Fragile Strength: Nails singer turns self-doubt into success.
album, "The Downward Spiral,"
released five years ago - an
the ephemeral world of modern
Back then, Trent Reznor, the
behind NIN, had conquered the masses with his
industrial dance rock, a melding of computerized
vocals, organic sounds and surprisingly graceful
His songs were nihilistic confessions, morose and
discourses on hate and hopelessness that put NIN
stickers on the
lockers of high school outsiders coast to coast. And
bottom fell out. A twoyear tour promoting "The
including Nine Inch Nails' mudspattered appearance at
'94, ended with Reznor in a clinical depression.
fame and fortune, and an unstable existence on the
augmented his suffering.
"I was with Marilyn Manson and the Jim Rose Circus as
acts - there was some form of illegal act going on at
all times in
some hotel room somewhere. Just to get through that
abused everything we could get our hands on," Reznor
"The act of touring leads to a nearsense of
self-destruction after a
while. The problem with the "Downward Spiral' tour
was it lasted so
long - it was really too much. To get on stage night
after night to perform these songs that have come
from places of
hurt or despair or anger. It's unhealthy to get in
continually. You end up living the songs again."
It left Reznor in a retreat, and it took two years to
Fragile," the new Nine Inch Nails album.
"It was a necessary period I had to go through to
self-confidence," Reznor says. "When I finished
"Downward Spiral,' I
felt like I had boxed myself into a corner a bit with
Nine Inch Nails.
Harder? Faster? Meaner? More desperate? Death was the
answer, and that wasn't really the choice I wanted to
"So it was, "Let's make Nine Inch Nails capable of
was the starting point. Everything was very
motivational - we let it
keep growing." On "The Fragile," a 23-track double
stares down his identity crisis in a smart, ambitious
symphony. The sound is still textured and violent,
cunning and disquieting than wrathful.
Now Nine Inch Nails has returned to arenas across the
with the "Fragility v2.0" tour. The U.S. leg wraps up
Center on Sunday night. The live band is Reznor,
multi-instrumentalists Robin Finck, Danny Lohner and
Clouser, and new drummer Jerome Dillon.
"We as people are very different this time around. In
it's not as much fun - there's a much more sober vibe
generally," Reznor says.
Reznor even wears a hat and goes out in the crowds,
remember what it was like to be at a concert.
"You go on stage, and you give yourself away every
like everyone's here to see you. But you walk off
stage and you're
the loneliest guy in the world because you're
detached - you're not
part of the experience of seeing it." The high point
of the shows is
the plaintive final tune, the hushed "Hurt."
along, and I walk off stage and I feel positive,"
"At the end, I feel like everybody in the audience is
my friend -
we've gone through a battle and come out the other
side. In the
past, it had more of a confrontational vibe. We
audience, and they assaulted us back. This time it
that. By the encore, it seems like I want to invite
to my house and sit around ... it's a strange
connection that I
don't remember being there, a vulnerability that
last time around."
So what comes next?
"We did a radio show in Chicago and they said, "Do
want.' I thought it'd be interesting if we went in
deconstructed vibe - I played grand piano and Robin
acoustic guitar. It wasn't an "unplugged' situation,
but the songs
sounded surprisingly good out of the context you
them in. It got me thinking. ..."
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.