New disc seals a decade of NIN
Frontman Trent Reznor says release is band's first chapter - jan. 25, 2002

By KIERAN GRANT -- Toronto Sun

The title And All That Could Have Been doesn't exactly scream confidence and satisfaction. Particularly when it's the title of both a live album and concert video that supposedly document your best performances of your best work.

But Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor -- a man who's never appeared to look back over the course of a 13-year artistic trajectory -- says this release was built on second-guessing.

"Since the beginning, I've always had this sense of 'what-if' when I finish something," Reznor says during a recent phone interview to promote And All That Could Have Been, which came out in stores on CD, DVD, and VHS this week.

"Not that I'm disappointed with what I have. It's more out of interest over the possibilities -- what could have been."

And All That Could Have Been is both the first live album and retrospective collection from Reznor -- who is the sole creative force behind NIN.

The singer-producer says the disc sums up the band's first decade and effectively seals it up as a first chapter. It includes live performances of 16 NIN songs, touching on albums and EPs Pretty Hate Machine (1989), Broken (1992), The Downward Spiral (1994), and The Fragile (1999). The recordings were culled from the North American leg of the band's Fragility tour in 2000.

A limited edition version of the CD contains a second disc, Still, with fresh material and re-done older tracks.

While Reznor considers the performances some of NIN's best, he was hesitant to compile a live/best-of album at all.

In fact, he sees a large divide between what he does in the studio and on stage.

"I decided long ago to really treat NIN as two separate entities: Just me using the studio as an instrument, and the live presentation," he says.

"It's strange for me, because in the studio I never allow myself to consider what people would expect or want -- to let my art be as pure as I can make it. Subconciously, some concern about expectations creeps in along with success. But I really try to put what I think is the most interesting first.

"I wear a very different hat when it comes time to get the tour together. I've always put myself in the position of the fan who goes to see a band, and what would I want to see? I've seen many bands, and it's often that they're playing 10 songs off the new album and I actually want to hear a best-of.

"I generally have this conservative wish list. When it's just 10 songs off the new album, that's just pretentious and irritating to me as a fan. So, where as a musician it might have been more fun to play the new album in its entirety, I considered the audience's needs."

Reznor is currently working on his next album at his New Orleans studio, and hopes to have it completed by summer.

"The new music I'm properly working on is not knee-jerk to The Fragile, but it's more primitive, less layered, and a little more spacious," he says. "It's certainly not harder-edged in a metal way. But it's a little rawer in a less-produced way."