Full Breakdown Of Nine Inch Nails Year Zero "Web Story"

By Michael Melchor for 411mania.com on March 30, 2007

It all started on the back of a Nine Inch Nails European tour t-shirt.

Dates and cities are listed, as they would be with any tour shirt. However, certain letters are highlighted which, when arranged properly, spelled out the phrase "I am trying to believe." Many saw this as just another statement of shattered hope from NIN mastermind Trent Reznor - until someone, on a lark, decided to Google the phrase.

What was revealed was IAmTryingToBelieve.com, a somewhat disturbing site dedicated to information on "Parepin".

According to the site, Parepin is a drug allegedly added to the water supply by the federal government at some unknown date to protect citizens from bioterror attacks. While all appears to be normal, the unidentified author of the site refers to Parepin as "bioterrorism" being waged on U.S. citizens without their knowledge, designed to placate them. However, according to the site's author, dosage is not controlled and the more water that unknowing citizens drink, the harsher the side effects.

The author states, "Parepin affects brain chemistry - specifically dopamines. Dopaminergic overactivity is linked to schizophrenia. Parepin dosage is not controlled. It's just in the water. The more water you drink, the more Parepin you ingest. Parepin may make some people more susceptible to visions and hypnagogic hallucinations (those very vivid dreams you have when you think you are awake.)"

He copntinues, "I used to dismiss conspiracy theories about the Administration's 'real reason' for adding Parepin to our water. Now, I'm not so sure."

The site also makes mention of citizens witnessing something called "The Presence," which is shown in a series of blurry photographs as what appears to be a giant hand descending from the heavens.

Also hidden on the site is an e-mail address to contact the author, yet any correspondence to the address to date has been answered with the following auto response, which indicates that he or she has changed (or, possibly, was forced to change) their opinion:

"Thank you for your interest. It is now clear to me that Parepin is a completely safe and effective agent developed to protect us from bio-terrorism. The Administration is acting purely in the best interests of its citizens; to suggest otherwise was irresponsible and I deeply regret it. I'm drinking the water. So should you."

Members on a NIN fan site, EchoingtheSound.org, soon found more sites, all tied together, creating a rather Orwellian picture of the United States circa the year 2022.

AnotherVersionOfTheTruth.com is a site created by "the U.S. Bureau of Morality," featuring a fluttering flag superimposed over a rippling cornfield and emblazoned with the motto "Zero Tolerance. Zero Fear." But if users click and drag their mouse across the image, what is revealed is a black-and-white photo of a bombed-out wasteland. Visitors are then taken to a secret "messageboard" with topics like "End of the World?" and "Cops Murder Muslim Kid." Several audio samples are also available on the site, including one taken from the cell phone of a girl in the Michigan home.

Also featured is a sample of an "angry sniper" who opens fire (what he calls an act of "violent resistance") during a baseball game. That sniper apparently has his own site, BeTheHammer.org. On it "the sniper" claims to have worked for the secret police, raiding homes of Muslim-Americans, torturing and in some cases murdering them. He also makes mention of time spent in the 105th Airborne Crusaders.

A google search of "105th Airborne Crusaders" turns up a site dedicated to a special-forces group formed "as part of our nation's swift answer to the atrocities in Los Angeles...[made up of] men and women who kept a personal relationship with our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ and allowed the Holy Ghost to guide their rifles true." According to posts from former members of the 105th, the Crusaders launched campaigns in Iran (even mentioning the detonation of a nuclear device in Tehran), Yemen, Chad, Turkey, Syria and the Kashmir Region.

There are also mentions on that site of a New Evangelical Church, which leads to ChurchOfPlano.com, run by a fictitious New Evangelical outfit that practices "Neighborhood Cleansing" and holds sermons about the Presence.

And finally, as if all of that wasn't enough, a Google search of Consolidated Mail Systems turns up a purported e-mail in-box owned by someone with the handle "NoOneImportant", which contains a police-manual definition of Opal that suggests it causes users to suffer the same hallucinations as those who ingest too much Parepin.

A dystopian civilization in the throws of extinction. A government poisoning its own citizens through the drinking water. Military police raiding private residences. The end of civil liberties. The creation of a Church-State. Mind control.

More to the point, who is behind all these Web-related shenanigans in the first place? And how does it all come back to Nine Inch Nails and Year Zero?

All of the sites are registered through Domains by Proxy, an Arizona-based company that protects the identities of site owners. But according to reports published on the Web site of the U.K.'s Digit magazine and elsewhere, the sites are part of an alternate reality game, created by 42 Entertainment, a marketing company responsible for one of the most famously ambitious ARGs in history: "I Love Bees," an effort that combined Web sites, banks of public telephones and vials of honey sent through the mail to create, well, "buzz" for the fall 2004 release of "Halo 2".

As for what this has to do with Year Zero, Interscope Records released a statement by Reznor which seemed to put the the concept behind Year Zero into focus:

"This record began as an experiment with noise on a laptop in a bus on tour somewhere. That sound led to a daydream about the end of the world. That daydream stuck with me and over time revealed itself to be much more. I believe sometimes you have a choice in what inspiration you choose to follow and other times you really don't. This record is the latter. Once I tuned into it, everything fell into place ... as if it were meant to be. ... The record turned out to be more than a just a record in scale, as you will see over time.

"Part one is Year Zero. Concept record. Sixteen tracks. What's it about? Well, it takes place about 15 years in the future. Things are not good. If you imagine a world where greed and power continue to run their likely course, you'll have an idea of the backdrop," he continued. "The world has reached the breaking point — politically, spiritually and ecologically. Written from various perspectives of people in this world, Year Zero examines various viewpoints set against an impending moment of truth."

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