NINE INCH NAILS – PRETTY HATE MACHINE
Released October 20, 1989 – 26 years ago
Virtually ignored upon its release, NIN’s debut eventually grew to be a hugely successful and influential album. Rife with catchy interwoven guitar-synth textures, tortured introspective lyrics, and a verse-chorus pop framework, it was markedly different from other industrial bands of the time.
The Classic Pick is a weekly feature at 4pm M-F on The Home Stretch, sponsored by the Good Oak Bar and curated by Kris Kerry. Each Monday at 4pm Kris stops by KXCI’s studio to give us insight on this classic album.
Nine Inch Nails began as the solo project of the then 24-year old Trent Reznor (now 50). He had recently dropped out of Allegheny College in northwester Pennsylvania and moved to Cleveland to pursue a music career. While playing with a couple of bands (The Innocent and Exotic Birds), he took a job at Cleveland’s small recording studio, Right Track Studios, as an assistant engineer and janitor. While there he labored on the recordings that became Pretty Hate Machine.
Reznor submitted a demo to the small indie label, TVT records, who signed Reznor and gave him just enough money to travel to the UK to work w/ John Fryer and Mark “Flood” Ellis. Fryer and Flood, who have co-producer credit on Pretty Hate Machine, were both well known 80s producers that had worked with the likes of Depeche Mode, New Order, Erasure, Gary Numan, U2 Love & Rockets, Wire, Peter Murphy, Modern English, and Cocteau Twins, among others. Keith Leblanc and Adrian Sherwood also share co-production credit.
Most of record was recorded at Right Track in Cleveland, however some guitar tracks and vocal tracks were recorded in Roundhouse Studio in London and some final work in studios in New York and Boston.
Commercially, it took some time for Pretty Hate Machine to be noticed. Although it peaked at number 75 on the Billboard 200, it took some time via word of mouth to reach this level. It stayed on the charts a long time however, spending a total of 115 weeks on the Billboard 200 charts. By mid-1992, Pretty Hate Machine was certified gold. In 1995, it had become one of the very first independently released albums to attain a platinum certification (now it has a triple platinum status).
Initially, most contemporary music writers were fond of Pretty Hate Machine. However, more main stream critics were less enthusiastic. Nearly all critics today, however, speak highly of the release, and its humanization of industrial music. It is hailed as one of the most important contemporary releases of the late 80s/early 90s.
Nine Inch Nails began touring with The Jesus and Mary Chain and Peter Murphy of the defunct Bauhaus, eventually becoming part of the first Lollapalooza festival.
Nine Inch Nails have been nominated for 2016 induction in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. 13 million people voted for inclusion in the 2015 class of inductees, but NIN was snubbed in 2015. Whether they make the cut in 2016 waits to be seen.