Michael Trent Reznor (born May 17, 1965) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer. As both a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Reznor has led the industrial rock project Nine Inch Nails since 1988; he left Interscope Records in 2007 and is now an independent recording artist. As of 2010, he and his wife Mariqueen Maandig are members of the post-industrial trio How to Destroy Angels with Reznor's fellow composer Atticus Ross, with whom Reznor scored the David Fincher films The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, winning the Academy Award for Best Original Score for the former.
Reznor was previously associated with the bands Option 30, The Innocent, and Exotic Birds in the mid-80s. He gained employment at Right Track Studios in Cleveland and began creating his own music during the studio's closing hours under the name of Nine Inch Nails. Reznor's first release as Nine Inch Nails, the 1989 album Pretty Hate Machine, was a commercial and critical success and Reznor has since released seven major studio albums. Outside of Nine Inch Nails, he has contributed to the albums of artists such as Marilyn Manson and Saul Williams. In 1997, Reznor appeared in Time magazine's list of the year's most influential people and Spin magazine described him as "the most vital artist in music".
Reznor was born in Mercer, Pennsylvania, halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie, the son of Nancy Lou (née Clark) and Michael Reznor. After his parents divorced, he lived with his maternal grandparents, while his sister Tera lived with their mother. Reznor is a descendant of George Reznor, who founded the Reznor Company, a heating and air conditioning manufacturing company, in 1888. The family sold the business in the 1960s. His ancestry includes German and Irish.Early musical projects
While he was enrolled in Allegheny College, Reznor joined local band Option 30 and played three shows a week with them. After a year of college, Reznor dropped out and moved to Cleveland to pursue a career in music. In 1985, he joined The Innocent as a keyboardist; they released one album, Livin' in the Street, but Reznor left the band after three months. In 1986, he joined local band Exotic Birds and appeared with them as a fictional band called The Problems in the 1987 film Light of Day Reznor also contributed on keyboards to the band Slam Bamboo during this time.
Reznor got a job at Cleveland's Right Track Studio as an assistant engineer and janitor.Studio owner Bart Koster later commented, "He was so focused in everything he did. When that guy waxed the floor, it looked great." Reznor asked Koster for permission to record demos of his own songs for free during unused studio time. Koster agreed, remarking that it cost him "just a little wear on his tape heads". While assembling the earliest Nine Inch Nails recordings, Reznor was unable to find a band that could articulate his songs as he wanted. Instead, inspired by Prince, he played all the instruments except drums himself. This role remains Reznor's on most of the band's studio recordings, though he has occasionally involved other musicians and assistants. Several labels responded favorably to the demo material and Reznor signed with TVT Records. Nine selections from the Right Track demos were unofficially released in 1988 as Purest Feeling and many of these songs appeared in revised form on Pretty Hate Machine, Reznor's first official release as Nine Inch Nails. Most of Reznor's work as a musician has been as founding and primary member of Nine Inch Nails.
As an Independent Artist:
In May 2008 Reznor founded The Null Corporation and Nine Inch Nails released the studio album The Slip as a free digital download. In his appreciation for his following and fan base, and having no contractual obligation, he made "The Slip" available for free on his website, stating “This one’s on me.” A month and a half after its online release, The Slip had been downloaded 1.4 million times from the official Nine Inch Nails website.
In February 2009, Reznor posted his thoughts about the future of Nine Inch Nails on NIN.com, stating that "I've been thinking for some time now it's time to make NIN disappear for a while." Reznor noted in an interview on the official website that while he has not stopped creating music as Nine Inch Nails, the group will not be touring in the foreseeable future.
During the five years following the release of The Downward Spiral (1994), Reznor struggled with depression, social anxiety disorder, and the death of his grandmother, who raised him. During this period of intense grief, Reznor began abusing alcohol and other drugs. He eventually became addicted to alcohol and heroin. Five years elapsed before Nine Inch Nails' next album, The Fragile, a double CD that debuted in September 1999 at number one on the Billboard 200, selling 228,000 copies in its first week and receiving favorable reviews.
In 2001, Reznor successfully completed rehab, and eventually moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles. In a 2005 interview with Kerrang!, Reznor reflected on his self-destructive past: "There was a persona that had run its course. I needed to get my priorities straight, my head screwed on. Instead of always working, I took a couple of years off, just to figure out who I was and working out if I wanted to keep doing this or not. I had become a terrible addict; I needed to get my shit together, figure out what had happened". In contrast with his former suicidal tendencies, Reznor also admitted in another interview that he is "pretty happy". Nine Inch Nails' next full-length album, With Teeth (2005), reached number one on Billboard 200.
Reznor married Mariqueen Maandig in October 2009. Their son, Lazarus Echo, was born in October 2010 and they are currently expecting another child.
Though the majority of material released from Reznor has been under the Nine Inch Nails moniker, some material has been credited to Reznor himself, including writing, production, instrumental performances, and vocal contributions. Reznor has also remixed songs for a number of artists, including David Bowie, N*E*R*D, Megadeth, and Queen.