"It's not like I'm a horribly depressed person trying to come across as having a noose
around my neck," says Trent Reznor, the sole member of Nine Inch Nails. NIN's debut
album, *Pretty Hate Machine*, is shot through with angst-ridden sex, identity crises and
religious doubt--but Reznor's explanation is simple enough. "The music I always liked as
a kid was stuff I could burn out to and realize, 'Hey, someone *else* feels that way, too.'
So if someone can do that with my music, it's mission accomplished."
Nine Inch Nails' sound is dominated by clanging synths and sardonic, shrieking vocals.
But Reznor stretches that industrial-strength noise over a pop framework, and his
harrowing but catchy music has taken the college charts by storm.
Two years ago, Reznor moved from his hometown in rural Pennsylvania to Cleveland.
Unable to find band mates, Reznor, a classically trained pianist, taught himself to play
guitar and bass and recorded his demos at a studio where he worked as a MIDI
programmer. After signing a record deal, he hooked up with a bevy of weighty producers
including Adrian Sherwood and Keith LeBlanc (Tackhead), Flood (Depeche Mode) and
John Fryer (Love and Rockets).
Reznor ascribes the desperate sound of his record to the fact that "it wasn't the happiest
time of my life." He loves to tell how he sent a tape to his uncle, who was in the midst of
interviewing for a secretary. "This one girl was waiting for him to finish a meeting, and
he gave her the tape to listen to," says Reznor. "He came back, and she had left. When he
called her the next day, she said, 'I was listening to the tape, and I realized I don't want to
work for this company.' That's pretty much what I was setting out to do."
Reznor admits to being fairly upbeat these days. "Who knows?" he says. "Maybe there
will be a *happy* album from Nine Inch Nails. I doubt it, but you never know."