The debut album from Nine Inch Nails, “Pretty Hate Machine” laid the groundwork for what would be their iconic mix of pop, EDM and heavy rock. Aiming for equal parts sexy and dangerous, Trent Reznor’s lyrics and vocals on this album are raw and unfiltered. In hindsight, Reznor looks back at the album as a little immature but thought no one would hear it anyway. But critics look back at the album as innovative thanks to its sincerity reflecting a natural evolution from Depeche Mode and New Order.
Nine Inch Nails (NIN), specifically the work of lead creative Trent Reznor, has proven to be one of the most influential and offbeat bands of the ‘90s. Their music popularized industrial rock, spawning generic imitators as big as Axl Rose to adopt the sound. Reznor’s stubbornness to his vision led him to play and write all the instruments except drums which he programmed with a drum machine. The band only came together on tour or to help with the many schemes Reznor would come up with, like creating multimedia experiences for fans ranging from short films to a VR game to elaborate puzzles leading to the location of a secret performance. Inspired by David Bowie, Reznor wanted to create a public image that was simultaneously ubiquitous but mysterious. And NIN’s influence would have a bizarre reach in pop music, from direct samples like on Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” to subtle influences on stars like Billie Eilish. Reznor also called New Orleans home at one point, running Nothings Studio on Magazine Street not far from La Boulangerie today. He recorded artists like Pantera here before Hurricane Katrina solidified his decision to leave the city for the west coast.