THE NIN HOTLINE

Tuesday, 2/13/24

An exclusive NIN photo exhibition down under

Two years in the making, art pop-up Behind the Gallery is presenting a selection of never before seen photographs of Nine Inch Nails during the Self Destruct Tour, as shot by Jonathan Rach - who among other things, directed the concert footage in Closure.

The exhibition is described as a mesmerizing 45 images available both on display and online, showcasing an array of both personal and pivotal moments for the band taken during the tour, as well as photos from the Hollywood Palladium shows. Everything will be available online and can be shipped everywhere in the world -- each 12"x18” print will be an edition of 30.

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Chicago native Jaison Chahwala, a familiar face in the NIN collecting community, helped curate the exhibition, and had this to say on Facebook: "When the gallery reached out to Jonathan with this opportunity, he reached out to me and we kind of brainstormed some ideas and looked over thousands of his photos to zero in our favorite ones. One thing I felt that was important, was making sure those that couldn't come out to Australia can still be part of the experience - in the form of the limited edition prints being available online. Everyone, whether you attend or not, will love this exhibit."

When the gallery goes live in early March, you'll be able to purchase the limited edition prints in the online shop's Nine Inch Nails section - though it's currently populated with prints of works by Joseph Cultice, if you want to get an early jump on owning some rare NIN photos and supporting the original photographer.
Monday, 1/29/24

Rob Sheridan reflects on early post-Fragile art direction

In this day and age, I still feel a bit of hesitation copying and pasting a block of text that someone else spent time writing, and just dropping it on my site. But then, this site has outlasted enough online magazines, several popular social networks, and more, so I'm still going to do it - and like I've always made a point to do, I'll point you to the original source, Rob Sheridan's Instagram account, where he's made a few posts about artwork he created during the Bleedthrough era - including some previously unreleased imagery he created during this time.

The introduction of scientific imagery in the design here was a bridge that would carry over as the work shifted to the “With Teeth” body of work, which used scanner glitching as its base and overlaid elements derived from and inspired by scientific/medical imaging. I’ll talk more about that in a more in-depth patreon write-up about this soon.

Whenever this work comes around again, people always ask me about the “Bleedthrough” album, how different it was from “With Teeth,” etc and I think there’s this fan mythos that some entirely different album was scrapped and sits in a vault somewhere, but that’s not the case. Bleedthrough was just in-progress With Teeth demos, and what changed wasn’t the entire album, it was the new material that was added as recording moved from New Orleans to LA, how that affected the way older demos were completed, how the tracklist evolved, how perspectives shifted. Sometimes concepts change as inspiration changes, and the names and visuals you’ve been sitting with for almost a year don’t feel right anymore. If anything, what you saw at that time was a rare window into the creative process of how an album evolves, not the scrapping of a bunch of material to start from scratch. And the artwork, as well, evolved pretty organically from this into the “With Teeth” artwork.

I personally was really stoked when the art direction on nin.com shifted towards this style, and it's always cool to see it come off the shelves for a little show and tell.


You can find more when you click through to his post (and he's also on Bluesky) - and drop by Glitch Goods to see the latest prints and other products Rob's made available.
Friday, 1/26/24

March of the Pigs gets an update for Fortnite Festival

Back in December, we reported that The Hand that Feeds was part of the debut of Fortnite Festival, a gameplay mode in Fortnite in the style of Rock Band, Tap Tap Revenge, and Dance Dance Revolution. This week, two more NIN songs are available for you to take the stage to - Less Than, the lead single from the Add Violence EP, brings modern NIN to the party, and you're also able to play a version of March of the Pigs that was extended specifically for Fortnite Fest:
"This is a studio recording of what they play live. It's the only recording that exists [...] only to be found on [Fortnite Festival]. Remember the other day when I said Trent was a fan of the game? [He] offered [to record the extended version and] wanted to change songs for improved gameplay."

If you don't have Fortnite, or don't have time to play Fortnite, or somehow don't know what Fornite is, you can always turn to YouTube to hear the new tracks as players perform against them. You'll get slightly different mixes depending on what instrument is being played - and you'll notice one other difference: when it comes to video games with a broad audience, it seems the fuck store was low on inventory, so you won't get any F-bombs in these clips. And there are kids who discover March of the Pigs on Fortnite, get it stuck in their head, decide to check it out on Spotify or maybe the box of CDs in their parents' basement, and will be stunned when they hear "Take the skin and peel it back" for the first time, as that line was excluded from gameplay as well.

Have a listen for yourself on this clip below, courtesy Lydia, who seems to be among the first to post the MOTP clip. Give that kid some likes and subscribes.


Sunday, 12/17/23

Introducing... WitchGang

A little over a week ago, word got out that Nine Inch Nails' The Hand That Feeds would be part of the Fortnite Festival. Among the other groups featured in the festival is a new name: Witchgang. A few days ago, a lyric video for the song Nothing's Alright was released, and people were posting to reddit about being confused about this band.

Fortnite Festival has its roots in the game Rock Band, and the team behind Rock Band, Harmonix, recently joined Epic, the company behind Fortnite. In the past, Harmonix has included lesser known bands in Rock Band, and folks were postulating that this might be the case here. There's scant information about Witchgang online - a minimalist website links to several outlets where you can hear their music. (Personally, I'm still all about bandcamp, since you can download lossless copies, stream freely, and musicians get more of a cut, but I digress). Their Instagram account has comments cheering them on, mixed in with a couple people who are acting suspicious about the appearance of this band out of nowhere.

It was shaping up to be a fun mystery to unpack, but leave it to the corporate overlords to give the game away. Now, if you're reading the lyrics to Nothing's Alright, lines like "the world’s on fire but nothing can stop me now" are going to stick out to you. Even the name of the song hints at themes familiar to visitors of this site. So when the song's page on Apple Music lists the production and writing credits, and you're seeing names like Dave Sitek, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, Thomas Fec, Ross Birchard, among others - the picture gets even more interesting.

There are two tracks available now: Nothing's Alright (which you can perform on Fortnite), and Timeless. I'd bet there's more to come.
Saturday, 12/16/23

Jerome Dillon announces a new film project

Jerome Dillon emerged on social media yesterday to share a link to a brief post on Extra, which announces a new work by Dillon:
Jerome Dillon, a former drummer of Nine Inch Nails, is set to produce and compose the score for his first original screenplay, titled “Bluebell,” with Knight Shamrock Productions.

Jerome joined Nine Inch Nails as the touring drummer around the time this website launched, and continued with NIN through 2005, including multi-instrumental performances on And All That Could Have Been: Still. Dillon released debut work Reminder under the moniker nearLY in 2005, featuring Claudia Sarne of 12 Rounds on vocals. He's scored a variety of films as well, from John Waters' Cecil B Demented and horror film The Collector. His scores for No One Lives and Officer Down are available on Bandcamp.
Friday, 12/08/23

Hideo Kojima's entrance theme triggers speculation

Last night, during the live broadcast of The Game Awards, a "global celebration of video games" that's approaching its tenth anniversary, famed video game designer Hideo Kojima was one of the guests and presenters. Following a trailer for his new game, OD, Hideo took the stage while the chorus of Came Back Haunted played, and was later joined by Jordan Peele, as a way of announcing that the illustrious Mr Peele is one of the collaborators on this new game.

We already know that Jordan Peele "had a goth phase, listened to Tool and Nine Inch Nails" (an influence that I'm pretty sure never went away), and in the above segment from the Video Game Awards, Kojima mentions his shared interests with Peele and that "I have other creative collaborative partners with me on board, I can't say who they are, but they are legends" - so, look. The only verifiable news here is that Hideo Kojima played Nine Inch Nails as his walk-on music for this thing.

But given the recent revival of the Quake soundtrack, you can't help but think it would be a fun opportunity to get these incredibly talented folks from the film, video games, and music worlds together on a weird, cerebral collaborative project. Maybe it even spins out to Trent & Atticus doing score work for Monkeypaw Productions.
Thursday, 12/07/23

PSA: the RSS feed URL has changed

This is how you know I don't use a feed reader for my own website. I'm not sure when this changed, but the RSS feed for the NIN Hotline is now https://feeds.feedburner.com/theninhotline/twxq. It's amazing that Feedburner still exists as a free service, and somehow has dodged the Google Graveyard, but I'm glad it's there, absorbing the tremendous traffic I'm sure the RSS readers send this massively popular music website.
Wednesday, 12/06/23

Nine Inch Nails to be part of the Fortnite Festival

In what appears to be an evolution of the Rock Band and Tap Tap Revenge (oh man, remember that?) concept, gaming phenomenon Fortnite is premiering Fortnite Festival on December 9. Dozens of bands are participating, including Nine Inch Nails, which specifically contributes The Hand That Feeds to the jam playlist. Ostensibly, you'll be able to get on stage with friends, pick an instrument, and rock out.

And here I just switched to Apple Silicon. Kudos to GC Punk for cluing me in on what was going on here.
Thursday, 11/30/23

"For Your Consideration" version of "The Killer" score is online

Films of all shapes and sizes get nominated for awards like the Golden Globes or the Oscars - and part of that nominating process involves wooing the voting members of the organizations that operate these awards shows. In the past, that usually meant a physical copy of the film and the soundtrack, labeled "For Your Consideration" - sometimes accompanied by related goodies. For example, when Mank was marketing to the awards crowds, autographed copies of sheet music (some were real autographs, some where just printed) started floating around.

What's interesting about "For Your Consideration" versions of film scores, to me anyway, is that they're often different from the commercial release. In the FYC disc passed out for The Social Network, some of the mixes were different, and there was even a track that never made it onto the score that was released on CD, BluRay and vinyl.

For that reason, as well as their scarcity, these FYC discs fetch big bucks on the secondhand market. But we live in an era of streaming now, and so in lieu of mailing a bunch of plastic to people, studios just post FYC versions of scores online for consumption. Yeah, yeah, here's the link to The Killer score as submitted to the folks who are considering who gets nominated for the awards. It's slightly different from the commercial release, as expected. If you're clever, you can inspect the network traffic or the page source code and get links to the MP3s that are being streamed.

You can also just visit this forum and click on the direct links. And if somehow this is your first exposure and you like what you hear - drop $12 on the high fidelity lossless version on Bandcamp.
Wednesday, 11/29/23

Old news is still news

The way this site was originally built, when you got to the bottom of the front page news, there was a link to a set of monthly archives. It was a straightforward user experience - you got to the end of the news, you wanted more, you clicked thorugh. This worked out pretty well early on - it was a page of links that I manually updated each month, and eventually I kind of automated it, but after a decade or so, it become unwieldy to display, and I was generating links to archive pages where there hadn't actually been any news posted. It was kind of a mess.

I neglected this archive page in favor of a Site Search feature, which certainly helped locate things if you knew what to look for, but the experience of reading things in chronological order was lost. At one point, I reached out to followers on Twitter and asked for suggestions for handling the display of the kind of data I had here, and someone suggested imitating the experience of the Wayback Machine on archive.org - which those first two links demonstrate. I loved the idea, but just did not have it in me to come up with the code to pull the appropriate data out of the database, and display it in that format. It's the kind of work that I could probably dictate to an upstart front end developer, and work with them to built out, except it's not simple work, and I don't have the budget to pay what's appropriate for that kind of work.

This is, of course, the part of the post where I talk about ChatGPT. Only a little bit - the details are better left to a personal blog post that I'l never write. Suffice it to say that with a little bit of guidance and some manual tweaking, I have created a more informative, browsable view of the Hotline News archives. I'll tweak the style more later, but even as it currently stands, you can see the slow decline of Front Page stories as we followed the crowds to Twitter. You can see how in 2018, there wasn't a single post on the website - to be fair, the site administration was struggling to run properly, which drove a lot of volunteers off, and the site languished further as a result.

I've got more work to do - I'm parsing some very old, pre-content-management archive pages, so that they'll not only appear in the graphs, but will also be searchable, finally. And as a finishing touch, I was planning on reviving the news.nin.net archives that Greg from ETS had rebuilt and hosted.

news.nin.net was the site that convinced me I would never run a NIN news site. Too much work, I thought. Correctly. But when the updates stopped, it left a sizable gap on the internet. SeemsLikeSalvation, by Evan Moore, filled the gap pretty well, but I felt that it went beyond the scope of what I was interested in, and tended to publish rumors and the occasional hoax, which ultimately inspired me to work with folks from #nin99 to start this site. At some point, nin.net fell prey to bitrot, as the dynamic elements of the site stopped working - mostly the news archive. One day, I was poking around, and found an exposed folder with the raw data behind the site, which is what we eventually used to re-create the archives that were hosted on ETS. But then that server died!

Having solved a lot of my own archive problems, I wondered if it made sense to revisit the old news.nin.net archive files, when I discovered that news.nin.net is working again, all these years later. It looks like it went back online sometime post-pandemic. It's a wonderful, hermetically sealed pre-Y2K website (the top of the page says "local time: 11 29 123 // 20:52:57") and I'm glad to see it's back.

I was going to wait until I had my own archives in better shape before I made this big post, but honestly, seeing the old news.nin.net site back online had me thinking, just put it out there. I'll have more improvements coming along the way, and keep your eyes peeled for the launch of a fun little project I've been putting off since 2020, involving Halo 5.
Thursday, 11/09/23

Support your local library

Martin Atkins shared news that he is back in possession of a very early NIN demo tape, which he reportedly sold on eBay a decade ago. He hasn't shared anything beyond that - apparently if you visit his Museum of Post Punk & Industrial Music in Chicago, and ask nicely, you can have a listen in-person. But that's not what this post is about - not really.

When Martin shared this information, he said the tape was from November 1986. Now, look. I'm in my mid-40s, I'm giving a presentation on citizen archaeology in Colonial Williamsburg next year, and by day I eat, drink, and breathe something called "headless commerce" (don't ask!) - there are so many things I have filled my brain with throughout my life.

But I also know there's no way Trent Reznor was writing "Nine Inch Nails" on cassette tapes in 1986. I pushed back - are you sure you didn't mean 1988, and in return I was given very specific information: Trent played sax on stage with Brian Brain when Mr Atkins' tour stopped in Cleveland, and he had the day off the following day, and when they were hanging out at a BBQ with the owners of the Phantasy nightclub, Trent gave him a tape. I was initially impressed by this level of detail, and even though I still knew the date was wrong, the prospect of having Martin Atkins vouching that Down In It was written and recorded before Skinny Puppy had released Dig It in the US was enticing - all those snark-ass rivetheads who wrote NIN off 34 years ago, what if I could convince them they were wrong!

Armed with some keywords that I knew would help me chase this down, I stumbled across The Cleveland Public Library Digital Collection. I'm not sure how long this has been online, but someone made the effort to scan local publications such as East Side Daily News, Plain Press, and... Scene, a biweekly magazine covering the local music scene. And it's searchable!

That, friends, is how I came across a 1985 mention of "Pennsylvanian Trent Reznor" joining the lineup of a band called HOT RODNEY. I was slightly disappointed to learn that Hot Rodney very quickly was renamed to The Innocent. But as I continued through the search results, I discovered a nearly play-by-play documentation of Trent's career in Cleveland, joining a few bands, and then going solo with Nine Inch Nails. (so much fodder for the NIN Wiki)

Thank you, Cleveland Public Library! Upon discovering these things, fearing irrationally that they might vanish off the internet at any moment like so many other things I've archived, I transcribed a couple of interviews, as well as some of these career updates, and put them in our article archive. That archive still looks like butt, and isn't great to navigate, but click through to either Interviews or General News, and scroll all the way to the bottom.

It's just the text of the interviews here, and not nearly all of the band updates. You'll have to head to the library digital archives for that, and if this is your kind of thing, it's totally worth it. Especially for things like a grainy photo of the staff of The Right Track studio, where Pretty Hate Machine was recorded. More than that, it was a nice reminder that there used to be little print magazines left out at bars and venues, printed every month, or every two weeks, with interviews, articles, and gossip about who's in Exotic Birds this week - alongside ads for local recording studios, lists of upcoming shows at the local clubs, and more. I miss that kind of thing, and wonder if it could even exist on the same scale today.

Anyhow. Martin Atkins conceded in private that even though 1988 feels way too late, I was right about the date.

The score to David Fincher's The Killer finds its mark

Though it made an early appearance on streaming services, I don't use those, so it wasn't until a few minutes ago when my phone alerted me that Bandcamp had a new release from Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross that I clicked through and grabbed my copy of the original score to The Killer.

15 tracks long - including the music from the trailer - there's about 52 minutes of rich, textural music here. And, of course, some thumpy bangers. But you don't have to take my word for it. Listen to the latest release from TR&AR wherever you listen to music. And, of course, you can as of tonight catch the film on Netflix, if you haven't had the opportunity to see it in theaters.

TGIF!
Wednesday, 9/20/23

From the vaults of Rob Sheridan

Rob Sheridan, before founding Glitch Goods or creating High Level, was of course the force behind Nine Inch Nails' art direction for 15 years, his work spanning eras from The Fragile through Hesitation Marks.

Along the way, he's picked up a few things, and lately he's been unpacking some old boxes and turning up a few surprises - new-old-stock merch, printer proofs of album art, tour posters he designed, and promotional lithographs. Everyone who's subscribed to his Patreon not only got a sneak peek, but got first dibs. That's not to say that what's left is slim pickings; to call them rare would be underselling how unique they are. Keep in mind that before you click through - the prices reflect this. Rob's an independent artist, not a collector.

See a list of what's available over on eBay, including signed artwork from Hesitation Marks, The Fragile, Things Falling Apart, the Gone Girl score, and one of my favorite NIN posters from the Fragility tour - designed by David Carson, I distinctly remember unrolling this one in my apartment in York, Pennsylvania and doing a double-take at what looked at first like damage. There's even a pristine ABSOLUT NOTHING poster, with about as close to direct provenance as you could hope for:

This is an original ABSOLUT NOTHING poster from my personal collection that I had framed 20 years ago. I know this poster has been something of a legend amongst fans/collectors who have wondered its origin, and in that regard I am no different. I got this poster from the NYC Interscope/Nothing Records office circa 2001/2002, I had seen the design around and was happy they had one sitting around that I could have. This was not an official NIN poster, at least not in the sense that it was designed (or to my knowledge even approved) by us in the NIN camp.

The story continues in the listing, but don't expect the mystery to be solved. Back in 2002, we chased down a tenuous link to Research Chemical Propagana, but have yet to nail down exactly who designed and printed these infamous posters.

Good luck, and happy bidding!
Tuesday, 9/12/23

NINLive quits Twitter

There's been change brewing at ninlive.com for a while. Of course, it's been an amazing resource for documentation of the concerts Nine Inch Nails has performed, with audio and video recordings going all the way back to 1988, with hundreds of these resources getting updated with alternate recordings or higher-generation sources of classic footage. The inimitable Ryan Jonik has been a one-man archiving machine, coordinating with the community to locate every last recorded minute and share what can be shared, so folks can revisit their favorite concert, or for fans who don't have the good fortune to have been to a show, give them a taste of what it's like seeing and hearing NIN translate studio albums to visceral concert experiences.

One important step towards this next iteration of the NIN Live Archive is a refocusing on the platform itself. Every time a new recording goes live, Ryan opens up an HTML editor, copies and pastes and edits some code, and uploads that to his server. It's a lot of work, and it also means that all of the information he's collected over the years sits unorganized in thousands of separate files. When it's ready, the new NIN Live Archive experience is going to be updated to be a more modern site: dynamic pages populated by a database. In many ways, the information stays the same - but with the data being organized into a database, this offers new opportunities when it comes to perusing the vast collection of recordings, and related information. I suspect it will also make Ryan's ongoing side quest so, so much easier.

And with a focus on the dot com, we see a retirement of the Twitter account.

It's time to put this to bed. Been a great run on Twitter. This is one of the first social media accounts for ninlive (or some may remember it as RITC). Lots of great things came out of it. NIN followed the account, I met the band from one tweet, countless interactions with other fans talking about our favorite band. And most importantly, found a lot of new sources for the archive. This account will stay up for posterity. If for some reason you need to find a tweet. The archive is still open at ninlive.com where you can download live recordings from 1988-2022 and beyond. There will be some updates to it in the coming months that I think all will be excited for.

RJ

It's a bold move! We still get more interaction on Twitter than any other social network, regrettably. It's like the Walmart episode of South Park, which I realize is older than some of the fans I saw at the 2022 shows, but I digress. I haven't bugged Ryan for a behind-the-scenes tour yet, and I don't want to hype you up too much, but I'm looking forward to the next generation of NINlive.com.

Analog Motion - Rob Sheridan's early NIN photography

As someone who's allergic to subscriptions, there are three things I subscribe to online. There's Adobe's Photoshop + Lightroom bundle - my penance for having pirated Photoshop since version 4. There's Webworm by David Farrier, who was a NIN forum dork like so many of us well before he became the guy who made Tickled (watch it without spoilers, you only get once chance) and Dark Tourist on Netflix, among other things. And finally, I'm a member of Rob Sheridan's Patreon, where you can find all kinds of stories and assets from someone who's famously generous in sharing pretty freely.

Sometimes that means I get early access to what he's working on before he shares it, but the latest thing he's put out there is a collection of "failed" photography from when he first joined Nine Inch Nails on tour. Shot on film in 35mm in challenging lighting conditions, these had laid abandoned for two decades, discarded for "better" photos that we'd see on the contemporary nin.com tour pages, or in the Fragility Tour book, and other places. Resurfaced, the way that the 'incorrect' exposures captured the light and motion of what was happening on stage actually fits really well, in my opinion, with the lucid, artistic imagery of The Fragile era.

Rob has shared these photos across a variety of social media platforms - I'll withhold my lament on that topic for another day - but I think the best place to check them out is on his trusty Tumblr account. Or maybe on Bluesky. Or, skip the platforms, and go straight to rob-sheridan.com.

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