Unbreakable Nine Inch Nails back after 5-year hiatus
It's been a while since we've heard from Nine Inch Nails, five long years in fact. So when
was finally released in September 1999, the double-disc set did more than satisfy fickle,
rock fans worldwide, it earned the praise of critics everywhere, and begged for the band to
get back on the
Fresh off the NIN international tour, keyboardist Charlie Clouser called last week from a hotel in Los
Angeles to apprise
fans of the coming U.S. tour - which happens to begin today.
Proving that performance ability hasn't rusted since the last stint in support of "The Downward
Spiral," Clouser said it
feels good to get back on the road. When asked the question on many minds addicted to modern
rock music - "what took
so long?" - Clouser said it didn't feel like a very long time. Add two years of touring, one year
working with Marilyn
Manson and the next two plugging away on "The Fragile" while holed up in an ex-funeral
home/studio in New Orleans,
and five years seems like a short hiatus.
Time marks a transition for Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor. The Ohio native started the group more
than a decade ago,
writing, playing and recording material almost completely on his own. Showing the world how pain,
technology and brilliant musical layering can collide into soundscapes of raw power, Reznor
redefined music in the early
Having slipped out of sight, but never out of mind, NIN have broken through boundaries once again.
And more than
100 minutes and 17 tracks later, "The Fragile" weaves and ebbs with moody instrumentals, brittle
ballads, and primal
Recording "The Fragile"
For the first time on an NIN album, there was an opportunity for collaboration. While Reznor and
Alan Moulder worked on tracks in the main studio, Clouser and bassist Danny Lohner took copies
of songs to their
rooms and worked on overdubs, keyboards and textures, later recording the work on computers.
"The next time they
happened to be working on the song, Trent and Alan would pick through the bits and pieces," said
Clouser. "It was the
only way we could collaborate without having Trent step aside."
"A lot of songs were very simple musically, but we wanted them to have interesting sound textures."
The challenge of the
material is truly pulling it off in a live setting. "Some of the songs are so thickly layered, no five guys
could get up there
and play (them)," he said. Performing allows the band freedom to interpret the material on
instruments, without the
need to duplicate the album.
The result is a more rugged skeleton of a song. "They're not all dressed up with all the intricate bits
of candy," described
There will be no candy, or bubblegum-pop for that matter, in the vicinity of a Nine Inch Nails show.
Though the musical climate has migrated toward well-designed pop stars and boy bands, NIN
shows no concern. Clouser
said it's actually made life easier: "We don't have so much competition anymore. In the early '90s
there was Nirvana and
Soundgarden and other heavy bands that were really good at what they did, that were innovative and
something new. Now, no one's doing anything that I haven't heard before."
Don't mistake this effort by NIN as a softening; it isn't. "The title came about from Trent's ability to
explore a wider
spectrum of emotions," said Clouser. "It's not so much hate, pain and rage."
To achieve a sense of fragility, NIN incorporated instruments like cello, ukulele and mandolin, which
are difficult to
play. The end result was a fractured sound that is unmistakably NIN. "(Reznor) needed a challenge,
something that was
not going to be a sure bet."
By Stephanie A. Casola
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.