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2000.04.DD - The Providence Journal - Sharp Enough for Nails (Robin)

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2000.04.DD - The Providence Journal - Sharp Enough for Nails (Robin) Empty 2000.04.DD - The Providence Journal - Sharp Enough for Nails (Robin)

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:11 am

Sharp enough for the Nails - Guitarist Robin Finck adds energy to Trent Reznor’s live performance

The Wretched, like many of the songs on Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, is a masterpiece of emotion rendered through sound that won’t let you look away.

It’s a tricky net of low-sounding guitar riffs, drum beats and vocal hooks repeated over and again. It’s only clear how intense the music really is when the din settles mid-song, unexpectedly, like coming upon a clearing after running and stumbling through a forest of thickets.

"You and me/ We’re in this together now./ None of them can stop us now./ We will make it through somehow!" sings Trent Reznor, the frontman for Nine Inch Nails.

Reznor took five years to write the lyrics and music to every song on The Fragile. (Nine Inch Nails is the name Reznor records and tours under. On albums, he records nearly every song on his own. When he tours, he plays with three or four other musicians.)

In November, Nothing Records released The Fragile. It was one of last year’s top three albums.

When Reznor assembled a band for Nine Inch Nails’ first tour in five years, he looked for musicians as intense as he.

The band, which plays the Providence Civic Center on Wednesday, includes Robin Finck, a guitarist who has played with the Cirque De Soleil circus and who drew raves from critics for his fierce performances in previous Nine Inch Nails’ tours.

"I allow myself to let go," Finck said in a phone interview. "I’m just open to plugging myself in through these songs. The songs are really intense and dramatic, and I wrap myself up in that."

Finck hooked up with Nine Inch Nails in late 1993, when Reznor was finishing up Nine Inch Nails’ Downward Spiral album and needed a live touring band.

"The tour seemed to be a thousand years," Finck said, though it really lasted about four. After the band played one of its last dates, in New Orleans, Finck split to do his own thing.

"I needed to take a complete leap in the dark," he said. So he joined Cirque De Soleil, a traveling circus based in Quebec.

A year and a half into it, Guns ‘N Roses frontman Axl Rose - whom Finck had never met “asked me to casually listen to some tapes and songs that he had been writing and recording.”

"Gradually," Finck said, "after six or eight weeks of listening, playing and writing his songs and my songs, I left the circus and started doing a record with Axl."

There’s no release date set for the new Guns ‘N Roses record. “Each month that flips past is a month that I don’t really keep in touch with them,” Finck said. “I don’t really know what is going to happen.”

He said there’s “a lot of potential” with the Guns ‘N Roses studio band that has recorded with Rose. It includes original Guns ‘N Roses keyboardist Dizzy Reed, former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson, guitarist Paul Huge, the enigmatic guitarist Buckethead and drummer Josh Freese.

It’s not clear which of the musicians will appear on the Guns ‘N Roses album, or what the album will sound like.

(Freese has already left the project, and is touring with A Perfect Circle, the band opening the Nine Inch Nails show at the Civic Center.)

"We wrote and rehearsed and argued about, and laboriously recorded, dozens of songs in L.A. for several years," Finck said. "Of those songs, two fistfuls are musically finished. Axl is, as far as I know, completing those songs sometime but my work there was done."

What is clear is that the Guns ‘N Roses album won’t include Slash, the guitarist who left Guns ‘N Roses in ‘96 because Rose wanted to take the band into new sonic territory, perhaps incorporating bits of electronica, while Slash preferred the arena ballad-rock sound.

"We experimented with all kinds of methods of writing and recording songs," Finck said of the new album, "from traditional piano to traditional rock songs to too many tracks of way-too-stereo keyboard blurbs and everything in between.

"Many lines have been crossed, way too many Fridays going, ‘Hmm?’

"What actually makes it to the record, I don’t really know."

'The time is now'

While recording the Guns ‘N Roses songs, Finck kept in touch with Nine Inch Nails guitarist Danny Lohner. Last August, “they said, ‘The time is now. We want you to come back,’” Finck said. “The timing was perfect. My roots run deep here I wanted to do it. I also didn’t want to see anybody else do it.

"The music is very personal. It strikes a deep chord, especially relative to a lot of new popular music I’m familiar with."

When Finck first heard The Fragile, “I had anticipated that sonically and technologically it was going to be a jump ahead and forward,” he said. “I was really happy to hear a growth in the content of the songs. … I didn’t feel like Trent had hit a wall.

"Trent approaches and appreciates records that you can really immerse yourself in and walk into the experience of a record, of a production that envelops you wholly."

The Fragile’s title track underscores just how far Reznor is pushing the boundaries of Nine Inch Nails’ rock, which in past albums was mired in themes of hopelessness and isolation.

The song’s theme is of finding hope. “I won’t let you fall apart,” Reznor sings. “It’s something I have to do./ I was there, too. / I was like you.”

Because Reznor is a one-man show in the studio, when Nine Inch Nails plays Reznor’s songs live, they will take on a different sound.

"When we try to recreate the record, we thought we were just pushing buttons on some songs," Finck said. "Instead, we interpreted them. When we go to approach the songs to play them live, we agree on the background or the skeletal element of the song, what are the characters that make a song, and we go from there.

"We hash it out as a traditional rock band, with bass, guitars and drums, then get a strong core and adorn it with a new sonic landscape."
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