Nails mainman beset by new troubles

By LIISA LADOUCEUR for Jam! Showbiz on November 8, 2005

It's been a great year for Trent Reznor. Chart-topping sales for his comeback album, With Teeth. Two sold-out tours. Successful resolution of his long-standing legal battles with an ex-manager.

But the brooding man behind the acerbic industrial-electro-rock juggernaut that is Nine Inch Nails is never free of curses, it seems.

Take the news that his debut album, 1989's electronic classic Pretty Hate Machine, is finally getting a re-release after years out of print -- not from lack of sales, but because the label TVT Records was mired in financial troubles.

Indie label Rykodisc bought the rights and will re-release Pretty Hate Machine Nov. 22. He should be happy, right?

"I'm pretty aggravated by it actually," says Reznor, by phone from a U.S. stop on the tour that brings the band to Toronto's Air Canada Centre Thursday night.

"I like Rykodisc, I think they are a good label, and I respect them. But the way that it happened is mind-blowing. TVT's been a thorn in my side from the beginning. TVT defaulted on a huge loan and one of their assets is my first album. There's an auction and the next thing I know it's on Rykodisc.

"Now I've got Ryko asking me if I'd like to do a deluxe version. Yeah, I would. I would like to have a 5.1 version. I'll do extra songs. I'll redo the packaging. Everything. But I'm not doing it for free. They're not willing to pay, so they put out whatever they put out. That's that."

In the midst of his current North American arena tour with Queens of the Stone Age, Reznor is also dealing with a last-minute roster change. NIN drummer Jerome Dillon suffered heart trouble on-stage in September that required hospitalization, show cancellation, and a replacement, Alex Carapetis. Dillon has since announced his permanent departure from the band.

Reznor says the band has been "crippled" in some ways, but there is still much to look forward to when they hit the ACC this week. There's a new, unreleased song in the set list, Not So Pretty Now, and, of course, Toronto's own Death From Above 1979 as guests.

"I like them a lot," says Reznor of the local power duo who are opening half of the tour.

"I was familiar with the record, but I hadn't thought much about using them as an opening act. Josh (Homme, Queens of the Stone Age) really pushed to have them on the tour and it's been going well, so I think it was a good idea. I'm proud to have them on the bill."

To the further dismay of goth kids everywhere, the self-proclaimed Mr. Self Destruct may mine macabre imagery and mournful emotions for his music, but he doesn't actually pine for death and destruction in the real world.

Two of his recent feel-good projects have been to help rebuild his former hometown, New Orleans. After performing on the MTV Hurricane Katrina telethon in September, NIN headlined the VooDoo Festival concert for relief workers in New Orleans Oct. 29. It was an opportunity for Reznor to assess the damage of the studio he still owns there and, more importantly, lend a hand.

"My studio had some water damage and we had to rip the carpets up, but I saw people who really didn't fare well, so I have nothing to complain about," he says.

"But walking around, seeing what is going on there and feeling that even on a small level I was able to help in any way felt good. Even if it was only that five people at VooDoo had a good day for a change. It made me feel better than sitting on my couch in Los Angeles feeling like there's nothing I could do."

The biggest victory for Reznor this year remains the commercial success of With Teeth, which has produced two hit singles and was certified platinum in Canada, where it's hanging on in the Top 100 albums 25 weeks after its release.

Coupled with his recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, it seems regardless of what bad luck befalls him, Reznor will be spared from becoming a VH1 special.

"My outlook on life is much better," he says. "I've been sober for four years. I put a record out that I feel good about and it's been pleasant to see it get a good response. I'm surprised that we're playing arenas now. I didn't take anything for granted. Culture has changed, but I still feel relevant when I walk out on stage."

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