Chris Vrenna (born February 23, 1967) was the live drummer for Nine Inch Nails from 1989 to 1997 (except for 1991, when he was fired from the band for a brief period.) He was also a keyboard player in the earliest incarnation of the NIN live band in 1988. A new keyboard player was then brought on board so that Vrenna could switch to drums. He also served as somewhat of a sound designer during his entire tenure with NIN. On November 7, 2020, Vrenna and NIN were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Vrenna grew up in Erie, PA. He first met Trent Reznor in nearby Mercer, PA, in 1985, when a mutual friend introduced them so that Vrenna could buy Reznor's LinnDrum, and they became instant friends. In 1986, Vrenna was attending Kent State University, south of Cleveland, when Reznor asked him to come up and audition to be the Exotic Birds' new drummer after Tom Freer quit. He joined the band and became roommates with Reznor. Vrenna has been credited as an engineer for Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral, as well as playing live drums on the latter. He can be seen in the music videos for "Down In It", "Head Like A Hole", "Wish", "Gave Up", "March Of The Pigs", "Hurt" (live), "Eraser" (live), "Wish" (live) and "The Perfect Drug".
After leaving NIN in late 1996, Vrenna formed the band Tweaker. The band has three full-length albums entitled The Attraction to All Things Uncertain, 2 A.M. Wakeup Call and Call The Time Eternity. Vrenna's inspiration is derived mainly from surreal paintings and dreams. The inspiration for 2 A.M. Wakeup Call came from his wife. She had trouble sleeping and would wake up each night at exactly 2 A.M. This gave Vrenna the idea for the album. He compiled several artists together for the album and told them that it would be based off of dreams and feelings that occur at night time. Robert Smith contributed to this album.
Vrenna has toured, both as Tweaker and as a touring musician for various bands. In 2006 he was a touring drummer for Gnarls Barkley, even wearing the original Chewbacca costume for the group's Star Wars-themed performance at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards. He also toured with the former Nothing Records signed band, Marilyn Manson from 2007 to 2011, as a drummer and later a keyboardist. His career as a live/touring drummer ended after having torn his rotator cuff twice, and he is now a teacher at Calhoun Community College in Decatur, Alabama.
Body of work
Nine Inch Nails
- Pretty Hate Machine
- The Downward Spiral
- Quake Soundtrack
- The Attraction To All Things Uncertain
- 2 A.M. Wakeup Call
- Call The Time Eternity