founding of Facebook, I was like, ‘ What
the...,’ ” Reznor recalled with a chuckle on Monday. “I wondered how that could be interesting, but, knowing the level of excellence and integrity he brings to everything, I got the script. And then it became clear.”
What Reznor saw was a vibrant tale of “the human condition and greed and entitlement.” He worked with longtime collaborator Atticus Ross on the 19-track soundtrack, which was released in digital form on Tuesday and will hit stores on CD, audio-only Blu-ray and vinyl in October.
In an unusual move for a studio film, the soundtrack album will be released through Reznor’s own label, Null Corporation, as opposed to a major label. The musician, who has a history of posting music for free on his website and criticizing labels for their pricing practices, even finds himself in partnership with Amazon, which is selling the digital version of the album for $2.99 for a limited time. On Tuesday, the soundtrack was No. 1 on the merchant site’s bestselling album downloads.
“As much as I hate the corporate partner idea, for this particular case it felt right,” Reznor said. “The $5 price for the [digital] album, which is what we’re charging normally for it, is incredibly fair to me. And getting it down to $2.99 just feels like it’s not even a decision at that point … so we have a Frankenstein partnership … it will be $8 on CD.”
All of that, though, almost didn’t happen. Reznor, 45, is one of the true iconoclasts in pop music in recent decades and, in many ways, avanguard figure in the digital overthrow of music industry power structures. That techno-rebel spirit made “The Social Network” especially intriguing, he conceded, but all those pages of Sorkin dialogue seemed like an unfriendly landscape for his own fire-breathing music. Reznor had worked with Fincher before — the “Fight Club” filmmaker directed the Nine Inch Nails music video “Only” in 2005 — but he doubted this was the best time to reunite.
“It is Sorkin’s script, so it’s a lot of people talking in rooms and there is a lot of technical talk and after reading it, I wasn’t sure how it would become a watchable, entertaining film,” Reznor said.
So, last fall, Reznor called Fincher back and declined. The rock star had just come off a five-year run of touring and recording, gotten married and more or less promised his new bride that he would be stepping back from the mad crush of work.
“And, of course, it gnawed away at me. I got back in touch with him in late winter or early spring and apologized again and asked him to keep me in mind in the future [for future projects] and he said, ‘No, what are you talking about, you’re doing this one.’”
Reznor dropped by Fincher’s edit bay and, in short order, he took on the challenge. Fincher didn’t want an orchestral score; he wanted something that would have the shimmer, shiver and thump of Reznor’s electronic-anchored soundscapes, which seem to put human marrow inside circuit boards.
“David has a very clear vision of what he wants and then opens up that template to make it what you think is right,” Reznor said. “At the first rough cut screening it became clear to me what the film needed, which was to darken the mood a bit.”
The music that Reznor and Ross compiled over a few weeks was quickly diced and draped across the film by Fincher, making Reznor’s first scoring process startlingly fast and painless. “There was no meddling by the studio Darth Vader types. The experience has been exceptional and, I fear, not the usual experience. But I’m up for more.”
AN ODD FIT: Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor’s first film score is “The Social Network.”