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Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails were the most popular industrial group ever and were largely responsible for bringing the music to a mass audience. It isn't really accurate to call NIN a group; the only official member is singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor, who always remained solely responsible for NIN's musical direction (he was, however, supported in concert by a regular backing band). Unlike the vast majority of industrial artists, Reznor wrote melodic, traditionally structured songs where lyrics were a focal point. His pop instincts not only made the harsh electronic beats of industrial music easier to digest, but also put a human face on a style that usually tried to sound as mechanical as possible. While Ministry crossed over to heavy metal audiences, NIN built up a large alternative rock fan base right around the time of Nirvana's mainstream breakthrough. As a result, Reznor became a genuine star and his notoriously dark, brooding persona and provocateur instincts made him a Jim Morrison-esque sex symbol for the '90s. A long period of inactivity and writer's block followed, which gave virtually every alternative metal band of the late '90s a chance to rip off elements of NIN's sound. By the time Reznor's five-year hiatus finally ended, he was still a popular figure but his commercial momentum had slowed somewhat.

Michael Trent Reznor was born May 17, 1965, in the small town of Mercer, Pennsylvania; 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.

As Nine Inch Nails, Reznor began recording his own Ministry- and Skinny Puppy-influenced compositions in 1988, playing all the instruments himself. At first, he simply hoped to release a 12" single on a small European label, but when he sent demo tapes to about ten American labels, nearly every one offered him a deal. He wound up signing with TVT, which released NIN's debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, in 1989 (after having rejected an initial effort called Industrial Nation). Reznor quickly assembled a backing band and toured with Skinny Puppy for a short time, but soon tired of playing for strictly industrial artists. With a tighter outfit featuring Chris Vrenna on drums and Richard Patrick on guitar (plus several revolving-door keyboardists), he consciously chose to open for alt-rock acts (including, early on, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Peter Murphy), partly for the challenge of winning over fans who might not have liked industrial music. The strategy helped expand Nine Inch Nails' fan base substantially; the single "Down in It" got some airplay in dance clubs, reaching Billboard's dance and modern rock charts, and MTV later picked up on the video for the more rock-oriented "Head Like a Hole." In 1991, after settling on keyboardist James Woolley, Nine Inch Nails became part of the inaugural Lollapalooza tour, which expanded their fan base by leaps and bounds. Pretty Hate Machine's momentum kept building slowly, and although it never climbed higher than number 75, it spent over two years on the album charts and eventually sold over a million copies -- one of the first indie-label rock albums to do so.

TVT had a massive hit on their hands, and to ensure that Reznor would produce another one, they attempted to take control of the follow-up's creative direction. Enraged by the outside meddling, Reznor tried to secure a release from his contract, leading to a vicious court battle. His only recording outlets were side projects; in 1990, he co-wrote and sang on "Suck," a track on Pigface's debut album, Gub, and also sang on the Al Jourgensen-led 1000 Homo DJs cover of Black Sabbath's "Supernaut." (TVT ordered Reznor's vocals removed from the track, but Jourgensen actually just altered them slightly and said he'd re-recorded it.) Eventually, he was able to sign with Interscope, which helped him set up his own label, the Cleveland-based Nothing imprint. Reznor had been recording new material on the sly, and in 1992, Nothing released the EP Broken as well as a concurrent remix disc titled Fixed. Broken featured more (and heavier) guitars than Pretty Hate Machine, partly in response to NIN's live sound and partly as a sonic evocation of Reznor's boiling frustration in the wake of the legal wars; it also featured two bonus cuts, a version of "Suck" and the Adam Ant cover "(You're So) Physical," a nod to Reznor's new wave roots. Despite many reviews characterizing the EP as a harrowing, difficult listen, Broken -- supported by NIN's by then considerable fan base -- debuted in the Top Ten and the first single/video, "Wish," won a Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Performance. Reznor enhanced his reputation as a provocateur with a widely banned clip for "Happiness in Slavery," which depicted S&M performance artist Bob Flanagan being torn apart by a machine; there was also a long-form clip for Broken that was never released commercially due to its graphic content (a torture victim is dismembered while viewing NIN videos).

Reznor moved to Los Angeles to craft the second full-length NIN album, assembling a studio in the house where actress Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson's associates. The Downward Spiral was a highly ambitious work, a concept album indebted to progressive rock that featured the most detailed, layered studiocraft of any NIN release yet. Hugely anticipated, the album debuted at number two and became one of the bleakest multi-platinum albums ever. Richard Patrick had departed the touring band to form Filter, and Reznor revamped the group with drummer Vrenna, keyboardist Woolley, guitarist Robin Finck, and bassist Danny Lohner. NIN caused a sensation at that summer's 25th anniversary Woodstock concert, performing a ferocious set after horsing around and covering themselves in mud just before hitting the stage. Meanwhile, MTV had put an edited version of the video for "Closer" in heavy rotation and NIN scored one of the year's unlikeliest hits: a song whose chorus began "I want to f*ck you like an animal," which helped make Reznor one of alternative rock's biggest sex symbols. The subdued ballad "Hurt" gained some further airplay, even though it lacked the titillating shock value of "Closer." Later in the year, Reznor assembled the soundtrack of Oliver Stone's controversial Natural Born Killers, editing the songs together to create an innovative collage; he also guested on "Past the Mission," a track on Tori Amos' second album, Under the Pink. In 1995, with new keyboardist Charlie Clouser, Nine Inch Nails hit the road with David Bowie, whose late-'70s albums (along with Pink Floyd) had been a major influence on The Downward Spiral. He also contributed a cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" to the soundtrack of The Crow and issued the remix album Further Down the Spiral, which nearly reached the Top 20 (a testament to his popularity).

Using money from The Downward Spiral, Reznor built a state-of-the-art studio in New Orleans in a building that had once been a funeral home. While pondering his next move in the wake of his sudden stardom, he produced Nothing signee Marilyn Manson's second album, Antichrist Superstar, which did indeed make him a superstar. In 1997, longtime friend Vrenna had a falling out with Reznor and was eventually replaced by Jerome Dillon; Reznor's maternal grandmother also passed away that year and his friendship with Manson soon deteriorated. Even so, he produced another movie soundtrack, for David Lynch's Lost Highway, and contributed the new single "The Perfect Drug," which flitted unpredictably between several different rhythm tracks. Though "The Perfect Drug" kept him in the public eye for a time, Reznor was still unsure what kind of statement would be an appropriate follow-up to The Downward Spiral; that uncertainty resulted in a severe case of writer's block. In the meantime, NIN were proving vastly influential on a new crop of bands; major labels signed up industrial metal outfits like Filter and Stabbing Westward, and an assortment of alternative metal bands started grafting industrial production flourishes onto their music; Guns N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose even fired the rest of his band and holed up in a studio to pursue a more NIN-influenced direction.

Nine Inch Nails finally returned in 1999 with the double-disc opus The Fragile. It debuted at number one with massive first-week sales, but slipped down the charts rather quickly afterward, perhaps because the musical climate had changed a great deal over the previous five years. The remix album Things Falling Apart followed a year later, as did an extensive world tour. An album of live performances culled from the tour, And All That Could Have Been, was released in early 2002.

Reznor was largely quiet during the next three years, finally re-emerging in 2005 with another chart-topper, With Teeth. Touring continued into 2006, where NIN spent the spring and summer on the road with various support acts including Saul Williams, Bauhaus, TV on the Radio, and Peaches. The EP Every Day Is Exactly the Same appeared in April 2006; it contained the title track and five various remixes (all originally from With Teeth). Touring America followed, and then late in the year Reznor was back in the studio working on the next album. In early 2007 the band resumed touring, this time in Europe. A viral marketing campaign began when USB key chains that contained new songs were found in the restrooms during NIN shows. These key chains also contained a noisy audio file that, when run through a spectrum analyzer, drew an audio wave in the shape of a phone number. The phone numbers were answering machines filled with conspiracy theories, there were fake websites strewn across the net, and busy Internet forums and Wikis appeared to theorize about and document it all. The big payoff appeared in April when the dystopian concept album Year Zero arrived.

A year later, Reznor began experimenting with different methods of distribution when he made the Saul Williams album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust available as a digital download. Reznor had helped produce the album and had planned to release it on his Nothing imprint, but as his distaste for the major-label system increased, so did the possibilities of digital distribution. He completely broke free from the system when he left Interscope and released the entirely instrumental album Ghosts I-IV on his own in 2008, making it available as both a digital download and a CD. The album's release also marked the end of his Interscope-distributed Nothing label and the beginning of a new imprint, Null Corporation. Two months later, Reznor released (as NIN) The Slip on Null. On Ghosts I-IV and The Slip, Reznor collaborated with producer, composer, arranger, and engineer Atticus Ross. The two worked so well together they accepted an invitation from director David Fincher to write an original score for his film The Social Network. The soundtrack was released in 2010, and the pair won an Oscar for their score. That same year, they would form the group How to Destroy Angels and release a self-titled EP with Reznor's wife, Mariqueen Maandig, as vocalist.

Again teaming with Fincher, Reznor and Ross wrote an original score for the American cinematic version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; the 39-track album was released at the end of 2011. Another How to Destroy Angels release, An Omen EP, would follow in 2012, while 2013 saw the announcement of a new Nine Inch Nails band and a tour with Eric Avery (Jane's Addiction), Adrian Belew (King Crimson and David Bowie's band), Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), Alessandro Cortini, and Ilan Rubin rounding out the lineup. Not long afterward, Reznor announced that a new NIN album was on the way: Hesitation Marks arrived in September of 2013. The following year, Reznor reunited with Ross for the score to Fincher's film adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel Gone Girl. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Everything (Single)

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Track List: Survivalism (Radio Single)

Comments

Straight genius
The real deal of the truth
Hesitation marks is a GREAT album, pick it up now!!
Just Like You Imagined! Love this song! So glad Pandora played it for me!
wolf20012
K
danv187
Don't read this because it actually works.You will be kissed on the nearest possible Friday by the love of your . Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this 2 days , now you've started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in 143 minutes. When your done press f6 and your lovers name will come on the screen in big letters. This is so scary it actually works
Trent Reznor is a musical genius and multi-instru m e n t a l i s t to boot. He also has an artistic mind that has persuaded a generation to embrace darker, and perhaps more intrinsic thinking. May Reznor forever remain embedded in the collective memories of the people who know him, and the people who have embraced his art.
Trent Reznor Marilyn Manson f****** do it for me slam some good speed look deep inside yourself put on a good pair of black boots kick the s*** out of something dancing to the bottoms of your feet flap never ever had such a good time the total alt version of me is really me is it really me how could I be like that I'm just like that
What is Nine Inch Nails doing on my goth station???
So true... Nothing quite like the feel of something new. Maybe I'm all messed up inside of you.... This is the only time I really feel alive!
skyhawk72342
Just a reflection, just a glimpse, just a little reminder, of all the what abouts, and all the might of could have beens...
Trent Reznor is a brilliant genius.
Check out Marilyn Manson's book, he and Trent Reznor did some pretty freaky things together.
skyhawk72342
@chemoses10. And The Crow, Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo....fo r starters!!!
Why do you think Oscar-winnin g film director Oliver Stone hired Trent Reznor to produce the music track for Natural Born killers' . His music is
gut-wrenchin g sexy!
spicewooddoe s
good beat
I love NIN! Their 2000-present albums are good, but their mid 1980-1900 album are the best piece of music ever! Trent is the most awesome person in the world because of how he's so creative and he gets everything right, even if it's not perfect!
If it wasnt for Trent Reznor & NIN sex would be boring, love would be uncomplicate d & I wouldn't enjoy life nearly as much. Without NIN life would be dreadful indeed. Thank you Trent for making me the happiest girl in town.
love NIN!!! first song i heard from thrm was Hurt!
pretty hate machine one of the best albums come on its a fact
watch the movie WANTED or play the game WANTED WEAPONS OF FATE NIN day zErO is in it
no shigglemcgig g i n s your just jelly NIN is better been around since 1999 they were my first band i ever listened too i dont critic.. bands i like. im only 14 follow me
If you like NIN, then you're gonna freak out over my band called A**hole of the Angels. NIN ripped us off big time!
haohmaruofth e w i n d 6 9 jesus christ f**king stop spamming so many goddamn pages
They hung Jesus with nine inch nails
hell if you don't like NIN don't listen to it my damn point. FCK all you HATING MzFKRS
NIИ
NIN if you don't know who they are and who Trent. Is and who he has made!! U should just go away!! Now!!
Hell FCKN yes!!
Hesitation marks is AMAZING!
I just yokd this mfkr. Out ov my bed I'm glad I did not strike him!! Great song!!
Damn where went the tears? They have dried!! Great song!! I will make it go away!! I have and will!!
Yes. It will be a flote!
I'm still hurt! And I do remember every thing!! Great song! Why does every 1 go away!!? I know why!!
I'm bout to get out ta this hell ! My own personal. Great song!
I'm not close to god! But may he help me!! We are bout to wittiness a strength we as a country !! Marke my words kids who don't know what is going on!!!
I'm a FKN drunk and a dope addict!! Don't listen to me if you can't relate. to what I am n stand for!! No its wrong.!!I know that!!! Love. NIN.
i would really like to hear BURN....kill e r track
The Fragile is my favorite.
I just barely missed a cosert
Look to those little boys n girls out there. if you cannot respect Trent. You need to get off your damn video game and look up who he has made!..I've been a NIN fan probly longer than you kids have been off the bottle!!!
You and me!!!!
saw them on the downward spiral tour 95' killer show
FUKEN FUKEN FUKEN FUKEN FUKEN
Wow I sounded like a fuqn idiot
Trent composed the main theme for black ops 2 !!!!
Quite possibly the best psycho rock song to listen to while shooting the crap out covenant in Halo
Pretty hate machine is by far his best album...come on.
tnt987123
I've been going to NIN shows since I was 14 am 33 now there still the s**t
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