Published Sunday, April 20, 1997
Time magazine names Trent Reznor to list of 25 most influential people
By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
The honors keep pouring in for a reclusive Mercer native who explores the dark side of life and openly courts controversy.
Trent Reznor, the only permanent member of the rock band Nine Inch Nails, was named one of Time magazine's 25 most influential people in the April 21 edition.
Sharing an honor with the cartoon character Dilbert, political shock jock Don Imus and Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Reznor is called ``the anti-Bon Jovi'' by Time.
Reznor's ``vulnerable vocals and accessible lyrics led an Industrial revolution: He gave the gloomy genre a human heart.''
Although not the first to bring non-musical sounds into rock _ so-called industrial music _ he popularized it in a way the genre's godfathers _ Ministry, Skinny Puppy and Throbbing Gristle among them _ did not, selling millions of copies of his recordings.
Reznor's first album, ``Pretty Hate Machine,'' was concocted at night while he was working for a Cleveland recording studio. The disco-industrial album broke through commercially very quickly, with the songs ``Done In It'' and ``Head Like a Hole.''
Second recording ``Broken'' was a response to differences with his record company, TVT, and spawned two Grammy Awards, for ``Wish'' in 1993 and ``Happiness In Slavery'' in 1996.
He received two other Grammy nominations, for ``The Downward Spiral'' album in 1995 and the song ``Hurt'' in 1996.
Although a classically trained pianist raised on the good-time party rock of Kiss, Reznor's music is constructed in the studio, a mix of traditional guitars and piano with drums machines, synthesizers and sounds that existed only in his imagination until he found a way to put them on tape. He has been praised for using the studio as an instrument.
Musician magazine called Reznor Artist of the Year after ``The Downward Spiral'' was released.
``Sounds at once grating and elegantly textured, songs that tread emotional landscapes from raw carnality to abject pathos, dance rhythms robotic and liberating, the record became a critical and commercial triumph, while his live shows revealed the reticent, handsome Reznor as a galvanizing stage presence,'' Musician gushed.
Reznor was part of the controversy over the output of the Warner Music Group for ``The Downward Spiral,'' which evoked images of suicide, self-mutilation and murder. Time Warner drew the ire of presidential candidate Bob Dole and activists William Bennett and C. Delores Tucker.
Rolling Stone magazine defended Reznor in March, saying: ``What Bennett and Tucker fail to comprehend is that there's more than one mainstream in America. There's also a mainstream in which people acknowledge and cope with pain and fear and anger. Reznor is not a star just because he makes great sounds or looks sexy; he's also a star because his audience likes and needs to hear what he has to say.''
In the Rolling Stone interview, Reznor said he believes he helps people by expressing thoughts that others keep hidden.
``I write a song about killing myself. You hear it, and you go, `I'm not the only person who ever felt that way.' You feel safer in knowing you're not the only person who ever thought that.''
Reznor, who lives in New Orleans and turns 32 next month, also produced the shock rock band Marilyn Manson, which has been banned from several U.S. cities, and worked on the soundtracks of the controversial movies ``Natural Born Killers'' and ``Lost Highway.''
``Rock shouldn't be safe,'' he told Rolling Stone. ``There needs to be some element of anarchy or something that dares to be different.''
``Reznor's music,'' Time says, ``is filthy, brutish stuff, oozing with aberrant sex, suicidal melancholy and violent misanthropy. But to the depressed, his music ... proffers pop's perpetual message of hope: There is worse pain in the world than yours. It is a lesson as old as Robert Johnson's blues. Reznor wields the muscular power of industrial rock not with frat-boy swagger but with a brooding, self-deprecating intelligence.''
And what does Reznor think of all this? He's not saying. A spokeswoman for Formula Artist Development and Public Relations of New York, his publicity company, said he's not doing any press.
``He's in hiding right now, working on his next record,'' she said.
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Updated Sept. 15, 1997
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