Columbus musician Jerome Dillon probably never looked into his future and imagined
himself lying on a bed of nails - artistically speaking.
Then Trent Reznor came calling.
Now Dillon, as he used to do, no longer has to watch Nine Inch Nails from the audience.
That's because he's the new drummer in the band.
And, yes, auditioning for a group that some observers would say is one of the most vital,
as well as one of the most important assemblages in rock'n'roll was intimidating, he
"Most definitely because I was a fan of the band and a fan of their work and work ethic,"
Dillon says. To have made the cut is both daunting on one level and "unbelievably
gratifying" on the other, he says.
Now, he just wants to deliver every night.
"I hope I play the music more emotionally and with more intensity than any other
drummer," Dillon says. "But I pride myself on, more than being a drummer, being as
good a musician as possible, as intuitive a musician as possible and hope to continue the
relationship between the band and me and Trent. He knows I have the right instincts to
convey the music the way he wants to be heard: very emotionally and with a lot of fire
Dillon, 30, previously was in the band Howlin' Maggie, which was on Columbia.
Flash back to that Nine Inch Nails audition in March of 1999.
"Trent didn't really explain what he expected from me musically or otherwise. He just
basically didn't want to give away too much, so he knew he found the right guy I guess."
Dillon says it was a very heads up approach to the audition. "It was much more showing
me respect than a 'Let's see what you've got' because I had already gotten through the
filtering process of thousands of demo tapes."
All of which begs the musical question, is Nine Inch Nails, on the road again after an
absence of several years, more than just Trent and his sidemen?
"Obviously, Trent is Nine Inch Nails. It would not exist without him. It would exist
without the other guys for sure, hence the revolving membership that has taken place
during the tenure of the band," Dillon says. "More so there is a band dynamic to the live
show and touring and even, to a certain extent, there is a band dynamic in the recording
process. Trent wants me to feel like a part of the band and not just a side guy."
There is a gray area that might be somewhat blurry, he says. "The direction is 180 percent
Trent's," he says. "But on anything on how the band might be perceived as a whole, as an
entity, especially TV or radio performance or interviews, he runs past the band
When he was on the outside looking in as a fan, Dillon says he felt Nine Inch Nails was a
very honest band that made very honest music. Becoming a member of the group only
served to heighten that opinion, he says. "I felt like there was a lot of artistic integrity
involved. I'm so grateful to be involved in something like this, where such a high level of
artistic integrity is maintained."
That's the band's approach in all facets of the business, he says. "Nothing is left to chance.
It's thought out methodically and thoroughly and completely. There's never the possibility
of this band doing anything perceived as inappropriate."
It has been suggested that the musical landscape has changed to bare midriffs, backward
baseball caps and happy music. If that's true, does that make it more difficult for an
angst-filled band like Nine Inch Nails, whose last full studio album was five years ago, to
"It could be," Dillon allows. "We definitely run the risk of that, being in a climate
musically that doesn't really have a place for us. But we're not really concerning ourselves
with that. The band feels we have an obligation to this record and to the music and to
Trent's art as a whole. That's what we concentrate on and are focused on on this tour."
He likes the fact that The Fragile, Reznor's new Nine Inch Nails album, with its 23 tracks
and over 100 minutes of playing time, represents an evolution in the music.
"Each record he's done he re-evolved from the one before it," he says. "The
instrumentation is something completely different on this album. It works and projects
and portrays a vulnerability he was looking to capture with this record."
Nine Inch Nails has been touring internationally behind the album: Europe, Japan, New
Zealand and Australia.
"The new record has caught on and been embraced much more overseas," he says. "We
are expecting the record to catch on more here with the tour. This band has never
garnered that much support from MTV or radio. It's never been that type of band. It was
always word of mouth and non-stop touring. That's how other records have gotten over on
the public. It's a little disappointing it hasn't done better in America, but at the same time
it was inevitable. It was new to the kids."
So, there is something to prove on this tour. "We want to prove that while this record is a
double record, and it may be asking a lot of the public to sit down and listen to the entire
thing in its entirety, and it may have been too much to give to the public after so long (an
absence), we still believe in it and everyone in the organization believes it is a work of
Something new awaits every night, he says. "Different emotions are encountered and I
feel something different every night when I play. I never experienced that with any other
music I've played," he says.
Dillon hopes people leave relating to the honesty expressed. "I hope they see that it's very
real and in that honesty there is beauty and vulnerability."
Editor's Note: Nine Inch Nails perfom Saturday, April 29th at HSBC Arena in Buffalo