100 Coolest Rock Stars : Trent Number One!!
Kerrang Magazine July 1998

More than anyone, Nine Inch Nails' mainman Trent Reznor deserves credit for the open-minded, eclectic and adventurous state of Planet Rock in 1998. In addition to shaping Marylin Manson's warped electro-goth vision and revolutionising the way movie soundtracks are assembled on 'Natural Born Killers', the Cleveland-born studio whizzkid is almost single-handedly responsible for breaking down the boundaries between rock and dance music. He has encouraged Luddite rock musicians to embrace technology by proving that dance beats can be as skull-crushingly intense as filthy riffs, that synths don't necessarily suck, and that computers arent the work of the Devil.

A self-confessed loner, Reznor was inspired by the disquieting electronic ambience of David Bowie's 1977 album 'Low' and Lou Reed's 1972 masterpiece 'Transformer'. He spent his early 20's raging with the machines, perfecting the art of perverting samples, programming beats and deconstructing conventional ideas of melody and tonality at Cleveland's Right Track studio.

In 1990, he released Nine Inch Nails' debut album, 'Pretty Hate Machine'. An awe-inspiring collage of grinding synths, scarring guitars and angst-filled 'tunes' chronicling bad trips, loveless sex and bleak moods, it peaked with the awesome streamlined rush of 'Head Like A Hole'- a mechanical masterclass in manipulating mood and dynamics. Following two incendiary, hate-filled mini-albums - '91's 'Broken' and '92's 'Fixed' - which veered perilously close towards unlistenable self-indulgence, Reznor's years in self-imposed isolation spat forth his master opus, 1994's 'The Downward Spiral'.

"All I know is I made a small-scale, personal, potentially ugly record that reflected how I felt," Reznor told Kerrang! after its release. One listen to the nihilistic thoughts contained within the album is enough to leave you in no doubt that at the time, its creators mind nust have been a terrible thing to taste.

A flood of wan NIN imitators have emerged in the four years since '... Spiral', but typically Reznor has moved onto another creative plane. In 1998, electronic rock's dark prince is taking on board techno, drum 'n' bass and experimental influences as he seeks to move the whole notion of hard-edged music one step beyond yet again. The next NIN album - working title 'The Fragile' - is scheduled for release later this year. "It has," says Reznor, "the sound of a stereo exploding."