Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is a YouTube playlist of music by Nine Inch Nails.

In the late 1980s industrial music was bubbling just under the surface of mainstream music culture. Post punk, Goth rock and New Wave Techno bands, which relied heavily on synthesizers and various electronica to create dark and brooding, yet danceable music, progressed into a more hard core industrial sound introduced by British and German bands such as Joy Division, Bauhaus, & Kraftwerk. The style emerging from bands like Skinny Puppy, Einsterzende Neubauten, and most notably Nine Inch Nails (NIN) in the mid to late 1980s focused on intensely inhuman sonics, machine made noises, found sounds, fiendishly distorted vocals, and grisly lyrics. At the forefront of this industrialized musical and emotional assault was Nine Inch Nails led by the auteur of angst Trent Reznor.

Born in 1965 in Mercer, Pennsylvania, Michael Trent Reznor began playing piano and other instruments at age five. In the same year his parents divorced, leaving him in the care of his grandparents. After graduating with a degree in computer engineering, Trent moved to Cleveland, Ohio where his experience at a music production studio afforded him the skills to explore his unique blend of danceable industrial rock. Although Trent joined several bands, eventually he was independently writing, producing, and performing his original material. While he does bring in musicians for touring and occasional studio projects, besides drummer Chris Vrenna, Nine Inch Nails is essentially the tortured troubadour extraordinare Trent Reznor.

NIN's big breakthrough came in 1988 with the release of Pretty Hate Machine. The album broke through barriers separating the world of mainstream Pop from the subterranean industrial scene to introduce a new Techno/Rock hybrid. For nearly two years the album stayed on the charts with the fiercely self-assertive single "Head Like a Hole" dominating radio stations with its hammering chorus: "Head like a as your soul...I'd rather die...than give you control". The song became NIN's calling card and reflected Reznor's propensity to deliver an unapologetic purge of abrasive and dark emotional themes.

Downward Spiral, NIN's second album, was released in 1994. The album was six years in the making due to a legal dispute with their original record label, TVT. Eventually Trent and his manager started their own label, Nothing Records, to release Downward Spiral, and later recorded other industrial acts. The album was recorded in the house of Sharon Tate, where some of the notorious Charles Manson murders took place, and added to the brooding and macabre mystique of their music as well as Reznor's persona. His murky sexuality was also a trademark of the band's appeal, as both their the lyrics and highly artistic videos reflected a kinky, if not sadomasochistic quality.

Although "Pretty Hate Machine" had charted for two years Downward Spiral established them as one of the most influential and popular bands of the mid-1990s.

In the same year following the release of Downward Spiral, NIN recorded the soundtrack for the controversial Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers. While fans were receptive to the recording, they became antsy as years passed with no new material from the band. It wasn't until 1999 that Reznor and NIN finally released The Fragile. Although the album plunged the depths of the band's earliest work, fans had waited too long and eventually lost interest. Within a few months of it's release The Fragile quickly faded from interest as critics considered the effort too little too late.

A current discography of music by Nine Inch Nails appears on their official website.

Page author: A.E. & C.F.