interview - 1.02

About the DVD

It has never been easy to capture the excitement of a rock concert or the feeling of the crowd on album or video. And when the expectations are especially high, like when the tour sells out all 43 shows and is named "Best Tour 2000" by Rolling Stone's critics, it might seem impossible. Which is why, when nine inch nails mastermind Trent Reznor wanted to document NIN's "Fragility v2.0" U.S. tour, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Or, to be more specific, his own Mac.

The results are the first-ever live album and first-ever DVD from nine inch nails.

Dubbed and all that could have been, the cd/dvd/vhs which chronicles a tour described by the NME as "angry, basic, mesmerizing, and visually matched by three phallic video screens, flashing kaleidoscopic images," was entirely put together by Reznor and director/editor Rob Sheridan at Reznorís own nothing studios in New Orleans on the same kind of computers most people use to send e-mail.

On CD, and all that could have been presents live versions of such seminal NIN tunes as "Head Like A Hole", "Wish", "Closer", and "Hurt". In addition, a special-edition companion CD, entitled still, features four NIN favorites recorded live in a deconstructed fashion, one new vocal track, and four new instrumentals. The still CD is available directly via nine inch nails' website and in stores as part of a deluxe audio package.

On DVD and VHS,and all that could have been recreates the "Fragility v2.0" concert experience from beginning to end. The shows featured ground-breaking visuals created by such innovators as lighting programmer Leroy Bennett (NIN, The Cure, Prince), lighting set designer Marc Brickman (Pink Floyd, Springsteen), and internationally renowned video artist Bill Viola, while the live sound was handled by Jon Lemmon (The Cure, Depeche Mode). The DVD edition also features Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and DTS, commentary by Bill Viola, a photo gallery, and the option of viewing some songs from different angles.

Q&A with Trent Reznor

What was it about the Fragility v2.0 tour that made you want to document it with an album and home video?

In the midst of this tour, I was walking around the stage before a show, which is when I'd normally be nervous. But instead, I was feeling very proud of how we were playing as a band. A lot of the songs have really mutated since their inception: the Pretty Hate Machine tunes have toughened up and turned into better arranged songs, while the songs from The Fragile have become a bit less delicate. And since a tour is a finite thing, I thought it would be a good thing to document it.

Why did you decide to film it yourself?

When we were on The Downward Spiral tour, we hired a film company that specialized in concert filming. I remember watching the raw footage and thinking, "this is terrible." So this time, I went and bought a bunch of mini DV [digital video] cameras, and we handed some out to various crew members, and others we set up on tripods in corners or up where the spotlight guys were. And sometimes the camera would move and it'd film the wall for the whole show. I wasn't concerned with it being this professional-looking video. I wanted it to look like you were there.

How did you decide which performances of the songs to use?

An early decision was made to not try and fool you into thinking it was one concert. In every song, you might be jumping around from ten to twenty places cut together. Which is why you'll notice that Robin [Finck], our guitar player, his haircut changes in every shot. So we recorded the audio over several nights, then picked the best version of each song, and cut the video to fit that.

Why did you then decided to put the video together on your own?

The main thing was that I'm interested in how it's done. I also know that when I'm involved in the process, I come up with ideas that I wouldn't if I just hand it to someone else to do. Could someone else have put this together in less time? Absolutely. But there's something home-made about it that gives it more soul and character. It's cool that you can do all this stuff on your own now. A few years ago I was considering getting an Avid video editing system because every time we do a video we have to re-edit it and re-edit it, and I thought it would be great if I could just do it in my studio. But computers have become so powerful now that you don't need all that extra hardware. Which is what made us wonder if we could do this whole thing ourselves.

Given nine inch nails' reputation as musical innovators, how important was it that the DVD also be innovative?

We just thought DVD was a format that was cool, and wondered what could we do with it. It wasn't like we were thinking, "Well, we're expected to really put out a great one," it was more like, "I think it's cool, how do I use it?"

Besides the regular version of the live album, you're also releasing a second special disc, still, that will be sold on your website,, and also in a deluxe audio package. What will be on that disc?

We did a radio show in Chicago where we did such songs as "The Fragile" and "Hurt" that were stripped down, though it was not us with acoustic guitars, singing Poison songs. So I took those performances, and added some other ones we'd done in the studio, several new instrumental tracks, a new song called "and all that couldíve been," and worked it into a heavily melancholic suite for a rainy, fall, Sunday afternoon.

So now that you've done all this, can I now hire you to make a DVD out of my old student films?

Yeah, no problem. I can probably get that done around 2009.