Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross Talk ‘Bones & All,’ Embracing New Musical Challenges, Writing An Original Song & More [The Playlist Podcast]

Over the past 12 years, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have become two of the premier names in the world of film scores. The musical duo shot out of a cannon back in 2010 with the release of “The Social Network,” with a score that would win an Oscar. From there, they released a number of acclaimed scores and even earned another Oscar. So, even though we were already excited about the release of Luca Guadagnino’sBones and All,” the idea that Reznor and Ross were working on the score for a romantic drama about two young cannibals in the ‘80s seemed too good to be true. And in this episode of The Playlist Podcast, I got the chance to speak with Reznor and Ross about their surprising new score and how their sound has evolved over the years. 

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For those unaware, “Bones and All” is the latest drama from acclaimed director Luca Guadagnino, who is best known for his films such as “Call Me By Your Name” and “Suspiria.” “Bones and All” sorta combines both of those previous films to tell the story of a romance between two young cannibals who travel across the Midwest in the ‘80s. It’s dark, sometimes gory, but incredibly emotional and beautiful. Reznor and Ross provide the score, as well as an original song, for the film. The musical duo obviously is best known for their Nine Inch Nails work, but over the past decade or so, they’ve earned multiple Oscars for their film work with scores such as “The Social Network,” “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Gone Girl,” “Mank,” “Watchmen,” and “Soul.” 

In the interview, we talk about their approach to “Bones and All,” which might be their most surprising score yet. Instead of what you might expect from Reznor and Ross, who have been known to weave in dark electronic and industrial sounds into their scores, their music for “Bones and All” leans heavily into acoustic guitars and, dare I say, sweeter sounds. 

“If we heard ‘coming-of-age cannibal movie,’ I don’t know that we would automatically say, ‘That sounds like us’ [Laughs],” said Reznor. “But we had been big fans of Luca and hearing that he was making that film, our assumption was that he was bringing something unique to that situation, which made us excited about it.”

“In our work, it’s always about wanting to move forward,” added Ross. “The notion of building a score around an acoustic guitar, as a central element, was a challenge.”

READ MORE: ‘Bones And All’: Luca Guadagnino On Violence’s Nature, Having The “Guts” To Release A Longer ’Bigger Splash’ & More [Interview]

We also talk about their decision to include an original song in the film, as well as how “Bones and All” is the latest score to showcase how their sound has grown and evolved over the years. 

“That’s why it’s been a nice complement to our work in Nine Inch Nails because we find ourselves in situations we’d never electively put ourselves in,” explained Reznor about challenging themselves with each new project. “I don’t think, in the context of a Nine Inch Nails record, we’d think [about] a Bernard Herrmann orchestration or Big Band, but finding those challenges come up and rising to them and learning from them.”

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“Bones and All” arrives in theaters nationwide on November 23. You can hear my full interview with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross below:

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