Survivalism (song)

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Album: Year Zero
Length: 4:23
Tempo: 130 BPM
Versions: Survivalism
Survivalism (Instrumental)
Survivalism (Radio Edit)
Survivalism (David Sitek Remix)
Survivalism (deadmau5 Remix)
Live: Performance 2007 through NIN 2014 Europe/UK Tour
I Can't Seem To Wake Up 2017 through present

"Survivalism" is the third track and the first single from the 2007 album Year Zero.

On March 13, the source files for the song were released in GarageBand format at "Survivalism" is the third NIN song to be officially released as source files—"Only" and "The Hand That Feeds" were previously released.

Song Credits

Title meaning

Survivalism is the belief that one must be prepared to survive a major catastrophe by stocking up on food and weapons. A survivalist therefore is a person who anticipates and prepares for a future disruption in local, regional or worldwide social or political order. Survivalists often prepare for this anticipated disruption by learning skills (e.g., emergency medical training), stockpiling food and water, or building structures that will help them to survive (e.g., an underground shelter).





  • Survivalism




Found on Year Zero as well as the Survivalism single and promo. Characterized by much synthetic layering and a consistent eighth note drum machine pulse, matched by a single note bass riff that begins on the second eighth and ends on the eighth before repeating. This gives the song an apparent metric shift one eighth note forward, though the first downbeat of each measure is actually in the space between the stop and start of the bass and guitar riff. The chorus features many layers of group vocals, including some by Saul Williams. After the final chorus, a new guitar riff leads off a coda that builds in layers of drones until suddenly stopping and leading into "The Good Soldier."

Survivalism (Instrumental)

Running Time: 4:30

This unmastered vocal-less mix was released by Reznor through his account.

Survivalism (Radio Edit)

A radio-friendly edited version that is found on the Survivalism promo. The word "whore" is edited out.


Running Time: 4:19

Included on the Survivalism single and Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D, this remix was created by Williams and Thavius Beck. The music isn't as guitar-driven as the album version and the chorus consists of Reznor's vocals with Williams' vocal contributions reduced significantly. The breakdown repeats the lyric "All a part of this great nation." There is also hand-clap percussion over pulsating beats and some distortion on Reznor's vocals at some points in the song. Although it may not seem as heavy as the original, it's still heavy in terms of percussion.

Song Credits

Remix: Saul Williams, Thavius Beck


Available on the UK 9" Vinyl Survivalism single. This remix, also by Williams, features him incorporating new lyrics into the verses and delivering them with more of a spoken word/hip-hop flow. Reznor's vocals become backing vocals on this track, allowing Williams to come to the front. The music is very similar to that used in the "Tardusted" version. The new lyrics sung by Williams are as follows:

    Wanted to cap somebody
    Wanted to buck em' down
    Wanted to pull the trigger
    Just to hear the fucking sound
    I got my propaganda
    I get my cable free
    I hang it from my neck
    And go to work from tree to tree
    It's gotta be the poison
    They're putting in my food
    It takes me by the brain
    And marks me to my every move
    I try to change the channel
    The channel's changing me
    I take the cup and prop it up
    Before I start to pee
    I stumble from the toilet
    I'm sprawled across the floor
    I feel my head expand
    Beyond the room
    Beyond the door
    I'm in an oval office
    In an electric chair
    I sign my name
    Beneath the claim
    That I don't really care
    I got survivalism
    You've got my claim to fame
    I got the right to say
    I'm fighting under Jesus' name
    I see the .45's
    But I wont act surprised
    Lost my faith along the way
    And found myself believing your lies

The spoken word rhythm of this remix has a strong resemblance to Williams' song "P.G." from Saul Williams.

Survivalism (Dave Sitek Remix)

Running Time: 4:32

David Andrew Sitek is member of TV On The Radio, who opened for Nine Inch Nails during the Live: With Teeth tour. This remix was originally available as a UK-only iTunes download. It came as a free bonus track packaged with the full album download of Year Zero. It is alternatively available on the Capital G single. It is akin to the original song sound-wise, but features a heavier and more plodding drum line. Additionally, it enhances Williams' back up vocals and makes them more prominent than in the original. The structure and length of the song remains relatively unchanged.

Survivalism (deadmau5 Remix)

Running Time: 3:37

This is a remix by deadmau5, originally released through his official SoundCloud account in 2012, then commercially on his album while(1<2).

Garage Band Files

On 3/13/07 Garage Band files for Survivalism were released on Along with Survivalism, there was another file called Survivalism Our End Trip with some weird sounds. After rearranging the file through a spectogram, this was found. The following case number for Judson Ogram was found:

 Case number 6455da04

Music Video

Screenshot from the "Survivalism" video
Layout of the video screens

Filming for the "Survivalism" music video began on February 5, 2007. It was directed by Alex Lieu, Rob Sheridan, and Reznor, and produced by Susan Bonds. The video was "leaked" to the internet via flash drives found dotted around the venue by people attending the Nine Inch Nails concert in London on March 7, 2007.

A wall of surveillance monitors details the activities of several people in an apartment building. A group of rebels is creating stencils and spray-painting the "Art Is Resistance" logo on walls. In an apartment, a pair of gay lovers share an intimate moment. In another dwelling, a young asian woman stands topless at her mirror doing her hair and applying make-up. Elsewhere someone is high on drugs, while a couple just sits on their couch in their home. A man is seen on a computer with several photos and news clippingsbehind him. Another man is seen on camera eating his dinner. Seen on several monitors is Nine Inch Nails playing the song in what is assumed to be their practice space. Intercut with these scenes is footage of armed soldiers, dressed like SWAT members, moving in on the building and one of the spaces in the video.

At the end of the video the people in the other monitors seem to respond to an ado in one of the spaces seen on the monitor wall. The space where NIN was playing has its door busted in and a pool of blood leading out, while all of the other cameras trained on the band have gone to static. At the very end a body is seen being dragged around a corner, leaving a trail of blood. Presumably the body is that of Reznor, as it wears the same scarf that he is seen wearing throughout the video.

The Bureau Of Morality's censoring at work.

The video has aired on MTV2, but in a censored form. The screens with the woman at her mirror and the gay lovers have been replaced by a white screen bearing the seal of the US Bureau of Morality and the phrase "CENSORED FOR YOUR PROTECTION." This is not unlike the use of SCENE MISSING screens in the "Closer" video. Interestingly enough, the word "whore" and the screen depicting the girl using opal are left intact. Even the ending scenes of the pool of blood in the band's space and the body getting dragged off are retained.


  • The graffiti wall has "Isaiah 15:9" written on it. The biblical verse for this is: "For the waters of Dimon shall be full of blood: for I will bring more upon Dimon, lions upon him that escapeth of Moab, and upon the remnant of the land."
  • The picture of Jesus in the "TV Room" has "John 19:34" written on it. The biblical verse for this is: "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water."
  • "Exodus 7:21" is visible in the room with the man on the computer. The biblical verse for this is: "And the fish that [was] in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt."
  • "II Kings 3:22" is visible in the room with the man on the computer. The biblical verse for this is: "And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood."
  • The door knocked in has "Rev 18.3.4" painted on its exterior. The biblical verses Revelation 18:3 and 18:4 are: "For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies," and "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."
  • One room shows a couple injecting opal
  • The letters hidden in time counter at the monitors T H E T U R N E D T O lead to webside [ ]
  • New code in the cd-single track list RSWTB in the credits of track 2 - survivalism_tardusted [2]


"Survivalism" was played live for the first time at the Razzmatazz in Barcelona, Spain, on February 19, 2007[3] (video here) , and has been a setlist staple for all tours since except the NIN + Soundgarden Tour in 2014.

During the Tension 2013 Tour, this song featured backing vocals by Lisa Fischer and Sharlotte Gibson.


    I should have listened to her
    So hard to keep control
    We kept on eating but our
    Bloated bellies still not full
    She gave us all she had but
    We went and took some more
    Can't seem to shut her legs our
    Mother Nature is a whore
    I got my propaganda I got revisionism
    I got my violence in high def ultra-realism
    All a part of this great nation
    I got my fist I got my plan I got survivalism
    Hypnotic sound of sirens
    Echoing through the street
    The cocking of the rifles
    The marching of the feet
    You see your world on fire
    Don't try to act surprised
    We did just what you told us
    Lost our faith along the way and found ourselves believing your lies
    I got my propaganda I got revisionism
    I got my violence in high def ultra-realism
    All a part of this great nation
    I got my fist I got my plan I got survivalism
    All bruised and broken, bleeding
    She asks to take my hand
    I turn and keep on walking
    What you'd do the same thing in the circumstance I'm sure you understand
    I got my propaganda I got revisionism
    I got my violence in high-def ultra-realism
    All a part of this great nation
    I got my fist I got my plan I got survivalism

However, the last lines of the third verse are changed to the following on the actual recording:

    I turn just keep on walking
    What you'd do the same thing in the circumstance I'm sure you'll understand

External Links

Previous track - "The Beginning of the End" Track 3 from Year Zero Next track - "The Good Soldier"
This page was last modified on 21 December 2019, at 22:00. This page has been accessed 226,388 times.