It's been nearly 25 years since Nine Inch Nails' debut Pretty Hate Machine was released, but even with millions of albums sold over the course of an influential, tumultuous and ultimately triumphant career, Trent Reznor insists he's still learning his craft.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday night at the ASCAP Pop Awards in Hollywood, where Reznor received the ASCAP Golden Note Award, the rocker-turned-Oscar-winning composer said the honor had extra special meaning. "That compliment means a lot to me [because] songwriting is a thing that I feel like I'm just getting started," said Reznor. "I'm really starting to get the hang of it but every day is a new lesson. I'm a student here and to receive this kind of acknowledgment, it feels nice."
Indeed, the grand ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland complex was packed with luminaries from the world of publishing, licensing, labels and beyond. The evening's top award, for songwriter of the year, went to Max Martin (his fifth time nabbing the title); "Just The Way You Are" by Bruno Mars was named song of the year and publishers of the year went to EMI Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
Also in attendance to collect their awards were artists such as Katy Perry (who gave a shout-out to "Teenage Dream" co-writer Bonnie McKee when the collaborator's name was left off a list of song credits), Ludacris, David Guetta, Ne-Yo, Bruno Mars and Carly Simon, who was presented with the ASCAP Founders Award and a musical tribute sung in part by Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines.
A heartfelt appreciation for the performance rights organization was the theme of the night, as Reznor commented that ASCAP was not only the first professional affiliation of his career but also "the longest one."
The love went both ways. Following a glowing introduction by ASCAP president Paul Williams, during which he praised "another golden age" for the Nine Inch Nails and How to Destroy Angels singer, he called on the audience to give a collective "amen" as they rose for a standing ovation. "His greatest gift is the beating heart and the core of his music," Williams declared in a preamble to a video montage of Reznor's illustrious career, culminating in an Academy Award win (with Atticus Ross) for scoring The Social Network.
Once the house lights came back on, Reznor cracked, "Watching that, it's pretty clear that bad haircuts played an important role."