In this infographic, we look at five musical influences on Trent Reznor´s Nine Inch Nails, as well as four examples of artists he inspired:
The capacity for elaboration and experimentation has made Nine Inch Nails (NIN) a reference for electronic, metal and industrial rock bands. It should be clarified that these are just some of the influences of NIN. As a further example, Trent Reznor has repeatedly spoken of his admiration for Queen singer Freddie Mercury.
Who influenced Nine Inch Nails?
One of the most powerful references at NIN is electronics pioneer Gary Numan. It was after listening to the song Cars that Trent Reznor decided to make music with synthesizers. The admiration is mutual, with Gary Numan citing the Nine Inch Nails frontman as great motivation to stay active.
Skinny Puppy and Ministry are two predecessors of industrial rock from which Nine Inch Nails has taken aesthetic and sonic elements. The second band was also a direct inspiration for NIN’s super classic, Head Like A Hole: “Listening to Ministry is like having a nine-inch nail driven into your head.”
Nine Inch Nails has also used ambient influences in several of their works. Present throughout their entire discography, the influence of Brian Eno stands out above all in the Ghosts series of albums, ranging from volume I to IV released in 2008 and reaches the most recent appearances: V and VI.
Related to this previous point, is the first album of the so-called “Berlin trilogy” by David Bowie: Low, released in 1977, also included influences from Brian Eno. Trent Reznor was specifically inspired by that Bowie album for the creation of what many consider the best Nine Inch Nails album: The Downward Spiral (1994).
Finally, I’m specifically citing Pink Floyd‘s hyper-classic album The Wall here because it was a “turning point” for Trent Reznor. According to the leader of Nine Inch Nails, it is one of the records that he listened to the most as a young man, as he had never heard such honest and unassuming music. On the other hand, the progressive isolation and degradation of the character of the character of The Wall is comparable to that of the protagonist of The Downward Spiral. Also, NIN albums like 1999’s The Fragile and 2007’s Year Zero address Floydean themes such as power, political plot, loneliness and dominance.
Which artists were inspired by Nine Inch Nails?
Trent Reznor has had a notable impact on later rock. Here we will limit ourselves to mentioning four artists whom he inspired.
The first of them is guitarist Billy Howerdel from A Perfect Circle (“Tool a little lighter”). Howerdel has mentioned that during his time as a NIN technician in 1995 Reznor gave him a guitar from The Downward Spiral tour. In an interview he recounted that experience contributed to defining APC’s guitar sound.
Filter: Former member of Nine Inch Nails in its first stage, guitarist Richard Patrick came to participate in the first post Pretty Hate Machine tour, the debut of NIN. It was thanks to that first impulse and encouragement from Trent Reznor that Patrick formed Filter, his own project.
In addition to appearing in the Gave Up video, Marilyn Manson was produced by Trent Reznor for his first three albums: 1994’s debut Portrait of an American Family, 1995’s Smells like Children, and her best-known work, 1996’s Antichrist Superstar. The NIN leader also arranged for Manson to sign a contract with the Interscope label and thus became a kind of “patron” of the then anti-christ star. Later, Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson would have disagreements that led them to stop being such friends. And more recently, upon the claims of abuse against Marilyn Manson, Trent Reznor again distanced himself from him.
Finally we will mention a master of progressive rock, Steven Wilson: according to the leader of Porcupine Tree, he admires NIN’s third album The Fragile. While both bands emerged around the same time (late 1980s), it is Wilson who has taken Reznor’s conceptual elaborations and ethereal, heavy sound as a beacon for his own work.