A lot of you may as yet not be familiar with with NINE INCH NAILS, but that is a
problem which I'm sure will be remedied in the upcoming months. NINE INCH NAILS is
one man, and that man is TRENT REZNOR, and he means business. With his first album
PRETTY HATE MACHINE on the streets now, he is already grabbing the attention of
music enthusiast in the know. Already being critically acclaimed as a musical genius, we
thought we should grab an interview with him before all the fame and fortune could go to
his head.Not that we are assuming he would give in easily to conceit, it's just that fame
does that to people. Well anyway, his first lp is out now on TVT and it's pretty damn
interesting and we thought we might inquire as to how one might make a hit record such
as this. So after a few phone calls and a couple disgusting gesture, we toss in your lap the
following conversation and opinions are yours for the making.
A.M.- How did you get started in music , did you study music in school? Were in any
high school bands?
N.I.N.- I was forced at gunpoint into piano lessons when I was five years old. That
progressed into high school and to getting into bands, things like that and playing
A.M.- Did you play at a lot of weddings?
N.I.N.- No, I never did any of that kind of shit. It was bad high school, let's play whatever
we hear on the radio type of bands. I grew up in a rural area of PENNSYLVANIA and it's
not really considered a hot bed of independent music.And in those surroundings you
weren't exposed to any kind of college radio.
A.M.- When did you move to CLEVELAND?
N.I.N.- I moved hear a few years ago because I was offered a job at a recording studio as
a programmer. I hate CLEVELAND and I don't plan on being here much longer, but I've
had some opportunities here that I would not of had if I we're in NEW YORK. or LA. I
don't have to work a hundred hours a week to support myself, it's cheap to live here. But,
it also sucks to live here too, so, there's a down side but I think i've used it to my
advantage but it's time to hit the road.
AM.- How did you get involved with TVT Records?
N.I.N.- It took about a year of searching for a label. We looked for a small European label
1st but had no luck. TVT first heard us when we performed with SKINNY PUPPY on
some East Coast dates. I felt very intimidated touring with SKINNY PUPPY, and the
band was not where I wanted it to be, we were very un-focused. Nettwerk asked us to be
ready in two days and we did the best we could. It was a good time to find out what was
wrong. I have put together an all new band now that I am much happier with, the live
band consists of 2 guitarists a drummer and a keyboard player.
A.M.- How did touring with SKINNY PUPPY come about?
N.I.N.- We had been being courted by NETTWERK and got to know those guys pretty
well and they offered us to do the whole tour which we didn't want to do because we
didn't have a record coming out for at least six month, so financially it didn't make sense.
And I didn't really think we were the best band to go on with Skinny Puppy. It was a bit
intimidating because at the time we were a lot lighter than we are now, even now I don't
think we would be appropriate. We turned it down and when they were in town the road
manager looked me up and said "look, the band we have with us we hate, do the rest of
the tour. PLEASE".O.k., so you have to be ready in two days. So I kind of just threw
something together which started of pretty shitty, but by the end sounded o.k..
A.M.- "Pretty Hate Machine" is your debut release. How did you come up with the name
and what does it mean?
N.I.N.- Well, I had a huge list of names for the album and I ended up trashing almost all
of them. Finally, I came up with "Pretty Hate Machine." I thought it was a good way to
describe the music as a whole, meaning "Machine--generated music". It is electronic,
which is derived from keyboards, which are machines. There is a lot of hate, anger and
emotion in both the lyrics and music, the album is a "pretty hate machine".
A.M.- Other than performing live, you are the sole member of NIN, how long did it take
you to complete this album?
NIN-I went in the studio in early '88 just making weird demo's and putting together some
ideas I had, which eventually formed the album. So it took almost two years to come up
with a final product.
A.M.- How did producers Flood and Adrian Sherwood come into the picture?
NIN- TVT asked me who I wanted to produce the album, I told them and we sent them a
tape, which is the only way to get their attention. They won't talk to anyone until they hear
a tape and maybe even then you might not get a response. Well I obviously got a
response, a good response from both Flood and Adrian Sherwood. I was extremely
flattered. Our original plans were to produce it with Flood in London but he was busy
with another project so I started producing it with John Fryer in Boston and finished it
with Flood in London. The 12" single "Down In It", which is produced by Adrian
Sherwood and the most industrial sounding song on the album, was finished before the
album. I think this track is the closest to predictable industrial music, the rest of the
album is not so predictable which is what my goal was, and I feel I have reached it.
A.M.- Yes, I feel there is a lot of emotion in the album too, negative emotion, negative
energy and hate. Are any of these lyrics directed at anyone in particular in your life or
situations you've observed, or felt other people have experienced?
NIN- The lyrics are pretty much situations I can relate to very much, something that can
strike a nerve. Basically each song is a personal viewpoint of mine. The lyrics are real and
honest, right in your face which is what I want.
A.M.- Did you learn alot of interesting techniques working with such big name
NIN- Sherwood, I didn't work with him. He mixed it, but he mixed it in london and I
talked to him on the phone. So I didn't get a chance to rip off all his great tricks. And
Flood, we only worked briefly together, and John fryer had nothing to offer me.
Production wise, I did, I can't say that, there's things you learn just from being around
people, just ways of doing things.But as far as technical tricks, how to do this , how to do
that, not so much.Because I went into it, in my opinion, production wise, one thing might
be unique about this record is that, going into it wasn't like "Ok, let's just start from
scratch and arrange these songs". It was pretty much finished going into it and I knew
what kind of guitar sound I wanted because I had fucked around in the studio to get a
particular sound and I just applied that.
A.M.- What is your favorite track on the album?
NIN- It would have to be "Terrible Lie" because of it's intensity and aggression. It's also
my favorite song to perform live. Our shows tend to be violent and this song really fits
A.M.- Do you plan on touring this album?
NIN- Yes. We have tentative plans to start touring in Feb. through the States, Canada and
Europe, and our tour will include Detroit.
A.M.- You've lived in Cleveland for about two and a half years. It's quite unusual to see a
group like yours to come from Cleveland. Have you worked with any other bands locally
or outside of Cleveland, or do you plan to in the future?
NIN- Yes, this is not the typical Cleveland band and I plan on leaving soon! I have
worked and played with a couple bands here, none worth mentioning. I have tentative
plans to produce a 12" single for NEMESIS in Detroit. And yes, I am looking forward to
producing much more.
A.M- How did the NEMESIS thing come about?
NIN- I guess they had heard the 12 in and liked it, and, through some sort of mutual
friend or something, they asked if I would be interested in producing a record of theirs,
and I wanted to start producing, so we will see what happens.
A.M.- Do you have your own equipment and studio at home or do you just use whatever
is available through studios?
NIN- I have my own little set-up of samplers and computers. Not as much as I would like
to have, but enough so that I can do a lot of pre-production at home with-out the clock
running or the pressure of "I'm in the studio and I can't fuck around" type attitude. I
programmed a lot of the album at home with an EMULATOR 2 and an E-MAX with a
MACINTOSH, then took it to the studio and down loaded it. Then I could just add
everything that needed to be live in the studio.
A.M. Do you think your next single will sport the ever popular house remix?
NIN- I assure you there will be absolutely no fucking house, EVER. I hate House. We are
working on doing a fucked-up dance version for one song that i've been working on,
doing an extended mix. Which may be worked on with PAUL KENDAL or ADRIAN