A little change can't 'hurt' these Nails

By Leonard Martinez for El Paso Times on March 24, 2006

Touring sounds like nonstop fun. And for the most part, it is.

But being on the road for more than a year can also get a little tedious.

Nine Inch Nails guitarist Aaron North doesn't like being bored, which is why he welcomes some of the changes on this leg of the Nine Inch Nails tour.

"We're doing some different songs on this tour that we haven't done before," North said in a telephone interview from Charlotte, N.C. "The production of the tour is a little different and we're changing the set list up. We're playing songs that we haven't played before, songs that maybe Nine Inch Nails hasn't played live before."

Nine Inch Nails will perform Thursday at the El Paso County Coliseum, 4100 E. Paisano. Nine Inch Nails last played in El Paso in 1994.

North said the band knows about 50 songs, but he also knows songs such as "Closer," "Hurt," "Head Like a Hole" and "Terrible Lie" have to be played at every gig otherwise fans may get mad.

"A few of the songs we're just doing at sound check," North said. "One of the songs I really like to play is called 'Last.' I like it because that's just a song that has never been played live by the band before and it's fun to play."

When North joined Nine Inch Nails last year he was met with the unexpected news that the band's founder Trent Reznor wanted his old material re-worked for the tour.

"It's not something I expected to happen," North said. "It was good to see from the beginning that was something Trent was open to do. It would have been lazy and really easy for him to just say 'Well, this is how the song has been played for 16 years, that's the way it needs to stay.' It was cool to see he was kind of bored by a lot of the songs which I think anybody would be after playing them that long."

New songs from the recent Nine Inch Nails album "With Teeth" also were approached differently.

"We learned how to play them one way in the beginning," North said. "Some of the songs on the last Nine Inch Nails record sounded better to us played differently."

As the tour continues, North is thinking of ways to keep things interesting.

"When you're doing these tours where the arenas all look the same every night and the stage is the exact same setup and you look out and there are kids who have been following the band for weeks, it starts to get like a 'Ground Hog Day'-type of situation and you see the same people," North said. "Anything to change it up for us is the best. Any variety is what makes things interesting. If people want to see a different show with different kind of music they should come to the show. We're not gearing it to cater to everybody. I'm sure we'll do whatever we can do to entertain. Light ourselves on fire, stand on our heads."

And North will find a way to keep things interesting -- he always has.

When North was with his previous band Icarus Line in 2002, he broke into a case at their Hard Rock Cafe gig and tried to play Stevie Ray Vaughn's guitar.

"For a while I was getting a lot of death threats," North said. "It's slowed to a crawl compared to what it was before."

Leonard Martinez may be reached at lmartinez@ elpasotimes.com; 546-6152.

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