Michael Trent Reznor turned 55 today.
As you all may already know he’s the founder, lead singer, and principal songwriter of the magnificent industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, which he founded in 1988.
Reznor was also associated with the bands Option 30, The Urge, The Innocent, and Exotic Birds in the mid-1980s. Outside NIN, he has contributed to the albums of artists such as Marilyn Manson and Saul Williams.
Reznor (and Atticus Ross, other NIN member) scored the David Fincher films The Social Network (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and Gone Girl (2014), winning the Academy Award for Best Original Score for The Social Network and the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time’s list of the year’s most influential people, and Spin magazine described him as “the most vital artist in music.”
Born in Pennsylvania, he began playing the piano at the age of 12 and showed an early aptitude for music. His grandfather told People magazine that Reznor was “a good kid … a Boy Scout who loved to skateboard, build model planes, and play the piano. Music was his life, from the time he was a wee boy. He was so gifted.”
Around 1986-87, while working at Cleveland’s Right Track Studio as an assistant engineer and janitor, he got permission to record his demos at the studio for free. TVY Records then signed him and selected nine songs, they were unofficially released in 1988 as Purest Feeling and many of these songs appeared in revised form on Pretty Hate Machine (1989), Reznor’s first official release under the Nine Inch Nails name.
Prior to releasing Pretty Hate Machine, Reznor was primarily influenced by punk rock, specifically The Clash. “I fucked around with some bad music; I was trying to sound like other bands. I thought The Clash were so cool so I was trying to be cool, too. Important political statements, no one’s going to make fun of me for them. But the journal entries of a horny, sad guy who doesn’t fit in … the words I was writing in my journal to keep myself from going crazy were the real lyrics I needed.”
In 1993 NIN won a Grammy Award under Best Heavy Metal Performance for the song “Wish”.
In 1994 NIN’s second full-length album, The Downward Spiral entered the Billboard 200 chart at number two.
Last March, he released NIN’s eleventh studio album, Ghosts VI: Locusts. It was released as a free download as a show of solidarity with the band’s fans during COVID-19 pandemic.