Twist of Fate

By Caroline Mellon for Hit Parader on April 1, 1998

We know, we know, you're wondering where's that new NIN album you keep hearing about? It's coming... it's coming, that is if Trent Reznor can ever make his way through the legal muddle that currently bogs down seemingly every aspect of his existence. Life, liberty, and lawsuits have kept Reznor from releasing his next magnum opus, but believe us, its on its way. In fact, Reznor is currently hard at work on the next Nine Inch Nails album with none other than producer Rick Rubin.

Reznor recording with one of metal's finest producers? The man who's worked with the Cult and AC/DC? What's that all about?

Will we still be bombarded with a cavalcade of song subjects ranging from torture, death, violent sex, murder to serial killers?

Well, we'll see how Reznor is feeling, if he ever gets the opportunity to release a record. Reznor seems to sense that NIN had become "a parady of itself" after its last tour. He needed to look into his soul for answers. He called U2's Bono for some advice on how to allow one's music to evolve. With worthwhile guidance and some deep soul searching, Reznor came to the realization that he had grown bored with industrial music. he deduced that his tastes had changed over time. Instead of the power of dissonance, Reznor is now fascinated by drum n' bass, jungle, hip-hop and song siren Erykah Badu.

"The record, I guarantee it, will piss everybody off," declared Reznor. "No one will like it, and it will be ridiculous. If it wasn't, then I wouldn't do it."

This change is nothing new. Reznor has evolved throughout his career. In the Pretty Hate Machine days, Reznor was defining true industrial music; heavy synthetics, nothing that heavy, but a general variety from soft (Something I Can Never Have) to hard (Sin or Head Like A Hole). With Broken the music got continuously heavy (Wish or Gave Up). Reznor moved away from synthetic drums and keyboard to more realistic drums and guitar. The Downward Spiral offered even a larger variety of music (from Hurt to March of the Pigs).

This next album is just the next logical step in the continuing evolution of NIN. Maybe it will even have some Dixieland flavor as Reznor and Rubin began the album down in New Orleans, recording at Reznor's renowned Nothing studios.

"New Orleans is probably the most decadent, decayed, rediculous situation in America," observes Reznor. "The whole city is ridiculous in a way, but I love it."

The dynamic duo have since flown to Los Angeles to complete the record which will come out whenever they decide to release it. The late follow-up time to 1994's The Downward Spiral is because Reznor has been busy doing other things like touring, producing Marilyn Manson and David Bowie... and because NIN has been slapped with a lawsuit for supposed song theft.

Late last summer, a guy named Mark Nicholas Onofrio, from Houston, Texas, filed a complaint in Los Angeles federal court claiming that Reznor used five of his songs on The Downward Spiral, and also declared that the song Burn on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack is incredibly similar to another track he had sent to Reznor.

To be honest, it appears as if much of this lawsuit falls into the murky gray area of online. Onofrio claims that he met Reznor in a chat room in the summer of 1993. (Haven't all chat frequenters met Golda Meir, Weiland or Reznor in some remote part of the Web at three in the morning?) Onofrio claims he asked Reznor if he would listen to some of his work. Reznor gave a positive reply via e-mail and supplied his address. Onofrio claims he then Fed Ex'd a demo to Reznor's house.

When The Downward Spiral was released back in '94, Onofrio noticed that five tracks on the album were based on four songs from his self-produced Elephant Man collection that he allegedly send to Reznor. The law claims that the NIN songs "Closer" and "Mr. Self Destruct" are strikingly similar to the Onofrio-penned "Voice," "March of the Pigs" is allegedly ripped off from Onofrio's "Nothing." "Hurt" is supposed to be derived from Onofrio's "Real", "The Downward Spiral" is hypothetically taken from the tune "Dinner With Jeff." Onofrio also claims that one of Reznor's contributions to the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, "Burn" is strikingly similar to his tune titled "This Hell."

Onofrio's lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for copyright infringement, and seeks injunctions against the further distribution of The Downward Spiral and Natural Born Killers- both the movie and the soundtrack. The complaint names Reznor, NIN, Interscope Records (Reznor's record label), Warner Bros. (the movie studio behind Natural Born Killers) and others. Onofrio is indeed taking on the system. But the system has yet to react. As of the press time, no hearings have been scheduled.

Since you can't get jondesed about a new NIN album, then you might as well groove on the video. Before Thanksgiving, NIN released a two-video set called Closure. Tape one features live performances and a behind-the-scenes look at Nine Inch nails during their "Self Destruct" tour. The second video contains the complete collection of Nine Inch Nails unedited video releases, compiled by filmmaker Peter Christopherson.

While lawsuits have been coming down, Reznor has been unwilling and unable to work on creating his own music. Thus, he's been producing others. His work on Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar proved to be a phenomenal success, so why shouldn't he continue along those lines? In addition late last year Reznor remixed David Bowie's tune "I'm Afraid Of Americans."

Collaborations between Bowie and Reznor began in 1993, when the two announced that they were both big influences on one another and would tour together. The two have bonded over a similar philosophy to provide humanity with a decidedly off-center, and continually unpredictable musical experience.

"If it's safe, it's ridiculous. it has to be dangerous," declares Reznor.

"That's the territory we both meet on," Bowie observes. "Both Trent and I subscribe to the notion that if you anger the right people, you must be doing something right. We seem to have got that art down pretty finely."

(NOTE FROM SUS WEBMASTER: This next section is somewhat out of touch with reality as you will see.) Additionally, Reznor has also been keeping himself busy with other remix opportunities, not that they're going to soon see the light of day. He did some work with rapper Ice Cube destined to appear on an album release called Remix and Repent- another piece of product designed to piss everybody off. The disc has since been postponed indefinitely. The problem is due to disagreements between Reznor's Nothing Records and its distributor, Interscope.

So, Reznor is making music, it's just that you're not hearing it. It seems that Mr. R gets himself involved in ongoing difficulties with his record labels. Back in the days of NIN's turn of the decade debut Pretty Hate Machine, Reznor had a well-publicized "war" with his former record label- TVT Records. Now he's at odds with Interscope over what they will and will not distribute and what does and does not constitute a contractual obligation.

"Hopefully, this will all work out soon," a label insider said, "I hope it does for Reznor, for the label and for the fans."

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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