Jahr 1991


Select Magazine


1991 ?


 Hard As Nails


  Words: Neil Perry

Photo: Mary Scanlon





Hype – the only way is up

Hard as Nails

American electro-doom band NINE INCH NAILS is the brainchild of TRENT REZNOR who‘s already been talent-spotted — by the FBI!


“It’s the all-purpose alternative album!“ explains Trent Reznor drily, talking of American electro-doom outfit Nine Inch Nails‘ debut LP, Pretty Hate Machine.

“If you want to stagedive to it you can, but if you’re a big Depeche Mode fan you can get what you need out of it as well.“

Pretty Hate Machine‘ is all Reznor‘s own work, and for several years he was Nine Inch Nails.

I grew up in Pennsylvania, then lived in Cleveland for four years. I was working in a studio and playing some shitty local things as a keyboard player. I realised the only way I was going to get things done was take the reins.“

After fruitless months spent trying to find like-minded individuals to work with, Reznor used his experience as a studio engineer to bring his brainchild to life by himself. The LP‘s dark, industrial-tinged soundscapes are now two years old.

Reznor is quick to point out that he‘s now a slightly happier person.

“A lot of it sounds immature to me now. At first it totally sucked. I became completely withdrawn. I, couldn‘t function in society very well. And the LP became a product that. It‘s quite small-scale, introverted, claustrophobic — that‘s the feel I went for.“

Pretty Hate Machine‘ is a dense and dread-filled record, although the slashing guitars and rousing chorus of the current single, Head Like A Hole‘ — together with Reznor‘s admiration for the likes of Skinny Puppy and Ministry — suggest that he‘s approaching the genre from an off-the-wall angle.

“I like electronic music, but I like it to have some aggression. That first wave‘ of electro music, Human League and Devo, that‘s the easiest way to use it. To be able to get some humanity and aggression into it in a cool way, that‘s the thing.

‘I think the equivalent of the Human Leagues of yesterday are the DJs-turned-acid House producers of today, using all this technology in such a basic and obvious way. Pretty Hate Machine‘ is a record you can listen to and get more out of each time. To me, something like Front 242 is the opposite: great at first but after ten listens that‘s it.”

Trent finally found himself a band. In 1989 NIN opened for The Jesus And Mary Chain and Peter Murphy on their US tours, and last year the band played a well received slot at the New Music Seminar in New York, before touring in their own right.

After the tour, a strung-out Reznor was cajoled into playing guitar for Waxtrax main man Alien Jourgenson‘s band The Revolting Cocks.

“I saw a whole side of humanity that I didn‘t know existed,“ he says, shaking his head. “It was decadence on a new level, but with a sense of humour.“

However, NIN have attracted their own share of weirdness. While shooting the video for their first single, Down In It‘, a camera attached to a balloon — being used to simulate the view of someone falling from a building — floated away, still containing its film of a dead‘ person (Reznor) lying on the ground. The camera was found 125 miles away by a farmer, who handed it to the FBI, who in turn were convinced they were on to the murder-mystery of the century.

“Somebody at the FBI had been watching too much Hitchcock or David Lynch or something,“ drawls a still-amused Reznor. “There‘s this half-hour show in the US called Current Affairs, total junk gossip exploitative journalism, and they came to do a piece on us.

“That was the icing on the cake, getting on the worst TV show in America...“

Interview by Neil Perry

Photo by Mary Scanlon


Fact File

NAME: Nine Inch Nails.

LINE-UP: Trent Reznor, plus various others when he plays live.

ORIGIN: Reznor, from Mercer, Pennsylvania, became a recording engineer in Cleveland, Ohio, where he is now based.

MUSICAL STYLE: “Industrial Pop”


Down In It‘ four-track 12-inch ‘,released November ‘90,

Head Like A Hole‘ single, released February ‘91 (originally released in USA in 1989)

Pretty Hate Machine‘ LP, released February ‘91,

Head Like A Hole‘ ten-track CD featuring a remixed version of the single, released in USA only spring 90.

NUMBER OF GIGS: US tours supporting Jesus And Mary Chain and Peter Murphy, plus ten in own right.