Happy birthday Trent Reznor! Nine Inch Nails’ longtime talisman turns 52 today. To celebrate, here are 30 facts about the band you may not know. Starting with the great nugget that they recorded most of ‘The Downward Spiral’ in the mansion where Charles Manson murdered Sharon Tate and guests. Lovely.
Despite being referred to as a ‘band’, Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor’s brainchild, and he alone is responsible for the band’s creative decisions.
In 1995 the band were almost killed by a power line that fell on the bus they were sleeping in at Woodstock Festival.
The Nine Inch Nails logo can be found in many of the projects Trent Reznor worked on. These include the side of crates of ammunition in 1996 video game ‘Quake’, and on a t-shirt in the Reznor-scored ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’.
The band’s logo was inspired by the album cover of ‘Remain In Light’ by the Talking Heads.
A mellotron keyboard that formerly belonged to John Lennon was used by Trent Reznor on NIN EP ‘Broken’ and album ‘The Fragile’.
In 1997, Time Magazine listed Trent as one of the year’s most influential people, and Spin magazine called him “the most vital artist in music.”
The NIN frontman composed the soundtrack for David Fincher’s 2010 film ‘The Social Network’, starring Jessie Eisenberg, and it won an Oscar for Best Original Score.
Trent played every instrument except for the drums on the earliest NIN recordings, and is the only member of Nine Inch Nails to feature on all of their studio albums to date.
A popular rumour is that the band’s name comes from the apparent length of the nails used to crucify Christ.
Yet, in 1994, Reznor said the name was chosen “because it abbreviated easily” rather than for “any literal meaning”.
The band intentionally leaked a few tracks from the album ‘Year Zero’ as part of a ‘conspiracy’ ad campaign to suit the subject matter of the album.
Reznor is said to have felt like he “lost a girlfriend” when Johnny Cash covered ‘Hurt’, as he felt the song wasn’t his anymore.
NIN announced they would play their last show at 2009’s Bonnaroo Festival. Yet the very next week, a 15-date US tour was announced.
In 1991 NIN toured with Guns & Roses and described them as “the worst performances we ever played in front of the most hostile, moronic audiences I’ve ever experienced”
The band’s debut album, 1989’s ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, was originally going to be called ‘The Industrial Nation’.
The album was made whilst Reznor was working cleaning the toilets of a recording studio. When he was off-shift, the owner of the studio let him record demos in the studio, which became the songs that appeared on ‘Pretty Hate Machine’.
The music video for ‘Happiness is Slavery’ was universally banned. The footage features Bob Flanagan naked on a machine that pleasured, tortured and eventually killed him.
In 2004, NIN were placed at number 94 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists Of All Time.
No member of the band, except Reznor, has featured in the band since its inception, and there have been countless different live line-ups to NIN.
The FBI mistook the band’s video for a snuff film, thinking that the members of the band involved in the video were actually dead.
NIN’s second release, the ‘Broken’ EP, was released under pressure from record company TVT, and so after its release, the band didn’t tour the record, and Trent Reznor went straight back to writing for the band’s next album.
The moment that the band were considered to have ‘broken into the mainstream’ was at their performance at a mud-drenched Woodstock in 1994, which was broadcast live into over 24 million homes.
The band’s latest album, 2008’s ‘The Slip’, was released for free, with Reznor commenting on its release, “this one’s on me”.
Between 1994 and 2008, Trent was accompanied by a five-piece band when playing live, but as of 2009, and at present, there are four live members joining him.
There have been no less than 24 live members joining Reznor as a part of Nine Inch Nails from 1989 to the present day.
Though not a ‘free’ album, 2008’s ‘Ghosts I-IV’ can be downloaded for free legally from file-sharing sites, due to it being released with Creative Commons licensing.
The band withdrew from playing at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards because of a dispute regarding a photo of George W. Bush being the band’s stage backdrop. Reznor said: “Apparently the image of our president is as offensive to MTV as it is to me.”
Reznor once took to Twitter to create a fake album entitled ‘Strobe Light’ as a dig at Chris Cornell. The ‘album’ featured tracks such as ‘PussyGrinder’ and ‘Aid, Pain And Played’
Vimeo removed the video of the band’s 2013 single ‘Broken’ just hours after it was posted, due to it containing material that “harass, incite hatred or depict excessive violence”.