Enigmatic Ad Campaign To Introduce World To Next NIN LP

Originally published in Sonicnet on October 1, 1998

Upcoming release by industrial-rock band so far teased in clip during MTV Video Music Awards and similar print ad.

Nine Inch Nails fans, tempted by enigmatic advertisements used to promote the industrial rock act's first album in more than four years, will be able to watch the unusual ad campaign take shape over the next few months like a slowly developing puzzle.

The first pieces have already been laid out for viewing.

On the heels of a brief and alluring television commercial that ran in September during the MTV Video Music Awards broadcast, there is now a print version of the ad -- which teases the release of the new NIN recording -- in the pop-culture magazine Gear. However, the ad offers little more than a few odd clues.

"It will all begin to make more sense over time," explained NIN spokeswoman Sioux Zimmerman. "There will be a little bit here, a bit there. It will all build up [to the album's release]."

The print ad, like the televised clip which gave the first clues of a release, features the word "ninetynine" in orange with the band's trademark backwards "n"s in the same font used on the cover of NIN's 1992 EP Broken. It also includes the logo of bandleader Trent Reznor's label, Nothing Records, and a copyright notation.

Gear West Coast Sales Manager Heather Schliewen offered a "no comment" on the ad.

"I'm extremely excited about the hype, even if it's in low profile at the moment," said Evan Moore, the 18-year-old webmaster of the unofficial Nothing Records fan site "Seemslikesalvation." Moore predicted that the ads were just the beginning and that he thought 1999 would be "the year of Nine Inch Nails." While little is known about how much material the deeply cloistered Reznor has recorded for the album, Zimmerman confirmed that modern-rock super-producer Alan Moulder is working closely with Reznor on the album. Moulder has worked as an engineer, mixer or producer with everyone from Brit-poppers the Boo Radleys, Elastica and Lush to Reznor, Reznor-prot�g� Marilyn Manson and post-grunge art-rockers Smashing Pumpkins, whose 1995 smash album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, he produced.

Zimmerman would not confirm in what capacity Moulder was working with Reznor, who is said to have allowed greater contributions from his bandmates than on previous efforts. Also contributing to the album, according to Zimmerman, are Helmet guitarist Page Hamilton, who spent a single day in the studio with NIN, and former King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew, who previously lent a hand on NIN's 1994 album, The Downward Spiral.

Other confirmed guests include Ministry drummer William Rieflin, former Chic/Power Station drummer Tony Thompson and keyboardist Mike Garson (who recently toured with Smashing Pumpkins). Producer Steve Albini (Page & Plant, Nirvana) has assisted in an undisclosed capacity. Zimmerman said rumors of recently hired Marilyn Manson guitarist John5 (born John Lowery) lending a hand are untrue.

NIN keyboardist/drummer Charlie Clouser previously said that this album is turning out to be a more collaborative follow-up to The Downward Spiral. Although past efforts from the pioneering group have been governed entirely by Reznor's tortured vision, Clouser said that he and guitarist Danny Lohner are being given more opportunities 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." Zimmerman had no comment on word that the new effort will be a two-CD set.

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

The album plans first went public via the spare, eye-catching 30-second television commercial that debuted during the MTV Video Music Awards.

It consisted of a black-and-white, pulsing NIN logo and snippets of several songs expected to appear on the collection, which as yet has no release date. Zimmerman said Nothing/Interscope was shooting for a late winter/early spring release.

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

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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