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Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Rock group

Nine Inch Nails (NIN), the elaborate brainchild of auteur Trent Reznor, shattered the concept of popular music by crafting songs from sounds that could easily have been heard in a metal fabrication plant. Along with the industrial nature of the music, dark, tortured lyrics completed the product, seemingly forged on an anvil by a furious blacksmith. Even though the music fabricated by NIN was mechanical and often created on the hard drive of a computer instead of a traditional instrument, deeply emotive lyrics gave evidence that the creator was indeed human. The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock described NIN by stating that Reznor "virtually perfected the tantrum-rock genus, spewing lyrical vitriol at an astounding array of targets ... and obsessively sequestering himself, Macintosh at the ready, to craft the caustic isolationist anthems that made him the anti-hero to a bleaker-than-bleak generation of young devotees."

Chris Norris of Spin stated that Reznor's "brand of post-grunge introspection and self-disgust were central to that era's alternative-rock ethos." Reznor was considered the most artistically consistent innovator of industrial music along with Ministry, Skinny Puppy, and KMFDM. A description by Rolling Stone stated, "Reznor is widely regarded as one of the most influential voices in alternative music, earning himself a slot in a canon of musical auteurs previously carved out by the likes of Bowie, Reed, and Eno."

Trent Reznor was born on May 17, 1965, and grew up in Mercer, a small mining town in Pennsylvania. He lived with his parents until he was six, but was then raised by his grandparents. He studied classical piano as a child, taught himself tuba and saxophone, and learned keyboards as a teen. His career began in garage bands in his home town. Reznor briefly studied computer engineering at Allegheny College before moving to Cleveland in 1987. He released singles with several bands while in Cleveland and Erie, Pennsylvania. These techno driven groups included the synth-pop sound of the Exotic Birds, the pomp-pop enunciations of Innocence, and the dance beats of Slam Bam Boo. While with Problems, small success was earned when one of their songs, "True Love Ways," was performed by Joan Jett in the film Light of Day.

Nine Inch Nails formed in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1988, while Reznor worked at a recording studio as a general assistant. The studio job provided him with crucial experience to create and record music. He began NIN when he was 23 years old, as a modern, technological one-man band. TVT, an independent label, signed Reznor based on a demo that he wrote, arranged, performed, and produced. Assistance from other musicians was mainly for touring. Members of the touring Nine Inch Nails included, over time, Robin Finck on guitar; Danny Lohner on keyboards, guitar, and bass; Charles Clouser on keyboards; Chris Vrenna on drums; and Jerome Dillon on drums.

Started the Machine

Nine Inch Nails burst onto the scene in 1989 with the debut release Pretty Hate Machine. It was coproduced by Flood (Depeche Mode, U2), John Fryer (Cocteau Twins), Adrian Sherwood, and Keith LeBlanc. Three college radio hits came from the album, which charted in 1990 and eventually went triple-platinum. The release fed the hoards of teenage NIN fans, who wore black eyeliner and black trenchcoats; and Pretty Hate Machine became a turning point in the industrial-pop genre. NIN's ascension to stardom was helped by their live shows on the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991. Machine-gunning across the country, Reznor introduced a stage persona that was full of energy, power, and anger.

Reznor spent three years at odds with his label, TVT. Finally, Interscope came up with a deal to co-release the group, and Reznor eventually broke away from TVT and set up his own studio, Nothing Records, along with his manager, John Malm. Soon, Pop Will Eat Itself and Marilyn Manson were signed, and were symbolic of Reznor's energy.

Broken, released in 1992, was the first release from Nothing. Debuting in the Billboard top ten, the project was harder and more abrasive than Pretty Hate Machine. Again bringing in Flood, who produced three tracks, the EP included raging songs like "Last" and "Wish." The latter earned a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1993; and "Happiness in Slavery" earned a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1996.

The EP Fixed was also released in 1992, and was the second project from Nothing. J.G. Thirwell, Butch Vig, and others assisted Reznor on this collection of remixes from Broken. Reznor expanded his synthesizing by working with other industrial bands during 1992, such as Pigface and Revolting Cocks, which was led by Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker of Ministry. A live tour in 1993 saw a full band thrash through sets with the wrath of a chainsaw. So impressive was NIN's show that they opened for Guns-n-Roses on a tour in Europe. They also recorded a song by Joy Division, "Dead Souls," for the soundtrack to The Crow.

Industrial Supremacy

The Downward Spiral, from 1994, took five years to create but debuted at number two on the charts and went quadruple platinum. With Flood again coproducing, it featured ex-King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew. This album included more variety than had NIN's previous work. "A Warm Place" reflected a softer side of Reznor, whereas "Closer" described the primitive desires of physical attraction. Reznor recalled in 1995, "I was—and still am—very pleased with how [the album] turned out. I didn't realize at the time, however, that it was about to become a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Success was roaring for NIN. In 1994 Reznor produced the soundtrack for Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. The film included three NIN songs: "Burn," "A Warm Place," and a remix of "Something I Can Never Have." Reznor even recorded a song with Tori Amos, "Past the Mission," for her Under the Pink album. The band epitomized and directed the alternative rock scene by headlining at Woodstock '94.

For the Record . . .

Members include Charlie Clouser , keyboards; Jerome Dillon , drums; Robin Finck , guitar; Danny Lohner , guitar, keyboards, bass; Trent Reznor , vocals, guitar, bass, drums, electronics, computers; Chris Vrenna , drums.

Group formed in Cleveland, OH, 1988; Reznor wrote, arranged, performed, and produced most of the material on Nine Inch Nails albums, enlisting band members for touring; debut album Pretty Hate Machine released, 1989, and went triple-platinum; formed Nothing Records, 1991; played in first Lollapalooza tour, 1991; released both Brokenand Fixed EPs, 1992; released The Downward Spiral, 1994, went quadruple platinum; produced soundtrack for Natural Born Killers; head lined Woodstock '94; released Further Down the Spiral, remixes from previous album, 1995; opened for David Bowie on U.S. tour; released The Fragile, 1999; released With Teeth, 2005.

Awards: Grammy for Best Metal Performance for "Wish," 1993; Grammy for Best Metal Performance for "Happiness in Slavery," 1996; Spin magazine Album of the Year for The Fragile, 1999.

Addresses: Record company—Nothing/Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1230, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Website—Nine Inch Nails Official Website: http://www.nin.com.

Further Down The Spiral, an EP released in 1995, offered remixes of several tracks from The Downward Spiral. Rick Rubin, Thirwell, and Coil joined in on the companion album. The band gained additional attention when they toured with David Bowie in the United States. Bowie joined Reznor on the rendition of his own "Scary Monsters" and on NIN's "Hurt" and "Reptile." Another success was "The Perfect Drug," released in 1997, which was on the Lost Highway movie soundtrack and received a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Wrench in the Works

Reznor hit a low period during the late 1990s. His grandmother, who had raised him since he was five, died in 1997, and a falling out with close friend Marilyn Manson left him staggering. Even a retreat to Big Sur, California, did not help him turn out the work he wanted for his next album. Then Alan Moulder, the engineer/co-producer for The Fragile, guided Reznor to Bob Ezrin, the producer of The Wall. Ezrin helped Reznor sort through a huge mass of sonic expression recorded at Nothing Records, and they pulled together a double album. It was a full 100-minute autobiographical masterpiece.

The Fragile debuted at number one on the charts, and went platinum within ten months. Reznor brought in David Bowie, pianist Mike Garson, guitarist Adrian Belew, and Ministry drummer William Rieflin as contributors. Chris Norris of Spin described The Fragile when he stated, "Rather than the lurid thrills of The Downward Spiral—whose catchy tunes about sex and death fueled many study-hall fantasies—The Fragile chronicles, in slow, torturous movements, an unglamorous descent into depression and self-negation. It deals with aging, numbness, disillusionment, and uneasy self-acceptance." Spin magazine selected The Fragile as its 1999 album of the year.

Although the album was initially successful, many of the songs did not translate well to stage performance. Reznor told a writer in Spin that he began going "down a very dark and terrible path. At the end of it ... it was very clear to me that I was trying to kill myself." His lowest point came when a close friend was murdered and he was too drunk to attend the funeral. He told Spin that at that point he realized he had to get clean.

"Somebody telling me I had a drinking problem was not something I wanted to hear," he told the Spin writer about his initial reaction to rehab. But the message sank in, as well as the notion that he didn't know everything. "That was a new concept," he admitted. "Because I was pretty sure that I did."

With Teeth

In April of 2005 Reznor sold his New Orleans house and moved to Los Angeles in order to be closer to the center of the music industry. He told Spin that he was enjoying his newfound sobriety. "I'm not hiding anymore. I've actually returned people's calls, which is a first. It's mainly to be around peers. Just to be around ... and not feel like I'm on an island." That same year, NIN released With Teeth, which Spin described as "lyrically dense and confessional." The album hit the top of the American album sales chart in May of 2005. In Entertainment Weekly, David Browne wrote that "Both [Reznor] and his music sound more invigorated than at any time since Spiral."

Reznor told Spin that he felt his music was more emotionally honest than it had been in a long time: "People need to believe that I mean what I'm saying again. I don't think I believed it last time because I was lying about everything else. I felt like an actor on that last tour. An actor in a play that wasn't that great." However, he added, "Fans always have a way of finding out the real thing."

Selected discography

Pretty Hate Machine, TVT, 1989.

Broken (EP), Nothing/TVT/Interscope, 1992.

Fixed (EP), Nothing/TVT/Interscope, 1992.

The Downward Spiral, Nothing/Interscope, 1994.

Further Down the Spiral, Nothing/Interscope, 1995.

The Fragile, Nothing/Interscope, 1999.

With Teeth, Nothing/Interscope, 2005.

Sources

Books

MusicHound Rock, Visible Ink Press, 1999.

Robbins, Ira A., editor, The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock, Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1997.

Periodicals

Daily Variety, May 12, 2005, p. 3.

Entertainment Weekly, April 29, 2005, p. 145.

New Orleans CityBusiness, April 4, 2005, p. NA.

Rolling Stone, May 31, 1990, p. 34; July 9-23, 1992, pp. 32-33.

Spin, May 9, 2005, p. 63.

Variety, June 12, 2000, p. 22.

Online

MTV Online, http://www.mtv.com (May 10, 2005).

"Nine Inch Nails," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (April 17, 2005).

Nine Inch Nails Official Website, http://www.nin.com (May 22, 2005).

Rolling Stone.com,http://www.rollingstone.com (May 7, 2000).

Rough Guide to Rock,http://www.roughguides.com (April 17, 2000).

—Nathan Sweet andKelly Winters

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Nine Inch Nails

NINE INCH NAILS

Born: Trent Reznor; Mercer, Pennsylvania, 17 May 1965

Genre: Rock, Industrial

Best-selling album since 1990: The Downward Spiral (1994)

Hit songs since 1990: "Wish," "Closer," "Hurt"


Despite the revolving door of talent that backs him onstage, Nine Inch Nails is and always has been the private pursuit of Trent Reznor. The ambitious singer and multi-instrumentalist was responsible for bringing the pulsing, relentless rhythms of industrial music to the mainstream. With his best-selling album, The Downward Spiral (1994), Reznor proved that albums filled with bleak, melancholy, and occasionally masochistic themes could still top the charts. With this perverse formula of sonic aggression and lyrical angst, Reznor and his Nine Inch Nails band helped redefine alternative rock in the 1990s.

Reznor's initial hopes were quite modest. A young fan of new wave and industrial dance music, Reznor began recording his own music in 1988 with the timid hope of eventually releasing a 12-inch single, most likely for a label in industrial-friendly Europe. But when he sent his demo to various American labels, almost all the labels showed interest in signing him. He eventually settled on TVT. Released in November 1989, Pretty Hate Machine slowly became one of the most important alternative rock albums of the 1990s. Though influential industrial bands like Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, and Ministry had experienced modest success in the 1980s and 1990s by appealing to fans of heavy metal, Nine Inch Nails's well-timed and perfectly executed debut had a lasting impact on the landscape of popular culture.

The band's success did not come quickly. Though he recorded Pretty Hate Machine all by himself, Reznor assembled a backing band consisting of childhood friend Chris Vrenna on drums, guitarist Richard Patrick, and a host of different keyboardists. They toured constantly. Reznor hoped the album would cross over to alternative rock fans unfamiliar with the bruising rhythms of industrial music, and the first sign of this scheme's success was the modest popularity of its lead single, "Down in It." The song was a surprise hit among fans of modern rock and dance music. The guitar-heavy "Head Like a Hole," which had initially been the album's first single, gained a new life and the angst-riddled, anti-authority anthem became a staple on MTV.

Realizing they had a minor hit on their hands, TVT pressured Reznor for an ambitious follow-up and exerted control over the next album's creative direction. Resistant to TVT's meddling, Reznor instead spent his time brainstorming ideas for his next album and collaborating on obscure one-off projects with Pigface and Al Jourgensen from Ministry.


The Industrial Revolution

The band's biggest break came with its placement on the inaugural Lollapalooza tour in 1991. The traveling summer festival was wildly successful thanks to its angst-ridden and anti-authority attitude. Lollapalooza exposed thousands of American teens to Reznor's confrontational live persona and the wall of sound produced by Vrenna, Patrick, and newly permanent keyboardist James Woolley. During the tour, "Head Like a Hole" reentered the charts and Pretty Hate Machine stayed on the album charts for nearly two more years, selling more than 1 million copies. Along with Nirvana's Nevermind (1991) and the Lollapalooza tour itself, Pretty Hate Machine was a defining document of the aggressive sound and disaffected suburban ennui that would fuel alternative rock's rise throughout the decade.

After considerable legal wrangling, Reznor secured a release from TVT in 1992 and signed with Interscope, which allowed him to start his own imprint, Nothing. He released the Broken (1992) EP and a companion EP of remixes, Fixed (1992). Each suggested that Reznor had not spent the years since recording Pretty Hate Machine idly. He had channeled his frustration and animosity against the industry into darker, heavier cuts like "Happiness Is Slavery" and "Wish" (which won a Grammy Award for Best Heavy Metal Performance). Broken debuted in the Top 10 and foreshadowed the preoccupation with sadomasochistic imagery that would typify Reznor's later work. A series of extremely violent videos were issued alongside the EPs, though few of them were released commercially.

Reznor prepared for his eagerly anticipated follow-up by relocating to Los Angeles and building a studio in the house where actress Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson's cult. Reznor later claimed ignorance to this coincidence, but it no doubt added to his own cult of personality. Patrick had left the band to form Filter and Reznor added guitarist Robin Finck and bassist Danny Lohner to fill out the band's sound. The success of The Downward Spiral (1994) owed as much to its subtle themes and textures as it did to the band's outlandish image. The album debuted at number two and went multiplatinum shortly thereafter. Whereas Broken had been built on bursts of jagged heavy metal guitars and full-frontal shock value, The Downward Spiral was a carefully conceived concept album that borrowed heavily from 1970s progressive rock and shrouded all of its hurt and melancholy in delicate, sophisticated tapestries of noise. The shocking "Closer"and its sexually graphic and offensive chorusbecame one of the most unlikely hits of the year, and it was followed up the charts by the morose ballad "Hurt."

The year was a busy one for Reznor. Nine Inch Nails played an unforgettable set at that summer's 25th anniversary Woodstock concert. The band distinguished itself not only for its furious, inspired playing, but also because Reznor and his mates had covered themselves in mud prior to taking the stage. Later that year, Reznor provided the soundtrack for Oliver Stone's controversial Natural Born Killers (1994) and contributed vocals to Tori Amos's second album, Under the Pink (1994). The next year, Reznor and his again revamped band (featuring new keyboardist Charlie Clouser) went on tour with legendary rocker David Bowie. Reznor also recorded a bleak cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" for the soundtrack of The Crow (1993) and released an alternate edition of remixes entitled Further Down the Spiral (1995).


The Inward Spiral

Confronted with his sudden stardom, Reznor retreated to his new studio in New Orleans, Louisiana, and considered his next move carefully. Perhaps exhausted by his own career, Reznor threw himself into producing Antichrist Superstar (1996), the second album for his Nothing signee Marilyn Manson. The album made Manson a star but it did not help Reznor with his own writer's block. In 1997 his childhood friend Vrenna left the band and, though Reznor worked on the soundtrack for David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997), he could not figure out a direction for Nine Inch Nails's third full-length album.

Two years later he released the double compact disc The Fragile (1999). Not only is this album bleaker than his previous work, Reznor also took the opportunity to lash out at all the industrial metal acts he felt had swiped the Nine Inch Nails aesthetic, especially the recently estranged Marilyn Manson. Though many consider The Fragile to be Reznor's most studious album, its stint on the charts was brief: It debuted at number one, but massive expectationsas well as a fickle, metal-obsessed musical climate that Reznor himself had helped institutesuggested that Reznor's dour, hyper-obsessive industrial compositions were no longer pop currency. By the time The Fragile 's companion remix set, Things Falling Apart (2000), and a live disc, And All That Could Have Been (2002), were released, pop music had found more accessible ways to convey Reznor's message of angst and loathing. His disdain for the spotlight and passion for heady, detail-oriented arrangements may have cost these albums sales, but it was Reznor's pioneering hand in finding a niche for the sonic and emotional aggression of industrial rock in America's pop charts that made him one of the decade's most vital figures. The message had gone mainstream, but his music was left behind.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Pretty Hate Machine (TVT, 1989); Broken EP (Nothing/Interscope, 1992); Fixed EP (Nothing/Interscope, 1992); The Downward Spiral (Nothing/Interscope, 1994); The Fragile (Nothing/Interscope, 1999); Things Falling Apart (Interscope, 2000); And All That Could Have Been (Nothing, 2002). Soundtracks: Natural Born Killers (Interscope, 1994); The Crow (Atlantic, 1994); Lost Highway (Interscope, 1997).

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Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Industrial rock band

For The Record

Started the Machine

Wrench in the Works

Selected discography

Sources

Nine Inch Nails (NIN), the elaborate brainchild of auteur Trent Reznor, shattered the concept of popular music by crafting songs from sounds which could easily have been heard in a metal fabrication plant. Along with the industrial nature of the music, dark, tortured lyrics completed the product seemingly forged on an anvil by a furious blacksmith. Even though the music fabricated by NIN was mechanical and often created on a hard drive of a computer instead of a traditional instrument, deeply emotive lyrics gave evidence that the creator was indeed human. The Trouser Press Guide to 90s Rock described NIN by stating that Reznor, virtually perfected the tantrum-rock genus, spewing lyrical vitriol at an astounding array of targets (not the least of which being himself) and obsessively sequestering himself, Macintosh at the ready, to craft the caustic isolationist anthems that made him the anti-hero to a bleaker-than-bleak generation of young devotees.

Perhaps NIN was the perfect expression of how even the great advent of the information age at its best can only be used to improve the human condition by revealing it. Even so, Reznor impacted 1990s rock music in a huge way. Chris Norris of Spin stated, his

For The Record

Members include Charlie Clouser, keyboards; Jerome Dillon, drums; Robin Finck, guitar; Danny Lohner, guitar, keyboards, bass; Trent Reznor, vocals, guitar, bass, drums, electronics, computers; and Chris Vrenna, drums.

Formed in 1988 in Cleveland, OH; Reznor wrote, arranged, performed, and produced most all of the material on Nine Inch Nails albums, enlisting band members for touring; debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, released 1989, went triple-platinum; formed Nothing Records, 1991; played in first Lollapalooza tour, 1991; released both Broken and Fixed EPs, 1992; The Downward Spiral, with controversial lyrics and video released, 1994, went quadruple platinum; produced soundtrack for Natural Born Killers; headlined Woodstock 94; Further Down the Spiral, remixes from previous album, released 1995; opened for David Bowie on United States tour; released The Fragile, 1999.

Awards: Grammy for Best Metal Performance for Wish, 1993; Grammy for Best Metal Performance for Happiness in Slavery, 1996; Spin magazine Album of the Year for The Fragile, 1999.

Addresses: Record company Nothing/Interscope Records, 10900 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1230, Los Angeles, CA 90024.

brand of post-grunge introspection and self-disgust were central to that eras alternative-rock ethos. Reznor was considered the most artistically consistent innovator of industrial music along with Ministry, Skinny Puppy, and KMFDM. A description by Rolling Stone stated, Reznor is widely regarded as one of the most influential voices in alternative music, earning himself a slot in a canon of musical auteurs previously carved out by the likes of Bowie, Reed, and Eno.

Trent Reznor grew up in Mercer, an isolated rural town in Pennsylvania. Born on May 17, 1965, he studied classical piano as a child, taught himself tuba and saxophone and dove into the keyboard as a teen. His career began as many other rock stars havein garage bands in his home town. Reznor briefly studied computer engineering at Allegheny College before moving to Cleveland in 1987, where his career truly caught fire. He released singles with several bands while in Cleveland and Erie, Pennsylvania. Those groups were techno driven such as the synth-pop sound of the Exotic Birds, pomp-pop enunciations of Innocence, and dance beats of Slam Bam Boo. While with Problems, small success was earned when one of their songs, True Love Ways, was performed by Joan Jett in the film, Light of Day.

Nine Inch Nails formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1988 while Reznor worked at a recording studio as a general assistant. The studio job provided him with crucial experience to create and record music. He began NIN when he was 23 years old, as a modern, technological one-man band. TVT, an independent label, signed Reznor based on the demo he wrote, arranged, performed, and produced. Assistance from other musicians was mainly for touring. Members of the touring Nine Inch Nails included at one time or another Robin Finck on guitar; Danny Lohner on keyboards, guitar, and bass; Charles Clouser on keyboards; Chris Vrenna on drums; and Jerome Dillon on drums.

Started the Machine

Nine Inch Nails burst onto the scene in 1989 with the debut release, Pretty Hate Machine. It was coproduced by Flood (Depeche Mode, U2), John Fryer (Cocteau Twins), Adrian Sherwood, and Keith LeBlanc. Three college radio hits came from the album, which charted in 1990, stayed on for a couple of years and eventually went triple- platinum. The release fed the glowing ember of a Gothic scene and brought it to a rage as hoards of teenage fans wore black eyeliner and black trenchcoats. Pretty Hate Machine turned out to be a turning point in the industrial-pop genre. Head Like A Hole, with its ferocious digital sound, screamed incessantly from radio and MTV. Sin, a song with darker content, was refused for play on MTV due to its graphic sexual content; however, it further expanded the concept of pop music. NINs ascension to stardom was helped by their live shows on the first Lollapalooza tour in 1991. Machine gunning across the country, Reznor introduced a stage persona that was full of energy, power, and anger, revealing frustrations that lay deep within.

Some of those frustrations were with his label at the time, TVT. Reznor spent three years at odds with TVT, stating it was an antagonistic relationship, which did not support him artistically or financially. Finally, Interscope came up with a deal to core-lease the group, and he eventually broke away from TVT and set up his own studio along with his manager, John Malm: Nothing Records. Soon, Pop Will Eat Itself and Marilyn Manson were signed, and were symbolic of Reznors energy. Most notable was the production of Marilyn Mansons Antichrist Superstar, during which he and Manson became close friends.

Broken, released in 1992, was the first release from Nothing. Debuting in the Billboard Top Ten, the project was harder and more abrasive than Pretty Hate Machine. Again bringing in Flood, who produced three tracks, the EP included raging songs like Last and Wish, which earned a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1993; and Happiness in Slavery, which earned a Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1996. Happiness in Slavery also drew attention because of the accompanying video which portrayed a man being sexually tortured and then destroyed by a machine. Down In It was more extreme, as the origin for a video clip which was so lifelike that the FBI investigated it under the premise of it being a snuff film.

Fixed, an EP also released in 1992, was the second project from Nothing. J.G. Thirwell, Butch Vig, and others assisted Reznor on this collection of remixes from Broken. Reznor expanded his synthesizing by working with other industrial bands during 1992 such as Pigface, and Revolting Cocks, which was lead by Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker of Ministry. A live tour in 1993 saw a full band thrash through sets with the wrath of a chainsaw. So impressive was NINs show, that they opened for Guns-n-Roses on a tour in Europe. Creativity continued however, as they recorded a song by Joy Division, Dead Souls, for the soundtrack to The Crow. Industrial Supremacy

The Downward Spiral, from 1994, took five years to create but debuted at number two on the charts and went quadruple platinum. It included segments which were recorded in his home studio, the same house where members of the Charles Manson family murdered Sharon Tate nearly 25 years earlier. Reznor claimed he realized the houses significance only after recording had begun despite accusations of distaste by the media. With Flood again coproducing, it featured ex-King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew. This album included more variety than previous work. A Warm Place reflected a softer side of Reznor, whereas Closer revealed the primitive desires of physical attraction. Perhaps alluding to Charles Manson, pig was mentioned throughout the album. Harsh and scarred as the album was, it even had its limits. Reznor recalled in 1995 that he almost included Just Do It, a song about suicide on The Downward Spiral, but Flood persuaded him from it. Reznor later stated that, I had a story to tell [with The Downward Spiral], and I wasand still amvery pleased with how it turned out. I didnt realize at the time, however, that it was about to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Success was roaring and NIN was impacting many. In 1994, Reznor produced the soundtrack for Oliver Stones Natural Born Killers. It included three NIN songs: Burn, A Warm Place, and a remix of Something I Can Never Have. Reznor even recorded a song with Tori Amos, Past the Mission, for her Under the Pink album. The band epitomized and directed the alternative rock scene by headlining at Woodstock 94. Rage let loose on stage and from the studio inspired artists like Chuck Palahniuk, author of the story Fight Club. He admitted, I listened to The Downward Spiral and Pretty Hate Machine constantly while I was writing Fight Club] there were cuts on it that I would put on repeat to the point that my housemates were just insane. Hurt was one of the big ones.

Further Down The Spiral, an EP released in 1995, offered remixes of several tracks from The Downward Spiral. Rick Rubin, Thirwell, and Coil joined in on the companion album. The band gained additional attention when they toured with David Bowie in the United States. Feeling the vibe, Bowie joined Reznor on the rendition of his own Scary Monsters and on NINs Hurt and Reptile. Another success was The Perfect Drug, released in 1997, which was on the Lost Highway movie soundtrack and received a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Wrench in the Works

Reznor hit a low period during the late 1990s. His grandmother, who raised him since he was five, died in 1997, leaving him with even less personal stability than that which produced the sordid songs of The Downward Spiral. A falling out with close friend Marilyn Manson left him staggering. Writers block set in and even a retreat to Big Sur, California did not turn out the work he wanted for his next album. Alan Moulder, the engineer/co-producer for The Fragile, guided Reznor to the producer of The Wall, Bob Ezrin. Ezrin helped Reznor sort through a huge mass of sonic expression recorded at Nothing Records, which was in a former funeral home in New Orleans, to pull together a double album.lt was a full 100-minute autobiographical masterpiece.

The Fragile, which took two years to complete due in part to writers block, debuted at number one on the charts and went platinum within ten months. Reznor brought in David Bowie, pianist Mike Garson, guitarist Adrian Belew and Ministry drummer William Rieflin as contributors. Chris Norris of Spin described The Fragile when he stated, Rather than the lurid thrills of The Downward Spiral whose catchy tunes about sex and death fueled many study-hall fantasiesThe Fragile chronicles, in slow, torturous movements, an unglamorous descent into depression and self-negation. It deals with aging, numbness, disillusionment, and uneasy self-acceptance. Whereas the work contained some familiar anger such as in the discourse about his split from Manson in Starf***ers, Inc. many of the lyrics were the most optimistic of his career. Spin magazine selected The Fragile as the 1999 album of the year.

Completing The Fragile must have been somewhat therapeutic for Reznor as he set out on several more projects. He and Manson showed some sign of making up when Manson appeared on the Starf***rs, Inc. video. A slight step back in complexity, but still challenging, he was slated for a collaboration with hip-hop auteur Dr. Dre. In addition, he began to form a band with a female vocalist so that he could still create music, but enlist someone else to perform vocals.

Selected discography

Pretty Hate Machine, TVT, 1989.

Broken, EP, Nothing/TVT/lnterscope, 1992.

Fixed, EP, Nothing/TVT/lnterscope, 1992.

The Downward Spiral, Nothing/lnterscope, 1994.

Further Down the Spiral, Nothing/lnterscope, 1995.

The Fragile, Nothing/lnterscope, 1999.

Sources

Books

Ira A. Robbins, editor, The Trouser Press Guide to 90s Rock, Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 1997.

MusicHound Rock, Visible Ink Press, 1999.

Periodicals

Rolling Stone, May 31, 1990, p. 34; July 9-23, 1992, pp. 32-33.

Online

All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com, (April 17, 2000).

MTV Online, http://www.mtv.com, (May 10, 2000).

NIN Web Page, http://www.nin.com, (May 22, 2000).

Rock On the Net, http://rockonthenet.com/artists-n/nineinchnails_main.htm, (May 2000).

Rolling Stone.com, http://www.RollingStone.com, (May 7, 2000).

The Rough Guide to Rock, http://www.roughguides.com, (April 17, 2000).

Smashedupsanity.com, http://www.smashedupsanity.com/chronology/, (May 25, 2000).

Spin Magazine Online, http://www.spin.com, (May 6, 2000).

Nathan Sweet

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