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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 studio craft 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 line-up. Not long afterward, Reznor announced that a new NIN album was on the way: Hesitation Marks arrived in September of 2013.
Nine Inch Nails (abbreviated and stylized as NIИ) is an American industrial rock band, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction. Nine Inch Nails' music straddles a wide range of genres. After recording a new album, Reznor usually assembles a live band to perform with him. The touring band features a revolving lineup that often rearranges songs to fit a live setting. On stage, Nine Inch Nails often employs visual elements to accompany performances, which frequently include light shows.
Underground music audiences warmly received Nine Inch Nails in its early years. Reznor produced several highly influential records in the 1990s that achieved widespread popularity: many Nine Inch Nails songs became radio hits; two Nine Inch Nails recordings have won Grammy Awards; and their entire catalog has reached record sales exceeding over 20 million albums worldwide, with 10 million sales certified in the United States alone. In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time magazine's list of the year's most influential people, and Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music." In 2004, Rolling Stone placed Nine Inch Nails at 94 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Despite this acclaim, the band has had several feuds with the corporate side of the recording industry. In 2007, these corporate entanglements resulted in Reznor announcing that Nine Inch Nails would split from its label and release future material independently.
Since 1989, Nine Inch Nails has made nine major studio releases. After a hiatus, which took place from 2009 to 2013, Nine Inch Nails released Hesitation Marks, through Columbia Records. Prior to this, Ghosts I–IV and The Slip were both independently released in digital form, with physical releases coming later. The digital release of the latter was made available completely free of charge, and the former, while also available for sale, can be acquired legally through means such as file-sharing due to its Creative Commons license. Nine Inch Nails has been nominated for thirteen Grammy Awards and won twice for the songs "Wish" and "Happiness in Slavery", in 1992 and 1996 respectively. In 2014, Nine Inch Nails were named as nominees for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, their first year of eligibility.Huey, Steve. "Nine Inch Nails". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 2006-11-24. Reimink, Troy (2007-03-05). "Changes in songs, lineup keep Nails sharp". Grand Rapids Press. Booth Newspapers. p. D1. "Nine inch Nails > Charts & Awards". Allmusic. Macrovision. Retrieved 2009-08-15. Cite error: The named reference Yahoo.21Court was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference RIAAbestsellers was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Time's 25 most influential Americans". Time (Time Inc. (Time Warner)) 149 (16): 66. 1997-04-21. Retrieved 2008-04-15. Cite error: The named reference Bowie was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference BBFreeAgent was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Nine Inch Nails Premieres ‘Came Back Haunted’ From New Album ‘Hesitation Marks’ « The World Famous KROQ". Kroq.cbslocal.com. 2013-06-05. Retrieved 2013-09-02. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/green-day-nine-inch-nails-smiths-nominated-for-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-20141009
ContentsHistory1.1 Formation (1988–1989)1.2 Pretty Hate Machine (1989–1991)1.3 Broken (1992–1993)1.4 The Downward Spiral (1994–1997)1.5 The Fragile (1999–2002)1.6 With Teeth (2005–2006)1.7 Year Zero (2007)1.8 Ghosts I–IV and The Slip (2008)1.9 Wave Goodbye Tour and hiatus (2009–2012)1.10 Return to touring and Hesitation Marks (2012–present)
In 1987, Trent Reznor played keyboard with a Cleveland band called the Exotic Birds, then managed by John Malm, Jr. Reznor and Malm became friends, and when Reznor left the Exotic Birds to work on music of his own, Malm informally became his manager. At the time, Reznor was employed as an assistant engineer and janitor at Right Track Studios, in Cleveland; he asked studio owner Bart Koster for permission to record some demos of his own material for free during unused studio time. Koster agreed and allowed Reznor to use it whenever it was empty, commenting that it cost him "just a little wear on [his] tape heads". While completing the early recordings, Reznor was unable to find a band that could articulate the material as he desired. Instead, inspired by Prince, Reznor played all the instruments except drums himself. This role remains Reznor's on most of the band's studio recordings, though he has occasionally involved other musicians and assistants. In 1988, after playing its first shows supporting Skinny Puppy, Reznor's ambitions for Nine Inch Nails were to release one 12-inch single on a small European label. Several labels responded favorably to the demo material and Reznor signed with TVT Records. Nine selections from the Right Track demos recorded live in November 1988, collectively known as Purest Feeling, were later released in revised form on the band's first full-length studio release, Pretty Hate Machine (1989). The overall sound on Purest Feeling is lighter than that of Pretty Hate Machine; several songs feature more live drumming and guitar work throughout, as well as a heavier use of samples from films.
Reznor coined the name "Nine Inch Nails" because it "abbreviated easily", rather than for "any literal meaning". Other rumored explanations have circulated, alleging that Reznor chose to reference Jesus' crucifixion with nine-inch spikes, or Freddy Krueger's nine-inch fingernails. The English letters NIN are also noted for their resemblance to the modern Hebrew characters of the Tetragrammaton. There is also an old English music hall song with the refrain, "I don't not know no one who don't want no nine inch nails." The Nine Inch Nails' logo, which consists of the letters [NIИ] set inside a border, was designed by Reznor and Gary Talpas. The logo first appeared on the music video for Nine Inch Nails' debut single, "Down in It", and was inspired by Tibor Kalman's typography on the Talking Heads album Remain in Light. Talpas, a native of Cleveland, would continue to design Nine Inch Nails packaging art until 1997.
Pretty Hate Machine (1989–1991)
Written, arranged, and performed by Reznor, Nine Inch Nails' first album Pretty Hate Machine debuted in 1989. It marked his first collaboration with Adrian Sherwood (who produced the lead single "Down in It" in London, England without meeting Reznor face-to-face) and Mark "Flood" Ellis. Reznor asked Sean Beavan to mix the demos of Pretty Hate Machine, which had received multiple offers for record deals. He mixed sound during Nine Inch Nails' live concerts for several years, eventually becoming an unofficial member of the live band and singing live backup vocals from his place at the mixing console. Flood's production would appear on each major Nine Inch Nails release until 1994, and Sherwood has made remixes for the band as recently as 2000. Reznor and his co-producers expanded upon the Right Track Studio demos by adding singles "Head Like a Hole" and "Sin". Rolling Stone's Michael Azerrad described the album as "industrial-strength noise over a pop framework" and "harrowing but catchy music"; Reznor proclaimed this combination "a sincere statement" of "what was in [his] head at the time". In fact the song "Down in it" spent over two months on Billboard's club-play dance chart. After spending 113 weeks on the Billboard 200, Pretty Hate Machine became one of the first independently released records to attain platinum certification.
Three music videos were created in promotion of the album. MTV aired the videos for "Down in It" and "Head Like a Hole", but an explicit video for "Sin" was only released in partial form for Closure. The original version of the "Down in It" video ended with the implication that Reznor's character had fallen off a building and died in the street. This footage attracted the attention of the FBI. As Reznor explains in an interview with Convulsion Magazine:
"There was a scene w[h]ere I was lying on the ground, appearing to be dead, in a Lodger-esque pose and we had a camera with a big weather balloon filled with helium hooked up to it... the first one we did, we started the film, I was laying on the ground and the ropes that were holding the balloon snapped, the camera just took off into the atmosphere... the camera landed two hundred miles away in a farmer's field somewhere. He finds it and takes it to the police, thinking that it's a surveillance camera for marijuana, they develop the film and think that it's some sort of snuff film of a murder, give it to the FBI and have pathologists looking at the body saying, 'yeah, he's rotting,' (I had corn starch on me, right) 'he's been decomposing for 3 weeks.' You could see the other members of the band walking away and they had these weird outfits on, and they thought it was some kind of gang slaying."
In 1989, while doing promotion for the album, the band were asked what shows they would like to appear on. The band jokingly replied (possibly while intoxicated) that they would like to appear on Dance Party USA, since it was the most absurd option they could think of at the time. Much to their surprise, they were booked on the show, and made an appearance.
In 1990, Nine Inch Nails began the Pretty Hate Machine Tour Series, in which they toured North America as an opening act for alternative rock artists such as Peter Murphy and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Reznor began smashing his equipment while on stage; Rockbeat interviewer Mike Gitter attributed the live band's early success in front of rock oriented audiences to this aggressive attitude. Nine Inch Nails then embarked on a world tour that continued through the first Lollapalooza festival in 1991.
After a poor European reception opening for Guns N' Roses, the band returned to America amid pressure from TVT to produce a follow-up to Pretty Hate Machine. After finding out they were hindering control of his project, Reznor criticized the labeling of Nine Inch Nails as a synthpop band and demanded his label terminate his contract, but they ignored his plea. In response, Reznor secretly began recording under various pseudonyms to avoid record company interference. Involved in a feud with TVT, He signed a record deal with Interscope Records and created Nothing Records:
"We made it very clear we were not doing another record for TVT. But they made it pretty clear they weren't ready to sell. So I felt like, well, I've finally got this thing going but it's dead. Flood and I had to record Broken under a different band name, because if TVT found out we were recording, they could confiscate all our shit and release it. Jimmy Iovine got involved with Interscope, and we kind of got slave-traded. It wasn't my doing. I didn't know anything about Interscope. And I was real pissed off at him at first because it was going from one bad situation to potentially another one. But Interscope went into it like they really wanted to know what I wanted. It was good, after I put my raving lunatic act on."
In 1992, Nine Inch Nails relocated to 10050 Cielo Drive, Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles (renamed "Le Pig" by Reznor), the site of the Tate murders, when Charles Manson's "family" murdered Sharon Tate, wife of noted film director Roman Polanski, and four of her friends. It was used for the band to record Broken, an extended play (EP) that was the first release distributed by Nothing Records, and reached the top 10 on the Billboard 200. In the liner notes, Reznor credited the 1991 Nine Inch Nails touring band as an influence on the EP's sound. He characterized Broken as a guitar-based "blast of destruction", and as "a lot harder [...] than Pretty Hate Machine". The inspiration for the harder sound came from the way the live band played during concerts such as Lollapalooza Songs from Broken earned Nine Inch Nails two Grammy Awards: a performance of the EP's first single "Happiness in Slavery" from Woodstock '94, and the second single "Wish". In reference to receiving the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for "Wish", Reznor joked his epitaph should read: "REZNOR: Died. Said 'fist fuck', won a Grammy." Against touring of the brand new material, began living and recording full-time at Le Pig, working on a follow-up free of restrictions from his record label.
Peter Christopherson of the bands Coil and Throbbing Gristle directed a performance video for "Wish", but the EP's most controversial video accompanied "Happiness in Slavery". The video was almost universally banned for its graphic depiction of performance artist Bob Flanagan disrobed and lying on a machine that pleasures, tortures, then kills him. A third video for "Pinion", partially incorporated into MTV's Alternative Nation opening sequence, showed a toilet that apparently flushes into the mouth of a person in bondage. Reznor and Christopherson compiled the three clips along with footage for "Help Me I Am in Hell" and "Gave Up" into a longform music video titled Broken. It depicts the murder of a young man who is kidnapped and tortured while forced to watch the videos. This footage was never officially released, but instead appeared covertly among tape trading circles. A separate performance video for "Gave Up" featuring Richard Patrick and Marilyn Manson was filmed at Le Pig. A live recording of "Wish" was also filmed, and both videos appeared in Closure.
Broken was followed by its companion remix EP Fixed in late 1992. The only track that was left off the final version of the release is Butch Vig's remix of "Last" (the outro of the "Last" remix is heard in "Throw This Away", which also includes Vig's remix of "Suck"). The unedited version appeared on the internet as an 8-bit mono 11 kHz file, "NIN_LAST.AIFF", available by FTP from cyberden.com in 1993; it has been removed from the website, but can still be found on p2p networks (Reznor subsequently made it available in higher quality (256kbit/s mp3) at remix.nin.com). Vig later spoke about his remix while answering questions on a music production forum, saying "I started recording a lot of new parts, and took it in a much different direction. When it was finished, Trent thought the front part of the mix didn't fit the EP, so he just used the ending. I'm glad it's on his website. Duke and Steve worked with me on the remix, in the very early days of Garbage."
The Downward Spiral (1994–1997)
Early ideas for The Downward Spiral were conceived after the Lollapalooza 1991 festival concerts ended in September of that year. He developed a concept about the album's themes and later used it as lyrics. Reznor searched for and moved to 10050 Cielo Drive, renting it for $11,000 per month on July 4, 1992, marking the beginning of the making of both Broken and The Downward Spiral. This was against his initial choice to record the album in New Orleans.
Nine Inch Nails' second studio album, The Downward Spiral, entered the Billboard 200 at number two, and remains the highest-selling Nine Inch Nails release in the United States for shipments of over four million copies, in addition to selling five million copies worldwide. Influenced by late-1970s rock albums The Wall by Pink Floyd and Low by David Bowie, The Downward Spiral features a wide range of textures and moods to illustrate the mental progress of a central character. Flood co-produced several tracks on the album, which became his last collaboration with Nine Inch Nails. Alan Moulder mixed most of The Downward Spiral and subsequently took on more extensive production duties for future album releases. Reznor invited Beavan to work on The Downward Spiral. After contributing to remixes of Nine Inch Nails songs, such as "Closer", Beavan mixed and co-produced Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar in 1996. It was recorded at Le Pig Studios, previously used for the recording process of Broken. "March of the Pigs" and "Closer" were released as singles. Two other songs from the album, "Hurt" and "Piggy", were issued to radio without a commercial single release.
The music video for "Closer" was directed by Mark Romanek and received frequent rotation on MTV, though the network heavily censored the original version, which they perceived to be too graphic. The video shows events in a laboratory dealing with religion, sexuality, animal cruelty, politics, and terror; controversial imagery included a nude bald woman with a crucifix mask, a monkey tied to a cross, a pig's head spinning on some type of machine, a diagram of a vulva, Reznor wearing an S&M mask while swinging in shackles, and of him wearing a ball gag. A radio edit that partially mutes the song's explicit lyrics also received extensive airtime.
Critical response to The Downward Spiral has generally been favorable, and retrospective reviews regard it as one of the most important albums of the 1990s. It has featured in several publications' best album lists: in 2005 the album was ranked 25th in Spin's list of the "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005", and in 2003 Rolling Stone ranked the album number 200 on their "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. Blender named it the 80th Greatest American Album. It was ranked No. 488 in the book The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time by Martin Popoff. In 2001 named The Downward Spiral as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time; in 2010 the album was ranked No. 102 on their 250 Best Albums of Q's Lifetime (1986-2011) list. After The Downward Spiral's release, Reznor produced an accompanying remix album entitled Further Down the Spiral, the only non-major Nine Inch Nails release to be certified gold in the United States, and is among the best-selling remix albums of all time. It featured contributions from Coil with Danny Hyde, electronic musician Aphex Twin, producer Rick Rubin, and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, among others.
After the 1994 release of The Downward Spiral, the live band embarked on the Self Destruct Tour in support of the album. The stage set-up contained dirty curtains which would pulled down and up for visuals shown during songs such as "Hurt". The tour debuted the band's grungy and messy image in which they would come out in ragged clothes slathered in corn starch. The concerts were violent and chaotic, with band members often injuring themselves, and they would frequently destroy their instruments at the end of concerts, attack each other, and stage-dive into the crowd. The tour reached its widest mainstream audience with a mud-drenched performance at Woodstock '94 that was broadcast on Pay-Per-View and seen in as many as 24 million homes. Nine Inch Nails received considerable mainstream success thereafter, performing with significantly higher production values and adding theatrical visual elements to the live show. Supporting acts for the tour included The Jim Rose Circus and Marilyn Manson. Released in 1997, the Closure video documented highlights from the tour, including full live videos of "Eraser", "Hurt" and a one-take "March of the Pigs" clip made for MTV. Around this time, Reznor's studio perfectionism, struggles with addiction, and bouts of writer's block prolonged the production of The Fragile.
Reznor produced the soundtrack to the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers using a portable Pro Tools in his hotel room. The compilation featured, "Burn", a song written exclusively for the film. Throughout early 1996 Reznor collaborated with id Software to help create the music and sound effects to the first-person shooter video game Quake. In homage to him, the entire Quake series features the Nine Inch Nails band logo on ammo crates that supply ammunition for the in-game nail gun weapon. In 1997, Reznor produced the soundtrack to the David Lynch film Lost Highway. The release spawned the single "The Perfect Drug", the music video for which was also directed by Mark Romanek. A tenth anniversary deluxe reissue of The Downward Spiral was released on November 23, 2004.
The Fragile (1999–2002)
Five years elapsed between The Downward Spiral and Nine Inch Nails' next studio album, The Fragile, which arrived as a double album in September 1999. The Fragile was conceived by making "songwriting and arranging and production and sound design [...] the same thing. A song would start with a drum loop or a visual and eventually a song would emerge out of it and that was the song." Canadian rock producer Bob Ezrin was consulted on the album's track listing; the liner notes state that he "provided final continuity and flow."
On the heels of the band's previous successes, media anticipation surrounded The Fragile more than a year before its release, when it was already described as "oft-delayed". The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 228,000 copies in its first week and receiving generally positive reviews. Spin hailed The Fragile as the "album of the year," whereas Pitchfork Media panned its "melodramatic" lyrics. Nine Inch Nails released three commercial singles from the album in different territories: "The Day the World Went Away" in North America; "We're in This Together" in the EU and Japan (on three separate discs); and "Into the Void" in Australia. Several songs from the album became regular features on alternative rock radio stations, however the album dropped to number 16 and slipped out of the Billboard Top 10 only a week after its release, resulting in the band setting a record for the biggest drop from number one, which has since been broken. Reznor funded the subsequent North American tour out of his own pocket.
Before the album's release, the song "Starfuckers, Inc." provoked media speculation about whom Reznor had intended its acerbic lyrics to satirize. Cinesexuality critic Patricia MacCormack interprets the song as a "scathing attack on the alternative music scene," particularly Reznor's former friend and protégé Marilyn Manson. The two artists put aside their differences when Manson appeared in the song's music video, retitled "Starsuckers, Inc." and performed on stage with Nine Inch Nails at Madison Square Garden in 2000.
Reznor followed The Fragile with another remix album, Things Falling Apart, released in November 2000 to poor reviews, a few months after the 2000 Fragility tour which itself was recorded and released on CD, DVD, and VHS in 2002 as And All That Could Have Been. A deluxe edition of the live CD came with the companion disc Still, featuring stripped-down versions of songs from the Nine Inch Nails catalog along with several new pieces of music.
With Teeth (2005–2006)
A further six years elapsed before Nine Inch Nails' fourth full-length album, With Teeth, was released in 2005, though it was leaked prior to its official release date. The album was written and recorded following Reznor's battle with alcoholism and substance abuse. With Teeth debuted on top of the Billboard 200, Nine Inch Nails' second reign at number one with an album. The album's package lacks typical liner notes; instead it simply lists the names of songs and co-producers, and the URL for an online PDF poster with lyrics and full credits. The entire album was made available in streaming audio on the band's official MySpace page in advance of its release date.
Critical reception of the album was mostly positive: Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield described the album as "vintage Nine Inch Nails". PopMatters condemned the album, claiming Reznor "ran out of ideas."
A music video for the song "The Hand That Feeds" premiered on the Nine Inch Nails official website in March 2005. Reznor released the source files for it in GarageBand format a month later, allowing fans to remix the song. He similarly released files for the album's second single "Only" in a wider range of formats, including Pro Tools and ACID Pro. David Fincher directed a video for "Only" with primarily computer-generated imagery. The planned music video for its third single, "Every Day Is Exactly the Same", was directed by Francis Lawrence but reportedly scrapped in the post-production stage. All three singles topped the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
Nine Inch Nails launched a North American arena tour in Autumn 2005, supported by Queens of the Stone Age, Autolux and Death from Above 1979. Another opening act on the tour, hip-hop artist Saul Williams, performed on stage with Nine Inch Nails at the Voodoo Music Experience festival during a headlining appearance in hurricane-stricken New Orleans, Reznor's former home. The Nine Inch Nails live band completed a tour of North American amphitheaters in the summer of 2006, joined by Bauhaus, TV on the Radio, and Peaches. The Beside You in Time tour documentary was released in February 2007 via three formats: DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The home video release debuted at number one on both the Billboard Top Music Videos and Billboard Comprehensive Music Videos charts in the United States.
Year Zero (2007)
Nine Inch Nails' fifth studio album, Year Zero, was released only two years after With Teeth, a marked change in the slow pace from the release of previous albums. With lyrics written from the perspective of multiple fictitious characters, Year Zero is a concept album criticizing the United States government's current policies and how they will impact the world 15 years in the future. Critical response to the album was generally favorable, with an average rating of 76% on Metacritic.
The story takes place in the United States in 2022, which has been termed "Year 0", by the government, being the year America was reborn. It had suffered several major terrorist attacks, apparently by Islamic fundamentalists, including attacks on Los Angeles and Seattle, and in response, the government seized absolute control on the country. The Government of the United States is now a Christian fundamentalist theocracy, maintaining control of the populace through institutions like the Bureau of Morality and the First Evangelical Church of Plano. The government corporation Cedocore distributes the drug Parepin through water supply, making Americans who drink water apathetic and carefree. There are several underground rebel groups, mainly operating online, most notably Art is Resistance and Solutions Backwards Initiative. In response to the increasing oppression of the government, several corporate, government, and subversive websites were transported back in time to the present by a group of scientists working clandestinely against the authoritarian government. The websites-from-the-future were sent to the year 2007 to warn American people of the impending dystopian future and to prevent it from ever forming in the first place.
An alternate reality game emerged parallel to the Year Zero concept, expanding upon its storyline. Clues hidden on tour merchandise initially led fans to discover a network of fictitious, in-game websites that describe an "Orwellian picture of the United States circa the year 2022". Before Year Zero's release, unreleased songs from the album were found on USB drives hidden at Nine Inch Nails concert venues in Lisbon and Barcelona, as part of the alternate reality game. Fan participation in the alternate reality game caught the attention of media outlets such as USA Today and Billboard, who have cited fan-site The NIN Hotline, forum Echoing the Sound, fan club The Spiral, and NinWiki as sources for new discoveries.
The album's first single, "Survivalism", and other tracks from Year Zero were released as multitrack audio files for fans to remix. A remix album titled Year Zero Remixed was later released, featuring remixes from Year Zero by other artists. The remix album was Nine Inch Nails' final release on a major record label for over five years, as the act had completed its contractual obligation to Interscope Records and did not renew its contract. The remix album was accompanied by an interactive remix site with multitrack downloads and the ability to post remixes, after legal issues delayed its debut.
Reznor planned a film adaption of the album and noted Year Zero as "part of a bigger picture of a number of things I'm working on. Essentially, I wrote the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist." The project moved into the television medium because of high costs for Year Zero as a film, then Reznor found American film producer Lawrence Bender and met with writers. On August 10, 2007, Reznor announced that they would be taking the concept to television networks in an attempt to secure a deal: "We're about to pitch it to the network, so we're a couple of weeks away from meeting all of the main people, and we'll see what happens." Since first announcing his plans for a television series, progress slowed, reportedly due to the 2007–2008 Writer's Guild strike, but it nevertheless continued. The resultant miniseries, also named Year Zero, is currently in development with HBO and BBC Worldwide Productions, with the screenplay and script written by Reznor and Carnivàle writer Daniel Knauf.
Ghosts I–IV and The Slip (2008)
In February 2008, Reznor posted a news update on the Nine Inch Nails website entitled "2 weeks." On March 2, Ghosts I–IV (the first release on The Null Corporation label), a 36-track instrumental album, became available via the band's official website. Ghosts I–IV was made available in a number of different formats and forms, ranging from a free download of the first volume, to a $300 Ultra-Deluxe limited edition package. All 2,500 copies of the $300 package sold out in three days. The album is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike licence. The album was created improvisationally over a 10-week period and contributors included Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder, Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew, and Brian Viglione.
Similar to the announcement that ultimately led to the release of Ghosts I–IV, a post on the band's website in April 2008 read "2 weeks!" On May 5, Nine Inch Nails released The Slip via their website without any advertisement or promotion. The album was made available for download free of charge with a message from Reznor, "this one's on me," protected under the same Creative Commons licence as Ghosts, and has seen individual downloads surpassing 1.4 million. The Slip has since been released on CD as a limited edition set of 250,000.
Since the release of Ghosts I–IV and The Slip, a 25-date tour titled Lights in the Sky, was announced in several North American cities, and was later expanded to include several more North American dates as well as dates in South America. Cortini and Freese returned as members from the previous tour, while Robin Finck rejoined the band and Justin Meldal-Johnsen was added on bass guitar. Freese and Cortini left the live band, but it became a quartet with the addition of Ilan Rubin on drums.
On January 7, 2009, Reznor uploaded unedited HD-quality footage from three shows as a download of over 400 GB via BitTorrent. In an immediate response, a fan organization known as This One Is On Us quickly downloaded the data and had begun to assemble the footage alongside their own video recordings to create a professional 3-part digital film, followed by a physical release created "by fans for fans". This tour documentary became collectively known as Another Version of the Truth and was released throughout late December 2009 to February 2010 via three formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc and BitTorrent. To date, the group and the project has received significant attention from media outlets such as USA Today, Rolling Stone, Techdirt and Pitchfork TV, and holds the support of both Reznor and the fan community with theatrical screenings being held all over the world. Nine Inch Nails art director and webmaster Rob Sheridan noted on the band's official website:
This is yet another example of a devoted fanbase and a policy of openness combining to fill in blanks left by old media barriers. The entire NIN camp is absolutely thrilled that treating our fans with respect and nurturing their creativity has led to such an overwhelming outpour of incredible content, and that we now have such a high quality souvenir from our most ambitious tour ever.
Nine Inch Nails Revenge, an iPhone/iPod touch-exclusive rhythm game developed by Tapulous, was released on March 8, 2009 (five months after the company announced the development of the game). This installment in the Tap Tap video game franchise was themed after Nine Inch Nails, and included tracks from Ghosts I–IV and The Slip.
Wave Goodbye Tour and hiatus (2009–2012)
In February 2009, Reznor posted his thoughts about the future of Nine Inch Nails on his official website, stating that "I've been thinking for some time now it's time to make NIN disappear for a while." Reznor since clarified that he "isn't done creating music under the moniker, but that Nine Inch Nails is done touring for the foreseeable future." Nine Inch Nails' final live performance was September 10, 2009, at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Reznor has since released two tracks under the Nine Inch Nails moniker: the theme song for the film Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, and a cover of U2's "Zoo Station", included in the Achtung Baby tribute album AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered.
In 2009 Reznor married Mariqueen Maandig, and formed a project with Maandig and Atticus Ross dubbed How to Destroy Angels. Their first release, a six-track self-titled EP, was made available for free download in June 2010. Reznor's next collaboration with Ross was co-writing and producing the official score for David Fincher's 2010 film, The Social Network. Reznor and Ross received two awards for the score, a 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture, and a 2010 Oscar for Best Original Score. Reznor and Ross again collaborated with Fincher for the official score the American adaptation of the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, released in December 2011, and then again on Fincher's 2014 film "Gone Girl
In July 2012 it was announced that Trent would compose the theme music for Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Later that year Reznor also worked with Atticus Ross and Alessandro Cortini on a remix of the song "Destroyer" by Telepathe. Trent Reznor also appeared in a documentary called "Sound City" directed by Dave Grohl; in addition to co-writing and performing the song "Mantra" with Dave Grohl and Josh Homme. This led to further collaboration with Reznor and Homme on the 2013 album from Queens of the Stone Age titled ...Like Clockwork. Reznor contributed vocals and drum programing to the song "Kalopsia" and vocals on "Fairweather Friends" along with Elton John on piano and vocals. In October 2012 Trent Reznor teamed with Dr. Dre and Beats Electronics for a project that is "probably not what you're expecting". The project named "Daisy"; a digital music service was announced in January 2013.
Return to touring and Hesitation Marks (2012–present)
In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Reznor indicated that he would be writing for the majority of 2012 with Nine Inch Nails "in mind". In 2012, Reznor confirmed that he was currently working on new Nine Inch Nails material and may be performing live again. In February 2013, Reznor announced the return of Nine Inch Nails and revealed tour details. He also revealed that the new lineup of the band includes Eric Avery of Jane's Addiction, Adrian Belew of King Crimson, and Josh Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv, as well as returning members Alessandro Cortini and Ilan Rubin. Since that time it has been revealed that Adrian Belew and Eric Avery will not be part of the Nine Inch Nails tour.
The band will tour North America in fall 2013, and worldwide in 2014. On February 23, 2013, it was announced that the band will perform at Fuji Rock Festival, Pukkelpop and Rock 'n' Heim Festival in Hockenheim, Germany in mid-2013. On March 11, it was announced that they will also play Reading and Leeds festival. On May 15, 2013, Avery announced that he had quit the band before performing on any of the scheduled shows. On May 17, Reznor announced that Robin Finck had rejoined the band. On May 28, Reznor announced that the new Nine Inch Nails album was finished and will be released on Columbia Records later in the year. On June 5, Reznor revealed that the album's title would be Hesitation Marks, and that it would be released on September 3. The first single, "Came Back Haunted", was released on June 6. The second single, "Copy of A", was released on August 12. "Everything", the third single, was released on August 20. In August the Tension 2013 tour started, with opening band Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
On December 5, 2013, Trent Reznor revealed that the band will be touring as a four piece for the remaining legs of the tour, which include gigs in Australia, Asia, South America and Europe. However, he stated they will return to the US afterwards. The new line up will include previous collaborators, Ilan Rubin, Alessandro Cortini, and Robin Finck.
On March 16, 2014, it was announced that Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden, along with opening act Death Grips, were going to tour together in North America. On July 2, 2014, Death Grips announced their break up and cancelled all scheduled live shows. Oneohtrix Point Never, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Cold Cave each replaced Death Grips separately for the tour.
On 2014 it was announced that the Live-DVD and Blu-ray Tension 2013 is released the same year.
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"Trent Reznor Announces the Return of Nine Inch Nails: Extensive Touring for 2013 and 2014". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 25, 2013. "Trent Reznor Announces Nine Inch Nails Tour". UpVenue. February 25, 2013. Retrieved February 25, 2013. Young, Alex (February 27, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails to play Fuji Rock Festival 2013". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved February 27, 2013. Battan, Carrie (February 27, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails Announce First Shows of Big Return". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 27, 2013. Roffman, Michael (May 15, 2013). "Bassist Eric Avery quits Nine Inch Nails". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved May 15, 2013. "It just didn't feel like @NineInchNails without Robin Finck. Now it does.". Twitter. May 17, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2013. Cubarrubia, RJ (May 17, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails Introduce Robin Finck as New Bassist". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 17, 2013. Philips, Amy (May 28, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails New Album Finished, Out This Year". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 28, 2013. Young, Alex (May 28, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails to release new album later this year". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved May 28, 2013. "Nine Inch Nails to release new album this year". Factmag.com. 2013-05-28. Retrieved 2013-07-25. "halo twenty eight: hesitation marks. 9.03.13.". Twitter. June 5, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013. By Eric R Danton (2013-06-06). "Nine Inch Nails Release 'Came Back Haunted' From New LP". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved 2013-07-25. Battan, Carrie. "Listen: Nine Inch Nails: "Copy of A"". Pitchfork. Martins, Chris (December 5, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails Will Tour With a New Lineup in 2014". Spin. Retrieved December 6, 2013. Trendell, Andrew (December 6, 2013). "Nine Inch Nails to tour with new band line-up in 2014". Gigwise. Retrieved December 6, 2013. "Nine Inch Nails, Soundgarden Embarking on Joint Tour". Rolling Stone. 2014-03-16. Nin.com: Offizielle Website zur Live-DVD "Tension 2013" Dailymotion.com: Video zur Live-DVD "Tension 2013" http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/green-day-nine-inch-nails-smiths-nominated-for-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-20141009
Musical characteristics and lyrics
Allmusic's Steve Huey states that "Nine Inch Nails were the most popular industrial group ever and were largely responsible for bringing the music to a mass audience." Reznor has never referred to his own work as industrial music, but admits to borrowing techniques from such early industrial bands as Throbbing Gristle and Test Dept. Despite the disparity between those artists initially operating under the term "industrial" and Nine Inch Nails, it has become common in journalistic descriptions of Reznor's body of work to describe it as such. Reznor acknowledged in Spin magazine that "Down in It" was influenced by early Skinny Puppy, particularly their song "Dig It"; other songs from Pretty Hate Machine were described in the same interview as synthpop. Reviewing The Fragile, critic Steve Cooper noted that the album juxtaposes widely varied genres, such as solo piano in "The Frail" and drum and bass elements in "Starfuckers, Inc." A large influence on the band's sound is Gary Numan, which is evident as Reznor has been credited with saying, "after hearing 'Cars' I knew I wanted to make music with synthesizers. The Pleasure Principle and Telekon are fucking great because they're so cold sounding. Numan's early albums painted an emotional place that wasn't pleasant to be at. It seemed like creepy science fiction in an unpleasant way." Both artists have prevalent dark themes in the music and Numan has since started playing in an industrial rock style like Nine Inch Nails. Reznor and Numan have also collaborated on a performance of Numan's song "Cars".
Certain techniques and styles can be found throughout Nine Inch Nails' catalog. Songs such as "Wish", and "The Day the World Went Away" exhibit terraced dynamics. Reznor's singing follows a similar pattern, frequently moving from whispers to screams. He also has used software to alter his voice in several songs, as evident in "Starfuckers, Inc." and "Burn". The band's music also occasionally features complex time signatures, notably in "The Collector", from With Teeth, and concert favorite "March of the Pigs". Reznor regularly uses noise and distortion in his song arrangements, and incorporates dissonance with chromatic melody and/or harmony. These techniques are all used in the song "Hurt", which features a highly dissonant tritone played on guitar during the verses, a B5#11, emphasized when Reznor sings the eleventh note on the word "I" every time the B/E# dyad is played. "Closer" concludes with a chromatic piano motif: The melody is debuted during the second verse of "Piggy" on organ, then reappears in power chords at Drop D tuning throughout the chorus of "Heresy", whilst an inverted (ascending) version is used throughout "A Warm Place", and then recurs in its original state for the final time on "The Downward Spiral". On The Fragile, Reznor revisits this technique of repeating a motif multiple times throughout different songs, either on a different musical instrument, with a transposed harmony, or in an altered tempo. Many of the songs on Year Zero feature an extended instrumental ending, which encompasses the entire second half of the three-minute long "The Great Destroyer". Allmusic's review described the album's laptop-mixed sound: "guitars squall against glitches, beeps, pops, and blotches of blurry sonic attacks. Percussion looms large, distorted, organic, looped, screwed, spindled and broken."
Lyrical themes found in Nine Inch Nails songs are largely concerned with dark explorations of the self ranging from religion, greed, fame, lust, addiction, self-deception, aging, regret, nihilism, and occasionally politics, with the latter topic often being scrutinized in Year Zero. Three of Nine Inch Nails' recordings are concept albums: The Downward Spiral, follow-up The Fragile, and the aforementioned Year Zero. With Teeth (under the working title Bleedthrough) was to be a concept album about an endless dream occurring in reality, but Reznor eventually took this idea out of the record.Cite error: The named reference AMG was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference Axcess was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Reimer, P; Rummeny, Ej; Wissing, M; Bongartz, Gm; Schuierer, G; Peters, Pe (March 1996). "Sympathy for the devil". Spin 11 (5): 427–32. ISSN 0942-8925. PMID 8832864. Cooper, Steve (1999-09-24). "NIN's New Effort Threads the Line Between Beauty and Destruction". The Cavalier Daily. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2007-08-26. Huxley (1997), p. 165 Schiller, Mike (2005-05-18). "Nine Inch Nails: With Teeth". PopMatters. Retrieved 2006-12-20. Nash, Rob (2005-04-05). "Arts reviews: Nine Inch Nails". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2006-12-20. Huxley (1997), p. 192 Reynolds, Tom (2005-06-13). I Hate Myself and I Want to Die. Sanctuary Publishing. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-86074-628-4. Marburger, Lex (May 2000). "The Fragile". Lollipop Online. Retrieved 2006-12-20. "Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-03-13. Huxley (1997), p. 181 Cite error: The named reference Best_Buy_bonus_interview was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "The Spiral (registration required)". Nine Inch Nails. Retrieved 2006-02-05. "'Year Zero' Not NINE INCH NAILS' First Attempt At Concept Album". BLABBERMOUTH.NET. Retrieved 2010-01-02.
Influence and legacy
Nine Inch Nails has influenced many newer artists, which according to Reznor range from "generic imitations" dating from his initial success to younger bands echoing his style in a "truer, less imitative way". Following the release of The Downward Spiral, mainstream artists began to take notice of Nine Inch Nails' influence: David Bowie compared Reznor's impact to that of The Velvet Underground. Bob Ezrin, producer for Pink Floyd, Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Peter Gabriel, described Reznor in 2007 as a "true visionary" and advised aspiring artists to take note of his no-compromise attitude. Nine Inch Nails has been credited by music journalists for popularizing industrial music, despite ambivalence from Reznor.
The act has received four awards from 25 nominations, including two Grammy Awards for the songs "Wish" and "Happiness in Slavery" in 1993 and 1996 respectively. Nine Inch Nails have received two Kerrang! Awards; one of them being the Kerrang! Icon in 2006, honoring the band's overall contributions since 1988 and long-standing influence on rock music. The band has also received nine nominations from the MTV Video Music Awards for several of its videos, including two nominations for the "Closer" music video and five nominations for "The Perfect Drug" music video, including Video of the Year.
In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time magazine's list of the year's most influential people, and Spin described him as "the most vital artist in music". The Recording Industry Association of America certified sales for 10.5 million units of the band's albums in the United States, which accounted for roughly half of the band's reported sales worldwide at that time. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine placed The Downward Spiral at No. 200 in a 2003 list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and by the following year ranked Nine Inch Nails at No. 94 in their The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.Rickly, Geoff (2004-06-26). "Geoff Rickly interviews Trent Reznor". Alternative Press. Bowie, David (2005-04-21). "Nine Inch Nails". Rolling Stone (972). Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2007-03-13. Lostracco, Marc (2007-04-19). "'Thank God for Trent Reznor'". The Torontoist. Ink Truck Media. Retrieved 2007-04-20. Cite error: The named reference AMG was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Huxley, Martin (September 1997). Nine Inch Nails: Self Destruct. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-15612-X. "Awards Database". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-11-10. "Kerrang Awards revealed". BBC Radio 6 Music. BBC. 2007-08-23. Retrieved 2007-09-12. Jones, Sam (2005-08-26). "Green Day triumph at Kerrang! awards". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-08-31. Jones, Sam (2007-08-24). "Brit bands rock Kerrang! awards". London: bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-08-31. "Time's 25 most influential Americans". Time 149 (16): 66. 1997-04-21. "Best Sellers: Gold & Platinum Top Artists". Recording Industry Association of America. 2006-07-31. Retrieved 2007-02-05. Amter, Charlie (2005-05-17). "Reznor Bares Teeth in Court". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on 2005-08-17. Retrieved 2007-10-08. Retrieved from Internet Archive 29 December 2013. Rolling Stone : 198) The Downward Spiral-Rolling Stone. Last accessed April 15, 2007.
Live performancesMain article: Nine Inch Nails live performancesSee also: List of Nine Inch Nails tours and List of Nine Inch Nails band members
Reznor is the sole official member of Nine Inch Nails. However, he has typically formed a backing group of musicians to perform the songs in a live setting. This live band, also known as Nine Inch Nails, rearranges the band's studio catalog and creates a different sound than that of Reznor's studio recordings. Band members have occasionally been invited to participate in the recording process, but creative control within the studio has always been exclusively with Reznor.
The Tapeworm project was created in 1995 as a Nine Inch Nails side-project between Reznor and various live-band members as a more "democratic" creative environment. The band initially included live band members Danny Lohner and Charlie Clouser, but eventually expanded to feature other frequent Nine Inch Nails contributors Josh Freese, Atticus Ross, and Alan Moulder. However, after 9 years of studio sessions, no material was ever officially released from the group, and it was confirmed to be no longer active in 2005.
The lineup of the live band had a tendency to change drastically between major tours: aside from Reznor remaining on lead vocals, keyboards and guitar, no member of the live band had remained constant since its inception. Reznor cited the long gestation period between studio albums as part of the reason for these frequent personnel changes, as well as his desire for fresh interpretations of his music.Branwyn, Gareth (1991-06-19). "Industrial Introspection" (5). Mondo 2000. Cite error: The named reference Huxley_1997.2C_p._170 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Semel, Paul (June 2000). "Pretty Quake Machine". Incite (7). Mark Blackwell (February 1997). "Ninechnails". Ray Gun. "tapeworm". Tapeworm. Archived from the original on 2002-08-02. Retrieved 2008-02-16. D'Angelo, Joe (2001-02-13). "NIN's Reznor Teams With Tool's Keenan For Tapeworm". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved 2007-08-14. Trent Reznor (2004-05-08). "Nine Inch Nails: Access". Nine Inch Nails. Archived from the original on 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2007-05-21. "Trent Reznor talks to Ian Camfield". 2005-07-22. Xfm London.
ContentsCorporate disputes1.1 Disputes with TVT Records1.2 Disputes with Universal Music Group1.3 Disputes with other corporations
Reznor is an outspoken critic of the music industry, particularly the influence that music businesses have exerted upon his creative freedom. Nine Inch Nails has clashed with several music industry corporations, culminating in Reznor's decision to proceed as an independent artist who does not employ the financial backing of the music industry to fund his creative output.
Disputes with TVT Records
In the early 1990s, Nine Inch Nails was involved in a much-publicized feud with TVT Records, the first record label to sign the band. Reznor objected to the label's attempted interference with his intellectual property. Ultimately, they entered into a joint venture with Interscope Records in which Reznor forfeited a portion of his publishing rights to TVT Music in exchange for the freedom of having his own Nothing Records imprint. In 2005, Reznor sued his former friend and manager John Malm, co-founder of Nothing, for fraud, breach of contract and fiduciary duty, and other claims. Their relationship was formally severed in a New York courtroom, with damages awarded to Reznor in excess of three million US dollars.
At the behest of Prudential Securities bankruptcy proceedings, TVT put the rights to Reznor's recordings for the label on auction in 2005. This offer included the whole TVT catalog, including Pretty Hate Machine and a percentage of royalties from Reznor's song publishing company, Leaving Hope Music/TVT Music. Rykodisc, which did not win the auction but was able to license the rights from Prudential, reissued the out-of-print Pretty Hate Machine CD on November 22, 2005. Ryko also reissued the "Head Like a Hole" CD and a vinyl edition of Pretty Hate Machine in 2006. The label considered releasing a deluxe edition, just as Interscope had done for The Downward Spiral. They were influenced by Reznor and liked the idea, but did not want to pay him for the album and the idea was scrapped.
Disputes with Universal Music Group
In May 2007, Reznor made a post on the official Nine Inch Nails website skeptical of Universal Music Group (parent company of Nine Inch Nails' record label, Interscope Records) for their pricing and distribution plans for Year Zero. He labeled the company's retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia as "ABSURD", concluding that "as a reward for being a 'true fan' you get ripped off." Reznor went on to say that he hated Interscope, and in later years the "climate" of record labels may have an increasingly ambivalent impact on consumers who buy music. Reznor's post, specifically his criticism of the recording industry at large, elicited considerable media attention. In September 2007, Reznor continued his attack on UMG at a concert in Australia, urging fans there to "steal" his music online instead of purchasing it legally. Reznor went on to encourage the crowd to "steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin'."
Reznor announced on October 8, 2007 that Nine Inch Nails had fulfilled its contractual commitments to Interscope Records and was now free to proceed as a "totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label". Reznor also speculated that he would release the next Nine Inch Nails album online in a similar fashion to The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, which he produced. Reznor later released the first nine tracks of Ghosts I–IV and the entirety of The Slip in 2008 for free download.
In another post on his website, Reznor again openly criticized Universal Music Group for preventing him from launching an official interactive fan remix website. Universal declined to host the site just days before its scheduled launch, citing the potential "accusation", in Reznor's words, "that they are sponsoring the same technical violation of copyright they are suing [other media companies] for". Reznor wrote in response that he was "challenged at the last second to find a way of bringing this idea to life without getting splashed by the urine as these media companies piss all over each other's feet". Despite these obstacles, the remix website was launched in November 2007.
Disputes with other corporations
Nine Inch Nails was scheduled to perform at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, but withdrew from the show due to a disagreement with the network over the use of an unaltered image of George W. Bush as a backdrop to the band's performance of "The Hand That Feeds". Soon afterwards, Reznor wrote on his official website: "apparently, the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me." MTV replied that it respected Reznor's point of view, but was "uncomfortable" with the performance being "built around partisan political statements." A performance by Foo Fighters replaced Nine Inch Nails' time slot on the show. During the Lights in the Sky tour in 2008, some performances of "The Hand that Feeds" had the image of Bush on a video screen behind the band. At some gigs leading up to the election, the face of Bush slowly morphed during the song into the face of John McCain.
In 2006, after being alerted by a fan website, Reznor issued a cease and desist to Fox News Channel for using three songs from The Fragile on air without permission. The songs "La Mer", "The Great Below", and "The Mark Has Been Made" appeared in an episode of War Stories with Oliver North detailing the battle of Iwo Jima. A post appeared on Reznor's blog, which read: "Thanks for the Fox News heads-up. A cease and desist has been issued. FUCK Fox Fucking News."
As part of the alternate reality game which accompanied the release of Year Zero, three tracks from the album were intentionally "leaked" prior to their official release at a number of Nine Inch Nails concerts on USB flash drives. The high-quality audio files quickly circulated the internet, and owners of websites hosting the files soon received cease and desist orders from the Recording Industry Association of America, despite the fact that the viral campaign, and the use of USB drives, was sanctioned by Nine Inch Nails' record label. The source that broke the story was quoted as saying, "These fucking idiots are going after a campaign that the label signed off on." Reznor also objected to the company's request that he alter tracks on Year Zero in order to make them as accessible as possible; in particular the label wanted to get them played in clubs. Reznor saw this as an infringement of his artistic freedom.
The music of Nine Inch Nails has reportedly been used by the U.S. military as music torture to break down the resolve of detainees. Reznor objected to the use of his music in this way with the following message on the front page of the Nine Inch Nails website: "It's difficult for me to imagine anything more profoundly insulting, demeaning and enraging than discovering music you've put your heart and soul into creating has been used for purposes of torture. If there are any legal options that can be realistically taken they will be aggressively pursued, with any potential monetary gains donated to human rights charities. Thank GOD this country has appeared to side with reason and we can put the Bush administration's reign of power, greed, lawlessness and madness behind us."
In 2009, Apple rejected an update to Nine Inch Nails' iPhone application, NIN: Access, because it found the contents of The Downward Spiral to be "offensive, obscene and/or objectionable."
In 2013, Vimeo removed the first official video release of Broken within hours of launch, due to a terms of service violation on material that "harass, incite hatred or depict excessive violence."Huxley (1997), p. 48 Cite error: The named reference Shock was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Huxley (1997), p. 55 "NIN's Reznor: I was duped by my manager". Associated Press. 2005-05-17. Amter, Charlie (2005-05-27). "Reznor bails on MTV, nails manager". E! Online. Comcast Entertainment Group. Archived from the original on 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2006-11-28. "Rykodisk to reissue pretty hate machine *updated*". The NIN Hotline. 2005-10-27. Retrieved 2006-11-28. Ladouceur, Liisa (2005-11-08). "Reznor grits his teeth". The Toronto Sun. Sun Media. Retrieved 2008-05-14. Kreps, Daniel (2007-05-14). "Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor Slams Records Labels for Sorry State of the Industry". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Archived from the original on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2011-04-12. Reznor, Trent (2007-05-13). "Updates from Trent". Nine Inch Nails. Archived from the original on 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2007-08-22. "Reznor Smashes UMG, Websites Write About It". The NIN Hotline. 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2007-05-19. Moses, Asher (2007-09-18). "Nails frontman urges fans to steal music". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2007-09-18. "Trent follows up on Universal AU". The NIN Hotline. 2007-09-16. Retrieved 2007-09-18. Cohen, Jonathan (2007-10-08). "Nine Inch Nails Celebrates Free Agent Status". Billboard. Nielsen Company. Retrieved 2009-08-15. Westhoff, Ben (2007-10-30). "Trent Reznor and Saul Williams discuss their new collaboration...". New York. New York Media. Retrieved 2007-10-31. Kreps, Daniel (2007-11-20). "Trent Reznor puts new NIN site on hold". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 2007-11-21. "Universal's Legal Tangles With YouTube Kill Official Nine Inch Nails Fan Remix Site". Gizmodo. Gawker Media. 2007-11-26. Retrieved 2008-01-29. Montgomery, James (2005-05-27). "Nine Inch Nails Drop Out Of MTV Movie Awards Over Bush Dispute". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved 2007-08-20. "Fox News, War Stories, and Nine Inch Nails". The NIN Hotline. 2006-10-23. Retrieved 2006-11-29. Reznor, Trent (2006-10-24). "Updates from Trent". Nine Inch Nails. Archived from the original on 2006-10-24. Retrieved 2007-08-22. Cite error: The named reference CoolerThanLost was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Paoletta, Michael (2007-03-30). "Online Odyssey Stoking Interest In New NIN Album". Billboard. Nielsen Company. Retrieved 2007-05-20. "Musicians don’t want tunes used for torture". MSNBC. NBC Universal/Microsoft. 2008-12-09. Retrieved 2008-12-09. "Trent Reznor Upset His Music Used To Torture Prisoners, Dude From Drowning Pool Not So Much". Stereogum. 2008-12-12. Retrieved 18 August 2014. "Nine Inch Nails' iPhone application gets the boot from Apple". Side-Line. Seba Dolimont. 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2009-05-04. "Reznor takes a byte out of Apple". BBC News. 2009-05-08. "nineinchnails: And just like that, the Broken...". Twitter. 2013-05-06. "Nine Inch Nails' 20-year old 'Broken' film is too violent for Vimeo (update)". The Verge. Nathan Ingraham. 2013-05-06. Retrieved 2013-05-06.
AwardsMain article: List of awards and nominations received by Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards and has won awards on two occasions—for "Wish" in 1992 and "Happiness in Slavery" in 1995:"Wish" – Best Metal Performance, 1992 (recipient)The Downward Spiral – Best Alternative Music Performance, 1995 (nomination)"Happiness in Slavery" (from Woodstock '94 compilation) – Best Metal Performance, 1995 (recipient)"Hurt" – Best Rock Song, 1996 (nomination)"The Perfect Drug" – Best Hard Rock Performance, 1997 (nomination)The Fragile – Best Alternative Music Performance, 1999 (nomination)"Starfuckers, Inc." – Best Metal Performance, 1999 (nomination)"Into the Void" – Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, 2000 (nomination)"The Hand That Feeds" – Best Hard Rock Performance, 2005 (nomination)"Every Day Is Exactly the Same" – Best Hard Rock Performance, 2006 (nomination)"34 Ghosts IV" – Best Rock Instrumental Performance, 2009 (nomination)Ghosts I–IV – Best Boxed Set or Limited Edition Package, 2009 (nomination)Hesitation Marks – Best Alternative Music Album, 2013 (nomination) "Awards Database". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-11-10. "The Complete List of Grammy Nominations". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. 2005-12-08. Retrieved 2008-04-13. "49th Annual Grammy Awards Nominee List". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2006-12-07. "The 51st Annual Grammy Awards Winners List". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on 2009-02-07. Retrieved 2009-02-09. Matthew, Jacobs (2013-12-06). "Grammy Nominations 2014: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lorde, Robin Thicke Make The Honoree List". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013-12-11.