The opening act for
Guns n‘ Roses Wembley date is NINE INCH NAILS. Axl Rose saw them and went apeshit!
Everyone from ZZ Top‘s Billy Gibbons to Sebastian Bach and Little Angels think
they‘re great! But, are they Metal? Is their rhythmic pounding Rock? DAVE
HENDERSON (words) and TONY MOTTRAM (pictures) risked life and limb to get the
NINE INCH Nails‘ Trent Reznor shows off his
wounds, as we sit in a bar in the middle of nowhere, Massachusetts. His elbow has two large blood-rod
scars, there‘s slight bruising on his other arm.
“Yeah, my back really hurts. It‘s just, like,
we really go for it onstage. I kinda feel like, the guys in the band get paid,
they get the chicks, they get to travel around so it shouldn’t be a problem that
I beat them up onstage.”
Trent Reznor is Nine Inch Nails. From nowhere, Ohio.
“Unbelievably we‘ve had no broken bones. There’s
been no major catastrophes... yet!“
That Trent‘s keyboard sparring partner, James,
was hospitalised in LA after Trent trashed his keyboard with his guitar and
guitarist Richard is bandaged at the knee mean little. The drummer, Jess, is a
big bloke though, so far only his kite has taken a Trent trashin‘.
Nine Inch Nails back their noise with fist
power, kicking it up way beyond their debut album ‘Pretty Hate Machine‘. The
live show will blow you away. As part of the Lollapalooza tour in America, NIN
have med up with Jane‘s Addiction, Living Colour, Ice T‘s Body Count, the Henry
Rollins Band, The Butthole Surfers and Siouxsie And The Banshees to take loud,
live music across the country. Yesterday‘s audience for the first night in
Mansfield, near Boston, was treated to Nine Inch Nails at their fiery,
ferocious best. The music has muscle, the show teeters from water throwing
incidents to guitar, drums and keyboard smashing, then lunges info personal
physical abuse, as the four-piece crank up the power. As the sporadic outbreaks
of violence are strewn through the set, rather than in one climax, the audience
is whipped into a frenzy, something close to being obsessed with media reports
of serial killers over the weeks, in this case condensed info 45 minutes.
Judging from the 4,000 strong crowd, a good
half of which are decked out in NIN merchandise or sporting well-shaven NIN
haircuts, Nine Inch Nails are on the verge of becoming absolutely huge. No
wonder Axl Rose was knocked out (figuratively speaking, that is) when he saw
them in LA
“Yeah, we met Axl earlier in the year when we
played a couple of shows with Jane‘s Addiction. He came backstage and said he
really loved us and could we do something with them. At the time I wasn‘t that
familiar with Guns n‘ Roses. I’d heard them on MTV, but never really got info it.
But I bought ‘Appetite For Destruction‘ and it‘s a good album. It‘s very
similar to what we‘re doing in terms of violence.
“I kinda got to wondering what he saw in us and
I guess it‘s the sincerity of what we do. That I’m really saying what I mean
which is the same as what he does with Guns n‘ Roses.“
Axl and co offered the Nails a few support
slots, none of which fitted their itinerary, but the Wembley show, as daunting
as it may seem to Trent‘ s more info playing club shows, got the go ahead.
“I’m really into playing for audiences that
aren’t expecting us or might know of as an “electronic“ band. I think people will
be in for a shock. I’d much rather do a show like that than open for New Order.
If we get bottled at Wembley I don’t care. If one per cent of the people think,
‘Hey, they’re cool’, then that will be fine.”
Nine Inch Nails are not Metal - they‘re one helluva long way from Poison, Winger and Warrant
- but the sound is beefed up a driving crescendo that kicks your butt. Trent throws people over monitors and destroys
equipment it has Punk spirit so sadly lacking in contemporary music.
The Pretty Hate Machine album has been deleted
in the UK and is set for re-issue during September when
the group will be following the Wembley show with same club dates. Anyone
seeking the real Nine Inch story has to catch that live show. The album I
essentially did myself about two years ago and the live show has mutated from
that over the last year of constant touring. Even the people in the UK who’ve heard the album lust aren’t
going to be expecting what we re like now.
“The show developed as we got more angry at the
audience and they liked it and then it got more abusive and dangerous and they
seemed to like us more. The reaction to the live shows in America have taken
the group right across the board and US sales for the debut stand at around 600
000 Boston’s ability to sing all the words throughout the set made I clear that
they’ve taken Trent, his ideas, tears and lyrics to heart.
“That’s quite flattering. I wrote those songs
when I was in an intense situation. There was a lot of tension and, when I recorded
it in London I was almost suicidal. I came the closest I ever did to killing myself.”
Amazingly enough, the growth of Nine Inch Nails
has been achieved in the States without massive radio play and without MTV support.
The American public obviously found something in the album that they took to
“I just wanted to do something that people
could relate to. I don’t want to tell people to fight that cause. I was very inward-looking
when I wrote the material and, in a way, it’s very hard to take those kind of
things to a festival show. All I’m saying is, hop on for the ride, if you‘re
not interested, go get a hotdog.“
But take it to the masses they have and, according
to the other acts on the Lollapalooza tour, the Boston reaction was by no means a one-off.
As part of their wider acceptance, the categorisation
of Nine Inch Nails has lead to many links with the emergent Industrial Metal
scene started by the likes of Ministry and Revolting Cocks and more recently
occupied by France’s Treponem Pal and Englands Godflesh. But is that really
where Trent is coming from.
“Well, I don’t think that’ s very accurate I’m
just someone who’s mildly depressed I guess I’m not someone who can create a
great personality onstage, I just had the vision to do it this way. I didn’t
have an exotic lifestyle in foreign countries I never went to jail, I was never
a male prostitute I was just being honest. I was really mad when I wrote the
album the only thing that fuelled me was hate and anger.”
Is it a problem now that you’re becoming successful.
Is it hard to be angry when things are going well?
“Yeah. If you‘re happy why do you want to write
Certainly that kind of attitude is borne out by
the Industrial Metal tag hut what does it really stand for?
“Well, it just means that you’re electronic-based
and you can dance to it and we snarl. I suppose it’s really the mix of computer
technology and guitars. I like the idea of taking something that isn‘t human
and adding something that is. What I did was make a very cold sound, add some
shitty guitar and some elements that don’t sit properly on top of that.”
The end result is a kind of battle between
clean technology and dirty power Rock. And, in that live situation the sheer aggression
of the performance adds an extra dimension.
“That’s kind of why I want to play in frontal
Rock audiences. It s like I want to say ‘Hey was that intense? Did that get you
going?’ The thing is, part of that was a fucking machine that made it and that can
be just as intense as Jimmy Page’s guitar.”
In true ‘90s style, Nine Inch Nails have kicked
into the history of Rock and added technology, some snotty teen angst and the
hefty smack of rebellion. Rock music will never be the same after Nine Inch Nails.
And, hey, how the hell could Axl be wrong?