Up From The Downward Spiral
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor exorcises his
personal demons on the "Fragility V2.0' tour
By Ian D'Giff. Ian D'Giff is a freelance writer.
IT'S BEEN FIVE long years since Trent Reznor and Nine
Inch Nails last
unleashed their digitized mayhem and ferocious bombast
at a live show or
released a full-length studio album -but we've all
heard that story. Reznor
couldn't handle the fame. He couldn't handle the
pressures of the road. He
wound up hating himself and became clinically
depressed. So why will the
"Fragility v2.0" tour be any easier than the last, and
how has Reznor
changed so that he'll be better able to cope? Perhaps
passing glimpses of
those questions can be found when NIN takes the stage
for two shows
May 9 and 10, at Madison Square Garden and Nassau
Unfortunately, if Reznor has changed, he's done a good
job of obscuring
The same morbid curiosity that led him to record
1994's "The Downward
Spiral"-a mechanized marriage of sex and death, in the
Hollywood Hills home where Charlie Manson's disciples
Sharon Tate-is still alive and well.
For his latest studio effort, "The Fragile"-which is
easily interpreted as
documenting the systematic meltdown and subsequent
Reznor's still-wounded psyche-he moved his studio to a
home in New Orleans. He even took the front door from
residence with him.
Presumably, change is in the eye of the beholder.
But change is slow, and Reznor now comes off as
post-traumatic stress disorder.
It seems the "Downward Spiral" tour was traumatic for
"At the end of two and a half years of touring, we got
off the bus, and
everything was different," he said in Rolling Stone.
"I saw myself change on
tour, because I could. It was like, 'You mean, I can
treat you like ---and
get everything I'm supposed to? Great!'" Ironically,
the sadistic persona
didn't suit him.
"The 'Downward Spiral' came true," he told USA Today.
was healthy, but I arrived at a very raw place. I
neglected things that make
me human. I gave up friends and relationships,
thinking, 'I'll get to that
later.' I wasn't strong enough to make another record.
I wasn't tough
enough to be critiqued and picked at. I wanted to hide
out and get away
from me." Reznor was soon being treated by a
psychiatrist who placed
him on anti-depressants (Effexor and Paxil), but that
didn't last long.
"I was in an abnormally positive mood all the time,"
he recently told Spin.
This ultimately led Reznor to quit therapy.
"I turned a corner, and I didn't need someone chewing
at me to do things I
didn't feel were right for me, like medication," he
said in Rolling Stone.
"But that whole procedure made me realize I didn't
like myself anymore
and that I had to come to terms with certain things."
So he poured himself
into his music. His self-prescribed, personalized
therapy, if you will.
"I remember sitting down and playing the piano and
thinking, 'How did I
ever forget that this is what brought me joy? How did
I let that happen?'
It's not doing interviews, it's not live shows, not
backstage passes and
bank accounts...I did this because I love music," he
"The Fragile" provided Reznor's first steps out of the
"To me this record is an attempt at repair. It
attempts to put the pieces
back together," he said. But that was just the
These days, Reznor's intense self-prescribed therapy
plays out every night
on tour, where he escapes into his music and faces
down his demons. And
it seems Reznor's skies are finally beginning to
"This is the bottom, the foundation for me," Reznor
said recently. "I haven't
gotten my whole life-creed thing down yet, but it's
grown by leaps and
bounds from where it was a few years ago. Maybe it's a
thing, I dunno. But I feel better about myself as a
human being right now
than I ever did."
Nine Inch Nails: with A
Tues., May 9 at Madison Square
212-307-7171, and Wed., May 10 at Nassau Coliseum,
Hempstead Tpke., Uniondale, 516-794-9303.
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.