All Nailed Down
By Jill Ward
Et Online, January 2002

Over a career spanning 13 years, NINE INCH NAILS'S TRENT REZNOR seems to have embraced the infamous slogan "sell no wine before its time," so to speak. The moody mastermind who raised self-loathing to an art form has released just a handful of studio albums from 1989's cult-to-mainstream offering Pretty Hate Machine to 1999's stark platter entitled The Fragile. And yet nary among them was a single live collection. That is, until now.

Caught in this week's music release headlights is a long awaited project from Cleveland Ohio's Nine Inch Nails. On January 22nd, Reznor and company issued a debut live CD/DVD/VHS set dubbed And All That Could Have Been. The project encapsulates a compelling career via material from a sold-out Fragility v2.0 tour; a highly acclaimed concert series voted "Best Tour 2000" by Rolling Stone magazine.

Included in the mix is a CD containing live versions of beautifully devastating NIN gems like "Terrible Lie," "Closer" and "Head Like A Hole." A deluxe audio package is also available featuring an ominous bonus CD entitled, Still. The nine-track disc houses four "deconstructed" NIN classics, four new instrumentals and the brand spankin' new vocal title track, "And All That Could Have Been."

"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," reveals Trent. "So I took those performances, and added some other ones we'd done in the studio ... and worked it into a heavily melancholic suite for a rainy, fall, Sunday afternoon."

The Live NIN entourage includes Trent on vocals, guitar and keyboards, ROBIN FINCK on vocals, guitar and keyboards, DANNY LOHNER on bass, guitar, vocals and keyboards, CHARLIE CLOUSER on keyboards, theremin, and vocals, and JEROME DILLON on drums. And for those who prefer to experience these dudes in the flesh, the deluxe package also contains compelling concert footage (available on DVD or VHS) that was filmed and assembled in quite a unique and highly personal fashion.

Drawing from a bad filming experience on the Downward Spiral Tour, Trent decided this time around to purchase digital video cameras and place them in the hands of crew members as well as mount them from various venue vantage points. The footage was recorded during several gigs (hence the ever-changing hairdo of guitarist Robin Finck) and then "assembled, mixed and edited" with the band's own personal home computers.

"Its cool that you can do all this stuff on your own now," muses Trent. " ... Computers have become so powerful now ... which is what made us wonder if we could do this whole thing ourselves." In other words, Reznor -- a stickler for detail -- quickly transformed himself from music innovator-slash-perfectionist into computer geek-slash-perfectionist and personally helped to recreate an experience he describes as "almost what it felt like being there."

What has resulted is an And All That Could Have Been experience that is certainly no rusty nail. Live versions of veteran NIN hits expose raw nerves which haven't been deadened by time while new tracks serve to remind us that something will forever be a'brewin' in the techno trendy mind of Trent Reznor.