Rocker Trent Reznor initially felt “violated” after learning a sample from a Nine Inch Nails song was lifted for the mega-hit Old Town Road.
The rocker had no idea Lil Nas X and producer YoungKio sampled the instrumental piece 34 Ghosts IV, from his band’s 2008 Ghosts I-IV album, for the country rap crossover track until after the tune went viral.
“At first, when you hear your stuff turned into something else, it always feels awkward because it’s something that intimately came from you in some way,” Trent explains to Rolling Stone. “You feel a little bit violated, you know?”
“The way it was presented to me originally is I got a call from my management saying, ‘We got a call from a panicked manager saying they had used the sample of something off Ghosts. They should have cleared it, but it didn’t get cleared. It’s picking up some steam on the viral Spotify charts. What do you think about that?’ And I said, ‘Look, I’m fine with it. I get how stuff goes. They’re not saying they didn’t sample it. Just work it out, but don’t be a roadblock to this.’
“I hadn’t heard it yet. Then a few weeks later, I was like, ‘Holy s**t.'”
Reznor didn’t expect the Lil Nas X song, which has been certified diamond by officials at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in addition to breaking all kinds of chart records internationally, to become the biggest hit of 2019, and he is now honoured to have contributed to the phenomenon.
“Having been listed on the credits of the all-time, Number One whatever-the-f**k-it-is wasn’t something (I expected)… I didn’t see that one coming,” he shares. “But the world is full of weird things that happen like that. It’s flattering. But I don’t feel it’s for me to step in there and pat myself on the back for that.”
Admitting Old Town Road is “undeniably hooky”, Reznor can’t get the refrain out of his brain.
Asked if he likes the song itself, he states, “It’s been stuck in my head enough. Let’s put it that way.”