Trent Reznor has explained his Chris Cornell diss from March, and its origin goes all the way back to a legendary festival date Nine Inch Nails did with Soundgarden at Molson Park in Barrie, Ont. in 1994.
In this week's cover story with Toronto alternative paper EYE Weekly, Reznor said the professional competition between his and Cornell's bands began at the event that also featured his then-apprentice Marilyn Manson, Pop Will Eat Itself, Reverend Horton Heat and You Am I.
"We had a chip on our shoulder about Soundgarden because their record [Superunknown] came out the same day Downward Spiral came out and they beat us to #1 on Billboard," Reznor told EYE's Liisa Ladouceur. "That became a kind of professional showdown. And we did show them."
And show them they did. NIN played a now-mythic set of positively brutal industrial metal that would solidify their place as alt.rock legends. The Soundgarden set, however, was marred by a fractured Cornell vocal performance. It was a problem that would repeatedly crop up for the band.
The professional competition between the pair reared its head once again when former Soundgarden frontman Cornell released his new solo album, Scream, this past spring. The album — essentially a dance record done with Timbaland — was a radical departure for a man considered one of grunge and alternative's founding fathers.
Reznor called Scream embarrassing when he heard it, but the root of his irritation came from his belief that Cornell made the album due to label pressure to sell records, something he refused to do when he was signed to Interscope. Essentially, he's saying Cornell sold out.
"I really have no issue with Chris at all," Reznor said in the article. "The thing I said on my Twitter... it goes deeper than what have may appeared on the surface.
"We were on Interscope. And I have had Jimmy Iovine, the president on that label, come up to me on every record from [2005's] With Teeth onwards saying I should do some sort of urban thing — it was Timbaland for awhile, then it was Pharrell for awhile — because 'that's how you sell records.'
"The idea seemed so preposterous and insulting. I'm not talking 'Let's go make a record with Dr. Dre' because that would be kind of cool. What he's talking about is making your record sound like what's on the radio, whether it's appropriate or not. And that's what Chris did.
"I think that when somebody who is respected like he is goes that route, it sends the message that it's OK to give up any kind of core values you had to be the fashion of the moment. I don't think it's OK. I think it's harmful."
Reznor's next — and potentially last — Toronto area festival appearance will be happening Aug. 30 when he headlines Virgin Festival Ontario at the Molson Amphitheatre as part of Nine Inch Nails' Wave Goodbye tour. Presumably, there'll be little professional competition with anyone else on the bill... unless there's a dandy dresser contest with the Pet Shop Boys.
Here are Nine Inch Nails' remaining Wave Goodbye tour dates:
Aug. 28-29 Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom w/ Mew
Aug. 30 Toronto, ON @ Molson Amphitheatre (Virgin Festival Ontario)
Sept. 2 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium w/ Mew and Queen Kwong
Sept. 3 Los Angeles, CA @ Henry Fonda Theater w/ Mew
Sept. 5 Los Angeles, CA @ Wiltern Theatre w/ HEALTH and Io Echo
Sept. 6 Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex w/ HEALTH