On October 20th, 1989 Nine Inch Nails released their iconic debut LP Pretty Hate Machine. The album’s demo was a labor of love produced and recorded in between shifts while singer-songwriter Trent Reznor was working nights as a custodian at the Right Track Studio in Cleveland, Ohio.
Reznor would then eventually sign to TVT records, self-recording the album with the aid of legendary producers Flood, Keith LeBlanc, Adrian Sherwood, and John Fryer.
For the album’s tour, Reznor quickly formed a band with guitarist Richard Patrick, the brother of actor Robert Patrick, who would later go on to front Filter. During an interview with The Nerdist Podcast, Robert Patrick revealed that he pitched the music from Pretty Hate Machine to Director James Cameron to be used in the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but was overruled by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who preferred Guns and Roses.
While touring North America in support of Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails were booked as an opening act for post-punk luminaries such as Peter Murphy and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
The album had 3 hit singles:
“Down In It”
“Head Like A Hole”
Legend has it that both the song title “Head Like a Hole” and the moniker Nine Inch Nails were inspired by a quote by Al Jourgensen, lead singer of the Ministry:
“Listening to Ministry is like having a nine inch nail hammered into your head like a hole.”
Despite its Industrial and EBM tendencies bolstered by Trent Reznor’s connection to Ministry, and fan controversies on whether the album’s single “Down in It” plagiarised Skinny Puppy’s 1986 single “Dig It”, Pretty Machine is an essential album in the post-punk canon, especially through it laying the groundwork for 1994’s The Downward Spiral.
- Head Like a Hole
- Terrible Lie
- Down in It
- Something I Can Never Have
- Kinda I Want To
- That’s What I Get
- The Only Time