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 - 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 archives that Greg from ETS had rebuilt and hosted. 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, 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 archive files, when I discovered that 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 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.

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 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 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.


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

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 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

Hotline Image
Thursday, 8/31/23

Fitting in my new skin, just tell me what to do

Meta-update! This website has a new look and feel on the homepage, and I spent time over the last few weeks creating a pretty good collection of homepage covers and tabletops for the covers to sit on, which I'll be cycling out manually with some regularity, until either I or some AI code assistant come up with a clever way to automate the scheduled release of new "covers" for this old blog.

Little things you might not notice if I didn't point them out:
  • The website cover art is different depending on the device you're viewing.
  • This website is a PWA - this means it's designed to be stupid fast, and on certain devices, you can install it on your homescreen, which gives you kind of an out-of-browser experience. This also hints that my day job is in ecommerce.
  • I turned off analytics years ago. My opinions about online stuff have shifted a lot - I'm glad you're here, but I don't need to know how often you visit or what your favorite pages are, I'd rather the site be FAST
  • The archives are up for revamping next! At the moment, you can only access the site archives by using our Site Search - which is fully operational again. But sometimes you just want to browse, and though I've had an idea of how to approach that for a while, it's only been with recent advances in public AI tooling that I've felt motivated enough to execute on that vision.
  • This website will outlast all the social networks, but that doesn't mean I'm going to ignore them. So I've got accounts on Bluesky, on Threads, on Instagram, and even on Facebook. I'm a bit of a masochist, and I don't believe that syndicating the same content everywhere is interesting, so you'll see they're all different. I don't know which one will win this round, but it's not Mastodon (which I do like), sorry.
  • Somehow, the RSS feed here still works - although by announcing that, I surely will have broken it within a month's time.
  • Lastly: 2024 is going to be a year of giveaways - and maybe an art project or two. Probably all done through the website, with later announcements on social media. I plan on deaccessioning some interesting stuff - stay tuned.

In a testament to my marketing prowess, I will press the "Publish" button on this page at 1:35am on a school night. One of the downsides to running a static site generator built in 1999-era Perl is that I can't be bothered building out modern content management tooling like, oh, scheduling. But you found your way here, and that's what matters.

Netflix shares a teaser trailer for Fincher's The Killer

Last Christmas, we heard that alongside the work Trent and Atticus were doing for Empire of Light and Bones and All, they were scoring a new film by David Fincher, The Killer. The news broke on Soundtracking, a podcast hosted by Edith Bowman with a name that gives you a good idea of what it's about.

Ever since then, very little has been shared about this new film, directed by the guy who brought Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, among others, to life on the big screen.

Well, a couple of days ago, the first trailer dropped, and there's no comp track here - that's another energetic, multi-layered, signature soundtrack piece by the composers behind HBO's Watchmen, Disney/Pixar's Soul, Gone Girl, and Netflix's Mank. Among other things.

Have a watch and a listen below, join the discussion at Echoing the Sound.

Friday, 8/04/23

Brushing the cobwebs off

I don't know when I made updates to the site that broke Site Search, the Article Archive, and Permalinks (click the headline on any of the front page news stories for a standalone page), but they were really easy to fix. When you visit, pretty much everything works now. And now I'm tracking changes through Github, so I can see exactly when I make a mistake like this again next time. If you don't know what that means, don't worrya bout it, and if you do know, yeah, shame on me for taking this long to put my old Perl and PHP codebase into source control.

I'm still posting to our Twitter account, but I've started an account at Threads too, but trading one billionaire's platform for another isn't the solution, which is why I'm putting some fuel back in this machine. Before I get to the fun part - following through on my original vision of the rebooted home page as a kind of art project - I still have a few other functionality updates I want to tackle. And I tell you what, revisiting old Perl code with the help of ChatGPT and similar tools is kind of a game changer.
Sunday, 6/18/23

Trent Reznor on Rick Rubin's podcast Tetragrammaton

A solid 2 hour interview between friends Trent Reznor and Rick Rubin. Some come away from the podcast excited about what's next for Reznor. Others say he just retired nin in the interview. Listen and decide for yourself.
Tuesday, 5/02/23

Tony Hawk casually namedrops a new Reznor Ross score

Earlier this year, my father was visiting and brought along a white cardboard box that had been sitting at his house for at least two decades. You see, a former colleague of mine was posting on Facebook about how he had gotten into collecting comic books, and I remembered that I had, at one point, the entire first series of black and white Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics by Eastman & Laird. As I remember it, the first three or four were reprints - maybe a 3rd print of the first and second issues, 2nd print of the third and fourth. Maybe I could trade them in and get something nice for myself.

To my surprise and disappointment, most of the first dozen issues were missing from the box. Looking on eBay, I was shocked to see that, in fact, what was missing was probably worth thousands of dollars somehow, since I had left them in a closet, in individual plastic baggies, some with cardboard in the bags for added stiffness.

I can't imagine anyone in my family stole them - maybe my brother or sister had some scumbag friends over, and they spirited them away when no one was looking. Given what they'd taken, it was pretty well targeted, and kind of a bummer. I have the rest of them on a shelf now, behind me, not real sure what to do with them.

Where was I? Right. It's the year 2023, I'm in my 40s, and the only comic book I ever collected way back in elementary school continues to be reborn over and over again - the latest incarnation is a highly stylized animated reimagining - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.

And at about 19.5 minutes into this interview, Tony Hawk lets slip that Trent Reznor's not only got some absurd cameo in an upcoming video, but "him and Atticus are working on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... they're working on the soundtrack to the movie that Seth [Rogan] was talking about."

And you know what? Listen to the music at the start of this trailer.

That's fuckin' great.
Friday, 3/10/23

NIN members featured on New Fever Ray Track, "Even It Out"

Nine Inch Nails members Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross return to the small screen in physical form with their involvement in the new Fever Ray release, “Radical Romantics”. Both are featured as producers and performers on the track and video for “Even It Out”. Watch:
Monday, 12/26/22

Trent and Atticus are guests on Soundtracking with Edith Bowman

Happy holidays! On top of all the soundtrack related news, we've got another treat today: Scottish radio DJ and TV presenter Edith Bowman's got a podcast called Soundtracking with Edith Bowman, and for their latest episode, 344, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross rejoin to talk about Bones and All and Empire of Light. It's a great conversation about process and collaboration, and working with interesting people.

You might have picked up on me saying, Trent and Atticus rejoin the podcast. That's because just about a year ago, Reznor and Ross were on the podcast to talk about Soul and Mank. This podcast is a great little gem, if you like the behind the scenes view into how movies are scored, whether from the point of view of the composers, directors, actors, and other people that are part of the process.

The links above are to Audioboom, but you can subscribe to Soundtracking with Edith Bowman pretty much wherever podcasts exist - thanks to podcasts being the almost ideal use case for RSS. Speaking of, don't forget that The Hotline somehow still has a working RSS feed as well, which can be found here (at least, until Google finally kills Feedburner - at which point, we'll find a new home for the RSS feed)
Saturday, 12/17/22

Mank vinyl to see wide release in Q1 2023

Back in December 2020, an announcement went out on about Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score for the Netflix film, Mank. In addition to the traditional streaming options, a super deluxe lossless download was made available at Bandcamp, along with a note: "Vinyl fans: we will be offering the score on vinyl early next year. The vinyl score will NOT contain the extra two hours of material."

Maybe you noticed, but when it came to manufacturing and the supply chain, 2020 was not a great year to be making statements about when products would ship. I waited months for a new washing machine. There's a new house that was built next to me that would be on pause for weeks while they waited for availability of things like... siding. Tiles. Workers.

Before long, both Netflix's Mank and Disney's Soul were nominated for numerous awards, as were the scores for both films, and Netflix made a pretty significant promotional push around this. There was a fancy coffee table book, replica sheet music from the score, and an album version of the score, packaged incredibly well as something evocative of the kind of album packaging they did in the mid-20th century.

Scores on Vinyl

I'm fortunate to have one of these, and got the thumbs up to share it on the bird website, with a note that the commercial release was in the pipeline, and would be a little different. (The art book and the sheet music I snagged on eBay for a surprisingly palatable price a few months ago)

That was nine months ago!

Just a couple of days ago, someone on Reddit posted that Plaid Room Records in Ohio had listed the Mank 3xLP for sale for $56, and they had five available. Had being the key word, as these were snatched up in no time flat. The record label was listed as Tiny Tiger Records, which I couldn't find any real reference to on Google outside of the Netherlands, which coincidentally is where some official-looking bootleg albums had been pressed a year or two ago - but Mank seemed like a very niche thing for someone to produce on their own.

Imagine my delight when richardp on Echoing the Sound posted that he had the album in his hands, and it was real. I never let go of the phrase "pics or it didn't happen" and that was basically my response, and I got this in return:
Scores on Vinyl

Scores on Vinyl

Scores on Vinyl

So here we are in 2022, and I can share with you vinyl fans indeed, will be offering the score on vinyl early next year.

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