Nine Inch Nails is coming to Toledo for the first time in 2 years, with its Lights in the Sky tour set to land tomorrow at SeaGate Centre. Hopefully, the electric company will have a few extra gigawatts stashed away.
Few bands are as high-powered, literally and figuratively, as the industrial rock ensemble led by Trent Reznor. With banks of computers, digital samplers, and effects units to go alongside its state-of-the-art sound and light systems, guitars, keyboards, drums, and amps, NIN has never traveled light.
The group is on the road to promote its latest project, The Slip, an album that was released in a limited edition CD/DVD package on July 22. The cover features an image that, when viewed right-side up, looks like someone s hand grabbing another person s shoulder. Turned upside down, the same image looks like a hand over an eerily masked face.
Longtime NIN fans were given a treat in May when Reznor offered free digital downloads of all 10 songs on The Slip, posting a note on www.NIN.com that said: Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years. This one s on me.
It was the first time any artist of note has given away downloads of an entire new disc, according to Reznor s publicists, and is still available free from the band s Web site.
NIN is able to give away its music because the band, which has sold millions of albums since its founding in 1988, is not signed to a record label. NIN s music is distributed by Reznor s own Null Corporation, the successor to his former label, Nothing Records, which folded several years ago.
In addition to the free songs, which can be downloaded at a higher-than-CD quality (24-bit, 96K), NIN also makes available for free the multi-track files of each song, giving fans and artists the chance to remix and create their own versions of the music.
Reznor, 43, has always pushed the boundaries of music and technology.
A native of Mercer, Penn., he studied computer engineering at Allegheny College but dropped out after a year, moving to Cleveland to pursue a music career.
Having studied piano, saxophone, and tuba in high school, as well as starring in school musicals, Reznor was a multi-instrumental talent who figured the best way to get the music industry s attention was to make an album.
Well, I didn t have a band, and the only means necessary was electronics, he told one interviewer.
Using a computer and a sampler, and getting permission from the owner of a recording studio where he worked to use its equipment after hours, Reznor wrote, sang, and played almost every instrument on the his debut disc, Pretty Hate Machine, released in 1989 on TVT Records.
The album included NIN s early signature songs, Head Like a Hole and Down In It.
Reznor needed to put a band together to perform his music live ( I didn t want to tour by myself because that would suck, he explained) and gave audiences an aggressive assault of hefty metallic/industrial rock and a mesmerizing stage show during which he smashed his keyboards and guitars.
In 1991, NIN gained nationwide attention with a slot on the inaugural Lollapalooza Tour, and soon became one of the most successful and creative rock bands in the country.
The group quickly scored hits with Broken, an EP released in 1992 and The Downward Spiral in 1994, then performed a memorable, mud-covered set on the stage of Woodstock 1994.
Success took a toll on Reznor, however, and he slowed his creative output, later acknowledging that he had battled drug and alcohol addiction and depression. He took five years before releasing The Fragile in 1999, and another six years before coming out with With Teeth in 2005.
Reznor now works out daily, his band members have said, and is extremely health-conscious.
During his recording hiatus in the mid-1990s, Reznor signed and produced the first three albums by Marilyn Manson, the rocker whose career was built on shock value and Reznor s masterful production techniques.
Since Reznor cut all ties to record labels and became an industry free agent, he has been suddenly prolific.
In April, 2007, Reznor released the NIN album Year Zero, a concept album predicting the negative outcome current U.S. policies will have in the future, and last March released Ghost I-IV, a four-disc set of instrumentals.
Reznor s current Lights in the Sky features the lineup of Robin Finck; Josh Freese; Alessandro Cortini, and Justin Meldal-Johnsen.
He has been struggling with voice problems on tour, his publicist said, and the band canceled two concerts in early August. Reznor canceled an interview with The Blade, telling his publicist he needed to rest his ailing voice.
Nine Inch Nails will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at SeaGate Centre, 401 Jefferson Ave., with A Place To Bury Strangers opening. Tickets are $39.50 and $47.50, available through Ticketmaster. Information: 419-321-5007.
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