Jahr 1990




November 1990



Playing in hell: Nine Inch Nails


Words: Liz Evans






Behinde the mainstream gloss of the dance charts lurks a sinister but effective beat, shrouded in subversive and taboo topics and pepopled by extraordinary, occasionally sick, characters trains of though, a vertain radical dance faction is rumbling. Liz Evans clocks into the beat with a couple of hardcore merchants, Nine Inch Nails and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

Dance Sublime

Playing in hell: Nine Inch Nails


Imagine your darkest moments growing like cancer over your life shadowing your existence with black roses of emotion and dank cellars of despair An overly graphic image perhaps but the world of Nine Inch Nails is by no means a pretty one. It is inhabited by a pale dreadlocked

figure with a grey vision who admits he’s depressed most of the time but doesn’t really know why.

There’s been no solid events I can think of,” says Reznor speaking from Cleveland, Ohio on the telephone. “Maybe certain events in relationships.”

His songs graft cruel bleeding words onto intricate yet simple dance rhythms. They are impeccably shaped with hard heavy guitar jabs and industrial drum programming, technological genius with a savage primal feel. Heading straight for the heart like a sharp rusty blade pain all over. Maybe his environment is partly responsible.

“I grew up in Pennsylvania but I moved to Cleveland when I was offered a job as a programmer in a studio Cleveland’s the joke city of America. It’s industrial and dingy and so polluted that once the river caught fire. Anyway I’d never applied myself to making music before it was about 2Oth on my list of priorities. But I realised I wasn’t getting any younger and I had free time in the studio. I had this romantic notion of working all day and staying up all night and by the middle of ‘88 I had six or seven songs. So then I sent them round to some small European independent labels and within a few weeks eight came back to me. I was shocked!”

Trent signed to TVT. The rest will soon be history when Island release the album “Pretty Hate Machine” this month. Scattered with gaping holes and sunless skies, the record charts the dim state of mind Trent was in when he wrote it, two years ago. It wasn’t good.

“I was 23 and realising that I was out of adolescence and things weren’t how I was told or hoped they’d be. I was coming to terms with a society that I don’t think’s very fair. Isolation was a big part of it. I went through a phase where I wasn’t around people, and the more I was away, the harder it was to get back. I don’t now how I got into it.”

“I was out of balance when I was making the record I’d never really worked at anything before. I’d always been good at school a got to a stage where I was good enough. I now had a challenge I overlooked friends, lovers, the fact that you need people. It was an accumulating point. I worked to get the deal, I worked to make the record, I worked in London for six weeks by myself where I didn’t know anybody. I was working ten to twelve hours a day, I didn’t know where to get food after 11 pm. I had to come home alone. The worst point came when I was about two thirds of the way into the record.

Before I left home I ran into this girl I’d been out with for a year and it triggered something in my head, I wanted to see her. So I called a friend of mine back home and he told me she was pregnant and about to get married. So I went back to the States weirded out, gave in the record and was told it was an abortion. I took two weeks off to clear my head and I thought, no, this is a good LP. And they put it out. It convinced me I was doing the right thing.”

After the bleak came a brief period when Trent enjoyed his success he was sort of happy for while. But a perspective as fundamentally barren as his doesn’t stay up for long and he promises the next album (which he’s holed up in New Orleans to write) will see him once more unleashing his anguish.

Nine Inch Nails intend to plunge Britain into the abyss early next year when they bring their savage stage show to these shores. Reznor has relayed his essence to a full band who throw everything into playing.

“It’s not about me alone on stage or a Trent Reznor project. These are people I chose, people to whom I said I have a definite idea - have this look, have this sound, try it out and understand my vision, make it your own. It’s working and on the next record there’ll be a different instrumentation. I didn’t use up all the ideas I had last time though and I like working in format. It’s difficult when you’re working with a guitar player and they’re goofing around. I haven’t found real inspiring people to write with, I feel it would take away my uniqueness.”

Take it from a man who’s charted it indescribably well if you must be depressed. A man who’s survived three weeks on the road with Al Jourgensen (Revolting Cocks, Ministry, Lard, you name it, if it’s sick he’s done it…) as part of Rev Co; recorded with 1000 Homo DJ’s lived in London without knowing where the 24 hour garage is; spent years in America’s ugliest city, and made the decision to rear album number two in the swamps of the Deep South. He knows it. So should you.