Nine Inch Nails Biography

Nine Inch Nails (abbreviated as NIN, sometimes stylized as NIИ) is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction. Nine Inch Nails' music straddles a wide range of genres. After recording a new album, Reznor usually assembles a live band to perform with him. The touring band features a revolving lineup that often rearranges songs to fit a live setting. On stage, Nine Inch Nails often employs visual elements to accompany performances, which frequently include light shows.

Underground music audiences warmly received Nine Inch Nails in its early years. Reznor produced several highly influential records in the 1990s that achieved widespread popularity: many Nine Inch Nails songs became radio hits; two Nine Inch Nails recordings have won Grammy Awards; and their entire catalog has reached record sales exceeding over 30 million albums worldwide, with 11 million sales certified in the United States alone. 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." In 2004, Rolling Stone placed Nine Inch Nails at 94 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time. Despite this acclaim, the band has had several feuds with the corporate side of the recording industry. In 2007, these corporate entanglements resulted in Reznor announcing that Nine Inch Nails would split from its label and release future material independently.

Since 1989, Nine Inch Nails has made eight major studio releases. The most recent releases, Ghosts I–IV and The Slip, both released in 2008, were released under Creative Commons licenses (BY-NC-SA). Both were initially released digitally, with physical releases coming later. The digital release of The Slip was made available completely free of charge, and Ghosts, while also available for sale, can be acquired legally through means such as file-sharing due to its Creative Commons license. Nine Inch Nails has been nominated for twelve Grammy Awards and won twice for the songs "Wish" and "Happiness in Slavery", in 1992 and 1996 respectively.

In 1987, Trent Reznor played keyboards with a Cleveland band called the Exotic Birds, then managed by John Malm, Jr. Reznor and Malm became friends, and when Reznor left the Exotic Birds to work on music of his own, Malm informally became his manager. At the time, Reznor was employed as an assistant engineer and janitor at Right Track Studios; he asked studio owner Bart Koster for permission to record some demos of his own material for free during unused studio time. Koster agreed, commenting that it cost him "just a little wear on [his] tape heads". The English letters NIN are also noted for their resemblance to the modern Hebrew characters of the Tetragrammaton. While assembling these, the earliest Nine Inch Nails recordings, Reznor was unable to find a band that could articulate the material as he desired. Instead, inspired by Prince, Reznor 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. In 1988, after playing its first shows supporting Skinny Puppy (which were widely panned by concert critics), Reznor's ambitions for Nine Inch Nails were to release one 12-inch single on a small European label. Several labels responded favorably to the demo material and Reznor signed with TVT Records. Nine selections from the Right Track demos recorded live in November 1988, collectively known as Purest Feeling, were later released in revised form on the band's first full-length studio release, Pretty Hate Machine (1989). The overall sound on Purest Feeling is brighter (and in some cases happier) than that of the final versions on Pretty Hate Machine; several songs feature more live drumming and guitar work throughout, as well as a heavier use of samples from films.

Reznor said in 1994 that he coined the name "Nine Inch Nails" because it "abbreviated easily", rather than for "any literal meaning". Other rumored explanations have circulated, alleging that Reznor chose to reference Jesus' crucifixion with nine-inch spikes, or Freddy Krueger's nine-inch fingernails. The Nine Inch Nails' logo, which consists of the letters [NIИ] set inside a border, was designed by Reznor and Gary Talpas. The logo first appeared on the music video for Nine Inch Nails' debut single, "Down in It", and was inspired by Tibor Kalman's typography on the Talking Heads album Remain in Light. Talpas, a native of Cleveland, would continue to design Nine Inch Nails packaging art until 1997.

Written, arranged, and performed by Reznor, Nine Inch Nails' first album Pretty Hate Machine debuted in 1989. It marked his first collaboration with Adrian Sherwood (who produced the lead single "Down in It" in London, England without having met Reznor face-to-face) and Mark "Flood" Ellis. Flood's production would appear on each major Nine Inch Nails release until 1994, and Sherwood has made remixes for the band as recently as 2000. Reznor and his co-producers expanded upon the Right Track Studio demos by adding singles "Head Like a Hole" and "Sin". Rolling Stone's Michael Azerrad described the album as "industrial-strength noise over a pop framework" and "harrowing but catchy music"; Reznor proclaimed this combination "a sincere statement" of "what was in [his] head at the time". Although the album failed to break into the Top 70, after spending 113 weeks on the Billboard 200, Pretty Hate Machine became one of the first independently released records to attain platinum certification.

Reznor asked Sean Beavan to mix the demos of Pretty Hate Machine, which had received multiple offers for record deals. He mixed sound during Nine Inch Nails' live concerts for so many years, eventually becoming an unofficial member of the live band, even singing live backup vocals from his place at the mixing console. Reznor later invited Beavan to work on The Downward Spiral as well as mix several songs on Marilyn Manson's debut album Portrait of an American Family, both released in 1994. After contributing to several Nine Inch Nails remix releases (including the "Closer to God" single), he mixed and co-produced Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar in 1996.

Three music videos were created in promotion of the album. MTV aired the videos for "Down in It" and "Head Like a Hole", but an explicit video for "Sin" was only released in partial form on the 1997 home video Closure. The original version of the "Down in It" video ended with the implication that Reznor's character had fallen off a building and died in the street. This footage attracted the attention of the FBI. As Reznor explains in an interview with Convulsion Magazine:

There was a scene w[h]ere I was lying on the ground, appearing to be dead, in a Lodger-esque pose and we had a camera with a big weather balloon filled with helium hooked up to it... the first one we did, we started the film, I was laying on the ground and the ropes that were holding the balloon snapped, the camera just took off into the atmosphere... the camera landed two hundred miles away in a farmer's field somewhere. He finds it and takes it to the police, thinking that it's a surveillance camera for marijuana, they develop the film and think that it's some sort of snuff film of a murder, give it to the FBI and have pathologists looking at the body saying, 'yeah, he's rotting,' (I had corn starch on me, right) 'he's been decomposing for 3 weeks.' You could see the other members of the band walking away and they had these weird outfits on, and they thought it was some kind of gang slaying.

In 1989, while doing promotion for the album, the band were asked what shows they would like to appear on. The band jokingly replied (possibly while intoxicated) that they would like to appear on Dance Party USA, as it was the most absurd option they could think of at the time. Much to their surprise, they were booked on the show, and made an appearance.

In 1990, Nine Inch Nails began the Pretty Hate Machine Tour Series, in which they toured North America as an opening act for alternative rock artists such as Peter Murphy and The Jesus and Mary Chain. At some point, Reznor began smashing his equipment while on stage; Rockbeat interviewer Mike Gitter attributed the live band's early success in front of rock oriented audiences to this aggressive attitude. Nine Inch Nails then embarked on a world tour that continued through the first Lollapalooza festival in 1991.

After a poor European reception opening for Guns N' Roses, the band returned to America amid pressure from TVT to produce a follow-up to Pretty Hate Machine. After finding out they were hindering control of his project, Reznor eventually dismissed their classification of Nine Inch Nails as a synthpop band. He also demanded his label terminate his contract, but they ignored his plea. In response, Reznor secretly began recording under various pseudonyms to avoid record company interference. The frontman later said that he hated TVT, and reached a deal with the record label that he'd sign to Interscope Records, while recording an extended play named Broken (1992):

"We made it very clear we were not doing another record for TVT. But they made it pretty clear they weren't ready to sell. So I felt like, well, I've finally got this thing going but it's dead. Flood and I had to record Broken under a different band name, because if TVT found out we were recording, they could confiscate all our shit and release it. Jimmy Iovine got involved with Interscope, and we kind of got slave-traded. It wasn't my doing. I didn't know anything about Interscope. And I was real pissed off at him at first because it was going from one bad situation to potentially another one. But Interscope went into it like they really wanted to know what I wanted. It was good, after I put my raving lunatic act on."

In 1992 Nine Inch Nails released Broken, an EP featuring six songs and two bonus tracks and the first album with the Nothing Records label, famously providing the act's first charting appearance in the Top 10. In the liner notes, Reznor credited the 1991 Nine Inch Nails touring band as an influence on the EP's sound. Reznor characterized Broken as a guitar-based "blast of destruction", and as "a lot harder [...] than Pretty Hate Machine". Songs from Broken earned Nine Inch Nails both of its two Grammy Awards: a performance of the EP's first single "Happiness in Slavery" from Woodstock '94, and the second single "Wish". Reznor later joked that his epitaph should read: "REZNOR: Died. Said 'fist fuck', won a Grammy."

Peter Christopherson of the bands Coil and Throbbing Gristle directed a performance video for "Wish", but the EP's most infamous video accompanied "Happiness in Slavery". The video was almost universally banned for its graphic depiction of performance artist Bob Flanagan disrobed and lying on a machine that pleasures, tortures, then kills him. A third video for "Pinion", partially incorporated into MTV's Alternative Nation opening sequence, showed a toilet that apparently flushes into the mouth of a person in bondage. Reznor and Christopherson compiled the three clips along with footage for "Help Me I Am in Hell" and "Gave Up" into a longform music video also called Broken. It depicts the murder of a young man who is kidnapped and tortured while forced to watch the videos. This footage was never officially released, but instead appeared covertly among tape trading circles.

A separate performance video for "Gave Up" featuring Richard Patrick and Marilyn Manson was filmed at 10050 Cielo Drive, Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles (then renamed "Le Pig studios" by Reznor), site of the Tate murders; a live recording of "Wish" was also filmed, and both videos appeared on the Closure video compilation in 1997.

Broken was followed by its companion remix EP Fixed in late 1992. The only track that was left off the final version of the release is Butch Vig's remix of "Last" (the outro of the "Last" remix is heard in "Throw This Away", which also includes Vig's remix of "Suck"). The unedited version appeared on the internet as an 8-bit mono 11 kHz file, "NIN_LAST.AIFF", available by FTP from in 1993; it has been removed from the website, but can still be found on p2p networks (Reznor subsequently made it available in higher quality (256kbit/s mp3) at Vig later spoke about his remix while answering questions on a music production forum, saying "I started recording a lot of new parts, and took it in a much different direction. When it was finished, Trent thought the front part of the mix didn't fit the EP, so he just used the ending. I'm glad it's on his website. Duke and Steve worked with me on the remix, in the very early days of Garbage."

Rather than tour in support of the brand new material, Reznor began living and recording full-time at Le Pig, working on a follow-up free of restrictions from his record label.

Early ideas for The Downward Spiral were conceived after the Lollapalooza 1991 festival concerts ended in September of that year. Though production on 1992's Broken extended play had begun in late 1991, the writing process for the act's second album did not start until 1992. He created several poems after his stay there, and penned the themes he explored on the album in his journals. Initially, Reznor was to record the album in New Orleans, but due to financial duties, he changed his mind. He often checked out 15 houses in a day, settling to stay at a building that was constructed at a residential area in Los Angeles. 10050 Cielo Drive was his final choice to record the album, though he entered the house for the first time on July 4, 1992.

Nine Inch Nails' second full-length album, The Downward Spiral, entered the Billboard 200 in 1994 at number two (ahead of Soundgarden's Superunknown, released the same day as The Downward Spiral), and remains the highest-selling Nine Inch Nails release in the United States for shipments of over four million copies, in addition to selling five million copies worldwide. Influenced by late-1970s rock albums The Wall by Pink Floyd and Low by David Bowie, The Downward Spiral features a wide range of textures and moods to illustrate the mental progress of a central character. Flood once again co-produced several tracks on the album, though it proved to be his last collaboration with Nine Inch Nails. Longtime Flood-collaborator Alan Moulder mixed most of The Downward Spiral and subsequently took on more extensive production duties for future album releases. It was recorded at Le Pig Studios (a reincarnation of the living room of 10050 Cielo Drive), Beverly Hills – built by Reznor in the house where Charles Manson's "family" murdered Sharon Tate, wife of noted film director Roman Polanski, and four of her friends.

The album was anchored by two singles, "March of the Pigs" and "Closer", along with "Hurt" and "Piggy" which were issued to radio without a commercial single release. All singles did not top any charts, only to have "Closer" peak at number 41 at the Billboard Hot 100.

The music video for "Closer" was directed by Mark Romanek and received frequent rotation on MTV, though the network made extensive edits to the original version, which they perceived to be too graphic. That video shows events in what appears to be a 19th-century-style mad-scientist's laboratory that deals with religion, sexuality, animal cruelty, politics, and terror. What many people noted to be controversial imagery included a nude bald woman with a crucifix mask, a monkey tied to a cross, a pig's head spinning on some type of machine, a diagram of a vulva, Reznor wearing an S&M mask while swinging in shackles, and of him wearing a ball gag. A radio edit that partially mutes the song's explicit lyrics also received extensive airtime. The Closure video documented highlights from the band's Self Destruct tour, including full live videos of "Eraser", "Hurt" and a one-take "March of the Pigs" clip made for MTV.

Critical response to The Downward Spiral has generally been favorable: in 2005 the album was ranked 25th in Spin's list of the "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005", and in 2003 Rolling Stone ranked the album number 200 on their "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list. Blender named it the 80th Greatest American Album. It was ranked No. 488 in the book The Top 500 Heavy Metal Albums of All Time by Martin Popoff. In 2001 Q named The Downward Spiral as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums of All Time; in 2010 the album was ranked No. 102 on their 250 Best Albums of Q's Lifetime (1986-2011) list. After The Downward Spiral's release, Reznor produced an accompanying remix album entitled Further Down the Spiral, the only non-major Nine Inch Nails release to be certified gold in the United States. It featured contributions from Coil with Danny Hyde, electronic musician Aphex Twin, producer Rick Rubin, and Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro, among others.

The Self Destruct tour in support of the album reached its widest mainstream audience with a mud-drenched performance at Woodstock '94 that was broadcast on Pay-Per-View and seen in as many as 24 million homes. Nine Inch Nails received considerable mainstream success thereafter, performing with significantly higher production values and adding theatrical visual elements to the live show.The tour also featured The Jim Rose Circus as the opening act. Around this time, Reznor's studio perfectionism, struggles with addiction, and bouts of writer's block prolonged the production of a follow-up record.

During preparation for the 1995 Grammy Awards (where "Hurt" was nominated for but did not win the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance), after the album slowly fell to number 192 (its lowest ranking in the United States), sales of The Downward Spiral sped up. The album reached number 139 in February 1996, then finally exited the Billboard 200 on June 16, 1996, after it dropped to number 190.

Whilst on tour, Reznor produced the soundtrack to the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers using a portable Pro Tools in his hotel room. The compilation featured a brand new Nine Inch Nails track "Burn" written exclusively for the film. Throughout early 1996 Reznor collaborated with id Software to help create the music and sound effects to the first-person shooter video game Quake. In homage to him, the entire Quake series features the Nine Inch Nails band logo on ammo crates that supply ammunition for the in-game nail gun weapon. In 1997, Reznor produced the soundtrack to the David Lynch film Lost Highway. The release spawned the single "The Perfect Drug", the music video for which was again directed by Mark Romanek. A tenth anniversary deluxe reissue of The Downward Spiral was released on November 23, 2004.

Five years elapsed between The Downward Spiral and Nine Inch Nails' next studio album, The Fragile, which arrived as a double album in September 1999. On the heels of the band's previous successes, media anticipation surrounded The Fragile more than a year before its release, when it was already described as "oft-delayed". When this album was finally released, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 (Nine Inch Nails' first appearance at the top spot for an album), selling 228,000 copies in its first week and receiving an array of mixed reviews. Spin hailed The Fragile as the "album of the year," whereas Pitchfork Media panned it for the inclusion of overly melodramatic lyrics. Several songs from the album became regular features on alternative rock radio stations, however the album dropped to number 16 and slipped out of the Billboard Top 10 only a week after its release, resulting in the band setting a record for the biggest drop from number one, a record that has since been broken. Reznor funded the subsequent North American tour out of his own pocket.

According to Reznor, The Fragile was conceived by making "songwriting and arranging and production and sound design [...] the same thing. A song would start with a drum loop or a visual and eventually a song would emerge out of it and that was the song." Canadian rock producer Bob Ezrin was consulted on the album's track listing; the liner notes state that he "provided final continuity and flow."

Before the album's release, the song "Starfuckers, Inc." provoked media speculation about whom Reznor had intended its acerbic lyrics to satirize. Cinesexuality critic Patricia MacCormack interprets the song as a "scathing attack on the alternative music scene," particularly Reznor's former friend and protégé Marilyn Manson. The two artists put aside their differences when Manson appeared in the song's music video, retitled "Starsuckers, Inc." and performed on stage with Nine Inch Nails at Madison Square Garden in 2000. Nine Inch Nails released three commercial singles from the album in different territories: "The Day the World Went Away" (the act's first successful attempt at reaching the number one position for a singles chart) in North America; "We're in This Together" in the EU and Japan (on three separate discs); and "Into the Void" in Australia.

Reznor followed The Fragile with another remix album, Things Falling Apart, released in November 2000 to critically panning reviews, a few months after the 2000 Fragility tour, which itself was recorded and released on CD, DVD, and VHS in 2002 as And All That Could Have Been. A deluxe edition of the live CD came with the companion disc Still, featuring stripped-down versions of songs from the Nine Inch Nails catalog along with several new pieces of music.

A further six years elapsed before Nine Inch Nails' fourth full-length album, With Teeth, was released in 2005, though it was leaked prior to its official release date. The album was written and recorded following Reznor's battle with alcoholism and substance abuse. Like The Fragile, With Teeth debuted on top of the Billboard 200. The album's package lacks typical liner notes; instead it simply lists the names of songs and co-producers, and the URL for an online PDF poster with lyrics and full credits. The entire album was made available in streaming audio on the band's official MySpace page in advance of its release date.

Critical reception of the album was mostly positive: Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield described the album as "vintage Nine Inch Nails". On the other hand, PopMatters critically slammed the album by simply saying that he "ran out of ideas."

A promotional video for the song "The Hand That Feeds" premiered on Reznor's official website in March 2005, rather than the traditional music channels. Reznor also released the source files for this song in GarageBand format a month later, allowing fans to remix the song. Reznor similarly released files for the album's second single "Only" in a wider range of formats, including Pro Tools and ACID Pro. David Fincher directed a video for "Only" using primarily computer-generated imagery. The third single, "Every Day Is Exactly the Same", was released in April 2006, but a planned Francis Lawrence-directed music video was reportedly scrapped in the post-production stage. The song topped Billboard's Alternative Songs charts, like "Only" and "The Hand That Feeds".

Nine Inch Nails launched a North American arena tour in Autumn 2005, supported by Queens of the Stone Age, Autolux and Death from Above 1979. Another opening act on this tour, hip-hop artist Saul Williams, performed on stage with Nine Inch Nails at the Voodoo Music Experience festival during a headlining appearance in hurricane-stricken New Orleans, Reznor's former home. To conclude the With Teeth era of the band, the Nine Inch Nails live band completed a tour of North American amphitheaters in the summer of 2006, joined by Bauhaus, TV on the Radio, and Peaches. A tour documentary entitled Beside You in Time was released in February 2007 via three formats: DVD, High Definition DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The home video release debuted at number one on both the Billboard Top Music Videos and Billboard Comprehensive Music Videos charts in the United States.

Nine Inch Nails' fifth studio album, Year Zero, was released only two years after With Teeth, a marked change in the notoriously slow pace from the release of previous albums, and did not top any charts. With lyrics written from the perspective of multiple fictitious characters, Year Zero is a concept album that criticizes the United States government's current policies and how they will impact the world 15 years in the future.

The story takes place in the United States in the year 2022, which has been termed "Year 0", by the United States of American government, being the year that America was reborn. The United States had suffered several major terrorist attacks, apparently by Islamic fundamentalists, including attacks on Los Angeles and Seattle, and in response, the government seized absolute control on the country. The Government of the United States is now a Christian fundamentalist theocracy, maintaining control of the populace through institutions like the Bureau of Morality and the First Evangelical Church of Plano. The government corporation Cedocore distributes the drug Parepin through the water supply, making Americans who drink the water apathetic and carefree. There are several underground rebel groups, mainly operating online, most notably Art is Resistance and Solutions Backwards Initiative. In response to the increasing oppression of the government, several corporate, government, and subversive websites were transported back in time to the present by a group of scientists working clandestinely against the authoritarian government. The websites-from-the-future were sent to the year 2007 to warn the American people of the impending dystopian future and to prevent it from ever forming in the first place.

Critical response to the album was generally favorable, with an average rating of 76% on MetaCritic, a better aggregate rating than With Teeth.

An alternate reality game emerged parallel to the Year Zero concept, expanding upon its storyline. Clues hidden on tour merchandise initially led fans to discover a network of fictitious, in-game websites that describe an "Orwellian picture of the United States circa the year 2022". Before Year Zero's release, unreleased songs from the album were found on USB drives hidden at Nine Inch Nails concert venues in Lisbon and Barcelona, as part of the alternate reality game. Fan participation in the alternate reality game caught the attention of media outlets such as USA Today and Billboard, who have cited fan-site The NIN Hotline, forum Echoing the Sound, fan club The Spiral, and NinWiki as sources for new discoveries.

The album's first single, "Survivalism" (which became the final time a Nine Inch Nails single topped a chart), and other tracks from Year Zero were released as multitrack audio files for fans to remix. A remix album titled Year Zero Remixed was later released, featuring remixes from Year Zero by other artists. The remix album proved to be Nine Inch Nails' final new release on a major record label, as the act had completed its contractual obligation to Interscope Records and did not renew its contract. The remix album was accompanied by an interactive remix site with multitrack downloads and the ability to post remixes, after legal issues delayed its debut.

Reznor was planning to create a movie adaption of the album. He had earlier noted Year Zero as "part of a bigger picture of a number of things I'm working on. Essentially, I wrote the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist." Having thought a film project would be too expensive for him, he revamped it into a television project. He has stated that he has a producer and has met with writers. On August 10, 2007, Reznor announced that they would be taking the concept to television networks in an attempt to secure a deal: "We're about to pitch it to the network, so we're a couple of weeks away from meeting all of the main people, and we'll see what happens." Since first announcing his plans for a television series, progress has slowed, reportedly due to the 2007–2008 Writer's Guild strike. Despite this, Reznor has reported that the project is "still churning along", and that he has begun working with American film producer Lawrence Bender. The resultant miniseries, also named Year Zero, is currently in development with HBO and BBC Worldwide Productions, with the screenplay and script being written by Reznor and Carnivàle writer Daniel Knauf.

In February 2008, Reznor posted a news update on the Nine Inch Nails website entitled "2 weeks." On March 2, Ghosts I–IV (the first release on The Null Corporation label), a 36-track instrumental album, became available via the band's official website. Ghosts I–IV was made available in a number of different formats and forms, ranging from a free download of the first volume, to a $300 Ultra-Deluxe limited edition package. All 2,500 copies of the $300 package sold out in three days, while each edition of the album did not top the charts. The album is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike licence. The album was created improvisationally over a 10-week period and contributors included Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder, Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew, and Brian Viglione.

Similar to the announcement that ultimately led to the release of Ghosts I–IV, a post on the band's website in April 2008 read "2 weeks!" On May 5, Nine Inch Nails released The Slip (which failed to reach the Top 10 outside Australia) via their website without any advertisement or promotion. The album was made available for download free of charge with a message from Reznor, "this one's on me," protected under the same Creative Commons licence as Ghosts, and has seen individual downloads surpassing 1.4 million. The Slip has since been released on CD as a limited edition set of 250,000.

Since the release of Ghosts I–IV and The Slip, a 25-date tour titled Lights in the Sky, was announced in several North American cities, and was later expanded to include several more North American dates as well as dates in South America. Cortini and Freese returned as members from the previous tour, while Robin Finck rejoined the band and Justin Meldal-Johnsen was added on bass guitar. Overshadowed by Finck and Medal-Johnsen, Freese and Cortini decided to quit the live band, but with the addition of Ilan Rubin on drums, the band became a four-piece lineup.

On January 7, 2009, Reznor uploaded unedited HD-quality footage from three shows as a download of over 400 GB via BitTorrent. In an immediate response, a fan organization known as This One Is On Us quickly downloaded the data and had begun to assemble the footage alongside their own video recordings to create a professional 3-part digital film, followed by a physical release created "by fans for fans". This tour documentary became collectively known as Another Version of the Truth and was released throughout late December 2009 to February 2010 via three formats: DVD, Blu-ray Disc and BitTorrent. To date, the group and the project has received significant attention from media outlets such as USA Today, Rolling Stone, Techdirt and Pitchfork TV, and holds the support of both Reznor and the fan community with theatrical screenings being held all over the world. Nine Inch Nails art director and webmaster Rob Sheridan noted on the band's official website:

This is yet another example of a devoted fanbase and a policy of openness combining to fill in blanks left by old media barriers. The entire NIN camp is absolutely thrilled that treating our fans with respect and nurturing their creativity has led to such an overwhelming outpour of incredible content, and that we now have such a high quality souvenir from our most ambitious tour ever.

Nine Inch Nails Revenge, an iPhone/iPod touch-exclusive rhythm game developed by Tapulous, was released on March 8, 2009 (five months after the company announced the development of the game). This installment in the Tap Tap video game franchise was themed after Nine Inch Nails, and included tracks from Ghosts I–IV and The Slip.

In February 2009, Reznor posted his thoughts about the future of Nine Inch Nails on his official website, stating that "I've been thinking for some time now it's time to make NIN disappear for a while." Reznor since clarified that he "isn't done creating music under the moniker, but that Nine Inch Nails is done touring for the foreseeable future." Nine Inch Nails' final live performance was September 10, 2009, at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Reznor has since released two tracks under the Nine Inch Nails moniker: the theme song for the film Tetsuo: The Bullet Man, and a cover of U2's "Zoo Station", included in the Achtung Baby tribute album AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered.

In 2009 Reznor married Mariqueen Maandig, and formed a project with Maandig and Atticus Ross dubbed How to Destroy Angels. Their first release, a six-track self-titled EP, was made available for free download in June 2010. Reznor's next collaboration with Ross was co-writing and producing the official score for David Fincher's 2010 film, The Social Network. Reznor and Ross received two awards for the score, a 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for a Motion Picture, and a 2010 Oscar for Best Original Score. Reznor and Ross again collaborated with Fincher for the official score the American adaptation of the novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, released in December 2011.

In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Reznor indicated that he would be writing for the majority of 2012 with Nine Inch Nails "in mind". In 2012, Reznor confirmed that he is currently working on new Nine Inch Nails material and may be performing live again. In February 2013, Reznor announced the return of Nine Inch Nails and revealed tour details. He also revealed that the new lineup of the band includes Eric Avery of Jane's Addiction, Adrian Belew of King Crimson, and Josh Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv, as well as returning members Alessandro Cortini and Ilan Rubin.

The band will tour the United States in fall 2013, and worldwide in 2014. On February 23, 2013, it was announced that the band will perform at Fuji Rock Festival, Pukkelpop and Rock 'n' Heim Festival in Hockenheim, Germany in mid-2013. On March 11, it was announced that they will also play Reading and Leeds festival. On May 15, 2013, Avery announced that he had quit the band before performing on any of the scheduled shows. On May 17, Reznor announced that Robin Finck had rejoined the band. On May 28, Reznor announced that the new Nine Inch Nails album was finished and will be released on Columbia Records later in the year. On June 5, Reznor revealed that the album's title would be Hesitation Marks, and that it would be released on September 3. The first single, "Came Back Haunted", was released on June 6.
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