of you may as yet not be familiar with NINE INCH NAILS, but that is
a problem which I'm sure will be remedied in the upcoming months. NINE
INCH NAILS is one man, and that man is TRENT REZNOR, and he means business.
With his first album PRETTY HATE MACHINE on the streets now, he is already
grabbing the attention of music enthusiast in the know. Already being critically
acclaimed as a musical genius, we thought we should grab an interview with
him before all the fame and fortune could go to his head.Not that we are
assuming he would give in easily to conceit, it's just that fame does that
to people. Well anyway, his first LP is out now on TVT and it's pretty
damn interesting and we thought we might inquire as to how one might make
a hit record such as this. So after a few phone calls and a couple disgusting
gesture, we toss in your lap the following conversation and opinions are
yours for the making.
did you get started in music , did you study music in school? Were in any
high school bands?
I was forced at gunpoint into piano lessons when I was five years old.
That progressed into high school and to getting into bands, things like
that and playing keyboards.
Did you play at a lot of weddings?
No, I never did any of that kind of shit. It was bad high school, let's
play whatever we hear on the radio type of bands. I grew up in a rural
area of PENNSYLVANIA and it's not really considered a hot bed of independent
music.And in those surroundings you weren't exposed to any kind of college
When did you move to CLEVELAND?
I moved hear a few years ago because I was offered a job at a recording
studio as a programmer. I hate CLEVELAND and I don't plan on being here
much longer, but I've had some opportunities here that I would not of had
if I we're in NEW YORK. or LA. I don't have to work a hundred hours a week
to support myself, it's cheap to live here. But, it also sucks to live
here too, so, there's a down side but I think i've used it to my advantage
but it's time to hit the road.
How did you get involved with TVT Records?
It took about a year of searching for a label. We looked for a small European
label 1st but had no luck. TVT first heard us when we performed with SKINNY
PUPPY on some East Coast dates. I felt very intimidated touring with SKINNY
PUPPY, and the band was not where I wanted it to be, we were very un-focused.
Nettwerk asked us to be ready in two days and we did the best we could.
It was a good time to find out what was wrong. I have put together an all
new band now that I am much happier with, the live band consists of 2 guitarists
a drummer and a keyboard player.
How did touring with SKINNY PUPPY come about?
We had been being courted by NETTWERK and got to know those guys pretty
well and they offered us to do the whole tour which we didn't want to do
because we didn't have a record coming out for at least six month, so financially
it didn't make sense. And I didn't really think we were the best band to
go on with Skinny Puppy. It was a bit intimidating because at the time
we were a lot lighter than we are now, even now I don't think we would
be appropriate. We turned it down and when they were in town the road manager
looked me up and said "look, the band we have with us we hate, do the rest
of the tour. PLEASE".O.k., so you have to be ready in two days. So I kind
of just threw something together which started of pretty shitty, but by
the end sounded o.k..
"Pretty Hate Machine" is your debut release. How did you come up with the
name and what does it mean?
Well, I had a huge list of names for the album and I ended up trashing
almost all of them. Finally, I came up with "Pretty Hate Machine." I thought
it was a good way to describe the music as a whole, meaning "Machine--generated
music". It is electronic, which is derived from keyboards, which are machines.
There is a lot of hate, anger and emotion in both the lyrics and music,
the album is a "pretty hate machine".
Other than performing live, you are the sole member of NIN, how long did
it take you to complete this album?
went in the studio in early '88 just making weird demo's and putting together
some ideas I had, which eventually formed the album. So it took almost
two years to come up with a final product.
How did producers Flood and Adrian Sherwood come into the picture?
TVT asked me who I wanted to produce the album, I told them and we sent
them a tape, which is the only way to get their attention. They won't talk
to anyone until they hear a tape and maybe even then you might not get
a response. Well I obviously got a response, a good response from both
Flood and Adrian Sherwood. I was extremely flattered. Our original plans
were to produce it with Flood in London but he was busy with another project
so I started producing it with John Fryer in Boston and finished it with
Flood in London. The 12" single "Down In It", which is produced by Adrian
Sherwood and the most industrial sounding song on the album, was finished
before the album. I think this track is the closest to predictable industrial
music, the rest of the album is not so predictable which is what my goal
was, and I feel I have reached it.
Yes, I feel there is a lot of emotion in the album too, negative emotion,
negative energy and hate. Are any of these lyrics directed at anyone in
particular in your life or situations you've observed, or felt other people
The lyrics are pretty much situations I can relate to very much, something
that can strike a nerve. Basically each song is a personal viewpoint of
mine. The lyrics are real and honest, right in your face which is what
Did you learn alot of interesting techniques working with such big name
Sherwood, I didn't work with him. He mixed it, but he mixed it in london
and I talked to him on the phone. So I didn't get a chance to rip off all
his great tricks. And Flood, we only worked briefly together, and John
fryer had nothing to offer me. Production wise, I did, I can't say that,
there's things you learn just from being around people, just ways of doing
things.But as far as technical tricks, how to do this , how to do that,
not so much.Because I went into it, in my opinion, production wise, one
thing might be unique about this record is that, going into it wasn't like
"Ok, let's just start from scratch and arrange these songs". It was pretty
much finished going into it and I knew what kind of guitar sound I wanted
because I had fucked around in the studio to get a particular sound and
I just applied that.
What is your favorite track on the album?
It would have to be "Terrible Lie" because of it's intensity and aggression.
It's also my favorite song to perform live. Our shows tend to be violent
and this song really fits that image.
Do you plan on touring this album?
Yes. We have tentative plans to start touring in Feb. through the States,
Canada and Europe, and our tour will include Detroit.
You've lived in Cleveland for about two and a half years. It's quite unusual
to see a group like yours to come from Cleveland. Have you worked with
any other bands locally or outside of Cleveland, or do you plan to in the
Yes, this is not the typical Cleveland band and I plan on leaving soon!
I have worked and played with a couple bands here, none worth mentioning.
I have tentative plans to produce a 12" single for NEMESIS in Detroit.
And yes, I am looking forward to producing much more.
How did the NEMESIS thing come about?
I guess they had heard the 12 in and liked it, and, through some sort of
mutual friend or something, they asked if I would be interested in producing
a record of theirs, and I wanted to start producing, so we will see what
Do you have your own equipment and studio at home or do you just use whatever
is available through studios?
I have my own little set-up of samplers and computers. Not as much as I
would like to have, but enough so that I can do a lot of pre-production
at home with-out the clock running or the pressure of "I'm in the studio
and I can't fuck around" type attitude. I programmed a lot of the album
at home with an EMULATOR 2 and an E-MAX with a MACINTOSH, then took it
to the studio and down loaded it. Then I could just add everything that
needed to be live in the studio.
Do you think your next single will sport the ever popular house remix?
I assure you there will be absolutely no fucking house , EVER. I hate House.
We are working on doing a fucked-up dance version for one song that i've
been working on, doing an extended mix. Which may be worked on with PAUL
KENDAL or ADRIAN SHERWOOD.
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