Split Personality: Nine Inch Nails promises a somber, more dynamic
Danny Lohner is looking for pretzels.
The multi-instrumentalist and Nine
Inch Nails veteran has just awakened
from a quick nap after a sound check
in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is
rummaging around for something to
eat after consenting to do a
He's funny and personable and repeatedly apologetic
about rambling and talking
with a mouthful of those pretzels. Yet within hours,
that amiable demeanor will
switch into frenetic overdrive when Lohner steps on
stage to back one of the most
influential performers of modern music, Trent Reznor.
Reznor, the auteur behind the industrial powerhouse
Nine Inch Nails, first gained
attention with the groundbreaking 1989 CD "Pretty Hate
Machine" and has since
been named one of the "most influential people in
America" by Time magazine
and "the most vital artist in music today" by Spin. So
what makes a musician
like Lohner willing to take a perennial back seat in a
band (also featuring Robin
Finck, Charlie Clouser and Jerome Dillon) that may
always be considered a
one-man wrecking machine?
"I've had my chance to be with other bands. I've
turned down easier opportunities
in terms of success in the public eye to play with
this band. That kind of success
isn't appealing to me," Lohner says. "This band is one
of the best to come out of
our generation of music. Trent requires people around
him to help him achieve his
goals. I'm proud to be part of the team because I
learn so much. He is everything
people write he is - he is truly gifted."
Reznor uses hard and soft extremes to perfection on
his 1999 23-track double
CD "The Fragile" (dubbed the "Decade's Most
Anticipated Album" by Alternative
Press magazine). It's a thought-provoking and
masterful epic of lush cinematic
passages and brutal gouges of industrial melancholy.
Lohner was eager to meet
the challenge of translating the delicate details and
dynamic swings of "The
Fragile" to a live setting.
"This is a headphone record. You can drift away and
listen to it. It's detailed and
textured in ways that are hard to recreate, but we've
worked with the music long
enough to know what to do to make it happen," Lohner
says. An early Chicago
Tribune review of the NIN show at UIC Pavilion (which
sold out in 12 minutes) said
"Reznor wisely underplayed the theatrics - and let the
music speak with dramatic
ebb and flow dynamics over a riveting 90 minutes."
While Reznor continues to push himself, his band and
audience from their
comfort zones, it's obvious this isn't the same Nine
Inch Nails that battered itself
during the exhausting two-year tour in support of the
"Downward Spiral." While that tour made Reznor an
international star, it also lived
up to the "Self Destruct" phrase emblazoned on
everything from key chains to
T-shirts and posters, as instruments and musicians
were battered and bruised on
stage night after night. It's different now, Lohner
says, of the "Fragility V2.0" tour
that heads into HSBC Arena Saturday night for an 8
p.m. show. "We're all older
and wiser. We still have that element in the show, but
it's old hat. Now there are
highs and lows - our show is much more dynamic. And
it's much more developed
musically instead of us being ridiculous and breaking
things," he says.
"The music is somber and melancholy and that comes
across in the show,"
Lohner says of a sound he calls "Pink Floyd meets the
aggressiveness of the
year 2000." "We're not going for the obvious. It's sad
and beautiful and
aggressive. We touch on more shades instead of just
"The Fragile" was recorded over two years in Reznor's
Nothing Studios in New
Orleans - an old funeral parlor refurbished through a
lot of manual labor from
Reznor, Lohner and others. Lohner has his own small
studio in the building.
"I've learned so much from Trent with technical
knowledge and conceptual
knowledge as to what makes a good song," says Lohner.
"You forget how smart
he is when he's just hanging out as a regular guy. But
his knowledge is amazing.
He's so well-versed in music and so well articulated
that it's all second nature to
him. Yet when he creates, it's more from the heart,
like an untrained musician."
<< Previous Page
is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.