Written by Paul LaBarbera. Photo credit: Jim Louvau

For those of you who've been living under a rock for the last few months, let me get you up to speed: Nine Inch Nails has begun touring in support of With Teeth. The first few shows were played out in California, and a youngster named Carré Callaway had the honors of being the opening band. Most of us had never even heard of Carré before this announcement. So, we decided that we would like to know Ms. Callaway a little better, and share that with you. Going back over the last few weeks, we sent a few e-mails back and forth with Carré. Here's what we learned:

Photo © Dan Chick

Though her age might be deceiving, Carré's history with music is not brief. Her first experience with performing came with her first band, The Houls out of her native city of Denver . Her father was the owner of a local bar, and she grew up in and around the bar. Carré tells us that “It was there that I was exposed to a lot of Goth and industrial music. My first CD was Tears for Fears' The Hurting, the club introduced me to Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Church, The The, Echo and the Bunnymen, and on and on.” The Colorado musician took to the road after graduating high school and ended up in New Orleans visiting some family friends, which is where she first met Reznor and crew. “It was really hot there and we had nothing to do.” Carré explains, “We had no money, I don't drink and I'm not into partying so I wasn't interested in a lot of the night life. My dad's friend who we were staying told us about the music scene in New Orleans

While touring around the city, Carré coincidentally ran into Rob Sheridan and Atticus Ross and things were all uphill from there. Carré goes on to say “We eventually met with Trent . I mentioned to Trent that I was also a musician. He asked for a demo, but, I didn't have one. After we left, I felt like a dip shit because I didn't talk more about my music.” Well, things ended up working out a little better for Carré than she expected. As she puts it, “He called me the next day. I ended up playing for him and the whole crew; he loved it and had me record an acoustic three track demo that very night in his studio with James Brown.” While this hasn't surfaced yet, Carré is compiling her music for an upcoming release, which is one reason you should head over to CarreCallaway.com.

After Carré's experience with the band in New Orleans , she took off to L.A. to pursue her career as a musician. “At the end of September, I was in LA. Trent and I became good friends and we worked on some stuff together, a few weeks before the first shows, he called me and asked if I'd like to open. Of course the answer was yes.” The rumors surrounding Carré's involvement with Nine Inch Nails developed out of complete ignorance and arrogance towards both Carré and Trent's intentions… this was such an insult to an up and coming artist that Carré blatantly said “I am sick of people assuming that I got to open for NIN because i performed a sexual favor for one of the guys. I didn't suck any of their dicks and not only does that assumption insult me, but all the guys in NIN as well.” Not everyone in California's a starfucker.

Carré's solo artistic styling is very different from that of Trent Reznor's, yet anyone can hear the same brutal honesty and sincerity coming from both of their voices. On the tour, she borrowed a guitar from Trent and went on stage alone. Her music portrays an utter passion that doesn't need to be overwhelmed with production or fascination with technology and technicalities. As Carré puts it, “My music is me, exposed. I put everything I have into performing, and all my lyrics are extremely personal. I write the lyrics and the music usually at the same time, the music reflects the emotional undercurrent of the lyrics. I am a songwriter, but my passion is performing. I'm not afraid to write anything, sing anything, etc. There are no boundaries to my music. I may not be Janis Joplin when it comes to vocals or Hendrix when it comes to guitar, but at least it's really me. It's me being human, it's me not being perfect, but it's me doing what I love most and not being sorry for it. ”

Where does Carré see this passion for performing to take her in the future? First off, she's playing a few shows at The Whiskey A-Go-Go out in LA. The first gig is scheduled for April 19 th . She hasn't been listed as opening for any more of the Nine Inch Nails shows when they come back to the States, but she did say that it is possible. “I want to collaborate and be able to work with other artists. I want to play live shows for the rest of my life! One thing I really like about the music I write is that almost every one of my songs can be sung with an acoustic guitar or screamed with an electric. It is malleable, which allows me to be in control of it.” She's in the process of recording numerous tracks now, taking the live recordings and morphing them with synthesizers and specific technologies, but still keeping a lo-fi edge to it all. Carré is also looking for other musicians to form a full band. As she's said “I've made a lot of contacts and I've had a lot of positive feedback from people who were at the shows.”

For an artist that had previously played in front of crowds of a few hundred at a time, the experience of playing on one of the most anticipated tours of the year wasn't the difficult part. As Carré said, “The hardest thing was getting used to using in-ear monitors! It's like you can't hear anything but you can. I know that doesn't make sense, but it was super hard to get used to. The problem was that for one of the songs, the drums were too soft in my ear monitors but so loud outside of the monitors that the whole stage was shaking. I got confused with the beats in my ears and the beats I was feeling under my feet. So I fucked up, it was funny.” Trent Reznor expressed similar concerns during his performance at the 1999 Video Music Awards.

One thing's for sure about Carré, she's got the right attitude for a young, up-and-coming artist. She wasn't phased at all by a crowd at the Fresno show that was expecting pounding industrial beats the minute they walked in the door. One of her first experiences she described by saying “There was one guy I heard talking about me after the show in Fresno. He said, "That idiot, talent-less girl? Hell, no. I saw her get on stage and I went to get another drink!" I thought that was really, really amusing.” She went on to say “We all knew that not everyone in the crowd would like me, we expected people to heckle me. That was fine with me because I knew that no matter what, Trent was there for me. I don't take it personally because most of the time opening acts aren't very accepted or liked. Plus, I actually liked playing for a crowd that most likely wouldn't like me. It made me play harder.” Carré developed out of a music scene that didn't push women into the field of music that Callaway employs, as she said “All the women I know in Denver who are musicians are like Ani Difranco and play a different style of music than I do. I didn't really fit into the female music scene there, but I played whatever and whenever I could.”

Now for those of you who wanted to see a little bit of NIN-Carré collaboration, you already have. Carré pointed out to us that two of her live songs had drum backing that was put together by Atticus Ross.

Carre will be performing at Whisky A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, 8901 Sunset Boulevard, on Tuesday April 19th at 9:15pm. Keep an eye out on her website, carrecallaway.com, for lyircs, photos, music, and more in the future.

Written by Paul LaBarbera for The NIN Hotline. Do not reproduce without permission. Article ©2005 The NIN Hotline. Photos courtesy Carré Callaway.