AboutTrent Reznor (b. 17 May 1965, Mercer, Pennsylvania, USA), the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and creative force behind Nine Inch Nails, trained as a classical pianist during his small-town Pennsylvania childhood, but his discovery of rock and early industrial bands, despite his dislike of the "industrial" tag, changed his musical direction completely. Following a period working in a Cleveland recording studio and playing in local bands, Reznor began recording as Nine Inch Nails in 1988. The dark, atmospheric Pretty Hate Machine, written, played and co-produced by Reznor, was largely synthesizer-based, but the material was transformed onstage by a ferocious wall of guitars, and show-stealing Lollapalooza performances in 1991. Coupled with a major US radio hit with "Head Like A Hole", it brought platinum status. Inspired by the live band, Reznor added an abrasive guitar barrage to the Nine Inch Nails sound for the Broken EP (a subsequent remix set was titled Fixed), which hit the US Top 10, winning a Grammy for "Wish". "Happiness In Slavery", however, courted controversy with an almost universally banned video, where performance artist Bob Flanagan gave himself up to be torn apart as slave to a machine, acting out the theme of control common to Reznor's lyrics. Reznor also filmed an unreleased full-length Broken video, which he said "makes 'Happiness In Slavery' look like a Disney movie".
By this time, Reznor had relocated to Los Angeles, building a studio in a rented house at 10050 Cielo Drive, which he later discovered was the scene of the Tate murders by the Manson family (much to his disgust, due to eternal interview questions thereafter about the contribution of the house's atmosphere to The Downward Spiral). Occupying the middle ground between the styles of previous releases, The Downward Spiral's multi-layered blend of synthesizer textures and guitar fury provided a fascinating soundscape for Reznor's exploration of human degradation through sex, drugs, violence, depression and suicide, closing with personal emotional pain on "Hurt": "I hurt myself today, To see if I still feel, I focus on the pain, The only thing that's real". The Downward Spiral made its US debut at number 2, and a return to live work with Robin Finck (guitar), Danny Lohneer (bass/guitar), James Woolley (keyboards) and Reznor's long-time friend and drummer Chris Vrenna drew floods of praise, with Nine Inch Nails being one of the most talked-about acts at the Woodstock anniversary show. The first non-Nine Inch Nails releases on Reznor's Nothing label appeared in 1994 (beginning with Marilyn Manson), and the band also found time to construct an acclaimed soundtrack for Oliver Stone's movie Natural Born Killers.
Reznor also relocated to New Orleans. During 1996, Reznor worked with film director David Lynch on the music score for Lost Highway, and produced Manson's Antichrist Superstar. In 1998, he acted as executive producer on ex-Judas Priest singer Rob Halford's Two project. He returned to his own music in autumn 1999 with the acclaimed 2-CD set, The Fragile, which debuted at US number 1.