Audio Enters the MIDI Picture |
After Pretty Hate Machine took off, Reznor moved into recording audio tracks on his computer, a step that required a tad more hard-drive space than his previous all-MIDI arrangements had.
The album took off and I got some money for a change, revels Reznor. That was right when sequencers started to able to record audio. It was a big turning point in how I wrote music.
Following PHM, Reznor added four channels of digital audio to his MIDI arrangements for Broken. I switched mid-project from Digital Performer to StudioVision just so I could add in those audio tracks.
Reznors use of StudioVision continued through The Downward Spiral, And by the time he started working on The Fragile, he was completely settled into the program.
Chaos Strikes The Fragile
Then, like Murphys Law would have it, StudioVision failed him right in the middle of The Fragile. This resulted in a creative nightmare for Reznor.
As we added channels, which it claimed it could do, it just got too bogged down and stopped working, he says.
This put Reznor in a sticky predicament. The program he was comfortable with wouldnt work anymore, and the other program being used at the studio for sound design was too complicated for him to master quickly.
As a result, The Fragile demanded a bit more collaboration than the standard NIN project would, because Reznor had to let someone else do his sequence programming.
Hes Out of Control |
The bad thing is that I got lazy, and now I dont know how to work the sequencer that were using, Reznor confides. So I really feel like my hands are tied.
And thats not a very nice place to be, especially for the man who coined the phrase Id rather die than give you control. But fortunately for Reznor, Digidesign released ProTools 5, and his hope is restored, post-Opcode.
Now that ProTools 5 can deal with MIDI primitively, it feels more like Im working on a Mac again, he explains. Although there are some things you cant do in ProTools 5, it handles audio great so Im making myself use it for the new stuff were working on now.
The Sacred Art of Songwriting
Reznor may have a team of engineers designing original sounds for him, but doesnt mean that songwriting has evolved into group process for NIN.
I tend to get a bunch of ideas at one time and a pretty clear idea of what I want to do, explains Reznor, so rather than try to democratically talk my way into getting what I want, its just easier to pick something up and do it myself.
Reznor still has a bunch of songs left over from The Fragile that are in various states of being finished. He hopes to finish these songs and release them on the next NIN album.
Further, hes considering putting out a real stripped down not unplugged minimal, kind of acoustic-sounding thing which would be a bit unusual for them. But the band did a radio show like that a while back, and it worked out really well for them.