Nine Inch Nails Biography
the scene in 1989, Nine Inch Nails married the electronic assault
of industrial music with the predictable hooks of pop music. The
band, largely a front for the solo efforts of one Trent Reznor,
blazed new aural landscapes on their blockbuster 1989 debut, Pretty
Hate Machine. Reznor's dark and twisted lyrics inspired legions
of teenagers to apply black eyeliner and to don dark trenchcoats,
reenergizing a Goth scene that had been festering just below mainstream
radar screens while existing on a steady diet of bands like Laibach
and Einsturzende Neubauten.
Trent Reznor was born May 17, 1965, in the small town of Mercer,
PA; he went by his middle name to avoid confusion with his father
Michael. At age five, Reznor's parents divorced and he wound up
being raised mostly by his maternal grandparents; even so, Reznor
stated repeatedly that his childhood was mostly happy. He began
playing the piano at age five, studying classical music, and later
learned tenor sax and tuba in the school band; he also acted in
musicals and became an avid Kiss fan. Reznor spent a year studying
music and computers at Allegheny College, but dropped out after
a year to pursue music full-time; he soon packed up and moved
to Cleveland with high school friend Chris Vrenna. Around the
same time, he was discovering new wave and assorted underground
music; he was most fascinated with early industrial, since it
offered an edgy, aggressive way to use electronic instruments.
At age 19, he successfully auditioned to join an AOR band called
the Innocent, which released one album, Livin' in the Streets
(Reznor's picture does appear on the jacket). He quit the Innocent
after just three months and subsequently gigged with local bands;
he also worked in a keyboard store and as a janitor in the local
Right Track recording studio. Eventually, he became a studio engineer,
teaching himself various computer applications and working on
his own material during off hours. In 1987, Reznor appeared in
the Michael J. Fox/Joan Jett film Light of Day, where he played
keyboards with a trio dubbed the Problems during a bar scene.
a band and hit the road with the Lollapalooza circus in 1991,
expanding the NIN fan base with a series of inspired performances
and subsequent release of the explosive Broken EP in 1992. Flirting
with top-of-the-charts popularity, Reznor martialed the troops
to produce 1994's The Downward Spiral, a prog-rock concept album
that was recorded in the Hollywood house where Sharon Tate met
her fate at the hands of the Manson Family. A year later, Further
Down the Spiral, an extended EP of remixed tracks from The Downward
Spiral, was released on Interscope. Their 1997 single, "The
Perfect Drug," was included on the Lost Highway movie soundtrack
and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.
As the millenium draws to a close, 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.
has variously been described as alternative, electronica, heavy
metal, rock, synth pop, or, most commonly, industrial. Regarding
his music being categorized as industrial, Reznor had this to
say in a 1994 Axcess magazine interview:
was originally called industrial music was about 20 years ago
Throbbing Gristle and Test Dept. We have very little to do with
it other than there is noise in my music and there is noise in
theirs. I'm working in the context of a pop song structure whereas
those bands didn't. And because someone didn't come up with a
new name that separates those two somewhat unrelated genres, it
tends to irritate all the old school fans waving their flags of
alternativeness and obscurity. So, I'd say I've borrowed from
certain styles and bands like that." 
cover a range of genres; as a body of work, they cannot be pigeonholed.
"The Perfect Drug" has the flavor of drum and bass,
vocals in "Down in It" seem influenced by early rap
& hip-hop, "Happiness in Slavery" is in the vein
of Skinny Puppy and Ministry, "The Frail" is a melancholy
piano piece, and most of Pretty Hate Machine could be considered
dark synth pop.
album, Pretty Hate Machine (1989), largely consists of studio
versions of demo recordings. This was also NIN's first collaboration
with producer Mark 'Flood' Ellis. It went triple platinum in the
US and produced the singles "Head Like a Hole," "Down
in It" and "Sin". Music videos were made for all
three tracks, but the one for "Sin" was never released
to the public, due to video never being finished. However, since
1997 this video has been available on Halo 12. "Something
I Can Never Have" also appeared on the soundtrack for Natural
Born Killers. Trent Reznor is planning to release a re-mastered
version of Pretty Hate Machine but due to certain mishaps, fans
might have to wait for it a little longer as on August 17 2005,
the ownership rights to Pretty Hate Machine will be put on auction
block by TVT Records, compliments of Prudential Securities Financial
Services. Pretty Hate Machine is part of an overall biddable package
that also includes the rights to the Television's Greatest Hits
compilations and the Mortal Kombat movie soundtracks. In addition,
the highest bidder will be able to collect a percentage on future
sales of Nine Inch Nails' other TVT-related releases, including
Broken, Fixed, The Downward Spiral and Further Down the Spiral.
major release was Broken (1992), an EP of six tracks plus two
bonus tracks. It was originally released in a fold-out format,
containing the first six tracks on a regular CD and an additional
three-inch minidisc with the remaining bonus tracks. It was later
released as one CD, with the bonus songs as "hidden"
tracks 98 and 99. The song "Wish", aided by the video
directed by Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson of Coil, won
a Grammy in the "metal" category. Jon Reiss directed
a music video for "Happiness in Slavery," which was
almost universally banned due to its graphic content. The video
depicts performance artist Bob Flanagan strapping himself to a
machine that subsequently pleasures, tortures and kills him. A
video for "Pinion" aired twice on MTV before being banned
for its objectionable content, although images from it did become
a fixture in the opening title sequence of the MTV show 120 Minutes.
A full length video informally called The Broken Movie was also
made by Sleazy, but has not seen an official release. The Broken
movie, as of 2005, can only be found on bootleg. Broken was followed
by the remix EP Fixed.
full album and third major release was The Downward Spiral (1994).
This was NIN's second collaboration with Mark Ellis (Flood). It
went quadruple platinum and is often considered by critics to
be NIN's best work. There were two singles released, "March
of the Pigs", "Closer", "Hurt" was sent
to radio only, but never released as a single, and "Piggy"
was also only sent to radio. Music videos were made for the singles
"March of the Pigs", "Closer", and official
live videos for Eraser (which was never aired) and "Hurt",
with the edited MTV version of "Closer" becoming very
successful. The video for "Closer," in many ways, set
a standard for Nine Inch Nails videos with its eerie images of
pigs' heads and S&M paraphenalia. The album's final track,
"Hurt", would enjoy success once again when it was covered,
with slight alterations to the lyrics, by Johnny Cash in 2003.
The Downward Spiral was followed by the remix EP Further Down
the Spiral. A remastered version of the album was released on
November 23, 2004, with an accompanying CD of b-sides and rarities.
The Remaster was also released as a two-sided DualDisc Format
The SACD edition of the remastered album featured multichannel
and stereo SACD versions of the album as well as a remastered
standard CD layer, disc 2 featured stereo SACD and standard CD
layers. The DualDisc contains a remastered CD-Audio on one side
and features a DVD-Audio format side containing High Resolution
Stereo and 5.1 Surround mixes of the entire album with expanded
album art, a discography and Music Videos [Closer(in Stereo &
5.1 audio), March of the Pigs, and Hurt (Live).
major release was the two-disc album The Fragile (1999). It produced
three singles, one released in the US ("The Day the World
Went Away"), one in the UK ("We're In This Together")
relese was the two-disc album The Fragile (1999). It produced
three singles, one released in the US ("The Day the World
Went Away"), one in the UK ("We're In This Together")
released as a 3 part single, and one in Japan and Australia ("Into
The Void"). Music videos for "We're In This Together",
"Into the Void", and "Starfuckers Inc." (retitled
as "Starsuckers, Inc.") were aired in the US. "Starfuckers,
Inc." was a vicious mockery of Reznor's former friend, Marilyn
Manson. Several vocal takes were chopped up and spliced together
as a not-so-subtle jab at Manson's usual inability to sing well
in a single take. The lyrics satirized Manson as being vain and
insincere. The recording ended with a clip from a KISS concert
-- Manson repeatedly professed to be "the KISS of the Nineties."
While NIN was on tour, Reznor would snidely introduce the song
as being "about a friend of mine." During one such performance
in New York, Reznor subtly changed the lyrics of one part of the
song ("How did you think we'd get by without you?" became
"How did we ever get by without you?"), then put the
song on hold halfway through as he was joined on stage by a surprise
guest -- Manson himself. The two duetted the rest of the song,
with Manson putting his arm around Reznor at one point, then they
finished the show with Manson's hit "The Beautiful People."
This marked the end of their feud, and Manson then appeared in
the "Starsuckers, Inc." video. In interviews prior to
the album's completion, Reznor said he was considering organizing
the tracks such that one disc would have all instrumentals and
the other would have lyrics. These plans changed when Bob Ezrin
(producer of Pink Floyd's The Wall, a two-disc album often seen
as a predecessor of The Fragile) suggested an arrangement of tracks
that would strengthen the "four corners of the album,"
namely the beginnings and ends of each of the two discs. Ezrin
is credited in the liner notes as having "provided final
continuity and flow."
major release, With Teeth (2005), was written and recorded following
Reznor's painful battle with alcohol addiction and substance abuse.
The music video for the first single, "The Hand That Feeds"
premiered on the official NIN website rather than on the traditional
music video channel. The album was leaked before its official
release. It was officially released on May 3, 2005 in a DualDisc
format as well as CD-Audio. Though the new album lacks any liner
notes, nin.com/with_teeth features access to download a digital
PDF Poster full of lush artwork and stylized liner notes and lyrics.
The single was also released in a format for Garageband so that
it could be remixied by anyone with the program. The band also
allowed the entire album to be listened to in streaming audio
at Myspace beginning April 27, 2005. Myspace NIN album streaming
Nails dropped out of the 2005 MTV Movie Awards show because of
a disagreement with MTV over the use of an image of George W.
Bush as a backdrop to the band's performance of "The Hand
That Feeds", which includes such lyrics as: What if this
whole crusade's a charade / And behind it all there's a price
to be paid / For the blood on which we dine / Justified in the
name of the holy and the divine
"Apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to
MTV as it is to me," Trent Reznor said. They were replaced
on the show by Foo Fighters. In fall 2005, the group will go on
tour in North America supported by Queens of the Stone Age, as
well as Autolux the first half of the tour followed by Death from
Above 1979 the second half. The second single for this album,
set to be released in mid-July, is Only. A video for Only was
completed around May. It was created using primarily computer-generated
imagery, and directed by David Fincher. It debuted on July 11th
on FuseTV and can been seen on the band's official website. The
Fragile was followed by the remix album Things Falling Apart.
The Fragility Tour was recorded and released on CD and DVD as
And All That Could Have Been. There was also a companion disc
called Still, featuring remakes of songs from across NIN's career
along with some new recordings. Three videos for Still were released
on NIN's official website.
interviewed Reznor after the release of The Downward Spiral in
1994. They asked him how he came up with the name Nine Inch Nails
and this was his reply: "I don't know if you've ever tried
to think of band names, but usually you think you have a great
one and you look at it the next day and it's stupid. I had about
200 of those. Nine Inch Nails lasted the two week test, looked
great in print, and could be abbreviated easily. It really doesn't
have any literal meaning. It seemed kind of frightening. [In his
best he-man voice] Tough and manly! It's a curse trying to come
up with band names." The Nine Inch Nails logo (which consists
of the letters "NIN" with the the second "N"
reversed, which looks similar to "NI?") was designed
so that Trent Reznor could have a design that in his own words
"looked cool on my leather jacket." According to Reznor,
the logo was inspired by the typography of the album cover for
Talking Heads' album Remain In Light.