Nine Inch Nails
With spellbinding beauty and ferocious intensity, Nine Inch Nails—the long-running project of multi-instrumentalist/producer/songwriter Trent Reznor—is one of the most visceral and elusive alternative acts to expand the boundaries of mainstream music. Forged in a crucible of abrasive noise and icy synthetic textures, 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine established a new vernacular for musical angst, coupling Reznor’s dark introspection with the mechanical grind of industrial rock—in a way that connected with a broad audience. That debut was followed by hugely successful releases in the ‘90s and ‘00s—including The Downward Spiral and The Fragile—featuring layered production and unrelentingly stormy themes. Reznor’s approach outside the studio has been similarly unbounded by convention; he’s upended relationships with labels in order to safeguard his creative freedom, taken long breaks to focus on scoring films, and formed creative alliances with the likes of Tori Amos and poet Saul Williams. One of his most lasting musical partnerships has been with Atticus Ross, who co-wrote the Oscar®-winning score for The Social Network and became the only other official member of Nine Inch Nails in 2016.