Nothing Is Temporary
Written by Mike Ramirez Blue Divide Magazine
Jerome Dillon, the latest drummer to join the NIN camp, finds comfort with Trent
"As of right now, I still feel like the 'new guy," but I just feel like it's a band, and the band
mentality on the road is to just stay out as long as we can to promote this record."
It was a typical rock star incident. Charlie Clouser, the original interviewee, was
apparently too busy or hungover to conduct his early morning phoner from Houston,
Texas that day. Instead, I'm introduced to Jerome Dillon, a name not yet recognizable, but
associated with Trent Reznor's Nine Inch Nails; a name both familiar with angst-ridden
youth and their parents by now. Replacing long-time friend and bandmate of Reznor,
Chris Vrenna, Dillon has shoes to fill that may not necessarily be his size. Vrenna parted
ways with Reznor and NIN to pursue a role in the producer's seat, as well as starting work
on his upcoming Tweaker project.
The task is not an easy one, especially from ever-growing rumors of Reznor's aggressive
studio work ethic and control tendencies, along with the complex layering of tracks which
the band is acclaimed for. Expectations were very high for The Fragile, but lackluster
album sales compared to NIN's last opus, the multi-platinum Downward Spiral LP, has
only added more pressure to the band to improve their live showcase. Yet, amidst the
smoke of being the "newcomer" replacement, the two can only have positive outlooks
when the future is at hand. Having just completed the widely-anticipated Fragility v2.0
tour, along with a new remix disc and DVD in the pipeline, Dillon discusses how he was
brought in to play with the supposed-icon of industrial rock.
"Danny Lohner (bass, keys, guitars) actually hooked us up. My manager sent a demo reel
down to New Orleans, and he was the guy filtering with the demo tapes of people who
were interested in playing with the band and he called me 3 days later. I went down the
following week. When I went down to audition, I just did what I did. I wasn't trying to do
anything except for playing the way I play. So, I think that when Trent and the other guys
met me and heard me play, I think it was more of an 'OK, this is going to work.'"
Before his acceptance into Nails, Dillon was active in numerous bands throughout the
years, with an ample notoriety claim in Howlin' Maggie, a major label act that he was
drumming for until he quit and later joined NIN the following year.
"I was in that band (Maggie) on Columbia Records. We only had one song that really did
anything in the summer of 1996 and I quit that band in November of 98 and joined NIN
in March of 99." Jerome's only comment to my retort of never hearing his previous band
isn't a shock from major-label artists with no promotion; "Yeah, it's not surprising."
Apparently, Vrenna has no comment on Dillon (and vice versa) as NIN's new filler,
mostly because of neither one ever meeting each other formally.
"I've never met Chris Vrenna. I've seen them twice before, but we never actually met.
From what I understand, we couldn't be more different as far our musical philosophies and otherwise. We're just totally from different schools."
NIN's latest record, The Fragile, contained an orchestra of electronic layering, with guest
contributors stepping in such as Page Hamilton (Helmet) and Dr. Dre. Bluntly, the album
did not live up to its expected hype, and many fans were left with what they called, an
"art-rock" album. Live, both the old and new material underwent minor to extreme
composition changes in order to be regenerated for the audience. Anyone knows that
electronic-oriented bands, if they are actually playing live, will not sound as precise and
exact in person than on record.
"We took a litle bit of time in rehearsals to sift through that, and I spent a little time
working with Charlie Clouser, as far as how we were going to play certain songs. There
were points in the rehearsals that I guess I was dissecting the songs too clinically, and
Trent would come in and tell me that I shouldn't feel like I have to play this note for note
or stick to how it sounds on the record. 'Starfuckers, Inc.' is a perfect example of that. The
version that we do live is totally live and it has more of a punk/aggressive feel to it,
whereas on the record, it's more of a dance industrial kind of vibe. The live version is
very much so like Killing Joke. It was a challenge to find out how we were going to
recreate a lot of the textures on the record because there's a lot of ambient landscapes
there that were created in the studio by layering. when you get into a live situation and
you want to have a Les Paul sound like an ukulele that's underwater, it's kind of difficult."
Like all arena-filler acts, their solid fan base is nothing less of loyal to the band, as they
cheered and welcomed the band all over their nearly sold-out American tour. Dillon adds,
"they (the crowd) were really waiting a long time to see what Trent was going to do next,
and they're very receptive to the new material, as well as the old material.
No matter if they sink or swim, Reznor and his nails continue on with their formula for
their assaulting sound as long as it carries them. Despite high, but not expected album
sales, Reznor can only drill the creative harder to help make the public realize his latest
vision. Any notions of Dillon parting ways is absurd, as he considers Nothing his new
"It was really kind of strange and surreal how it all worked out. Musically, and otherwise,
it's very gratifying and fortunate to work with these guys every day. I plan to still work
with the band in the future. Musically, this is where I'm at in my life."