Nine Inch Nails Offer Sneak Peek At Next LP

Originally published in Sonicnet on September 1, 1998

A brief promo for reclusive industrial-rockers' still-untitled third studio project was shown on television Thursday.

Breaking a long media silence, industrial-rockers Nine Inch Nails unveiled a provocative teaser ad for their next album on Thursday night, which offered a brief but welcome glimpse into the band's new project.

The spare, eye-catching 30-second commercial debuted during the 15th annual MTV Video Music Awards and consisted of a black-and-white, pulsing NIN logo and snippets of several songs expected to appear on the new album, which as yet has no release date.

After close to a year's cloistered work on the album, the gothic industrial-rockers are nearing completion of the still-untitled effort, according to band spokeswoman Sioux Zimmerman. "It was obviously a teaser for the new album," Zimmerman said. "And it was done at the last minute."

The ad, designed by former Raygun rock magazine designer Robert Hayles, opened with a subtle piano track and the slowly flickering NIN logo, which looked as if it were part of an ancient silent-film strip. The logo shone brighter as the clip went on, until it was finally whited out by NIN leader Trent Reznor's multi-tracked, agitated voice singing the phrase "Trying to save myself but myself keeps slipping" over a pounding industrial beat.

The commercial ended with a shot of the word "ninetynine" in orange, with the trademark NIN backwards "N"s.

The ad, which aired in the top 20 markets in the U.S., was purposely vague and featured bits of several different tracks from the album, according to Zimmerman, who said she did not have any song titles yet.

According to NIN keyboardist/drummer Charlie Clouser, this album is turning out to be a more collaborative follow-up to 1994's The Downward Spiral.

Although past efforts from the pioneering group have sprung almost entirely from Reznor's tortured head, Clouser said recently that he and guitarist Danny Lohner are being given more opportunity to offer ideas on the new record. Clouser and Lohner are currently the only full-time bandmembers working with Reznor. Former programmer/producer Chris Vrenna left the group more than a year ago.

"As always, Trent is charting the course, and has a clear vision of how he wants things to sound," Clouser said. "But I've been able to contribute a fair amount, and some of the songs we're working on have grown out of sessions with all of us fiddling around in the studio. So it does seem like a more collaborative process than before."

The effort will be NIN's third studio album of all-new material since the band's formation in 1987. In addition to its 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine, which featured the alternative hit "Head Like a Hole" (RealAudio excerpt), the band has released The Downward Spiral and a number of remix albums, including 1992's Broken and Fixed EPs and 1995's Further Down the Spiral.

Among the guests scheduled to appear on the CD are former King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew (who also lent a hand on The Downward Spiral), Helmet guitarist Page Hamilton, Ministry drummer William Rieflin, former Chic/Power Station drummer Tony Thompson, keyboardist Mike Garson (who recently toured with the Smashing Pumpkins) and producer Steve Albini (Page and Plant, Nirvana), who has assisted in an undisclosed capacity. Zimmerman said she expected the album would come out in the first quarter of 1999.

One person who had plenty to say about Reznor on Thursday night was post-grunge Hole leader Courtney Love, who reignited a long-dormant feud with Reznor with a bizarre diatribe against the NIN leader during an interview at the awards show. "I went in there today, in the Marilyn Manson dressing room, and we were talking about 'whatever happened to Trent Reznor,' " Love said. "Me and Brian, I mean, Marilyn, came to the conclusion that somehow on that 14-day tour -- you know, that infamous 14-day tour where me and Trent had the 'affair,' " Love added, referring to a mid-'90s tour featuring Hole and NIN, on which Love and Reznor were rumored to have been intimate.

Love was quickly cut off by Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur, who hastily apologized to Reznor and promised to keep Love quiet, to no avail. "That we had somehow cut off [Reznor's] testicles, split them up between each other and devoured him," Love continued. "So there might be something to that succubus theory ... because he's gone and we're here and we're thriving and Manson's thriving. It's a strange thing." Love then pointed to her breasts and made an unintelligible comment about "females."

Zimmerman had "no comment" on Love's remarks, as did Love's spokeswoman, Gayle Fine.

Attesting to the long layoff between NIN albums, broken only by the inclusion of the new song "The Perfect Drug" on the 1997 Lost Highway soundtrack, Clouser said it is simply a matter of how the band creates its lush electronic symphonies. "The way we work is very time-consuming," Clouser said. "So it will take a while, but I don't mind. The process is the enjoyable part for me, more than the celebration at the end, so I'm happy."

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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