Here’s What Happened When Maynard James Keenan Met Trent Reznor

Trent by Rob Sheridan via Wikipedia. Maynard via YouTube.
Published on:

Billy Howerdel has a storied musical career, not just as an artist in A Perfect Circle with Tool’s Maynard James Keenan, but before that, Billy was a sound engineer and guitar tech for some of the most important names in music like Nine Inch Nails, Guns N’ Roses, David Bowie and more.

The guy clearly knows his shit, and the good folks over at Heavy Consequence recently sat down with him to talk about his new solo album and much more.

As the giant Tool and Nine Inch Nails nerds that we are, the interview caught our eye because Billy recounts the fascinating story of how he actually was the one that first introduced Maynard and Trent Reznor in the 90’s.

Billy first talked about his bond and artistic relationship with Maynard, saying:

“I always feel like my game is elevated around him — regardless whether it’s in conversation or in the studio with him or on the stage rehearsing or playing. He’s got an energy and he obviously loves the craft and the business part of it, too. I feel like Maynard has his bearings more solid than most people I know in music. He knows his lane. He knows what he can and can’t do, and he’s great at what he does do.”

He went on to talk about the importance of work ethic, citing ethos learned from Trent: “In working for Nine Inch Nails, Sean Beavan was the front of house sound guy, but also sort of like a musical director, and very close with Trent. … He’s like, ‘Look, Trent doesn’t expect anything from you that he wouldn’t do himself, and he can do a fuck of a lot.’”

Billy then went on to explain how he was the connective tissue that brought Trent and Maynard together: “I brought Maynard to the New Orleans studio to meet Trent. I mean, they obviously knew who each other were, but they’d never met. The first day I brought him in there, I remember Trent was literally on the floor with a PC spread out, putting circuit boards together and things like that. And I think it was the moment when Maynard goes, Oh, OK, this guy’s for real. This isn’t just some guy phoning it in with a pretty face and a couple of lucky songs. This is a guy who’s doing the work. That’s me imagining [what Maynard was thinking], ’cause I l know Maynard’s work ethic, and I know what things he values. Trent was and still is a big inspiration, and kind of North Star, for what it is to be a writer, [as well as] a person looking at technology and how it incorporates into your world. … I think it’s inspiring.”

Clearly the pair hit it off as they went on to collaborate artistically numerous times, perhaps most noticeably with the Tapeworm project.

You can watch the full conversation with Billy HERE if you’d like.

Listen: Maynard James Keenan, Scott Ian & Brian Posehn were in a Band