POUNDING THE BEAT WITH NINE INCH NAILS
Before Trent Reznor gave former Howlin' Maggie drummer Jerome Dillon a full-time job last year, Dillon
had moved from Columbus and was living in Los
Angeles, trying to play music anywhere he could.
Last we spoke with Dillon, he was on the eve of drumming with Nine Inch Nails at the MTV video
music awards. In the seven months since, he, Reznor,
Robin Finck, Danny Lohner and Charlie Clouser -- Nine Inch Nails, the touring band -- have played in
sold-out arenas throughout Japan, Europe,
Australia and New Zealand.
For the past several weeks, the group has been in New Orleans and Los Angeles rehearsing for its
first U.S. tour in five years.
"Every night on the tour was an enlightening experience -- especially when there's always the
possibility in this band of someone getting hurt," Dillon said
from Los Angeles.
"There's a lot of eye contact and a lot of vocal cues to make things run a little more smoothly if the
crowd is really loud. If things are being destroyed and
Robin can't hear the count, I've got to make sure I'm screaming as loud as I can, or hitting the high hat
as loud as I can. On that level, everybody's gotten
to know each other really well."
Nine Inch Nails is touring to promote The Fragile, a double album that Reznor -- who is, for the most
part, Nine Inch Nails in the studio -- took five years
to make. Perhaps tastes have changed, or Nine Inch Nails has spent too much time away from its
loyal fans, or everyone and his brother is busy starting a
dot-com business; whichever it is, not many music buyers have been willing to invest the time and
money in The Fragile.
In late September, The Fragile entered Billboard charts at No. 1. Now it's nowhere in the top 200. The
band continues to sell well in Europe, but here
roughly 705,000 copies of the disc have been sold, according to SoundScan. Nine Inch Nails' two
previous albums each sold 3 million copies.
The Fragile takes more time to get to know than, say, Limp Bizkit's Significant Other or Bloodhound
Gang's Hooray for Boobies or, for that matter, Nine
Inch Nails' previous albums of synthesizer-metal -- Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral and the
The Fragile includes bona-fide singles; We're in This Together and Star (expletives), Inc. writhe and
seethe like the most hip-shaking and fist-pounding of
Nine Inch Nails tunes.
The bulk of the record is a soundtrack for Reznor's darkest-hour, hate-mail-to-self diaries. Chances to
move the hips and clench the fists in sync with the
beat are few. Musically, it's an industrial symphony that is best-listened to the way it was written: in
isolation away from friends and family.
When asked why people haven't bought two and three copies of The Fragile, Dillon sighed and said
many hypotheses have been tossed around. He
quickly added that the band isn't concerned, that the upcoming tour will make everyone believers
"With this band, it's always been about touring. It still seems to be about the live show. That's what
catapulted sales of Broken and The Downward Spiral.
We expect this not to be any different.
"This record was a question of Trent pushing himself in as many directions as possible. The inherent
qualities of the record, metaphorically and otherwise,
are about falling apart. At points you can be listening to it and you get this seasick feeling of not being
sure the song is going to break apart at any moment.
That was kind of the idea. All of the material prior to this didn't have that sense of vulnerability. That
could be part of it. Maybe the fans or whomever can't
latch onto that quality as easily as some of the harder-edged stuff that had more of a pop sensibility."
On its recent overseas tour, the group played a greatest-hits package with a few new songs. When
Nine Inch Nails plays in Columbus Saturday, it will be
focusing more on new material.
Wednesday in Cleveland, during the group's first concert of its U.S. tour, an extravagant light and
stage show complemented the songs. The sound was
phenomenally clear and not as overwhelming as one might expect from a band known for flattening
audiences with walls of guitars and synthesizers.
Stage manager Rocko Reedy said "Fragility v2.0" is the most ambitious tour he has been involved
with. As stage manager, Reedy, a Clintonville resident,
is responsible for moving "the skin of the concert" -- truckloads of lights, speakers, video screens and
all other equipment -- to install in each city.
"There are so many things going on visually and audibly. It's the most ambitious thing I've done on an
arena tour -- more than Kiss.
"Trent has surrounded himself with the most talented people I've ever worked with. With him, it's not
just a matter of 'Turn it up, man. Let's kick out the
jams!' There's so many nuances to his music that would be hard to achieve in the studio, let alone
live, but we've got a really hot sound man, John Lemon."
When Reedy signed on in September, he wasn't too familiar with Nine Inch Nails' music.
"The one thing I do respect about him (Reznor) as an artist, it's not like he says, 'All right, let's throw
a cowbell in here.' The songs cut through. You find
yourself going back through to listen and saying, 'Yeah, what the hell is that?' "
Dillon also has had a few epiphanies.
"There were a few songs we were playing that I thought wouldn't have as much an effect on the
audience as they did, like The Day the World Went Away
and The Great Below. For whatever reason, you can feel the attachment people still have."
<< Previous Page
is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously
located at SUS.