"people come up to me like i'm this grim, have-a-noose-around-my-neck-at-all-times kind of person.
that's not the case at all," says nine inch nails' trent reznor."i'm not the happiest guy in the world. i'm
not sure why. but i can't say, "it's because someone stole my bike.""
trent, a 24-year-old keyboardist from rural pa, dropped out of college in '84, moved to the steel wasteland
of cleveland and took a job as a studio technician to learn music engineering. though he's a trained
classical pianist, he hasn't looked at a piece of sheet music in five years. he didn't want traditional
music theory and technique to interfere with nine inch nails' raw, uncalculated debut lp, pretty hate
machine. reshaping '80's mope rock, trent and producers john fryer and flood fuse misery with
technology. they take advantage of the massive appeal of the cure, depeche mode and the smiths (the
dead on expression of post-adolescent discontent) and make it danceable. the album ia a collection of
dense electronic noise, synthesized beats and powerful laments that wallow in introspection, attack with
violent screams and haunt with seductive, droning whispers. the songs - the first trent's ever written - are
fraught with religious references, trent sometimes putting himself in christ's place.
"i believe in god,"he says. "i was brought up going to sunday school and church, but it didn't really mean
anything. things upset me a lot. it was just a theme i kept coming back to-religion, guilt and doubting. i
believe there's a god but i'm not too sure of his relevance."
on stage, trent and the touring band he formed in cleveland are lost in a sea of smoke, leather and skin.
covered in cakey white powder, black lipstick and eyeliner, he moves slowly, provocatively, then erupts
into a wild, uninhibited dance, yanking his guitar player around the stage by his ponytail and spitting
beer onto the crowd. unlike his harsh, aggressive music and dramatic stage performance, trent reznor-a
little over five feet tall with long jet black hair, shaved on both sides, wearing a hoop earing and black
combat boots-is, in person, a bit shy, a bit melancholy. "i'm not the cool rock guy who has a
motorcycle,"he says. although, for fun he does ride a mountain bike.
"i was raised by my grandparents, the greatest people in the world," says trent. "i try to tell them,"you're
not going to hear my music on the radio. i'm not going to be on soap operas singing this." i can imagine
what my grandfather tells people:"it's called nine inch nails-here's the video. and here he is lying dead at
the end of it." i warned my grandfather that the church might be after him."
By robin reinhardt
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.