Nine Inch Nails Overview
Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland Cleveland, Ohio , Ohio. As its main producer Producer (music) , singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction. NIN's music straddles a wide range of genres, while retaining a characteristic sound using electronic instruments and processing. After recording a new album, Reznor usually assembles a live band Nine Inch Nails live performances to perform with him. The touring band features a revolving lineup that often rearranges songs to fit a live setting. On stage, NIN often employs visual elements to accompany performances, which frequently include light shows.
Underground music audiences warmly received Nine Inch Nails in its early years. Reznor produced several highly influential records in the 1990s that achieved widespread po***rity; many Nine Inch Nails songs became radio hits, two NIN recordings won Grammy Awards, and the band has sold over 20 million albums worldwide,
In 2004, Rolling Stone placed Nine Inch Nails at 94 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Despite this acclaim, the band has had several feuds with the corporate side of the recording industry. In 2007, these corporate entanglements resulted in Reznor announcing that Nine Inch Nails would split from its label and release future material independently.
Since 1989, Nine Inch Nails has made eight major studio releases. The most recent releases, Ghosts I–IV and The Slip The Slip (album) , both released in 2008, were released under Creative Commons licenses. Both were initially released digitally, with physical releases coming later. The digital release of The Slip was made available completely free of charge. NIN has been nominated for twelve Grammy Awards and won twice for the songs "Wish Wish (song) " and "Happiness in Slavery", in 1992 and 1995 respectively.
In 1987, Trent Reznor played keyboards with a Cleveland band called the Exotic Birds, then managed by John Malm, Jr. Reznor and Malm became friends, and when Reznor left the Exotic Birds to work on music of his own, Malm informally became his manager. At the time Reznor was employed as an assistant engineer and janitor at Right Track Studios Midtown Recording , While assembling these, the earliest Nine Inch Nails recordings, Reznor was unable to find a band that could articulate the material as he desired. Instead, inspired by Prince Prince (musician) , Reznor played all the instruments except drums himself. This role remains Reznor's on most of the band's studio recordings, though he has occasionally involved other musicians and assistants. In 1988, after playing its first shows supporting Skinny Puppy, Reznor's ambitions for Nine Inch Nails were to release one 12-inch single on a small European label. Several labels responded favorably to the demo material, and Reznor signed with TVT Records. Other rumored explanations have circulated, alleging that Reznor chose to reference Jesus' crucifixion with nine-inch spikes, or Freddy Krueger's nine-inch fingernails. The Nine Inch Nails' logo, which consists of the letters [NIИ] set inside a border, was designed by Reznor and Gary Talpas. The logo first appeared on NIN's debut, "Down in It", and was inspired by Tibor Kalman's typography on the Talking Heads album Remain in Light. Talpas, a native of Cleveland, would continue to design NIN packaging art until 1997.
Pretty Hate Machine (1989–1991)
Written, arranged, and performed by Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails' first album Pretty Hate Machine debuted in 1989. It marked Reznor's first collaboration with Adrian Sherwood (who produced the lead single "Down in It" in London, England without having met Reznor face-to-face) Reznor proclaimed this combination "a sincere statement" of "what was in [his] head at the time". After spending 113 weeks on the Billboard 200 Billboard 200 , Pretty Hate Machine became one of the first independently released Independent music records to attain platinum certification RIAA certification . Nine Inch Nails then embarked on a world tour that continued through the first Lollapalooza festival in 1991. After a poor European reception opening for Guns N' Roses, NIN returned to America amid pressure from TVT to produce a follow-up to Pretty Hate Machine. In response, Reznor secretly began recording under various pseudonyms to avoid record company interference.
being tortured in the music video for "Happiness in Slavery"
In 1992 Nine Inch Nails released Broken Broken (Nine Inch Nails EP) , an EP extended play featuring six songs and two bonus tracks. In the liner notes, Reznor credited the 1991 Nine Inch Nails touring band List of Nine Inch Nails live-band members as an influence on the EP's sound. Reznor characterized Broken as a guitar-based "blast of destruction", and as "a lot harder [...] than Pretty Hate Machine". but the EP's most infamous video accompanied "Happiness in Slavery". The video was almost universally banned for its graphic depiction of performance artist Bob Flanagan disrobing lying on a machine that pleasures, tortures, then kills him. A third video for "Pinion", partially incorporated into MTV's Alternative Nation opening sequence, showed a toilet that apparently flushes into the mouth of a person in bondage Bondage (BDSM) . Reznor and Christopherson compiled these three clips along with footage for "Help Me I Am In Hell" and "Gave Up" into a longform music video also called Broken Broken (1993 film) . It depicts the murder of a young man who is kidnapped and tortured while forced to watch the videos. This footage was never officially released, but instead appeared covertly among tape trading circles. Broken was followed by the remix EP Fixed Fixed (EP) in late 1992. Rather than tour in support of the new material, Reznor began living and recording full-time at Le Pig, working on a follow-up free of restrictions from his record label.
The Downward Spiral (1994–1997)
Nine Inch Nails' second full-length album, The Downward Spiral, entered the Billboard 200 in 1994 at number two, and remains the highest-selling NIN release in the United States. Influenced by late-1970s rock albums Low Low (album) by David Bowie, and The Wall by Pink Floyd respectively, The Downward Spiral features a wide range of textures and moods to illustrate the mental progress of a central character. Flood once again co-produced several tracks on the album, though it proved to be his last collaboration with Nine Inch Nails. Longtime Flood-collaborator Alan Moulder mixed mix engineer most of The Downward Spiral and subsequently took on more extensive production duties for future NIN releases. It was recorded at Le Pig Studios, Beverly Hills – built by Reznor in the house where Charles Manson's "family" murdered Sharon Tate, wife of noted film director Roman Polanski, and four of her friends.
The album spawned two singles, "March of the Pigs" and "Closer Closer (Nine Inch Nails song) ", along with "Hurt Hurt (Nine Inch Nails song) " and "Piggy" which were issued to radio without a commercial single release. The music video for "Closer" was directed by Mark Romanek and received frequent rotation on MTV, though the network made extensive edits to the original version, which they perceived to be too graphic. A radio edit that partially mutes the song's explicit lyrics also received extensive airtime. The Closure video documented highlights from NIN's Self Destruct tour, including full live videos of "Eraser", "Hurt" and a one-take Long take "March of the Pigs" clip made for MTV.
Critical response to The Downward Spiral has generally been favorable: in 2005 the album was ranked 25th in Spin Spin (magazine) 's list of the "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005", and in 2003 Rolling Stone ranked the album number 200 on their "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. After The Downward Spiral's release, Reznor produced an accompanying remix album entitled Further Down the Spiral, the only non-major NIN release to be certified gold RIAA certification in the United States. Nine Inch Nails received considerable mainstream success thereafter, performing with significantly higher production values and adding theatrical visual elements to the live show. Around this time, Reznor's studio perfectionism, struggles with addiction, and bouts of writer's block prolonged the production of a follow-up record.
In 1997 Reznor produced the soundtrack Lost Highway (soundtrack) to the David Lynch film Lost Highway. The release spawned the single "The Perfect Drug", the video for which was again directed by Mark Romanek. A tenth anniversary deluxe reissue of The Downward Spiral was released in 2004.
The Fragile (1999–2002)
Five years elapsed between The Downward Spiral and NIN's next studio album, The Fragile, which arrived as a double album in September 1999. when it was already described as "oft-delayed". When the album was finally released, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 228,000 copies in its first week and receiving favorable reviews. However, the album slipped out of the Billboard Top 10 only a week after its release, and Reznor funded the subsequent North American tour out of his own pocket.
According to Reznor, The Fragile was conceived by making "songwriting and arranging and production and sound design [...] the same thing. A song would start with a drum loop or a visual and eventually a song would emerge out of it and that was the song." Canadian rock producer Bob Ezrin was consulted on the album's track listing; the liner notes state that he "provided final continuity and flow."
Before the album's release, the song "Star***ers, Inc." provoked media speculation about whom Reznor had intended its acerbic lyrics to satirize. Cine***uality critic Patricia MacCormack interprets the song as a "scathing attack on the alternative music scene", particularly Reznor's former friend and protégé Marilyn Manson. The two artists put aside their differences when Manson appeared in the song's music video, retitled "Starsuckers, Inc." and performed on stage with NIN at Madison Square Garden in 2000. Nine Inch Nails released three commercial singles from the album in different territories: "The Day the World Went Away" in North America; "We're in This Together" in the EU and Japan (on three separate discs); and "Into the Void Into the Void (Nine Inch Nails song) " in Australia.
Reznor followed The Fragile with another remix album, Things Falling Apart, released after the 2000 Fragility tour, which itself was recorded and released on CD, DVD, and VHS in 2002 as And All that Could Have Been. A deluxe edition of the live CD came with the companion disc Still And All that Could Have Been#Still , featuring stripped-down versions of songs from the NIN catalog along with several new pieces of music.
With Teeth (2005–2006)
A further six years elapsed before Nine Inch Nails' fourth full-length album, With Teeth, was released in 2005, though it was leaked prior to its official release date. The album was written and recorded following Reznor's battle with alcoholism and substance abuse. Like The Fragile, With Teeth debuted on top of the Billboard 200. The entire album was made available in streaming audio on the band's official MySpace page in advance of its release date. Critical reception of the album was generally favorable: Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield described the album as "vintage Nine Inch Nails".
A promotional video for the song "The Hand That Feeds" premiered on NIN's website in March 2005, rather than the traditional music channels. Reznor also released the source files for the song in GarageBand format a month later, allowing fans to remix the song. Reznor similarly released files for the album's second single "Only Only (Nine Inch Nails song) " in a wider range of formats, including Pro Tools and ACID Pro. David Fincher directed a video for "Only" using primarily computer-generated imagery. The third single, "Every Day Is Exactly the Same", was released in April 2006, but a planned music video was reportedly scrapped in the post-production stage. The song topped Billboard's Alternative Songs charts.
Nine Inch Nails launched a North American arena tour in autumn 2005, supported by Queens of the Stone Age, Autolux and Death from Above 1979. Another opening act on this tour, hip-hop artist Saul Williams, performed on stage with Nine Inch Nails at the Voodoo Music Experience festival during a headlining appearance in hurricane-stricken New Orleans, Reznor's former home. To conclude the With Teeth era of the band, NIN completed a tour of North American amphitheaters Amphitheatre#Contemporary amphitheatres in the summer of 2006, joined by Bauhaus Bauhaus (band) , TV on the Radio, and Peaches Peaches (musician) .
Year Zero (2007)
flyer from the Year Zero alternate reality game Year Zero (alternate reality game) .
Nine Inch Nails' fifth studio album, Year Zero Year Zero (album) , was released only two years after With Teeth, a marked change in pace from the release of previous albums. With lyrics written from the perspective of multiple fictitious characters, Reznor described Year Zero as a concept album criticizing the United States government's current policies and how they will impact the world 15 years in the future. Critical response to the album was generally favorable, with an average rating of 76% on MetaCritic.
An alternate reality game Year Zero (alternate reality game) emerged parallel to the Year Zero concept, expanding upon its storyline. Clues hidden on tour merchandise initially led fans to discover a network of fictitious, in-game websites that describe an "Orwellian picture of the United States circa the year 2022". Before Year Zero's release, unreleased songs from the album were found on USB drives hidden at NIN concert venues in Lisbon and Barcelona, as part of the alternate reality game. Fan participation in the alternate reality game caught the attention of media outlets such as USA Today and Billboard, who have cited fan-site The NIN Hotline, forum Echoing the Sound, fan club The Spiral, and NinWiki as sources for new discoveries.
The album's first single, "Survivalism Survivalism (song) ", and other tracks from Year Zero were released as multitrack multitrack recording audio files for fans to remix. A remix album titled Year Zero Remixed was later released, featuring remixes from Year Zero from other artists. The remix album proved to be Nine Inch Nails' final new release on a major record label, as the act had completed its contractual obligation to Interscope Records and did not renew its contract. The remix album was accompanied by an interactive remix site with multi-track downloads and the ability to post remixes, after legal issues delayed its debut.
Ghosts I–IV and The Slip (2008)
In February 2008, Reznor posted a news update on the Nine Inch Nails website entitled "2 weeks." On March 2, Ghosts I–IV, a 36-track instrumental album, became available via the band's official website. Ghosts I–IV was made available in a number of different formats and forms, ranging from a free download of the first volume, to a $300 Ultra-Deluxe limited edition package. All 2500 copies of the $300 package sold out in three days. The album is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike Creative Commons licenses license. The album was created improvisationally over a 10-week period and contributors included Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder, Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew, and Brian Viglione.
Similar to the announcement that ultimately led to the release of Ghosts I–IV, a post on the band's website in April 2008 read "2 weeks!" On May 5, Nine Inch Nails released The Slip The Slip (album) via their website without any advertisement or promotion. The album was made available for download free of charge, protected under the same Creative Commons license as Ghosts, and has seen individual downloads surpassing 1.4 million. The Slip has since been released on CD as a limited edition set of 250,000.
Since the release of Ghosts I–IV and The Slip, a 25-date tour titled Lights in the Sky, was announced in several North American cities, and was later expanded to include several more North American dates as well as dates in South America. Cortini and Freese returned as members from the previous tour, while Robin Finck rejoined the band and Justin Meldal-Johnsen was added on bass guitar. In late 2008, Freese and Coritini left the live band, and with the addition of Ilan Rubin on drums, the band became a four-piece. In January, 2009, Reznor uploaded unedited HD-quality footage from three shows as a download of over 400 GB Gigabyte via BitTorrent BitTorrent (protocol) .
Toronto in 2009.
The end of touring, and subsequent events (2009 / present)
In February 2009, Reznor posted his thoughts about the future of Nine Inch Nails on NIN.com, stating that "I've been thinking for some time now it's time to make NIN disappear for a while." Reznor has said outright in an interview on the official website that he is not done creating music as Nine Inch Nails, but that Nine Inch Nails is done touring for the foreseeable future. On September 10, 2009, Trent Reznor discussed, in an interview with Pink Is The New Blog, the end of Nine Inch Nails as a touring act. Nine Inch Nails played its final show at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. The following month, the band started selling excess touring equipment on eBay.
In an interview with The Quietus following the Wave Goodbye tour, Gary Numan said that he expected to begin collaborating with Reznor. Discussing the form that this new material might take, Numan was quoted as saying, "probably just a few songs to start with and see how it goes on. It'll be cool."
Trent Reznor indicated on the Nine Inch Nails website that he was continuing work on Nine Inch Nails and other projects after the Wave Goodbye tour, and that new material from Nine Inch Nails was planned for release in 2010. A Nine Inch Nails official Twitter update hinted at a deluxe reissue of The Fragile scheduled for 2010. Beginning February 9, 2010, Trent Reznor started posting images of studio recording equipment, including a synthesizer and Reznor singing into a recording microphone, on the front page of nin.com accompanied by a "?".Allmusic's Steve Huey states that "Nine Inch Nails were the most po***r industrial Industrial music group ever and were largely responsible for bringing the music to a mass audience." Reviewing The Fragile, critic Steve Cooper noted that the album juxtaposes widely varied genres, such as solo piano in "The Frail" and drum and bass elements in "Star***ers, Inc."
Certain techniques and styles can be found throughout NIN's catalog. Songs such as "Wish" ( ), and "The Day the World Went Away" ( ) exhibit terraced dynamics dynamics (music) . Reznor's singing follows a similar pattern, frequently moving from whispers to screams. The band's music also occasionally features complex time signatures, notably in "The Collector", from With Teeth, and concert favorite "March of the Pigs". Reznor also uses noise Noise (audio) and distortion in his song arrangements, and incorporates dissonance Consonance and dissonance with chromatic melody and/or harmony. These techniques are all used in the song "Hurt Hurt (Nine Inch Nails song) " ( ), which features a highly dissonant tritone played on guitar during the verses, a B5#11, emphasized when Reznor sings the eleventh note on the word "I" every time the B/E# dyad Dyad (music) is played. "Closer Closer (Nine Inch Nails song) " ( ) concludes with a chromatic piano motif Motif (music) : the same melody that first appears during the chorus of Heresy, and then recurs on the title track of The Downward Spiral.
Nine Inch Nails has influenced many newer artists, which according to Reznor range from "generic imitations" dating from NIN's initial success to younger bands echoing his style in a "truer, less imitative way". Following the release of The Downward Spiral, mainstream artists began to take notice of Nine Inch Nails' influence: David Bowie compared NIN's impact to that of The Velvet Underground. In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time Time (magazine) magazine's list of the year's most influential people, and Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music". The Recording Industry Association of America certified sales for 10.5 million units of the band's albums in the United States, which accounts for roughly half of the band's reported sales worldwide. Bob Ezrin, producer for Pink Floyd, Kiss Kiss (band) , Alice Cooper, and Peter Gabriel, described Reznor in 2007 as a "true visionary" and advised aspiring artists to take note of his no-compromise attitude. During a rare appearance at the Kerrang! Awards in London that year, Nine Inch Nails accepted the Kerrang! Icon, honoring the band's long-standing influence on rock music. "Weird Al" Yankovic did an obvious parody of his style of music entitled "Germs", though it was not acknowledged as a parody of his songs because it did not parody one of his songs in particular, but rather what Yankovic referred to as a "style parody." The song is likely based around the sound of "Terrible Lie" (general melody), "Mr. Self Destruct" (in the pre chorus) and "Closer" (drum beat).Trent Reznor is the sole official member of Nine Inch Nails. However, Reznor has typically formed a backing group of musicians to perform the songs in a live setting. This live band, also known as Nine Inch Nails, rearranges the band's studio catalog and creates a different sound than that of Reznor's studio recordings. Band members have occasionally been invited to participate in the recording process, but creative control within the studio has always been exclusively with Reznor.
The Tapeworm Tapeworm (band) project was created in 1995 as a Nine Inch Nails side-project between Reznor and various live-band members as a more "democratic" creative environment. The band initially included band members Danny Lohner and Charlie Clouser, but eventually expanded to feature other frequent NIN contributors Josh Freese, Atticus Ross, and Alan Moulder. However, after 9 years of studio sessions, no material was ever officially released from the group, and it was confirmed to be no longer active in 2005.
The lineup of the live band has a tendency to change drastically between major tours: aside from Reznor remaining on lead vocals and guitar, no member of the live band has remained constant since its inception. Reznor cited the long gestation period between studio albums as part of the reason for these frequent personnel changes, as well as his desire for fresh interpretations of his music. In 2009, the final incarnation of the live band featured Reznor with Robin Finck, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, and Ilan Rubin.Trent Reznor is an outspoken critic of the music industry, particularly corporate influence on his artistic freedom. As a result, Nine Inch Nails has clashed with several corporations, culminating in a decision to proceed as a free agent without any recording label contracts.
In the early 1990s, Nine Inch Nails was involved in a much-publicized feud with TVT Records, the first record label to sign the band. Reznor objected to the label's attempted interference with his intellectual property.
As part of the alternate reality game which accompanied the release of Year Zero, three tracks from the album were intentionally "leaked" prior to their official release at a number of NIN concerts on USB flash drives. The source that broke the story was quoted as saying "These *** idiots are going after a campaign that the label signed off on." Reznor objected to the use of his music in this way with the following message on the front page of the Nine Inch Nails website: "It's difficult for me to imagine anything more profoundly insulting, demeaning and enraging than discovering music you've put your heart and soul into creating has been used for purposes of torture. If there are any legal options that can be realistically taken they will be aggressively pursued, with any potential monetary gains donated to human rights charities. Thank GOD this country has appeared to side with reason and we can put the Bush administration's reign of power, greed, lawlessness and madness behind us."
Apple rejected an update to Nine Inch Nails' iPhone application because it found the contents of The Downward Spiral to be "objectionable".
Disputes with Universal Music Group
In May 2007, Reznor made a post on the official Nine Inch Nails website condemning Universal Music Group (parent company of Nine Inch Nails's record label, Interscope Records) for their pricing and distribution plans for Year Zero. He criticized the company's retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia as "ABSURD", concluding that "as a reward for being a 'true fan' you get ripped off." Reznor went on to say that as "the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more." Reznor's post, specifically his criticism of the recording industry at large, elicited considerable media attention. In September 2007, Reznor continued his attack on UMG at a concert in Australia, urging fans there to "steal" his music online instead of purchasing it legally. Reznor went on to encourage the crowd to "steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin'."
Reznor announced on October 8, 2007 that Nine Inch Nails had fulfilled its contractual commitments to Interscope Records and was now free to proceed as a "totally free agent, free of any recording contract with any label". Reznor also speculated that he would release the next NIN album online in a similar fashion to The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, which he produced. Reznor later released The Slip The Slip (album) in 2008 for free download.
Via another post on the official NIN website, Reznor again openly criticized Universal Music Group for preventing him from launching an official interactive fan remix website. Universal declined to host the site just days before its scheduled launch, citing the potential "accusation", in Reznor's words, "that they are sponsoring the same technical violation of copyright they are suing [other media companies] for". Reznor wrote in response that he was "challenged at the last second to find a way of bringing this idea to life without getting splashed by the urine as these media companies piss all over each other's feet". Despite these obstacles, the remix website was launched in November 2007.* Pretty Hate Machine (1989)
* Broken Broken (EP) (1992)
* The Downward Spiral (1994)
* The Fragile (1999)
* With Teeth (2005)
* Year Zero Year Zero (album) (2007)
* Ghosts I–IV (2008)
* The Slip The Slip (album) (2008)Nine Inch Nails has been nominated for twelve Grammy Awards and has won twice. Winning nominations are listed below in bold.
*'"Wish Wish (song) " – Best Metal Performance, 1992'
*The Downward Spiral – Best Alternative Music Performance, 1995 (nomination)
*"Every Day Is Exactly the Same" – Best Hard Rock Performance, 2006 (nomination)
*"34 Ghosts IV" – Best Rock Instrumental Performance, 2009 (nomination)
*Ghosts I–IV – Best Boxed Set or Limited Edition Package, 2009 (nomination)
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Nine Inch Nails
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