Trent Reznor

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Trent Reznor
Promotional photo of Reznor, 2008
Promotional photo of Reznor, 2008
Background information
Birth name Michael Trent Reznor
Born May 17, 1965 (1965-05-17) (age 43)
Mercer, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genre(s) Industrial, alternative rock, industrial rock, electronic, industrial metal
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, sound designer, producer
Instrument(s) Vocals, piano, synthesizer, guitar, bass guitar, programming, saxophone, drums, tuba, sousaphone, marimba, pan flute
Years active 1982–present
Label(s) Independent
Associated acts Option 30 (1982–1984), The Innocent (1985), Exotic Birds (1986–1988), Lucky Pierre (1988), Nine Inch Nails (since 1988), Pigface, Tapeworm, Revolting Cocks, David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, 1000 Homo DJs, Saul Williams, QOTSA, Peter Lynch

Trent Reznor (born Michael Trent Reznor on May 17, 1965) is an American musician, singer-songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist. He operates under the studio name Nine Inch Nails, and was previously associated with the bands Option 30, Exotic Birds, and Tapeworm, among others. As of 2007, Reznor split his ties with Interscope Records, and is now an independent, unsigned musician. He is considered by the Los Angeles Times to be one of the most acclaimed creative figures of his generation of music.[1]

Reznor's first release as Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine, was a commercial success, and he has released several major albums and singles since then. He has worked with David Bowie, Adrian Belew, Saul Williams, and Marilyn Manson (considered by some to be Reznor's protégé).[2] In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time magazine's list of the year's most influential Americans, and Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music."[3]


[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Michael Trent Reznor was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania (halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie) to Michael Joseph Reznor and Nancy Lou Clark on May 17, 1965.[4] Reznor was referred to by his middle name to avoid confusion with his father. After his parents divorced, he lived with his grandparents, while his sister Tera lived with their mother.[5] Reznor has acknowledged that his sheltered life in Pennsylvania left him feeling isolated from the outside world. In a 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, he makes reference to his choices in the music industry, as well as elaborating on his early life, stating

I don't know why I want to do these things, other than my desire to escape from Small Town, U.S.A., to dismiss the boundaries, to explore. It isn't a bad place where I grew up, but there was nothing going on but the cornfields. My life experience came from watching movies, watching TV and reading books and looking at magazines. And when your fucking culture comes from watching TV every day, you're bombarded with images of things that seem cool, places that seem interesting, people who have jobs and careers and opportunities. None of that happened where I was. You're almost taught to realize it's not for you.[6]

Trent Reznor

However, Reznor later said "I don't want to give the impression it was a miserable childhood".[7] At the Mercer Area Junior and Senior High Schools, Reznor learned to play the saxophone and tuba. He was a member of both the jazz and marching band. Former Mercer High School band director Dr. Hendley Hoge remembered Reznor as "very upbeat and friendly."[8] Reznor also became involved in theater while in high school. He was voted "Best in Drama" by classmates for his roles as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man. Reznor graduated from this high school in 1983 and enrolled at Allegheny College, where he studied computer engineering.[9]

[edit] Early musical projects

Reznor (far right) on the cover of Option 30's self-titled album.

While still in high school in Mercer, Reznor was the keyboardist and one of the vocalists in a local band called The Klikz. Playing local clubs and quite a few high school dances throughout the area, The Klikz had a reputation as a talented and fun cover band. The repertoire consisted of the Pop and New Wave music hits of that period in the early 1980s. Playing a host of analog synthesizers, Reznor kept his primary keyboard on a stand he had constructed himself made from a work-mate table and a Lazy Susan that allowed him to rotate the keyboard along with his frenetic dancing and singing. The Klikz disbanded before Reznor went to college.

While he was enrolled in Allegheny College, Reznor joined local band Option 30, playing three shows a week with them. But after only a year of college, Reznor dropped out and moved to Cleveland, Ohio in order to pursue a career in music.[8] In 1985, he joined The Innocent as a keyboardist. They released one album, Livin' in the Street, but Reznor quit after just three months. In 1986, Reznor joined local band Exotic Birds. He also appeared with them as the fictional band "The Problems" in the 1987 film Light of Day.[10]

Reznor got a job at Right Track Studio (now known as Midtown Recording) as an assistant engineer and janitor.[11] Studio owner Bart Koster later commented that Reznor was "so focused in everything he [did]. When that guy waxed the floor, it looked great."[8] Reznor asked Koster for permission to record demos of his own songs for free during unused studio time. Koster agreed, remarking that it cost him "just a little wear on [his] tape heads".[8] While assembling these, the earliest NIN recordings, Reznor was unable to find a band that could articulate his songs as he wanted. Instead, inspired by Prince, he played all the instruments except drums himself.[12] This role remains Reznor's on most of the band's studio recordings, though he has occasionally involved other musicians and assistants. Several labels responded favorably to the demo material, and Reznor signed with TVT Records.[11] Nine selections from the Right Track demos were unofficially released in 1994 as Purest Feeling; many of these songs would appear in revised form on his 1989 debut studio album under the stage name Nine Inch Nails.

[edit] Nine Inch Nails era

Reznor performing at the Lollapalooza festival, 1991

Nine Inch Nails' debut album, Pretty Hate Machine was released in 1989. It was a moderate commercial success, and was certified Gold in 1992.[13] Amid pressure from Reznor's record label to produce a follow-up to Pretty Hate Machine, Reznor secretly began recording under various pseudonyms to avoid record company interference, resulting in the Broken EP, released in 1992.[14] In the summer of 1991 Nine Inch Nails was included in the Lollapalooza package tour. They later won a Grammy in 1993 for the song "Wish" in the Best Heavy Metal Performance category.[15]

Nine Inch Nails' second full-length album, The Downward Spiral, entered the Billboard 200 chart in 1994 at number two,[16] and remains the highest-selling Nine Inch Nails release in the United States.[13] To record the album, Reznor rented and moved into the 10050 Cielo Drive mansion, site of the 1969 Manson Family murders.[17] Reznor built a studio space in the house, which he renamed Le Pig, after the message scrawled on the front door with Sharon Tate's blood by her murderers.[18] Reznor told Entertainment Weekly that despite the notoriety attached to the house, he chose to record there because, "I looked at a lot of places, and this just happened to be the one I liked most".[18] Reznor took the front door of the house with him when he moved out, installing it at Nothing Studios, his new recording studio and record label headquarters in New Orleans.

The Downward Spiral proved to be a critical and commercial success. It was ranked at number 25 in Spin magazine's list of "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005." Spin also ranked the album number 11 on its list of the "Top 90 Albums of the 90's." Blender magazine named it the 80th Greatest American Album. In 2001, Q magazine selected The Downward Spiral as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time.[19] In 2003, the album was ranked number 200 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[20] Nine Inch Nails toured extensively over the next few years, including a performance at Woodstock '94, where he admitted to the audience that he did not like to play large venues.[21] Around this time, Reznor's studio perfectionism,[22] struggles with addiction, and bouts of writer's block prolonged the production of a follow-up.[23]

Five years elapsed before Nine Inch Nails' next major album, The Fragile, a double CD that debuted in September 1999 at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 228,000 copies in its first week and receiving favorable reviews.[5] Another six years elapsed before Nine Inch Nails' next full-length album, With Teeth, which also debuted on the top of the Billboard 200.[24] The album was written and recorded following Reznor's battle with, and recovery from, alcoholism and substance abuse.[25] Nine Inch Nails' 2007 major studio recording, Year Zero, was released alongside an accompanying alternate reality game.[26] With its lyrics written from the perspective of multiple fictitious characters, Reznor described Year Zero as a concept album criticizing the United States government's current policies and how they will impact the world 15 years in the future.[27]

In March 2008, a promotional message appeared on Nine Inch Nails website saying "2 weeks", referring to the independently released, instrumental album Ghosts I–IV. Reznor mentions Ghosts I-IV grew out of ideas during the 2007 tour and that he set out to record it with "very little forethought".[28] In April, radio stations in the U.S. began playing the single "Discipline". Once again, the message "2 weeks" appeared on the website. On May 5, Nine Inch Nails released the studio album The Slip via free digital download. In his appreciation for his following and fan base, and having no contractual obligation, he made "The Slip" available for free on his website, stating “This one’s on me.” The album was downloaded more than a million times before the end of May.[28] For the fans who prefer physical copies, he released the album as a limited edition CD/DVD set in July 2008 and as an LP in August.[29]

Following the album's release, Nine Inch Nails has gone on tour to support The Slip, and have for the first time ever incorporated an acoustic set in their shows. Performing select songs from Ghosts, the "Lights In The Sky" tour exhibited Nine Inch Nails performing sets lasting over 2 hours, as well as songs not played in over a decade. On December 3, 2008, Reznor posted a message on the Nine Inch Nails website saying "... This was an amazing tour and production - certainly the best thing I've ever been involved with and likely the final tour for NIN on this scale. Thank you to those who came out to see it..." Reznor continued to confirm the end of his touring stating "The shows we have announced in 2009 and any more that may be announced will be a completely different approach with some different personnel and will likely be the last for the foreseeable future." On January 7, 2009, Reznor posted on the NIN website a link to over 400GB of HD footage shot during the band's Lights in the Sky tour and expressed interest on what fans would create with the material.[30]

Rolling Stone named Reznor as 46 out of the top 100 people who are "Reinventing America". The article said of Reznor, "He has been more creative than anyone in embracing the post-CD era." and "The Industrial Rock Godfather becomes the world's scariest digital nerd."

[edit] Personal life

During the five years between his albums The Downward Spiral (1994) and The Fragile (1999), Trent Reznor struggled with depression, social anxiety disorder, and the death of his grandmother (who raised him). To deal with these issues, Reznor abused alcohol and other drugs. He eventually became addicted to alcohol and cocaine, though denies rumors he used heroin.[1] In 2001, Reznor successfully completed rehab in New Orleans, and eventually moved to Los Angeles. In a 2005 interview with Kerrang!, Reznor makes a note of his self-destructive past: "There was a persona that had run its course. I needed to get my priorities straight, my head screwed on. Instead of always working, I took a couple of years off, just to figure out who I was and working out if I wanted to keep doing this or not. I had become a terrible addict; I needed to get my shit together, figure out what had happened".[23] Since recovering from his addictions, Reznor admitted in a 2005 interview with Revolver that "I’m pretty happy right now".[31]

In the late 1990s Reznor was involved in a feud with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst, calling Durst a "moron" and saying in a 1999 interview in Rolling Stone, "Fred Durst can surf a piece of plywood up my ass".[32] However, Reznor is credited as a writer of the song "Hot Dog" on Limp Bizkit's album Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water, due to this song's use of lyrics from a number of Nine Inch Nails songs.[33]

Reznor is a fan of David Bowie, and has cited Bowie's 1977 album Low as one of his favorite albums. Reznor has stated that he played the album constantly during the recording of The Downward Spiral for inspiration.[7] In 1995, Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie toured as a co-headlining act on the Outside Tour, and also appears in Bowie's video for "I'm Afraid of Americans" as Bowie's stalker. Reznor also made several remixes for the single release of the same song.[34]

Reznor is an animal rights activist.[35] In 2008, Reznor narrated a video for PETA, describing the cat and dog fur trade in China and urging viewers to avoid fur clothing.[36]

[edit] Other activities

[edit] Work outside of Nine Inch Nails

Reznor co-wrote several tracks on Marilyn Manson's albums Portrait of an American Family (1994), Smells Like Children (1995), and Antichrist Superstar (1996), as well as the soundtrack for the films Natural Born Killers and Lost Highway. Reznor is credited for "Driver Down" and "Videodrones; Questions" on the soundtrack for Lost Highway, while another track, "The Perfect Drug," is credited to Nine Inch Nails instead. Reznor sang backing vocals on "Past the Mission" a 1994 Tori Amos song on the album Under the Pink. In 1998 Reznor produced a remix of Notorious B.I.G.'s song "Victory" which also featured Busta Rhymes. The original music from id Software's video game Quake is credited to "Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails";[37] Reznor helped record sound effects and ambient audio, and the NIN logo appears on ammunition boxes in the game.[38] Reznor's association with id Software began with Reznor being a fan of the original Doom. He reunited with id Software in 2003 as the sound engineer for Doom 3, though due to "time, money and bad management",[39] he had to abandon the project, and his audio work did not make it into the game's final release.

Under the band name Tapeworm, Reznor collaborated over the span of nearly 10 years with Danny Lohner, Maynard James Keenan, and Atticus Ross, but the project was eventually terminated before any official material was released.[40] The only known released Tapeworm material was a reworked version of a track called "Vacant," retitled "Passive," on A Perfect Circle's 2004 album eMOTIVe.[41]

In 2006, Reznor played his first "solo" show(s) at Neil Young's annual Bridge School Benefit. Backed by a four piece string section, he performed stripped-down versions of many Nine Inch Nails songs.[42] Reznor co-produced Saul Williams' 2007 album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! after Williams toured with Nine Inch Nails in 2005 and 2006. Reznor convinced Williams to release the album as a free download, while giving fans the option of paying $5 for higher quality files, or downloading all of the songs at a lower quality for free.[43][44] Reznor was also credited as "Musical Consultant" on the 2004 film Man on Fire.[45] The movie features six Nine Inch Nails songs.[46]

[edit] Criticisms of the music industry

In May 2007, Reznor made a post on the official Nine Inch Nails website condemning Universal Music Group—the parent company of the band's record label, Interscope Records—for their pricing and distribution plans for Nine Inch Nails' 2007 album Year Zero.[47] He labeled the company's retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia as "ABSURD", [sic] concluding that "as a reward for being a 'true fan' you get ripped off". Reznor went on to say that as "the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more."[48] Reznor's post, specifically his criticism of the recording industry at large, elicited considerable media attention.[49] In September 2007, Reznor continued his attack on Universal Music Group at a concert in Australia, urging fans there to "steal" his music online instead of purchasing it legally.[50] Reznor went on to encourage the crowd to "steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin'."[51]

Trent Reznor announced later that Nine Inch Nails split from its contractual obligations with Interscope Records, and will distribute its next major albums independently. The last Nine Inch Nails release on Interscope was a remix album based on material from Year Zero.[52] Interscope retains the right to release a "Greatest Hits" album.[53] In March 2008, the seventh studio album by Nine Inch Nails, Ghosts I–IV, was released independently, under a Creative Commons license. The eighth studio album, The Slip, was released independently and is available free of charge on the band's website.[28]

[edit] Influence

Reznor's work as Nine Inch Nails has influenced many newer artists, which according to Reznor range from "generic imitations" dating from the band's initial success to younger bands echoing his style in a "truer, less imitative way".[54] Following the release of The Downward Spiral, mainstream artists began to take notice of Nine Inch Nails' influence: David Bowie compared NIN's impact to that of The Velvet Underground.[55] In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time magazine's list of the year's most influential people, and Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music."[3] Bob Ezrin, producer for Pink Floyd, Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Peter Gabriel, described Reznor in 2007 as a "true visionary" and advised aspiring artists to take note of his no-compromise attitude.[56] During a rare appearance at the Kerrang! Awards in London that year, Reznor accepted the Kerrang! Icon, honoring Nine Inch Nails' long-standing influence on rock music.[57] Timbaland, one of pop music's most successful producers in recent years has cited Trent Reznor as his favorite studio producer. [58] He was once supposed to work with now-deceased singer Aaliyah who stated her anticipation to work with Reznor, but their schedules conflicted with each other and the collaboration never happened.

[edit] Discography

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ a b Boucher, G (2008-08-31). "Trent Reznor: Back from the abyss".,0,7102117.story. Retrieved on 2008-11-12. 
  2. ^ Staff. (2000-05-10) Manson, Reznor mend fences MTV. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  3. ^ a b "Time's 25 most influential Americans". Time 149 (16): 66. 1997-04-21.,9171,986206-17,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-04-15. 
  4. ^ "George Watson Reznor". The Herald. 2007-04-01. Retrieved on 2007-11-06. 
  5. ^ a b Soeder, John (2000-04-09). "Rock's outlook bleak, but this Nail won't bend". 
  6. ^ Gold, Jonathan (1994-09-09). "Love it to Death". Rolling Stone (690). 
  7. ^ a b Heath, Chris (April 1995). "The Art of Darkness". Details. Retrieved on 2007-12-08. 
  8. ^ a b c d Dougherty, Steve; Bryan Alexander, Ted Nugent, John Hannah (1995-02-06). "The Music of Rage". People. Retrieved on 2007-12-06. 
  9. ^ "Trent Reznor Bio". Film Spot. Retrieved on 2007-11-09. 
  10. ^ "Trent Reznor". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on 2007-11-06. 
  11. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Nine Inch Nails". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2006-11-24. 
  12. ^ Fine, Jason (July/August 1994). "The Truth About Trent". Option. 
  13. ^ a b "Gold and Platinum database". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved on 2007-08-10. 
  14. ^ "Nine Inch Nails". Musician. March 1994. 
  15. ^ "Nine Inch Nails – Timeline". Retrieved on 2007-11-11. 
  16. ^ "Trent Reznor: Timeline". Retrieved on 2006-12-18. 
  17. ^ Ali, Lorraine (1994-03-18). Making Records – Where Manson Murdred Helter Skelter. Entertainment Weekly.,,301460,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-11. 
  18. ^ a b Ali, Lorraine (1994-03-18). Making Records – Where Manson Murdred Helter Skelter. Entertainment Weekly.,,301460,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-11. 
  19. ^ "A Selection Of Lists From Q Magazine - Page 2". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  20. ^ Posted Nov 01, 2003 12:00 AM (Posted November 01, 2003 12:00 AM). "200) The Downward Spiral : Rolling Stone". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  21. ^ Jonathan Gold (1994-09-08). "Love It To Death: Trent Reznor Of Nine Inch Nails Preaches The Dark Gospel Of Sex, Pain, And Rock & Roll". Rolling Stone Issue #690, archived on Painful Convictions. Retrieved on 2007-03-31. 
  22. ^ "Trent Reznor". Alternative Press (114). January 1998. 
  23. ^ a b Chick, Steve (2005-03-30). "To Hell and back". Kerrang!. 
  24. ^ "Artist Chart History - Nine Inch Nails". Billboard. Retrieved on 2006-12-18. 
  25. ^ Roberts, Jo (2005-08-05). "Hammer time over". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 2006-11-28. 
  26. ^ Montgomery, James (2007-02-15). "Weird web trail: conspiracy theory — or marketing for nine inch nails LP?". MTV News. Retrieved on 2007-02-15. 
  27. ^ Gregory, Jason (2007-03-26). "Trent Reznor Blasts the American Government". Retrieved on 2007-04-20. 
  28. ^ a b c Jon Pareles (Published: June 8, 2008). "Music - Trent Reznor’s Frustration and Fury - Take It. It’s Free. -". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  29. ^ nine inch nails: the slip limited edition CD/DVD and deluxe vinyl
  30. ^ Westerly, Mal (2009-01-08). "Trent Reznor Tips Fans to Footage from Lights in the Sky Tour". Retrieved on 2009-01-08. 
  31. ^ Stillman, Brian (2005-06-01). Tooth & Nail. Revolver. Retrieved on 2007-11-11. 
  32. ^ Armor, Jerry (2002-01-07). "Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor To Produce Limp Bizkit?". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved on 2007-11-06. 
  33. ^ "ACE Title Search - Hot Dog". ASCAP ACE.,s,w,p,b,v&results_pp=20&start=1. Retrieved on 2007-11-09. 
  34. ^ "David Bowie - I'm Afraid of Americans". Allmusic. Retrieved on 2007-11-10. 
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Watch Trent Reznor’s New Video". PETA. Retrieved on 2008-05-08. 
  37. ^ "Full cast and crew for Quake (1996) (VG)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved on 2007-09-18. 
  38. ^ Laidlaw, Marc (August 1996). "The Egos at Id". Wired News. Retrieved on 2007-09-09. 
  39. ^ Trent Reznor (2004-07-21). "Nine Inch Nails: Access". Nine Inch Nails. Archived from the original on 2007-05-14. Retrieved on 2007-11-06. 
  40. ^ Trent Reznor (2004-05-08). "Nine Inch Nails: Access". Nine Inch Nails. Archived from the original on 2007-06-18. Retrieved on 2007-05-21. 
  41. ^ "A Perfect Circle – eMOTIVe". Sputnik Music. 2005-07-26. Retrieved on 2007-11-11. 
  42. ^ Maher, Dave (2006-09-12). "Brian Wilson, Neil Young, Reznor Play Bridge Benefit". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2007-11-07. 
  43. ^ Sandoval, Greg (2007-10-30). "Trent Reznor: Take my music, please". Retrieved on 2007-11-07. 
  44. ^ Westhoff, Ben (2007-10-30). "Trent Reznor and Saul Williams Discuss Their New Collaboration, Mourn OiNK". New York. Retrieved on 2007-11-07. 
  45. ^ "Man on Fire (2004) - Full cast and crew". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  46. ^ "Trent Reznor". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  47. ^ Kreps, Daniel (2007-05-14). "Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor Slams Records Labels for Sorry State of the Industry". Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2007-05-19. 
  48. ^ Reznor, Trent (2007-05-13). "Updates from Trent". Nine Inch Nails. Archived from the original on 2007-05-17. Retrieved on 2007-08-22. 
  49. ^ "Reznor Smashes UMG, Websites Write About It". The NIN Hotline. 2007-05-17. Retrieved on 2007-05-19. 
  50. ^ Moses, Asher (2007-09-18). "Nails frontman urges fans to steal music". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved on 2007-09-18. 
  51. ^ "Trent follows up on Universal AU". The NIN Hotline. 2007-09-16. Retrieved on 2007-09-18. 
  52. ^ Cohen, Jonathan (2007-10-08). "Nine Inch Nails Celebrates Free Agent Status". Billboard. Retrieved on 2007-10-08. 
  53. ^ "Trent Reznor on Year Zero, Planting Clues, and What's Ludicrous About Being a Musician Today". Wired (magazine). 2007-12-20. Retrieved on 2007-12-24. 
  54. ^ Rickly, Geoff (2004-06-26). "Geoff Rickly interviews Trent Reznor". Alternative Press. 
  55. ^ Bowie, David (2005-04-21). "Nine Inch Nails". Rolling Stone (972). Retrieved on 2007-03-13. 
  56. ^ Lostracco, Marc (2007-04-19). "'Thank God for Trent Reznor'". The Torontoist. Retrieved on 2007-04-20. 
  57. ^ "Kerrang Awards revealed". BBC 6. 2007-08-23. Retrieved on 2007-09-12. 
  58. ^ Will Hodgkinson. "Soundtrack of my life: Timbaland | Music | Observer Music Monthly". Observer Music Monthly.,,2123761,00.html. Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 

[edit] External links

Preceded by
Jim Lauderdale
AMA Song of the Year (Songwriter)
Succeeded by
Rodney Crowell
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