Trent Reznor

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Trent Reznor (source:

Micahael Trent Reznor (born May 17, 1965) is the founder and mastermind behind Nine Inch Nails.

Growing Up

Reznor was born and raised in the western Pennsylvania town of Mercer. Because he has the same first name as his father, he was called by his middle name to avoid confusion. In late 1970, after the birth of his little sister, Reznor's parents divorced. His mother raised his sister while he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents. Reznor's grandmother decided that the boy, now 5 years of age, should take classical piano lessons. Over the years he became immersed in music and has been compared to Harry Connick, Jr. by his piano teacher.

By the time Reznor was in high school he discovered horror movies and rock music. KISS and David Bowie were his heroes. His grandmother considered pulling him out of school so that he could focus on his piano studies full-time, with the hope that he would become a classical pianist. Reznor did not want this and instead became active in Mercer High School's Marching Band, Concert Band, and in theater. He played tenor saxophone and tuba in the school bands, even winning Top Woodwind at one point. He also played Judas in the school's production of Jesus Christ Superstar and landed the title role in The Music Man.

The Early Years

Reznor graduated from high school in 1983 and went on to study production at Allegheny College. It was there that he joined his first "real" band, Option 30. They became popular in the college scene in western Pennsylvania but Reznor clearly wanted to get out and see more. After a year in college, Reznor dropped out of school and left Option 30, moving to Cleveland. Once there, he worked a few odd jobs, selling music instruments and as a studio technician. It was in Cleveland that he met roommate and future bandmate [{Chris Vrenna]]. The day jobs helped reznor pay the bills but, like in Pennsylvania, he became active in Cleveland's music scene.

Reznor's first band in Cleveland was a cover band call the Urge. This band drew crowds and Reznor got some recognition. When he left the band months later they lost much of their audience. Reznor briefly re-joined before parting ways again shortly thereafter. In 1986 he joined the Exotic Birds as a keyboardist and back-up vocalist with Andy Kubiczewski (who would later join Stabbing Westward) and, at one point, Vrenna. The Exotic Birds received some national attention after playing a few gigs with the Culture Club, but Reznor's tenure with them would not last. This was followed by keyboardist positions in the Innocent, Lucky Pierre, and Slam Bamboo. But all the while, Reznor wanted to be able to do his own music and be his own musician.

In 1988, Reznor was finally able to write his first "real" song. It was titled "Down In It" and was recorded as part of a demo during Reznor's spare time at the studio. After trying to come up with a name for his solo project, he settled on the name Nine Inch Nails (NIN for short) because "it sounded manacing, it was catchy, it stood the two-week test, and it could be easily abbreviated." He later befriended John A. Malm, Jr., who would become his manager for 15 years. The demo (known as Purest Feeling) was shopped around to various record labels. Ultimately TVT Records, known for its TV music compilations, signed Reznor and offered to help him release his music.

NIN Begins

Reznor reworked many of the demos he recorded and even added some new material to his debut album, titled Pretty Hate Machine. After its recording he assembled a small live band, inviting Vrenna to join him as one of his bandmates. This band played some small shows in Cleveland and was eventually invited on the road by Skinny Puppy.

By the time 1991 rolled around, Reznor was in a miserable state. The label was pressuring him to record more material, but was trying to tell him which producers to use and how the material should sound. Reznor wanted out of his contract and secretly recorded an EP in various locations around the world. The EP, titled Broken, was released in 1992 and explained the situation to its buyers. The EP was released by Nothing Records, which Reznor and Malm established to help him get out of his contract. Eventually TVT settled with Reznor, allowing him the creative freedom he wanted but they would distribute future releases.

It was during this time that Reznor was in the process of recording the second NIN album, The Downward Spiral. It was recorded in a Beverly Hills mansion-turned-studio, that would later be revealed to be the house where actress Sharon Tate and others were murdered by followers of cult leader Charles Manson. Reznor had also befriended a Florida-based shock-rock band, Marilyn Manson, who would sign to Nothing Records.

Fun Facts

  • Video games such as DOOM slowed his work in the studio.. Also composed the music and crafted the sounds used for Quake. The ammo boxes for the nailgun have the NIN logo on them as a tribute.
  • He writes a lot of recurring lyrics such as "nothing can stop me now".

In popular culture

  • Stephen King: "I've always been a TrentRez fan--and Nails. "Hurt" says all you need to know about what life takes away. What it ALWAYS takes away in the end. A song like that is a treasure because it vocalizes what we all feel but somehow can't say. Of course the Cash video blew me away, but that song (and the Bad Company lyric) have been in my head for a couple of years now."[1]
  • The fortress boss in Super Mario World is called Reznor.
  • Glamorama (1998): On page 157, after being told he can't smoke during an MTV interview, protagonist Victor Ward replies, "Yet you sell Trent Reznor's hate to millions of unsuspecting youth. Tch-tch-tch."
  • The Machinist (2004): Writer Scott Kossar is a NIN fan, and named Christian Bale's character Trevor Reznik in tribute to Reznor. Early press articles described Reznik as going through a "downward spiral".
  • Hostage (2005): The psychopathic murderer Mars dons a Trent Reznor haircut. Before burning down the house, he uses his blood to write "BUЯN it" on a mirror and wall.