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Melodic Alchemist: Trent Reznor
 
  “I realized I’d never really worked that hard in life before, because things had always come pretty easily to me,” says Reznor, “And I realized I’d never really tried anything…you know, really tried.

“So then I really wanted to see what would happen if I went wholeheartedly into it,” he adds.

Spiraling Down His Budget
“I got my living expenses down to sub-poverty level and just spent several months locked inside the studio,” says Reznor. “When I wasn’t doing sessions for terrible Cleveland bands, I was working on my own stuff.”

He couldn’t find a band at the time, so he wrote and recorded everything by himself. And that resulted his first hit record, Pretty Hate Machine.

Sometimes Less is More
“I made Pretty Hate Machine using a Mac Plus, an Emax keyboard and a Mini Moog, ” says Reznor.


“That set up was cool because it was so limiting that it forced you to get the most out of what you had to work with. It was just basic MIDI, with no digital audio. But I knew the three pieces of gear I had inside and out,” he adds.
  Going for The Gumbo
“Every band I’d been in seemed to think the way to make it was just to play bars where somebody would hear you some day and it just seemed stupid, especially in Cleveland,” remembers Reznor.

So he put together a demo tape, shopped it around, and quickly received several offers from the small labels he had approached.

Scary Trent

Reznor finally signed on with a label then known for its distribution of old television tunes, TVT. But that turned out to be a painful, rather than pleasurable, experience.

“They had no artistic insight whatsoever, and were very meddling and interfering,” Reznor reflects. “So I had the pleasure of putting a record out that I was told would be my ‘career ender.’”

Proof in the Puddin’
That same album, the completed version of Pretty Hate Machine (PHM), released by Reznor under his assumed band name Nine Inch Nails (NIN), went on to sell several million copies over the next few years.

Yet relations did not improve as a result of the album’s success. Luckily, due to the immense success of PHM, a bigger label, Interscope, came over and bought NIN out of their contract. Reznor and his longtime manager, John Malm, started their own label, Nothing Records, which Interscope agreed to distribute.
 

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