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Re: Up, Close and Personal with Robin Finck (2000)

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Up Close and Personal with Nine Inch Nails Guitarist Robin Finck
Source unknown, 2000

Having recently completed a European Tour, Industrial poster-boys Nine Inch Nails have just embarked on their North American trek in support of the new album, The Fragile. The tour marks the first time Trent Reznor and his cohorts have taken to the stage since the fruition of The Downward Spiral Tour almost four years ago. A lot can happen in four years. Long-regarded as a brooding, distant mastermind, Reznor 2000 seems to be a kinder, gentler overlord, with shorter hair and a somewhat more pleasant outlook. Reznor is, of course, still the only '˜real' member of the '˜group', creating his entire discography single-handedly. But bringing one's music to the masses, one arena at a time, necessitates hauling some extra musicians with you. For the musicians, it must be quite an adventure - but what do they do between tours? The Review recently caught up with touring guitarist Robin Finck to find out what it's like being in, ostensibly, the highest paid '˜cover' band in the world.

Review: Where you at right now?

Robin: I'm on Sunset Strip in L.A. It's a little hazy today, but for the most part it's been gorgeous. I feel Spring coming on.

Review: How long have you been with Nine Inch Nails?

Robin: I met Trent back around the end of 1993, when he was completing The Downward Spiral. Trent was putting together the live band for that tour and it was the first time Nails was a five piece. We toured for what at the time felt like a thousand years, and went everywhere twice and three times. Finally, I settled in New Orleans for about one year. I was there for a year after the tour. I split and they're still there. Trent has quite an empire in New Orleans, which is where he lives.

Review: Did you have anything to do with recording the new album?

Robin: No. I left at a time when a couple of us, myself included, weren't necessarily taking good care of ourselves. And New Orleans is the worst place to be, because there wasn't a lot going on when I was there. I split and did my own thing for awhile.When I left in 1997 there was no animosity between the band and me, but at the same time I wasn't necessarily taking a hiatus knowing I'd be back. It was kind of open-ended. I kept in touch with the guys in the band. The last couple of years they were working on the record and I was gone, and when they completed Fragile and started putting the band back on the road, I knew it was happening gradually. But Trent called me first and said here it is - the moment we all knew would come. When I left New Orleans I hooked-up with the Cirque Du Soleil and started playing guitar in a circus band. I wanted to do something completely 180 degrees opposite of what I had been doing, and for me and my life at the time, it seemed like a far out thing to do. It was a great experience for me. About 18 months into that, I got a call from Axl Rose, who I never met at the time. He invited me to the studio as he was writing and recording songs. It was an invitation for a casual listen. Eventually, after about 8 weeks, we started playing together. We played some of my songs and finally I left the circus and was doing records with Axl, Josh and Tommy, and what would have been a new Guns N' Roses, if you will. We wrote and rehearsed and argued and laboriously recorded several records worth of musical material, which to the best of my knowledge Axl is still finishing. But my work was through. We had dozens of finished songs, as far as I was concerned, and we were waiting for Axl to complete the songs. So the timing was perfect. Nails were about to go on the road again, and I wanted to go out on the road with them.

Review: So how has the '˜Fragile' tour been going?

Robin: In January we went to Japan and then Australia. In Japan we did our own shows in theatres and Sumo wrestling arenas. It was winter and cold, but whenwe hit Australia we did outdoor festivals with 50,000 people and played in-between the Foo Fighters and The Chili Peppers, so that was much more fun.

Review: What is the new stage show like?

Robin: It's relatively sleek in design compared to the last tour, which was more frantic & decrepit. We've got a lot of new songs, even ones we didn't do in Europe or Australia. We're using a new technology that I've been told has never been used in a tour that incorporates LED panels as a light source. From a distance at the audience perspective, it's similar to a video monitor and is pretty cool. Looking at these panels up close they are made up of red, blue and green LED lights 9 inches apart from one another. The clarity is amazing.

Review: So what do you do during the day when you're on the road?

Robin: I like to walk around and by myself during the day. I've done a lot of time with a map in one hand, a bag over my shoulder, scratching my face and going, huh?

Review: Whereas it used to '˜sex, drugs and rock '˜n roll', what three words describe life on the road these days?

Robin: For me there's a difference, but I still know people doing sex, drugs and rock '˜n roll. It's like to each his own and different strokes for different folks that are different points in their strategy,whatever that may be.

Review: At the end of a tour after traveling and doing interviews or whatever, do you ever feel like you wished you didn't have to play those last few gigs?

Robin: Sometimes, but usually it's because something happenend emotionally during the day that doesn't have anything to do with the show, or else something technical has gone wrong that has everything to do with the show. But whatever it is, as soon as you get into the first number, it goes out the window and you are hyperfocused on that moment where nothing else matters. And that's why I'm here. It makes it all worthwhile for me.

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