The man who is Nine Inch Nails makes a Fragile return to himself.
"Nothing is more odios," posited Chopin back in 1910, "than music
without hidden meaning." Celebrated composer Schopenhauer took it
one step further, swearing that music was "the occult metaphysical
exercise of a soul not knowing that it philosophizes." But leave it to
the middle-path-seeking Confucius to hit the aesthetic nail on the
head several centuries earlier, with "Virtue is the strong stem of man's
nature, and music is the blossoming of virtue" and its cutting
corollary: "If a man lacks the virtues proper to humanity, what has he
to do with music?"
No artist these days feels that final irony more acutely than
goth-industrial demigod Trent Reznor. Like Jackson Pollock splatting
violent spurts of color across his cabin canvas, the mouse-quiet
mastermind of both Nine Inch Nails and its label/studio Nothing has
turned claustrophobic anguish and self-recriminating torment into a
cool-for-cats cottage industry. His last epic, the Dantean descent
into a carnal inferno, The Downward Spiral, went platinum five times
over. But just how virtuous was its composer? Just how good a man?
And - taking the Confucian tack - if Reznor wasn't such a great guy,
what the hell was he doing trying to blossom on such a stem of
lance-sharp thorns? He openly confesses - the minute you sit down
with him - that he recently despised himself for "turning into
somebody I didn't think I'd let myself turn into - I was truly a mess."
Absolute power, he found out, corrupts absolutely. Would Reznor end
up like Pollock, a broken man, bereft of vision, just another abstract
expressionist statistic, dead before his time?
"Right here was where it happened," murmurs Trent Reznor, swivelling
in his private-office captain's chair in the New Orleans-headquartered
Nothing Studios. "In this very chair," he adds, thumping the armrests
with his palms. His doors are closed. One portal leads deep into the
high-tech bowels of the place - room after equipment-stacked room,
even a little nook where his personal web page is run/updated.
Outside the other door? Pandemonium, as countless Nothing
cohorts/employees man faxes, phones, whatever they can get their
busy hands on, all to usher in the first NIN product in five years, the
two-disc, 23-track magnum opus The Fragile. A four-in-one
surveillance monitor - a Dymo label mounted on its surface reads
"Fuck the world" - eyes all entrances to the huge property, once a
velvet-draped funeral parlor. Dogs wander to and fro; Reznor loves
animals, so Nothing is animal-friendly. A coffee-table-wide labrador
named Ethyl wangles the most attention; Reznor's beloved
Weirmaraner Daisy May isn't around this particular morning ("She's
sleeping in," her master explains).
But, sequestered in this office a few weeks ago, surrounded by grim
Joel Peter Witkin photographs and even grimmer Gerald Scarfe artwork
from the film adaptation of Pink Floyd's The Wall, it finally occurred.
Hearing his own completed Fragile masters played back for the first
time, in an order scheduled by none other than the original Wall
producer Bob Ezrin, the black-garbed, sinister mystiqued Reznor broke
down and cried. Bawled like a wee lost lamb in the woods. A fitting
image. He'd been lost for five long years. And it was only through The
Fragile that he at managed to find himself again.
It wasn't such an embarrasing thing, letting the tears stream down,
confesses the 34 year old, still a bit awed by the actual moment.
Towards the tail-end of an excruciatingly long recording process,
Reznor and co-producer Alan Moulder - sensing they'd lost all
objectivity on over 40 disparate numbers - put in a last-minute call to
their idol, Ezrin. Would he be interested in flying down to N'awlins for
a week-long project? "I've got a bunch of music to lay on ya," Reznor
warned him. "And I'd like your interpretation of what's there."
Dutifully, the legendary Ezrin (who'd been in ten-year retirement until
recent projects by Kula Shaker and Catherin Waeel lured him back to
the mixing desk) disappeared into Nothing's recesses and emerged
three days later having compiled, Reznor recollects, "pages and pages
of notes. And he was like, 'Let me explain to you what record you just
made.' And it was just like a professor grading a paper, and it wasn't
all just ass-kissing. He was like, 'Here are some weak spots, here are
what I think the strengths are, here's my vote for what shouldn't be
on the record, and here's my running order.'
"And I thought, 'Alright!' So I put it on and listened to it, and it was...
it was..." Reznor pauses for wickedly dramatic effect, "Terrible!
Halfway through the first side I was daydreaming, I was looking out
the window." As he says this, an octegenarian Louisana local drifts
past said window. Reznor's concentration is broken for a minute as he
studies the interloper, like a mongoose might study a cobra from its
den. Decked out in fine Western duds and tugging thoughtfully on his
handlebar moustache, the passerby glances at his reflection in the
onyx-shiny glass - specially tinted windows allow Reznor to see you,
while you'll never catch even a fainting glimpse of him in
reciprocation. Voyeurism, you might say, taken to a NIN extreme.
"Man! Sometimes you see the strangest things pass by here..." Two
minutes later, an entire Girl Scout troop giggles past, heading in the
opposite direction. A minute after that: the old Cajun again, trotting
hurriedly after the Girl Scouts. Best not to think too hard on that one.
Besides, Reznor's already doing enough thinking for ten ponderous
guests. Imagine how difficult it was for him, he continues, to inform
the mighty Ezrin that he'd failed, that his track listing just didn't add
up. Then the performer began to doubt himself. Had he completely
lost a handle on his enormous dawn-'til-dusk labor produced merely a
gelatinous mass of unmarketable mood music? Would the album -
promised for so long it had almost become an industry in-joke - ever
truly be completed? Ezrin took the criticism in stride, merely smiled
and submerged into the studio depths again and got busy burning
more CDs. "And it got to the very last day Rob was supposed to be
here," Reznor sighs. "I came in that morning, and there were some
new CDs sitting in front of me. I was kinda numb that day - I wasn't
particularly in a bad mood, but I sure wasn't in a good mood. And I
wasn't very optimistic about what I Was gonna hear.
"So I sat down right here and I put it on. I didn't have a list of the
songs, so I didn't know what was coming. And halfway through the
first CD was when it hit me, when I started crying. And I was
thinking, 'If it ends now, it'd be perfect.' Then I immediately put the
second CD on, thinking, 'Well, this can't be good because all my
favorite songs are on the first CD. I, uhhhh, think... what else could
be left?' But it finished and I was stunned - like, 'Fuckin-A! Alright!' I
couldn't believe it! I had goosebumps!" Reznor looks down at his
forearm, grins like a goofy kid. "Look! I've got goosebumps now, just
thinking about it! I mean, that's pretty ridiculous, right?"
Poker-faced, Reznor called his Svengali into the office, had him sit
down on its huge leather couch. "I looked at him and said, 'You did it.'
And he looked back att me and said, 'I know.' I'll remember that
moment always, just a classic little exchange - 'I know.' So I said,
'Well, why did you fucking wait 'til the last day then, smartass?' And
we did a quick hug. It was... it was good."
INTERLUDE No. ONE: DISC LEFT
You've got to hand it to Reznor. He starts with a quick sonic jab to
the jaw, via the waddle-riffed buildup of "Somewhat Damaged" and its
visceral wordplay: "Broken bruised forgotten sore... Poisoned too my
rotten core/Too fucked up to care anymore." A 21-gun salute couldn't
have announced his intentions any better. The tired segues into a
dissonant/quiet alternator, "The Day The World Went Away," then
tiptoes into the piano-based introspection of "The Frail" (the first of
many instrumentals). An anvil chorus and haunted vocal shrieks soon
shatter the mood ("The Wretched," with its memorable couplet,
"Stuck in this hole with the shit and the piss/ And it's hard to believe
it could come down to this"); it's proceeded by the scratchy,
disembodied experiment of "We're In This Together" (in which Reznor
cedes to a lover, "I've become impossible," then discovers that she
might not be with him for the long haul) and the chain-clanker of a
title track ("I won't let you fall apart," he howls throughout the
chorus, sounding like far too little too late). Instrumental two, "Just
Like You Imagined," feels like Dvorak on lithium - bridling with
intensity, piano struggling against the mix - but pales beside the next
numbers, the screaming cry for help "Even Deeper" and the downright
scary processional "Pilgrimage." (Dead souls marching toward the river
Styx? Could well be.) A typical NIN slugger, "No, You Don't," bleeds
into the gorgeous, thoughtful "La Mer." The set closes with the soft
atonal pluckings and still softer reflections of "The Great Below":
"Ocean pulls me close/ And whispers in my ear/ The destiny I've
chose/ All becoming clear." As clear as an unmuddy lake, to quote A
There was a time, not so long ago, when a hug from Trent Reznor had
become the metaphorical equivalent of a rub-crushing python
squeeze. The man, like many a rock cipher before him, trusted no one
outside of a small circle of friends and bandmembers, the belief
apparently being that - if you dared to embrace him - you most likely
had a dagger concealed somewhere up your sleeve. The scary part?
A good deal of the time, given the fickle nature of show business, his
suspicions were probably correct. Richard Patrick - the guitarist who
left NIN in 1994 to form his own platinum Filter outfit - remembers
seeing Reznor morph from within as the nascent band rode the first
Lollapalooza festival to fame via its Pretty Hate Machine debut on
TVT. "I loved Trent, but Trent didn't love himself - he was just mean."
Initially, when they met in Ohio, Patrick adds, "Me and Trent were
punk rock before punk hit Cleveland. We used to just show up at bars
and throw shit all over the place, throw beer bottles because we
didn't care. There was no method to our insanity - it was like, 'How
crazy could you be?' And you've gotta understand, musically we were
trying to do things that were different, but we were smart people,
and we built up this animosity toward anyone who wasn't with us."
Pretty Hate Machine -- released in '89 and now triple-platinum -
wasn't necessarily a big icewater shock to the rock system. Ministry,
Skinny Puppy and countless others had not only coined the industrial
term/technique, but had been aggressively assaulting audiences with
it for several years. But the Pennsylvania-bred Reznor wasn't just
some lucky stiff who happened down the pike at exactly the right
moment. In early Hate singles "Head Like A Hole" and "Down In It," he
brought a certain commercial savvy to the formerly elitist music, an
instinct that practically spelled stardom. Where Skinny Puppy's "Dig
It" staunchly retained its dirge-like quality, and Ministry's "Jesus Built
My Hot Rod" boldly went one manic riff over the line, the young NIN
evinced a way with a powerchord-inspired,
synth-meets-metal-scraping-guitar hook. Confucius would've been
proud. Reznor had learned well - and quickly -- from his
As a kid in tiny Mercer, Pennsylvania, Reznor says he and his pals
used to sit around, desperately trying to find something to keep them
occupied, something to do that wasn't on the usual small-town menu.
He'd stare at the television, knowing full-well there was an exotic
highball world on the other side of the screen, but not having the
faintest clue how to reach it. With minimum effort, he aced his way
through high school, moved to Ohio, then finally mustered the
courage to go for NIN broke. Mailing off a demo to TVT sealed his
fate. Soon success hit, ensnaring him in legal complications - he had
to wrangle his way out of the TVT contract; he had to combat
piece-of-the-pie-hungry nutcakes, like the tour-trailing filmmaker who
made an hour-long video anthology of Reznor at his maniacal worst,
yelling at Patrick and other backstage unfortunates. Then he moved
to the old Sharon Tate/"Helter Skelter" murder house in Los Angeles
to begin work on his creepiest concept yet - the Downward Spiral
story of one unforgiven soul systematically destroying everything,
everyone near and dear around him. While the discs overwhelming
mainstream popularity paved the path for later soundtrack projects
with directors David Lynch (Lost Highway) and Oliver Stone (the
controversial Natural Born Killers), as well as the opening of his own
record company (formed with his manager, John Malm, clients include
Marilyn Manson, Meat Beat Manifesto, The The), it also created a
monster. A monster that, as Patrick hinted, was already breaking out
of its shell post-Pretty Hate Machine.
"I've had a weird life because I thought I knew who I was up until the
first record came out," says Reznor. He's wearing army boots,
army-fatigue trousers and a black T-shirt with the Nothing logo
stencilled, barely legible, across it, also in black. He's buff, almost
beefy, and periodically does little chair-lifts - pushing himself up from
the sturdy armrests, then sinking slowly back down into the comfy
cushion. The hair - as always, jet black - is short, but not as short as
in several recently run photographs. He's letting it grow into a
parted-down-the-middle shag, and it somehow seems to fit, somehow
complements the new, more adult persona projected on The Fragile.
Reznor continues, "Then suddenly the magic door opened up - 'Now
everyone likes me! Wow! Everyone wants to date me, everyone
wants to be my friend. People wanna give me things, and it's a party
for me, every time we play!' It's a weird education, and you come out
of it changed. You come out of it... different. I saw things change in
my own personality and I began to start believing the hype a bit.
"And the time comes when the tour bus stops, you get off, and now
you're back to the shitty little apartment you lived in and you think,
'Now I'm gonna be back to being the real me, not the one on the tour
bus in fancy clothes, but the 'me' who scrubbed toilets, the guy I left
behind.' And you're not that guy. You've become someone different,
not the guy onstage necessarily, but you aren't who you thought you
were." This overtook Reznor during the Pretty Hate Machine
juggernaut. "And the same thing happened to me on the Downward
Spiral tour, only to a much greater extent. Now it was truckfuls of
people, and busses and planes - the success level went up another
big notch. And then it got into the dangerous realm. If you're a little
band, a little underground band, it's more fun because there aren't as
many people watching you, not nearly as many people,' and Reznor
hisses the words through clenched teeth, "waiting to destroy you and
tear you down and rip you apart. As soon as you cross some
threshhold into success, it's surprising how people start turning on
you, and the same magazines that couldn't wait to champion you are
like, 'Oh, you're a little too big now,' and the can't wait to tear you
down. Watch - MTV does it all the time. You couldn't turn it on
without seeing Milli Vanilli a few years ago, but then they couldn't
wait to point at 'em and say, 'You're fake!'" And now, one member of
the duo is buried in his grave. "Yeah, and that's a fuckin' sad story,"
Reznor snaps. "They were two dummies. They didn't know what the
fuck they were doing."
Reznor is no dummy. He goes on with his cautionary tale, and it takes
a little time. He wants to sketch each unexpectedly fateful step with
care, so you get the complete picture. The Spiral tour got ugly, he
begins, very ugly. Band members at each other's throats, everyone
sick of playing the same songs night after night - that sort of thing.
So he signed 'em all up for a prestigious set of opening slots for David
Bowie ("A totally pressure-free context"), then returned to New
Orleans to produce (and non-stop party with) his Florida protégé,
Marilyn Manson. The sessions ended their friendship (so permanently
that it inspired a bilious Fragile indictment, "Starfuckers, Inc."), and
sent the singer off on a Thoreau-ish quest for peace that led to a
cliffside-cabin residency in Big Sur, California.
"At that point, I had the self-imposed and externally imposed
pressures of 'Okay - it's time to get down to business and do your
record.' But I really was in a spot where I wasn't sure who I was, I
didn't understand what I wanted to do."
Big Sur drove the poor fellow stir-crazy. "I knew what I didn't wanna
do was sit in a room by myself and think about things. But I was
avoiding starting work on this record because I was so generally
unhappy that I couldn't..." Reznor falters for a second. "It didn't make
sense to... nothing brought me joy. After I got everything I ever
wanted, I was fucking worse off than I was before. I was letting a lot
of shit go that I needed to fully address." His grandmother passed
away, someone with whom he was incredibly close. Initially, he felt
nothing but numbness. Once the brunt of the loss sunk in, it suddenly
felt "like I was in a hole I couldn't get out of. It had a profound effect
on me. But it also served as a catalyst for me to really sit down and
get my shit together."
In his earlier work, he adds, "I've always flitered around with
depression - there's a romantic side to it, like I'll be bummed out on a
rainy day and I'll put on a Cure album or This Mortal Coil. That's one
thing to flirt with it, but it's another thing when it's a lot blacker and
deeper and darker, like 'I don't even wanna get out of bed, and what
could possibly make me feel better? I can't think of anything'. I mean,
dark cloud! Stuck over my head! Still, I really needed to hit bottom."
A therapist shed some comforting light on the situation: The patient
hadn't scripted his own downward emotional spiral. He actually
suffered from a small degree of clinical depression. Relief turned into
motivation. Reznor stopped looking outward, began doing what he'd
dreaded all along - looking inward. All his life, he'd despised organized
religion; he began to comprehend the gulf-wide difference between it
and spirituality, began to waive pleasurable pursuits in favor of
studying his own decadence-ravaged soul. Hell, he'd moved to New
Orleans looking for decadence. (And if even half the Bacchanalian
rumors circulating around Reznor are true, me most assuredly found
it.) Now he'd rather discuss how "my heart is rooted in emotion, and
my soul is rooted in my innate knoledge of right and wrong - my
truest core. This is the bottom, the foundation for me. And I haven't
gotten my hole life-creed thing down yet, but it's grown leaps and
bounds from where it was a few years ago. Maybe it's a maturity/age
thing, I dunno. But I feel better about myself as a human being right
now than I ever did."
INTERLUDE No. TWO: DISC RIGHT
All through the interview, Reznor repeatedly refers to his depression
as a "hole," a grim mindset from which he had to clamber to regain
self-respect, some sense of normalcy. This record begins with the
climb. It opens, aptly enough, with the slow synth wash of "The Way
Out Is Through," which builds to a devilish crescendo and a defiant
credo: "All I've undergone/ I will keep on." A locust-humming,
percussion-peppered "Into The Void" comes next (chorus: "Tried to
save myself but myself keeps slipping away"), followed by the twisted
keyboard/slide guitar exercise "Where Is Everybody?", the
Frankenstein-lumbering instrumental "The Mark Has Been Made," and
the ruthlessly carnal "Please" (Wherein pleasure leads directly to
pain). "Starfuckers, Inc." is classic NIN anger; its bluesy
"Complication" counterpart keeps the bitterness pumping. The Fragile
at last sees some light at the end of the tumescent tunnel on "I'm
Looking Forward To Joining You, Finally" (a click-clacking study in
minimalism), the clattered, cluttered "The Big Come Down" ("There is
a game I play/ Try to make myself okay," Reznor yowls,
acknowledging that it is, indeed, a game of some sort), and the acrid
"Underneath It All" (in which our hero surveys what seems to be the
wreckage of a shattered relationship, possibly his own superstar self,
and opts to move on with the memory intact). The coda, "Ripe (With
Decay)," gently ushers the listener out on a trickle of acoustic
chords/notes, as if to shake the cold, steely impulses of reclusive
stardom with the warm embrace of humanity. Would Reznor like to
buy the world a Coke? Teach it to sing in perfect harmony? Probably
not. But at least he's willing to smile politely and shake its hand.
Bowie recently likened Reznor to the twisted Austrian conceptualist
Hermann Nitsch, who dredges up inner demons via artwork often
comprised of real gore and blood. "I don't think Trent has been doing
it quite so consciously, with such an artistic premise in mind,"
pondered the Thin White Duke, a decadent from way back. "But he's
definitely kind of in that place, where he feels like you just have to
get right into the miasma of your being and haul out of this gunge. I
think it's a really dark place to be - I've touched upon it myself in the
'70s and it's not a pleasant experience. But I just hope he gets
through that - I think he's one of the most talented writers of his
generation, in this country, and I would expect to still see him around
in ten, 20 years' time. I just hope he gets through all this so he can
be here with us for that long - he is truly a talented kid."
Reznor is quick to return with the compliment. "What impressed me
about Bowie, when we were on tour together, was seeing somebody
who's gone through it all and arrived at - from what I could gather - a
really good place. Watching Bowie kinda told me, 'It's gonna be okay.
Just keep your shit together.'"
Bowie hadn't heard The Fragile yet, and he couldn't wait to discover
how Reznor was coping, surviving. And - truth be told - Reznor coped
and survived, understood and overcame, simply by making music. Few
contemporary artists could endure such a rigorous catharsis. Nor
would most subject themselves to it. But Reznor is a different breed;
a composer who's actually fallen in love with composing, all over
again. It was something he'd lost in the rolling wake of fame, he
believes, in retrospect. Of the first instrumental he penned for this
project, the gorgeous keyboard passage "La Mer," he explains, "I
remember sitting down and playing the piano and thinking, 'How did I
ever forget that this is what brought me joy? How the fuck did that
get lost in the mess? How did I let that happen?' It's not doing
interviews, it's not fucking live shows, not backstage passes and bank
accounts - all that shit doesn't matter. I did this because I love
And so The Fragile -- after numerous false starts - was finally on
track and chugging. Sure, Reznor had managed to right his capsized
Exxon tanker of a personality. But his problems were only beginning.
Like a proud parent, Reznor wants to walk you through his studio,
show you every hidden chamber where The Fragile coalesced. "Can
you imagine?" he shudders, pointing to one windowless cubbyhole.
"just sitting in here, day after day, playing the same guitar part?
Trying to get it down perfect?" Like the Beatles' recently resurfaced
Yellow Submarine, Nothing is a surreal, self-contained ecosystem -
why deal with the Blue Meanies outside when you can stay creatively
aloof, intellectually warm and safe inside? Reznor was more than
happy to snip the umbilical to the outside world. Occasionally, he
says, he dropped by Tower Records for a new CD or two; turned on
MTV here and there; maybe watched a litle CNN. Mostly, however -
as in some flickering series of time-lapse photographs - history,
names, places and events in the news, even a few music trends -
passed right by him, undetected. And when he and Moulder were
nearing completion, they considered the full gravity of their
achievement and decided that this music did not resemble anything
being produced today. A good or bad thing? They had no idea. Only
when Ezrin gave corporeal form to the creature did Reznor buckle
beneath the sheer majestic magnitude of it all.
"Alan and I both thought, 'We're not being objective about this at
all,'" recalls the Number One Nail. "Like, 'La Mer' was one of our
favorites, and it was gonna be the first song on disc one. The nit was
'Nah, let's make it the first song on disc two.' Then 'Nah, lets make it
the first single!' 'No, wait! Let's call the album La Mer!' And you
approach a song like that with reverence - you cherish it so much,
you're not being objective about where it should go."
Other musicians watch the studio clock, counting off the costly hours
in two- and three-week sessions. Reznor knew no such contsraints -
he owns the damn place and only lives a few blocks away. Or, as he
puts it, "The routine became, work as long and as late as you can, go
home, sleep, come back as soon as you wake up, and keep going,
going, going." The instrumentals appeared first; Reznor wasn't
comfortable writing any new lyrics at the time. He was too unsure of
himself, too worried where that depression might lead him. But the
music finally flowed, he sighs, "almost on a subconscious level, likke I
was channeling it. It got to where I thought, 'I dunno if I'm even
writing this, 'cause I can't imagine how I could come up with that.'
And we would try things that I would've taken short cuts to arrive at
in the past.
"Like, instead of a background noise off a movie - which is what
Downward Spiral was all about - We'd go find the original place and
mic it. Instead of sample a cello, it was like, 'Let's borrow one from
down the street and see what happens if you put the wrong strings
on it. Whoa! Check this sound out!' We had space and time to try
that kinda stuff. And sure, there's a danger of crawling up your own
ass and wasting time doing stuff that doesn't matter ,because you're
feeling like it's free. And, I admit, we did do some of that - getting off
on weird tangents. Almost everything on there is guitar, but it doesn't
sound like it. I even forgot things - I'd hear something and go 'How'd
we do that? Oh yeah! That was two strings playing the same note,
and us putting a toaster next to it with three mics, until it made a
strange humming sound.' This was the first time I had resource - real,
true resource -- to find great moments like that."
Trotting through his compound, Reznor is greeted by various
hard-working folk. "How's the throat, Trent?" asks an engineer,
looking up from his board. "Better, thanks - I think we'll nail it today,"
the boss responds. He was coming down with a something, possibly a
cold, and yesterday's vocal takes were shot to hell. Out into the
foyer and up the purple-carpeted stairs is the NIN game room, packed
with original arcade editions of Scramble, Sinistar, Tempest, Donkey
Kong, you name it. Even a vintage Kiss pinball machine. Reznor's
personal chauffeur - waiting for his next assignment - is busy blasting
away at a classic Robotron machine. Robotron is the popular one,
with the entire Nothing staff perpetually trying to one-up each others'
scores. Downstairs: the new Sega Dreamcast system beckons,
already loaded with the ghoul-shooting House Of The Dead 2 -- one
of the bloodiest, and most addictive games ever created.
A fax comes in. Surprise. It's yet another glowing review of The
Fragile, this one from some glossy tech mag. And surprise again! The
Fragile just debuted at Number One on the Billboard charts, scanning
nearly a quarter of a million units. Reznor reads these reports avidly,
pores over them like one would a profit-margin pie chart. The pain
hasn't morphed into fun. The pain is now big business. Ask Reznor
what his worst moments have been, the times he thought the pain
couldn't get any worse, and he graciously demurs, defers.
"Oh, there were a couple like that," he grins, cryptically, then
reiterates that he "really needed to hit bottom. And now, in
retrospect, it was my personality that was seeing the worst in all
situations. It wasn't like the whole world was out to get me, but it
sure seemed like it. But the record's complete, it's the end of an era,
and now I've been forced to talk about it. So I'm filling in the blanks
with what may be not quite accurate information, but it's the
information as I remember it. But it all seems to make more sense to
me now than it did when I was in it. And it really, really seems like...
like...." Reznor scratches his ebon coiffed noggin, stymied. "Shit! I
lost my train of thought!"
A gaffe like that is understandable, this late in the Fragile game.
Outside, on the front porch, a Fed Ex delivery man is urgently ringing
the buzzer; he's got two huge boxes of the vinyl edition of the new
Nine Inch Nails - three discs long and featuring two bonus tracks,
"The New Flesh" and "10 Miles High." Everyone in the office looks up
at the monitor to see who it is. Everyone looks up to see that same
Dymo sticker, those same three words that have come to epitomize
Nothing, Nails and Reznor himself: "Fuck the World." Confucius
couldn't have put it any plainer.
by Tom Lanham
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is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.