The Times-Picayune

May 2000

Magazine Street studio a high-tech sanctum

From the moment a visitor crosses the threshold of Trent Reznor's Nothing Studios, it is apparent that this is no generic recording facility. The nondescript wood and glass-paned front door is a macabre relic of American pop culture: It was salvaged from the Los Angeles house where actress Sharon Tate was murdered by Charles Manson's followers.

Reznor recorded Nine Inch Nails' 1993 album "The Downward Spiral" in that house, but has worked on all subsequent projects at Nothing Studios on Magazine Street. Reznor acquired the building, an old funeral parlor, in April 1995; since then, says studio manager Brian Pollack, he has invested $1 million in the facility, continuously upgrading it with the latest gadgets.

One-way smoked glass allows occupants of the compound to look out, but prevents passers-by and the occasional Nine Inch Nails fan that loiters outside from peering in. The main studio room of the 17,000-foot facility is a bunker-like space in what was the funeral home's chapel. A massive 72-input control board is augmented by banks of recording gear. This was ground zero for the two-year recording of Nine Inch Nails' "The Fragile"; previously, it was where Reznor co-produced Marilyn Manson's "Antichrist Superstar" album.

In the studio that Trent built, functionality is accessorized with rock'n'roll knickknacks and persoman mementos. Four jet-skis are stored in a garage area. A nearby room houses a squad of mountain bikes. The funeral parlor's embalming room is now a laundry room; jet-ski wet suits hand alongside black and silver-sequined Mardi Gras costumes.

Reznor is a big fan of Pink Floyd's epic album/animated film "The Wall" -- its themes of alienation and spiraling despair are similar to issues he explores on record. Hence, downstairs walls are decorated with original animation cells from "The Wall." An enormous framed movie poster from "The Lost Highway" -- Reznor composed the soundtrack -- is signed by director David Lynch, who thanked "the gang in New Orleans." Photos of Reznor with Tom Petty hang near gold and platinum album awards and a trio of original paintings by David Bowie.

The studio kitchen's refrigerator is adorned with a typically eclectic collage of snapshots and decorative magnets, including an old K&B drugstore logo and a magnet depicting a Weimaraner, the breed of Reznor's dog, Daisy. A crimson skull with devil horns grins from a shelf in Studio B, where legendary rock producer Bob Ezrin, the man who produced "The Wall," sat hunched over a control board, concocting the final sequence of "The Fragile." A stuffed raven hangs upside down just inside the door of the adjacent lounge.

A broad staircase opens onto a long hallway filled with vintage arcade games and an old Kiss pinball machine. A large corner upstairs room overlooking Magazine Street is stocked with exercise equipment. The funeral parlor's upstairs viewing rooms have been converted into individual offices and work spaces. The building's old casket elevator is still functional; it now hauls recording gear between floors.

Since its inception, the studio has functioned mainly as a private work space for Reznor. But now Nothing is being marketed as a commercial studio, available for rental -- at least until Reznor decides to lock himself away and make another album.

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Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
This article is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously located at SUS.