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2000.06.11 - The Sacramento Bee - Nine Inch Nails Hammers Away (Robin)

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Post by Soulmonster on Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:01 am

2000.06.11 - The Sacramento Bee - Nine Inch Nails Hammers Away (Robin) 2000_014
2000.06.11 - The Sacramento Bee - Nine Inch Nails Hammers Away (Robin) 2000_015
Nine Inch Nails Hammers Away

By Chris Macias

Talk about on-the-job hazards. Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor is prone to tackle his sidemen on stage and leave them with - as the group’s song goes - a “Head Like a Hole.” Or more specifically, with nine stitches in the head. That’s what Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck needed after being thwacked with Reznor’s guitar during one show. “We get caught in the moment and before I know it, I’ve got my hand on my head and it’s sopping with blood,” Finck said in a phone interview from Las Vegas. “And it was only the second song in the set. We’re certainly not all about that, but sometimes these songs kinda lend themselves to physical recklessness.”

Perhaps it’s out of his sidemen’s safety that Reznor chooses to record Nine Inch Nails’ albums as mostly solo endeavors. Nine Inch Nails’ latest album, “The Fragile,” does feature a host of backing musicians, including guitarist Adrian Belew and frequent collaborator Danny Lohner (bass and guitar), but Reznor is squarely the group’s mastermind.

"Trent is absolutely the head chef," Finck agreed.

But re-creating Nine Inch Nails’ epic industrial-rock and sonic collages in concert requires more than just one head honcho. Nine Inch Nails’ current tour, which reaches the Sacramento Valley Amphitheatre on Thursday, features Reznor, Finck, Lohner, Charlie Clouser (keyboards, theremin, vocals) and Jerome Dillon (drums).

Such songs as “The Day the World Went Away,” a cornerstone track from “The Fragile,” feature layers of processed guitar tones, abrupt shifts in dynamics and blasts of white noise. Reznor is known for being a meticulous surgeon of sound, and he spent some five years in the studio stitching together “The Fragile’s” intricate songs.

"It is a challenge to re-create the songs live," said Finck. "In the beginning, all five of us listened to the songs together with virgin ears and tried to pick out the strong skeletal features of each song - maybe a melody or tempo or riff. We’d work at it from its core and then adorn them with these sonic complements.

"The guitar tones are most challenging (to re-create live)," Finck added. "Drums and keyboard sounds can be sampled if need be from the master tapes, but guitars are such an organic, quirky instrument to re-create."

Finck’s own association with Nine Inch Nails stretches back to 1993, when he joined the group for the grueling “Downward Spiral” tour. Finck spent two years on the road with the band, which left him in his own downward spiral.

"It seemed to last 2,000 years," Finck remembered. "We all wanted to leave; it was a tough time. After that tour I was so burnt out and not taking care of myself."

Finck was tired of rock ‘n’ roll’s circus-like atmosphere, so he left Nine Inch Nails to perform with the Cirque de Soleil.

"It was an oasis," said Finck. "The time in the circus helped me be someone else for a little while. Not a lot of people are fortunate to be able to grab an opportunity like that. That time spent was hardly a career move or musical endeavor, but I sought after it."

In 1997, Finck became a hired gun for Guns N’ Roses after guitarist Slash left the group. Finck spent more than two years recording dozens of tracks with singer Axl Rose and company, though no song was ever finished when Finck left the group in 1999.

"My work with Axl was completed from my perspective," Finck said. "I’d been with him for 2 1/2 years and the band sounded great. I was writing and recording all these songs and we had several albums worth of material. It was really exciting for a while, but until I’d left, nothing was completed lyrically. So I was done. I was no longer inspired to spend 14 hours on track number 41 when track 40 wasn’t even finished."

Finck’s split with GN’R came just as Reznor had completed recording “The Fragile.” Time had healed all (head) wounds and Finck was ready to rejoin Nine Inch Nails for the band’s forthcoming tour.

"The timing was perfect," said Finck. "It had been a long time since I left Nine Inch Nails and there was no animosity towards one another. There’s a mutual respect between us all because we’ve all done this before. My roots run deep with them."
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