Tag Archives: nine inch nails

Richard Patrick On Influencing Nine Inch Nails’ Broken: ‘We’ve Got To Drop Our Balls & Flex Our Muscles’

I recently conducted an interview with Filter frontman Richard Patrick for Alternative Nation at the listening party in New York for Filter’s 7th studio album, Crazy Eyes, set for release on April 8, 2016. We will be publishing the complete interview later this week.

In Billboard’s review of Crazy Eyes, they stated the following: “Crazy Eyes is hardly bereft of guitars but there are a substantial amount of electronics and effects in use. The result features heavy industrial crunch and solemn, ambient songs that reach back to Patrick’s time in Nine Inch Nails and the first Filter album, 1995’s Short Bus.” I asked Patrick about this quote, and he looked back at his early days in Nine Inch Nails.

Patrick: “Trent in 1988 was in a band called “The Exotic Birds” and I was in a band called “The AKT”. We were both really listening to bands like Ministry, With Sympathy, Skinny Puppy and we realized that you could be as mean as shit and you can use keyboards. Most stuff sounded like Kraftwerk or Depeche Mode. Depeche Mode was awesome, but they were so specifically Depeche Mode. So, we were worried that we had to be like Information Society or something. When I was in Nine Inch Nails, I jumped on at the end when he recorded Pretty Hate Machine and then he released Broken. There’s a huge sonic change from those two records and he thanked his live band for being an influence. That credit on that EP was the fact that I was always saying, ‘We’ve got to fucking make it heavy and mean, man. We’ve got to fucking drop our balls down a little bit and fucking flex our muscles, be mean and fucking make heavy music.’

I’m not claiming anything, but when you’re hearing that all the time, it was just coming from that point of view of, ‘Let’s say mean shit, fucking say it, scream and be angry,’ because we were fucking angry. When we started the NIN Tour, we felt we’d never make it. I mean Bon Jovi and all that shit was always going to be there. We hoped it was going to go someplace, but we were downtrodden, pissed off musicians that had been picked on because we didn’t have Marshall amplifiers or something. Eventually we did get some Marshall amplifiers, but we were picked on because we were using synthesizers, samplers, fake drums. We had Simmons pads, we didn’t have real drums. We were all about breaking all those rules.

I miss drunk Ritchie from Short Bus screaming at people, ‘Do it this way, motherfucker!’ I miss that guy. It took him to make this record, except that he wasn’t so angry, he just got his way. I worked with Amy Cappello on a bunch of songs. I produced it and co-produced it with a lot of different people and a lot of really great musicians. It was extremely important that I go, “Look, I’m sorry, this is just not going the way I want it to go, so let’s just stop this and start over on something else, let’s create something new. It takes the artist as well as the producer to really have all the final say.

I had to place myself in that position because no matter what was going on in Filter on those first 3 records, I was always getting my way. I was always the guy saying yes or no. To my detriment, in Amalgamut, I think some of the lyrics weren’t good enough and I was at the tail end of my drug problem. I’m not a perfect song writer, but I am song writing problems with dynamics, instrument change and arrangements. When I sang “Head of Fire,” I just kept on going like, “Head of Fire” in the 2nd verse. It just turned into this weird 10-bar extras bar. Normal verses are supposed to be like 8-bars and I just kept going. It went on until like 12- bars and I just kept repeating. I love that. I love not just being traditional.

I love breaking all the rules. In the middle of “Mother Eve,” it breaks down to a cello when he realizes what he’s doing, this person I was trying to understand, I just broke it down and had him sing like he was a little scared kid. I sang like I was this scared kid because I think he realized he was doing some pretty horrible shit. Then he rebuilt his energy and said, ‘I’ve got my reasons.’ Then I’d break down to a cello part. That’s more fun than just, ‘OK, the intro’s done, let’s do the 1st verse and then we’ll do the chorus.’ It just got really redundant on other records. So, for this record, it was just like, ‘Let’s just do it this way, fuck it. I know it’s not right. I know it’s not the traditional way. Let’s just do something weird’ and all of that is why people like it. It’s reflective of that kid who didn’t necessarily know what he was doing, but created something original anyway.”

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Top 10 Most Anticipated Rock Albums Of 2016

Co-written and edited by Brett Buchanan

As we kick off 2016, the year should be an eventful one in the year of alternative rock. Check out 10 of the most anticipated albums for the year below!


Wolfmother are set to release their new album Victorious in February. The band has already released two raucous tracks from the album, “Victorious” and “City Lights“.

PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey will release her first album since 2011’s Let England Shake this spring. The album documents a “unique artistic journey which took her to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C,” according to a press release. She has already performed new tracks live, including “Chain of Keys” and “The Ministry of Social Affairs.”

Radiohead band wide


In October, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood said that the band has recorded “lots” of material for a new album and are currently sifting through the material to find the best tracks.  It will be the band’s first release since 2011.


Alice In Chains

Alice In Chains were already beginning work on their new album this past summer, so a 2016 release has to be expected.

Bassist Mike Inez told Rock 103 (as transcribed by Alternative Nation) in August:

“We’ve been throwing around riffs for a new record, we’re taking it nice and slow, and we just wanted to get out of the house this summer, and just play. It’s funny, we’re still like brothers to this day.


Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers have completed the majority of their new album and in December were only waiting for Anthony Keidis to track vocals.  Flea has called the new material “emotional” and the first single is set to be released in early February.



In November Chino Moreno announced in an interview with BBC Radio 1 that the Deftones have finished recording their new album and were in the mixing process with an early 2016 release.  Moreno also mentioned that the album has 16 tracks and will feature an appearance from Jerry Cantrell.



In August Chris Cornell told Rolling Stone that Soundgarden is working on a new album. Kim Thayil said earlier in the year that the band is aiming for a 2016 release.  No additional details have been confirmed.


Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan has been hyping up the followup to 2014’s Monuments to an Elegy since before that album came out, originally titling the followup Day for Night and saying it’d be released in 2015. Corgan then dropped the titled and reworked the album over the summer, but there has been no update from Corgan since. Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin recently revealed that he will be getting together with Corgan early this year, so there may be news coming soon.


Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor made a big announcement on Twitter on December 18th: “New NIN coming in 2016. Other stuff, too.”

Reznor told Rolling Stone in July that he was in the early stages of working on new Nine Inch Nails music.

“Yeah, I’ve been messing around with some things. And I went through a period of “tour, tour, tour.” Things right after another, with scores and what I’ve been doing whilst working on Apple music here is what I call “laboratory time,” more experiments without any definite agenda. It’s not for a thing, it’s not a record I’m trying to finish in a month. It’s more just feeling around in the dark and seeing what sounds interesting. It’s nice to do that every few years to try and reinvent and discover and try to learn about yourself and what feels exciting to you as an artist.”

He also discussed rock bands no longer selling albums, “As an artist, there’s the difficult transition from realizing that where you used to sell an item that you got X amount for – those days are over. And the toothpaste is not going to go back in the tube. And people aren’t going to suddenly want to buy CDs again and feel good about overpaying for them. That’s a fact. Most of my peers have swallowed the bitter pill that I have swallowed, which is that you don’t make a lot of money selling music these days. It’s just the way it is. I don’t think that’s the way it should be, but that is the way it is. So I’m excited to accept that.”



The elusive Tool have been somewhat quietly working on a new album over the past year.  They debuted a snippet of a new song entitled “Descending” at a Halloween show in Tempe, Arizona which Adam Jones later told Rolling Stone was a preview of a new track.  So we are all holding out hope that 2016 is the year that we finally get a new Tool album since 2006’s 10,000 Days.

Nine Inch Nails To Release New Album In 2016

Trent Reznor has announced that Nine Inch Nails will release a new album next year, following their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame snub.

Trent Reznor told Rolling Stone in July that he was in the early stages of working on new Nine Inch Nails music.

“Yeah, I’ve been messing around with some things. And I went through a period of “tour, tour, tour.” Things right after another, with scores and what I’ve been doing whilst working on Apple music here is what I call “laboratory time,” more experiments without any definite agenda. It’s not for a thing, it’s not a record I’m trying to finish in a month. It’s more just feeling around in the dark and seeing what sounds interesting. It’s nice to do that every few years to try and reinvent and discover and try to learn about yourself and what feels exciting to you as an artist.”

He also discussed rock bands no longer selling albums, “As an artist, there’s the difficult transition from realizing that where you used to sell an item that you got X amount for – those days are over. And the toothpaste is not going to go back in the tube. And people aren’t going to suddenly want to buy CDs again and feel good about overpaying for them. That’s a fact. Most of my peers have swallowed the bitter pill that I have swallowed, which is that you don’t make a lot of money selling music these days. It’s just the way it is. I don’t think that’s the way it should be, but that is the way it is. So I’m excited to accept that.”

Nirvana Bassist Wants Nine Inch Nails In Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic recently revealed how he voted for the 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Novoselic tweeted, “How I voted for 2016 @rock_hall —— @CheapTrick, @deeppurple_off, @nineinchnails, NWA & Steve Miller.”

Nirvana were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April 2014, with Michael Stipe delivering the following speech:

Good evening. I’m Michael Stipe and I’m here to induct Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When an artist offers an idea, a perspective, it helps us all to see who we are. And it wakes up, and it pushes us forward towards our collective and individual potential. It makes us — each of us — able to see who we are more clearly. It’s progression and progressive movement. It’s the future staring us down in the present and saying, “C’mon, let’s get on with it. Here we are. Now.” I embrace the use of the word “artist” rather than “musician” because the band Nirvana were artists in every sense of the word. It is the highest calling for an artist, as well as the greatest possible privilege to capture a moment, to find the zeitgeist, to expose our struggles, our aspirations, our desires. To embrace and define a period of time. That is my definition of an artist. Nirvana captured lightning in a bottle. And now, per the dictionary — off the Internet — in defining “lightning in a bottle” as, “Capturing something powerful and elusive, and then being able to hold it and show it to the world.”

Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl were Nirvana. The legacy and the power of their defining moment has become, for us, indelible. Like my band, R.E.M., Nirvana came from a most unlikely place. Not a cultural city-center like London, San Francisco, Los Angeles or even New York — or Brooklyn — but from Aberdeen, Washington in the Pacific Northwest, a largely blue-collar town just outside of Seattle. Krist Novoselic said Nirvana came out of the American hardcore scene of the 1980s — this was a true underground. It was punk rock, where the many bands or musical styles were eclectic. We were a product of a community of youth looking for a connection away from the mainstream. The community built structures outside of the corporate, governmental sphere, independent and decentralized. Media connected through the copy machine, a decade before the Internet, as we know it, came to be. This was social networking in the face.

Dave Grohl said, “We were drop-outs, making minimum wage, listening to vinyl, emulating our heroes — Ian MacKaye, Little Richard — getting high, sleeping in vans, never expecting the world to notice.” Solo artists almost have it easier than bands — bands are not easy. You find yourself in a group of people who rub each other the wrong way and exactly the right way. And you have chemistry, zeitgeist, lightning in a bottle and a collective voice to help pinpoint a moment, to help understand what it is that we’re going through. You see this is about community and pushing ourselves. Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard.

Keep in mind the times: This was the late Eighties, early Nineties. America, the idea of a hopeful, democratic country, had been practically dismantled by Iran-Contra, by AIDS, by the Reagan/Bush Sr. administrations. But with their music, their attitude, their voice, by acknowledging the political machinations of petty but broad-reaching, political arguments, movements and positions that had held us culturally back, Nirvana blasted through all that with crystalline, nuclear rage and fury. Nirvana were kicking against the system, bringing complete disdain for the music industry and their definition of corporate, mainstream America, to show a sweet and beautiful — but fed-up — fury, coupled with howling vulnerability.

Lyrically exposing our frailty, our frustrations, our shortcomings. Singing of retreat and acceptance over triumphs of an outsider community with such immense possibility, stymied or ignored, but not held down or held back by the stupidity and political pettiness of the times. They spoke truth, and a lot of people listened. They picked up the mantle in that particular battle, but they were singular, and loud, and melodic, and deeply original. And that voice. That voice. Kurt, we miss you. I miss you. Nirvana defined a moment, a movement for outsiders: for the fags; for the fat girls; for the broken toys; the shy nerds; the Goth kids from Tennessee and Kentucky; for the rockers and the awkward; for the fed-up; the too-smart kids and the bullied. We were a community, a generation — in Nirvana’s case, several generations — in the echo chamber of that collective howl, and Allen Ginsberg would have been very proud, here.

That moment and that voice reverberated into music and film, politics, a worldview, poetry, fashion, art, spiritualism, the beginning of the Internet and so many fields in so many ways in our lives. This is not just pop music — this is something much greater than that. These are a few artists who rub each other the wrong way, and exactly the right way, at the right time: Nirvana. It is my honor to call to the stage Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl.

Top 10 Alternative Rock EP’s

With Foo Fighters’ recent surprise free Saint Cecilia EP release, Alternative Nation has decided to take a look back at the top 10 greatest alternative rock EP’s.


10. Smashing Pumpkins – American Gothic (2008)

American Gothic was an under the radar release, featuring acoustic based songs written during the Zeitgeist era. The EP features “The Rose March,” one of the best songs Billy Corgan has written in the last decade. The EP gives just a taste of Billy Corgan recording acoustic songs, which was also teased with Djali Zwan.


9. Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia (2015)

Foo Fighters’ Saint Cecilia was spontaneously recorded in Austin just a few months, and while it doesn’t feature any songs that stack up with the band’s all time great hits, there is a laid back feeling to the EP that you can hear. It sounds like friends just sitting around the campfire writing music, without any pressure from record labels for commercial success.


8. Green River- Dry As A Bone (1987)

Green River is a fascinating listen for Grunge fans who discovered the band after Pearl Jam and Mudhoney’s formation. The band merges the sound of the two bands with Mark Arm bringing his punk rock sensibilities to Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament’s arena ready sound.


7. Soundgarden – Fopp (1988)

Fopp largely consists of covers, including a cover of Green River’s “Swallow My Pride.”


6. Mudhoney – Superfuzz Bigmuff (1988)

Mudhoney’s Superfuzz Bigmuff may be the band’s most famous release, featuring their signature song “Touch Me I’m Sick.” Superfuzz Bigmuff strips down the Grunge sound to its barest bones, and is one of the greatest examples of the eras punk influence.


5. Tool – Opiate (1992)

Opiate was Tool’s first ever release and immediately showcased the band’s brooding sound, despite the raw recording quality. Maynard James Keenan’s lyrics are some of the darkest and angriest of his career, singing about his frustration with God, murder, among other subjects.


4. Soundgarden – Screaming Life (1987)

Soundgarden’s Screaming Life features one of the band’s most underrated songs, “Nothing to Say.” Despite the production quality, the soaring riff and Cornell’s wailing vocals show that the band were destined to headline arenas.


3. Alice In Chains – Sap (1992)

Sap was an important EP for Alice In Chains, with the band exploring their more melodic stripped down side for the first time after their heavy metal leaning debut album Facelift. The EP features ‘Alice Mudgarden’ on standout “Right Turn,” with Chris Cornell and Mark Arm lending guest vocals. “Am I Inside,” featuring Ann Wilson from Heart, is one of Alice In Chains’ best songs. “Got Me Wrong” had incredible staying power, becoming a hit two years later when it was featured on the Clerks soundtrack, and finding new life again when Alice In Chains performed a stellar version of the song on MTV Unplugged in 1996.


2. Nine Inch Nails – Broken (1992)

Broken is the bridge between Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral, and sees Trent Reznor’s songwriting reach a whole new level, further developing the heavy industrial sound that would come to define Nine Inch Nails. Grammy winner “Wish” remains a fan favorite to this day.


1. Alice In Chains – Jar of Flies (1994)

Despite being an EP, Jar of Flies is regarded by many fans as their favorite Alice In Chains’ record, and also as one of the greatest releases of the 90’s. Alice In Chains came into the recording sessions for Jar of Flies with no material at all ready to go, and within a week they had a classic EP featuring some of their greatest songs. Layne Staley’s vocal performance and melody on “I Stay Away” are some of the most inventive and impressive of the 90’s, as well as his vocal part of “Don’t Follow.”

Courtney Love Claims Nine Inch Nails Song Is About Her

Courtney Love discussed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee Nine Inch Nails and Fleetwood Mac in a new Los Angeles Times article discussing her new play.

The Downward Spiral was big for us both,” she said, referring to the album by Reznor’s band Nine Inch Nails. Then she turned to playwright/composer Todd Almond. “There’s one song about me. Very mean. I’ll tell you about it later.”

Love called her playwright partner Todd Almond more talented than Reznor earlier this year in an interview with Billboard. “I was listening to Todd play the other day, and I remembered when I used to date Trent Reznor, who is very talented and has his own thing, but Todd’s is better. Me and Trent would fuck around at the old Sunset Marquis [in Hollywood]. There was a grand piano — he would play and I would chanteuse it out. How fabulous that I got someone better than Trent!”

Love also showed Almond her favorite performance of all time on YouTube – Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham singing “The Chain” on a 1982 Fleetwood Mac tour. Love said she enjoyed the fact that the band hated each other.

“They’re the biggest band in the world, they hate each other — it’s perfection.”

Despite calling Trent Reznor ‘mean,’ Love claimed she has grown up.

“I’m a mature woman who’s no longer 28 years old. I don’t need all the attention all the time. I’ve had all the attention all the time — I know what that feels like. And it’s kind of boring.”

Nine Inch Nails Nominated For Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Grunge Bands Snubbed

Photo credit: Metal Sucks

The Cars, Chic, Chicago, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, Janet Jackson, The J.B.’s, Chaka Khan, Los Lobos, Steve Miller, Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A., The Smiths, The Spinners, and Yes are among the nominees for the 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You can vote by clicking here. Nine Inch Nails were first nominated last year but they failed to get inducted.

While many speculated that Pearl Jam would be eligible, they are not up for the 2016 class, as the official rule is that you must have released recorded material 25 years prior, and Ten was released in August 1991, with the ceremony taking place in April 2016. Nirvana made it in 2014 since “Love Buzz” had been released in 1988.

While Pearl Jam weren’t eligible for 2016 (they will be for 2017), three Grunge era bands are eligible yet didn’t make the cut: Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, and Jane’s Addiction.

Green Day were inducted earlier this year. Billie Joe Armstrong had the following to say during his acceptance speech:

“I’m at a loss for words right now. The gratitude that I feel right now is overwhelming, and I didn’t really want to prepare for something like this, so I didn’t. I couldn’t really write a speech so I’m going to make it up off the top of my head with a few talking points.

First, I just want to thank my family, my boys, Jakob and Joey. And Adrienne, I love you, we’ve been married forever. It’s a rare thing, this crazy rock world, and I love you so much, you’re the best. I gotta thank my mom, Ollie Louise Armstrong, she’s from Oklahoma. You and dad had six kids, I’m the youngest one, and my house — the one thing that I am so grateful for is all of the music that was in our house. My oldest brother Alan, he had the Beatles and the Stones and the Kinks. We used to come to his house and sleep over there and we’d watch Showtime at night, and I’d watch Alice Cooper at 12 o’clock, it was a good time to watch it. And my sister, Marci, who’s pretty much the person who showed me Elvis Presley for the first time. And my sister Hollie was like “Kool and the Gang.” And my sister Anna who basically, that record collection that you had turned my world inside out. Thank you so much. If anything, it’s a lot of people here right now. It’s like my record collection is actually sitting in this room.

The fact that I got to hear an album like Horses by Patti Smith . . . my brother David, we listened to Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe and Cheap Trick, and Pyromania by Def Leppard, and a few others that hopefully will be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame soon. My house was like Rock and Roll High School. Literally, it was nuts. All my friends would come over to my house and say, where do you smoke weed at? The Armstrong house. [Laughs] No, that didn’t happen.

My bandmates, Mike, me and Mike got together, our school district went bankrupt, so they closed down the junior high and combined two elementary schools. So he went to one elementary and I went to the other, we used to have to take the bus out there. First day of elementary school, I think in fifth grade, I was like the class clown, but Mike was like the class clown, so it was kind of like these dueling banjos that was going to go back and forth. What you get is Deliverance. Mike is my musical soulmate and I love you so much and we’ve been through everything together, and I thank you for everything – your friendship, your family. I love you.”

Chris Cornell Says Soundgarden & NIN Tour Wasn’t ‘Like Whitesnake & Styx’

Photo credit: metalsucks.net

Chris Cornell discussed Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails’ 2014 tour in a new Rolling Stone interview.

“There’s no way to be a 30-year-old band, go on tour and pretend the nostalgia isn’t happening. It was also important that young rock fans were discovering both bands at the same time. If you talk to Trent Reznor, you don’t get the sense of a guy living in the past. I would hope he would say the same thing about me. It was that attitude that kept it from being like Whitesnake going on tour with Styx.”

Cornell also discussed his 2009 album Scream, calling it a noble failure.

“It was absolutely a noble failure. A family friend was good friends with Timbaland’s cousin. He said, ‘Timbaland wants to make a song with you.’ I said, ‘Awesome, let’s make an album.’ I figured it would take two weeks, and I would have this crazy fucking record. That’s what happened. For me, it was a success. The failure in it was the record company trying to figure out what to do with it. The radio stations who had been playing my songs since 1990 — they were like, ‘We don’t want to play this. We can’t play this.'”

Interview: NIN’s Charlie Clouser Reveals Why He Left Band, Talks Rock N’ Roll Mayhem With Marilyn Manson

Nine Inch Nails picture featuring Charlie Clouser, photographed left of Trent Reznor

Charlie Clouser is perhaps best known for being a member of Nine Inch Nails. During the years of 1994-2000, Clouser was the bands keyboard player, co-wrote numerous songs such as “The Perfect Drug” and “The Way Out is Through,” and served as Trent Reznor’s electronic set-up/sound-sample guru. Like Reznor, Clouser has the creative music wizardry gene that allows his versatility and talents to lend themselves to various outlets. His work can be heard intertwined within tons of TV series, films and records. Such works include TV series’ – Wayward Pines, Fastlane, The Equalizer (to name a few), the Saw film franchise and of course, the multi-platinum Nine Inch Nails records – The Downward Spiral and The Fragile. It’s his stories of how he got looped into these projects however, that are most compelling. In almost every scenario, it was an established relationship with a random old, non-music-biz, friend that led him to a by-chance opportunity that he would grab and run with.

Shortly into our conversation, I began to understand part of what I think is Clouser’s secret. He is incredibly captivating and his deliverance had me feeling like I was sitting wide-eyed on a relative’s porch as they were telling me their amazing army stories. I did not want the conversation to end.


Going back to your days working at Sam Ash in New York City, it seems like that’s where it all began for when you happened to meet Cameron Allan?

I started working at Same Ash on 48th street two years after Midi had been invented. The brave new world of hooking up computers to synthesizers was just starting. One of my first days on the job, they basically appointed me to work the computer-midi-interface-software section, which was in this tiny room at the back of the store. That became my gig because nobody else wanted to do it and I was the new guy. At that time, huge advancements in technology were being made and new stuff was coming out every week. I had to really learn about it so I could speak to it.

Cameron Allan was an Australian record producer who would come over to America once or twice a year to pick up some gear, software and any other hot new stuff that was out. Back in those days, in Manhattan, 48th street was the epicenter of music technology. You couldn’t just go on the internet and read reviews; you had to physically go check stuff out. Cameron and I became friends through the relationship we established by him coming into the store. I would really look forward to this dude showing up a few times a year. I’d spend an inordinate amount of time with him based around how much stuff he would buy and just conversing about music. He was into the same artsy style that I liked. Eventually after a few years, he moved to New York to take over doing the score for the final season of this CBS TV series, The Equalizer. Stewart Copeland from the Police had been scoring it, but he got busy doing other gigs so they hired Cameron.

Cameron showed up in New York with a very small amount of gear. I ended up being his third man in the operation. He brought over a buddy of his from Australia, John Clifford, who was a keyboard player, and I was doing the drum programming, the sound design, manipulating samples and doing all of the background noises. Then I’d help Cameron mix the show. It eventually got to the point where I was spending so much time with them after doing a full day at Sam Ash that my boss at the store knew something was up. It was funny though, he made sure I had a good gig lined up before he fired me. But working with Cameron on The Equalizer was my first professional gig in the music industry.

That’s fascinating. You then continued to work with Cameron on other projects after the Equalizer correct?

The following autumn, Cameron went out to L.A. to do other TV scoring projects and he brought me along with him. Then I was able to reunite with some old friends from both college and folks from my high school in Vermont who had moved out there. The guitar player from my high school band happened to be out in L.A. working as a session player and songwriter. Being in L.A. enabled me to not only continue working with Cameron, but also I started to network and make some solid contacts that would lead to a lot of great work in the record industry.

Had you not met Cameron, did you have a plan to pursue music in New York City?

Yeah. I was in an Alt/Rock band called Nine Ways to Sunday. We recorded, played CBGB’s a bunch and went on a small tour, but then it eventually dissolved. My personality and talents are more suited towards studio work though. I’ve always been a fan of records that were made by studio wizardry like Pink Floyd, Devo, Talking Heads and David Burns. I never wanted to play guitar solos on stage; I wanted to be in the studio making sounds that nobody ever heard before. That’s why I ended up working with people like Rob Zombie, to add a cybernetic layer to the music. That’s what drew me into Trent Reznor’s orbit.

How did you meet Trent Reznor and end up in Nine Inch Nails?

It’s crazy. It was not actually through any music business connections at all. It was through a buddy of mine from college who was out in L.A. and was working as one of the many producers on a Nine Inch Nails music video, for the song “Happiness in Slavery.” That video is extreme and they needed to do some sound effect overdubs. My buddy who I had reconnected with thought there was an easier way to do it instead of the big production they had planned. He called me to come over and give it a try at Trent’s studio. They asked me to do a day’s worth of sound effects. I came over with a bunch of samples; we used the samplers and computers that Trent already had set up for making The Downward Spiral. It took us four hours so we spent the rest of the day just talking shop and fiddling around with the gear. Then I sort of never left. (laughs) I finished up that job then Trent called and said “I’m producing this band and I don’t like the way the drums came out on the recording. Can you come in and duplicate the drum sounds with samples? It will fatten up their live performances.” That turned out to be Marilyn Manson’s first album. I was then completely in his circle.

Shortly after that, the next thing I knew, I was out on the road with Nine Inch Nails. Not playing in the band yet but taking care of and setting up the portable studio. Whenever there was a few days off and we’d be staying in one place, we would drag out all of the road cases, get an extra hotel room and I’d set everything up so that Trent could work on a song.

Eventually, the keyboard player, James Wooley, had gotten over being on the road. So they turned to me and basically said “you’re up!” I had to explain to Trent that I had never played keyboards live before. I came up as a drummer and had only played the keyboard in the studio. I remember telling Trent that I wasn’t even a keyboard player and he said “nobody is, you got this.” So I took over for James in the middle of a tour in 1994. The first time I had ever played keyboards on a stage was in front of 22,000 people at a Nine Inch Nails show in Detroit.


Were you a fan of Nine Inch Nails prior to all of that?

I had been turned on to their first record by a college friend of mine from who had been in Ministry, Killing Joke, Fear Factory and lots of ultra-heavy bands. I wasn’t the diehard fan that had the logo tattooed on my neck, but I knew what Nine Inch Nails was all about. I knew it was a seriously great opportunity because it fit with the kind of thing I like and was exactly what I was good at. It’s just funny the way that I fell into it was through a college buddy who was not a musician. None of the music business connections I had made brought me into the Nine Inch Nails world. It was just this random connection through a friend.

As soon as I started working with Trent I knew he was unbelievably talented. This was when he was about halfway done with The Downward Spiral album so he was at the top of his game. It was a total high point in creativity and production so it was a no-brainer for me to toss everything else aside and jump right in.

How did your time with Nine Inch Nails come to end?

I started playing in the live band in 1994 and that lasted up until 2001. When I first joined the band, we were out on the road and we toured forever. When the tour cycle for The Downward Spiral ended, Trent moved from L.A. to New Orleans and bought this big funeral home that he converted to a big studio and rehearsal space. He invited me to join so I ended up moving down to New Orleans as well with a few others. We helped set up the studio and a few us even had our own little mini studios up on the second floor of the complex. I had been doing some programming and remixes with other people like David Bowie, White Zombie, Jamiroquai and Type O Negative. I kept my hand in it because even though we were all down there with intent to contribute to the next Nine Inch Nails record, we knew it was really Trent’s show. I ended up writing a bunch of music with Page Hamilton from Helmet, who had opened up for Nine inch Nails on some shows, so we became friends. After we had finished with The Fragile album and that touring cycle, there was sort of a lull going on in the Nine Inch Nails camp. One by one people started to drift away. I was the second to last to leave. We just weren’t busy so I went back to L.A. and figured I would then produce alternative and metal acts. The first thing I did was help Page Hamilton with the Helmet album, Size Matters. It was based partly around the songs we had already written together.

It was also around the time where the iPod and downloads started to take over. The records I was used to making where expensive productions. Things started to really change in the record industry. All of a sudden, the funds that were available to record an album were not what they once were.

I had stayed in touch with Cameron Allan and he asked me if I wanted to get back on the horse of scoring TV shows. The two of us then scored the series, Fastlane on Fox.

Was this around the time where you began working on Saw?

Yes. I was still working on the Helmet album, recording vocals at my house, and I get a call at to do the first Saw – horror movie. That too didn’t come from conventional channels. It was a strange encounter where my lawyer called me about an indie movie he came across where they had a lot of my music in their temp-score. He suggested I go meet the guys. I went and watched what was the first cut of Saw, and they had dug up a lot of my music and put it in there. We didn’t know this was going to be a blockbuster franchise. It was a very inexpensive movie where I did the first score in five weeks, while Helmet was recording vocals in the other room at my house. It was very much a blend of my skills from working on industrial rock records and remixes, as well as a lot of the skills I developed working with Cameron on TV scoring. It was a lucky break, what I was good at was exactly what they were looking for. Then there was one Saw movie a year for seven straight years.

What is something about Nine Inch Nails that people don’t know?

How versatile Trent’s skills and talents are. It’s becoming a bit clearer now that he has branched off into scoring. It’s calmed down a lot now, but it was full-on Rock N’ Roll mayhem back in those days, especially when you have Marilyn Manson and company in one room of the studio and Nine Inch Nails in the other room. In the midst of all the craziness, Trent was always still such a hard worker. He never took time off. He could’ve been just sitting back and enjoying the fruits of his labor, but he was always the hardest working guy of all. His work ethic has always been incredible. Even if we had three days off on tour, he would still be up working all night or would find a studio to go work in on off days. Most people would sit by the pool and order room service. He was never that guy.

In many cases, on some of the tours, he would sacrifice majorly from a financial standpoint in order to bring a quality production out to the fans. He would smash so many instruments and would insist upon so many different visual elements, that it was definitely eating into the profits. But at no point did he think we would have to cut back on that so he could have money left over when the tour was done. That always impressed me. I remember playing in Buffalo one night and there was a huge ice storm. The number of people that made it to the gig was way less than what we were used. Even still, the same show went on and the same amount of gear got destroyed. The same intensity went into his live performance. That’s not something that’s always been apparent. He never relaxed. Here we are 25 years later and it’s still true. He’s still at the top of his game creatively.


Have you and Trent Reznor ever scored music together now that he is in that field as well?

The only thing we did like that was when he was brought on to do the soundtrack for the film Natural Born Killers. It wasn’t a score per say, it was more complete songs. Trent did write “Burn” for that compilation. We recorded that song in South Beach while on tour. He had a great idea when compiling the soundtrack which was to take bits and pieces of dialog from the movie and incorporate that with the songs in the correct chronological order, so when listening to the album, it was much like the experience of watching the movie. We did that together, but it really wasn’t scoring. We did most of that work in hotel rooms while on tour.

Scoring to me seems like writing the music to a song where you already have the lyrics. How does your writing approach change when scoring as opposed to writing a song?

Well, that’s a great analogy. When you’re working on songs, there are certain conventions that work, like having an intro and a verse then chorus, bridge, mid-chorus and so on. That roadmap doesn’t really apply when scoring to picture. The roadmap in scoring is what’s going on in the screen. It’s almost like the difference between painting a portrait and doing something totally abstract like a Jackson Pollack painting with all the squiggles and shapes.

It was like a natural progression for me, after years of working on album based songs it allowed me some creative freedom because I’m not constrained by feeling like I need to adhere to forms that are prevalent in album and rock songwriting. It’s liberating to not having to stick to the established template but there is still a roadmap. It’s not totally random in scoring where there are no rules and you’re wandering around in the desert wondering where to turn next. You simply follow what’s happening on screen. You’re basically trading one set of rules for another.

Has TV become the preferred outlet to contribute songs to as opposed to film, now that buying a single has overtaken buying a full soundtrack?

I think so, but soundtracks also seem to have more of a pointed angle now. I just finished writing for the TV series Wayward Pines on Fox. We released an album of all of the score that I wrote. In the past, it wasn’t all that common to put out an album of the score. When we approached Fox as to whether or not they would allow something like that, they said absolutely. I think the studios are realizing the more ways they can put their product out now the better. There’s a mindset that if people are fans of the music or the composer, well then maybe they will get sucked into the show. It was amazing how quickly we were able to get all the clearances.

Did you consider touring and writing again with Nine Inch Nails when they reconvened in 2005?

Well, by the time Nine Inch Nails was regrouping and “With Teeth” was coming out, I was neck deep in movie and television scores. I had two hour-long weekly network TV series going, and was squeezing movie scores each year during the breaks, so it wouldn’t have really been an option for me. I went to see a couple of shows in that era, and as usual the production was amazing and the band sounded great, but I think Trent had moved on to trying new people and new approaches and I wasn’t really a good fit anymore. It was nice to be able to see the production from the audience perspective though, and I really like the different approaches he’s taken on the last few tours, including the How to Destroy Angels show at Coachella which looked just amazing.

What’s up next for you now that you wrapped up writing for Wayward Pines?

There are a few things I’m looking at, a few TV series for this coming season. I’ve also been going back and forth with a friend of mine, Alec Empire from Atari Teenage Riot, who had toured with Nine Inch Nails. He and I had really hit off and actually played a few gigs together when he was on the solo circuit. We’ve been writing together and hopefully something will become of it, whether it’s a score or a one-off record. He’s another guy who never stops, so I’m looking forward to finding another avenue for us to collaborate. I’m also finally going to do a little traveling. The past seven years, I’ve been so booked with doing two TV series at once and two movies a year, that I never had any time off. While I have the chance, I’m going grab this next month or two and get out of town.

Buzz Osborne On Modern Music: “I Might As Well Be Listening To The Sink Drip”

In an interview with Noisey, Buzz Osborne of the Melvins talked about, among other things, the state of modern music.

“Musically, I mean the music is just nothing. There’s nothing there at all. ” Buzz said, “I might as well be listening to the sink drip. Really, it’d be more entertaining. And as far as the rest of it goes, nobody’s fooled by it. There’s no singing or music going on there. That’s clearly obvious. Even rock bands now, I would say a large percentage don’t even play live. So that’s how far down on the scale we’ve come. Now you have to give credit when people actually play. That’s fucked up.”

In the interview, Buzz also went on to praise Nine Inch Nails, and their 1994 album, The Downward Spiral, stating that they are his “guilty pleasure.”