“They didn’t feel like I was doing my parts right”: Adrian Belew reveals reason behind Nine Inch Nails firing

“I don’t mind talking about it now. But at the time, it was so upsetting to me.”

Adrian Belew playing a red Strat guitar. He is smiling and looking to his right.

Image: Scott Dudelson / Getty

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Guitarist Adrian Belew has opened up about his dismissal from Nine Inch Nails back in 2013 for the first time.

Belew had worked with the band on several recordings, and was due to join their touring lineup that year. He was let go shortly before the stint kicked off, and according to the musician, it was due to “some of the guys” in the band not feeling “comfortable” with him.

Speaking to Ultimate Guitar for its On The Record series, Belew says that although he doesn’t mind talking about the situation now, at the time it was “so upsetting” to him that he felt like “it was better to say nothing”.

“Here’s my version of it,” he begins. “Now, you might ask someone else, and then they’d say something different, but when Trent called me, he was very excited about the idea that he and I would reinvent Nine Inch Nails.

“And he even told me, ‘Don’t worry about learning the songs verbatim. Just get to know them.’ So, I listened to the songs, and I really didn’t try to figure parts out. I did a little bit just out of curiosity. So when I got there, we had 12 weeks of rehearsal time. I thought that’s the amount of time I had with Frank Zappa. I could learn anything in 12 weeks.”

He continues, “But after 17 days, he said that some of the guys in the band weren’t comfortable with me. They didn’t feel like I was doing my parts right and that I knew the songs as good as I should. And I said, ‘Listen, I can tell you for sure – this is 17 days in. I’m still working out ideas of sounds and things. I’m not even worried about the songs.’ But those were ‘LA kind of players,’ you know? And in my mind, they have very little imagination, I’ll put it that way. So he said, ‘It’s time for you to go.’”

Belew shares that Reznor was “very upset” about the situation, but said there was nothing he could do. “I had put everything on hold for the next year and a half. Everything,” adds Belew. “Cancelled all my gigs, came home, and didn’t do anything for six months.”

He also states that shortly after, Robert Fripp decided he should no longer be in King Crimson. “So that was the extra nail in the coffin,” he says. Thankfully from then on, he decided he was “going to do Adrian Belew”, which led to the creation of his Flux app, his work on Pixar’s Oscar-winning Piper movie and much more. So, Belew concludes it all worked out in the end.

View the full interview below:

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