Reznor posts on ‘Net­work’

Nine Inch Nails front man, who had worked with di­rec­tor David Fincher, scores film.

Los Angeles Times - - Calendar - Geoff Boucher geoff.boucher@latimes.com

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.”

Ann Jo­hans­son

AN ODD FIT: Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor’s first film score is “The So­cial Net­work.”

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