Billy Howerdel best known for his work in A Perfect Circle is gearing up to drop his debut solo album, What Normal Was on June 10. Now, you might think “solo album?” wasn’t Ashes Divide his solo project? Well yes and no. This album was originally started as a follow up to the first Ashes Divide album but as time progressed and the songs began to continuously take shape, it just didn’t work in the realm that is/was Ashes Divide. This album is shaped quite differently. Billy mentioned about this album “This is me stepping back into my early teen self and making the record I would have made if I had the means and the knowledge when I first picked up a guitar—just in 2022. It’s that moment as a kid when you hear a record, close your eyes, and go somewhere else. That was the time I found my lane, so to speak. During the making of this album, a global pandemic’s chaos had a silver lining. It gave me time to tighten the songs into the place I’d hoped they could be. When I look back, I don’t think I’d change anything about it.” With that in mind, these songs pay homage and hark back to a time when music was making a huge impression on the life of Billy Howerdel.
Since the news broke today that Nine Inch Nails annouced new tour dates for 2022, of course it would put me in a NIN frame of mind. Instead of something typical to post about why not explore some of the remixes. One of the remix albums that often gets overlooked in their catalog is Things Falling Apart from The Fragile era. The remix version of “Where Is Everybody?” done by Danny Lohner (aka Renholder) and Josh Eustis and Charles Cooper of Telefon Tel Aviv is superb. This version is much more atmospheric and features some really cool glitch beats towards the latter half of the song. Take a moment to dig into this awesome version and the whole remix album!
Nine Inch Nails- Where Is Everybody? (Renholder/Telefon Tel Aviv Remix):
I will never forget the first time I listened to Nine Inch Nails album The Fragile the whole way through. There was something so special about that album. I could and will go into more detail about that album at some point down the road. One of the immediate songs that hit me like a ton of bricks was track number 7 on Disc 1 (or the left side), “Just Like You Imagined.” This instrumental track blew me away. It’s a total encompassing of everything that makes The Fragile so great. The song on the studio recording features David Bowie’s longtime pianist, Michael Garson, who adds some beautiful moments. Live, this song is even better. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing it live a few times and each one of those I was totally in awe at how amazing the song truly is.
Since there is a plethora of live performances all over the internet, why not start featuring some of the most memorable ones. And what better place to start than with the now legendary performance Nine Inch Nails put on at Woodstock 94. The story of this one is absolutely nuts. One that you should really look into. Their “mud soaked” set is infamous and so damn good. The setlist is truly something awesome as well. It’s one of those shows that I can watch and listen to all the time.
Since today it was announced that Nine Inch Nails is being inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, I thought I’d share one of my all time favorite songs by NIN. This one goes back to 1999 and the absolute masterpiece that is The Fragile. The song I chose to share is, “Somewhat Damaged” and I still, to this very day, anytime I play this album, I get chills when it comes on. It’s also one of the best songs to ever start an album. Not to mention that live, this song is absolutely a beast. Oh and, I’d also like to note that this song was co-written by Danny Lohner, who just so happens to be one of my all time favorite members of Trent’s live band. So with all that in mind, enjoy one of my top 5 favorite Nine Inch Nails songs EVER!
There are so many good bands out there these days, sometimes it’s hard to keep up with them all. A while back I was introduced to a band that has been taking people by storm and leaving a very lasting impression. That band is Vowws. Originally from Australia, now based in Los Angeles, Vowws has made quite the impact with their electro-rock style but, it’s much more than that. Vowws have taken the electro part to another level by injecting a great deal of inspiration and influence of 80’s and 90’s alternative to their music and given it an almost cinematic sensibility. There’s elements of pop in there along with post-punk, shoegaze, new wave, goth and synthwave. The band has self described the band as “Deathpop” which is a pretty good representation of what they do. The whole of all this makes Vowws a very enticing band to delve into. Frontwoman-keyboardist-programmer Rizz along with guitarist-programmer-vocalist Matt James have taken this style of music to another level. They’ve made fans out of many of their contemporaries like The Cult, and Chino Moreno of Deftones (Who also partook in a remix of the bands “Structure Of Love”). Vowws are the type of band that isn’t satisfied with relying solely on the electronic element to make their band. The guitar riffs from Matt James give their music a different life, similar to what Martin Gore has done with Depeche Mode albums like Songs Of Faith and Devotion. Also it’s worth noting that the beats that pulsate through the songs are fresh and moving but also feel “human” rather than electronic. Vowws are the real deal and are making waves in a way that you can tell they are about to take over.
Vowws- Under The World:
Vowws w/Chino Moreno- Structure Of Love II (Renholder Remix):
Way back when A Perfect Circle released their covers album eMOTIVE, there was an edition that also included an additional disc entitled aMOTION. This disc was all remixed version of their songs. There has always been one that has stood out to me over the years and that is the Tilling My Grave mix of “Weak and Powerless.” This version was remixed by Danny Lohner (former Nine Inch Nails memeber and for a time was a part of A Perfect Circle during the Thirteenth Step era) and it was also featured on the soundtrack for the first Underworld movie. Anyways, this version always seemed to have more “balls” to it and that gave it a much “heavier” vibe. Another interesting note is that this version features work by Wes Borland and Josh Eustis.
A Perfect Circle- Weak and Powerless (Tilling My Grave: Renholder Mix):
A Perfect Circle- Weak and Powerless (Album Version):
Back in 1999, Nine Inch Nails performed on the MTV Video Music Awards. It was pretty unexpected, especially since NIN never performed on TV. Quick Side Note, It wouldn’t happen again until 2013 when Trent and company performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Which actually is the first time the band has ever performed on a late night talk show. The performance of “The Fragile” on the VMA’s was something hauntingly beautiful, dark and one of the best VMA performances. Plus it featured my all time favorite line up Nine Inch Nails has ever had.
Nine Inch Nails- The Fragile on the 1999 MTV VMA’s:
This is probably the most difficult Ultimate Set List I’ve made yet. I think I’ve made about 15 different versions of this set list. I usually give myself only 25 songs to make these Ultimate Set Lists but, for this one I had to go to 30 songs. It was seriously impossible to make it 25 songs. I actually could have made it longer too (I have one version that is 50 songs). Picking the songs wasn’t just the hardest part either, because there have been so many great players in Trent’s live band, picking those individuals was rather difficult too. Anyhow, here is my Ultimate Set List for Nine Inch Nails. What would be on yours?
Rule 1: What line up of the band would it be
Rule 2: Where would you want to see the show
Rule 3: maximum 25 songs (In order of how the set should go)
Lineup: Trent Reznor, Danny Lohner, Jerome Dillon, Charlie Clouser, Robin Finck, (Yes I picked The Fragile era lineup)
Venue: The Fonda Theater (Saw NIN there during their Wave Goodbye tour and it was amazing)
01) Head Like A Hole
02) Mr. Self Destruct
03) Getting Smaller
04) Into The Void
05) Head Down
06) The Day The World Went Away
07) The Idea Of You
08) You Know What You Are
09) The Frail
10) The Wretched
14) Copy Of A
15) Less Than
16) Various Methods Of Escape
17) And All That Could Have Been
18 ) A Warm Place
19) We’re In This Together
20) Burning Bright (Field On Fire)
21) March Of The Pigs
22) The Hand That Feeds
23) Gave Up
24) The Perfect Drug
27) Just Like You Imagined
28) Somewhat Damaged
29) The Fragile
30) In This Twilight
You know the saying “music can save lives?” Well, I truly believe that. There is a real sense of healing power through music no matter the genre. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to The Mendenhall Experiment. Guitarist Brandon Mendenhall who has cerebral palsy, started to learn how to play guitar at age 19 as a way to work through his physical limitations. The band which originally formed in 2008, has seen its share of line up changes over the years but, in 2014 the line up was solidified with the additions of Nate Stockton (who is also deaf), Mike Lira, Bruce Lira, and Mario Valadez. The Mendenhall Experiment is more than just your run of the mill heavy rock band. Instead they use music to help change the perspective people have about those with disabilities and inspires hope to those that have one to overcome it. Through the years they have played shows and toured with the likes of Korn, Fear Factory, POD and more, leaving a lasting mark with those bands and their fans.
This past May, The Mendenhall Experiment released their self titled EP featuring 6 songs of heavy melodic rock. The EP also features a few guests like Korn’s James “Munky” Shaffer on the song “Prosthetic” and former Nine Inch Nails multi instrumentalist and producer Danny Lohner on “Find A Way Out.” If you are looking for sharp melodies and hooky guitar parts, then The Mendenhall Experiment is the band for you.