Jahr 1989


Boston Rock


No. 99

Dezember 1989 - Januar 1990


From The American Heart, er, wasteland

comes Nine Inch Nails


Autor: Randall Barnwell

Photo: Paul Robicheau


Trent Reznor is the creator and driving force of Nine Inch Nails, one of the hottest groups to come down the pike in a long while. His first LP Pretty Hate Machine is eating up dance charts as we speak. The first video to the track ‘Down in it’ is at number 4 an the Billboard charts this week, and climbing.

Quite an accomplishment for a musician whose music, as I like to put it, takes your face off at 20 feet. Not the usual Billboard material. But Reznor is not your typical fellow. Originally from the industrial vacuum of Mercer, PA, Trent now calls Cleveland his present place to be stuck in. There‘s not really much of a scene there— you could say he‘s it. At home in his studio, filled with computers and samplers, he talked about the threat of the computer age and musicians turning from players to technicians.

“My view is to use the equipment as a tool, to not let technology run away with you, said Reznor. “On the other hand, a lot of techno bands are using all live players now and have so diluted their music it‘s now just this bland mess. I believe you can have the biting edge of the machines but still use musicians to give that extra kick in the ass.”

If you‘ve heard ‘Head Like a Hole‘ you know what he‘s talking about. Trent kicks in with the hook of the song title and suddenly there‘s a wash of loud, squalling guitar that demands your eardrums assume the exploded position.

“I basically ran this guitar into a fuzzbox and a small Galien Krueger amp and ran direct into the board. After setting the EQ to a really piercing, high-pitched setting, we then doubled that several times. I really don’t play guitar, but I know what I wanted.‘ He must have wanted enough shattering noise to make us forget about all those sequencers and machines, and revel in some great guitar.

The Groovy Love Machine was recorded in Boston (at Synchro Sound), London and New York. Except for some interference by local Beantown yokels who had heard producer Flood (Erasure, Depeche Mode) was in town, Trent thought the studio and Boston were a great place. So what was it like to work with Keith LeBlanc and Adrian Sherwood?

“Adrian really just did the remixing, so most of the contact was done by phone. He prefers to work alone, without the artist there, which I really can‘t get into. Most of the work was done with John Fryer, who I chose because of his previous credits for the English label 4AD. Not so much what bands he did, but the sound that he got for them was along the lines of what I wanted. “I had a lot of time to prepare these songs before I even went near the studio. I think the next record, which will be recorded next summer, will be a lot more left open. I’ll have 10 or 20 tricks up my sleeve and we’ll (Reznor, Fryer and Flood] take it from there. I’m interested in a collaboration for the next album.”

We start talking influences, and Reznor shys away, although he does love Prince, Morrisey and early The The. An avid sci- fi/splatter film goer, he‘d love to work with Sam Rami, director of the ‘Evil Dead‘ films. Clive Barker has taken his toll an Reznor‘s sensibilities as well.

Some (possibly) bright news on the horizon for Nine Inch Nails is that director David Lynch is preparing a treatment (proposal for the job) for NIN‘s next video ‘Head Like a Hole.‘ Lang an admirer of Lynch (‘Eraserhead,‘ Blue Velvet‘), Reznor considers it a high honor that Mr. Lynch even likes the group. “A film by Lynch and soundtrack by NIN would be so intense it could blow an artery. But I really don‘t have any definite plans for the next move by NIN. I know I want the next record to be different from the last and so on, but planning such things seems incomprehensible to me.”

Reznor feels his first LP shows too many influences. “I would be happiest it you could hear a NIN tune and say, ‘That‘s definitely NIN,‘ and know you sound like something totally fresh. I hate bands that cop out and go for a safe ‘in‘ sound. They‘re just pretty boys without a brain between them.”

The vicious attacks an Pretty Hate Machine take bites out of society and the music world that few performers will risk today. While other indies focus an safe jangle-rock bands, TVT Records has something absolutely new blossoming right before their eyes. It‘s a vision of the world that‘s frustrated and jaded, yet still willing to fill it full of holes so all the BS can pour right out into the open.