Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine Turns 25

Pretty Hate Machine

Pretty Hate Machine

Nine Inch Nails’ debut album Pretty Hate Machine officially turns 25 years old today. Beyond making Gen Xer’s wistfully nostalgic for the 14-hole Docs they wore in their teens, it’s a good reminder that NIN leader Trent Reznor has been our outsider conscience for a long time (he’s 49 years old).

As a bit of a pipe-banging, keyboard-smashing trip down memory lane, here are some bullets about Pretty Hate Machine:

* An old MacIntosh Plus computer was one of the key instruments in creating Pretty Hate Machine.

“I made Pretty Hate Machine using a Mac Plus, an Emax keyboard and a Mini Moog,” Reznor told Apple in 2000. “I’ve just always had a soft spot in my heart for Macs.”

MacIntosh Plus

MacIntosh Plus

* Super-producer Flood contributed “programming, production and engineering” to the album. During this time period he also worked on Depeche Mode’s Violator as well as albums by U2, Nick Cave, The Charlatans and Pop Will Eat Itself.

* Someone named Hypo Luxa has production credits on Pretty Hate Machine. It’s really Ministry’s Al Jourgensen.


* Richard Patrick from Filter was credited with playing “drone guitar” at the end of “Sanctified.” Clearly this was his creative peak.

* “Sanctified” samples dialogue from the film Midnight Express.

* As evidenced in the “Head Like A Hole” video, in the early days NIN roadies were not good at protecting Reznor from tripping hazards.

Head Like A Hole mess o' wires

Head Like A Hole mess o’ wires

* Reznor recorded Pretty Hate Machine while working as a janitor at Right Track recording studio, using off-hour studio time to work on the album.

* Lady Gaga’s been trying to copy the “Sin” video for the last three years.

* The song “Ringfinger” samples “Had A Dad” by Jane’s Addiction and  “Alphabet St.” by Prince. Jesus And Mary Chain would also cover “Alphabet St.”

* Reznor’s “thin” dreadlocks were aspirational.


Trent Reznor. White person dreadlocks.

* Back in the early ’90s you separated the tourists from the committed by whether or not they knew about this Queen cover.

* Reznor’s Jesus Christ pose in the “Down In It” video predates Soundgarden’s similarly named song by two years.

* Play detect the “Sin” sample here.

* NIN toured with Guns ‘N Roses on their first album. Whenever Reznor tells stories about that period it’s gold:

“So we open up. First song, people are, like, ‘Yeah, there’s a band onstage,’ and they’re slowly realizing we’re not Skid Row. Second song, ‘Okay, these guys are not Skid Row and I think I hear a synthesizer.’ Third song, ‘We definitely hear a synthesizer — this is bullshit. These guys suck, they’re faggots, let’s kick their ass.’ There is something about the feeling of standing in front of 65,000 people giving you the finger … An intense terror took over. In a word, it sucks.”

* Danceability of the songs on Pretty Hate Machine, ranked:

10. “Something I Can Never Have”
9. “Sanctified”
8. “The Only Time”
7. “That’s What I Get”
6. “Terrible Lie”
5. “Kinda I Want To”
4. “Ringfinger”
3. “Down In It”
2. “Sin”
1. “Head Like a Hole”


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