Bassist Brings His White Heat To NIN
By Emma Downs

Let’s assume Jeordie White – current bassist for Nine Inch Nails – has been sitting in a posh hotel room, talking to reporters all morning. He’s bored. He’s nibbling on a mound of mashed yeast (or whatever they’re choking down in California these days). He’s sipping a Bloody Mary and getting a massage from a Swede named Jorgen. Slowly, he begins to think about physics – gauge symmetry, Maxwell’s electrodynamics. Can he unify general relativity and electromagnetism?

This would explain why White’s insights into little ol’ Trent Reznor and the current Nine Inch Nails tour are, well, less than sparkling.

How’s the tour? “Better than sitting at home.”

What’s Trent Reznor like? “He’s great.”

What do you think of the new Nine Inch Nails album? “I really like it.”

Seriously, it’s like pulling teeth. That is, until the subject of “Star Wars” comes up. Apparently, White – who says he can recite “Star Wars: Episode IV-A New Hope” from memory – has been a fan of the sci-fi franchise since 1977, the year Luke Skywalker first boasted about bull’s eye-ing womp rats.

“I’m not as intensely into it as I have been in the past,” White says. “I can’t afford to be. My collection (of memorabilia) started to overtake everything else in my life. I had just way too many plastic toys molded into the shape of bad actors, you know? So, now I have a storage space full of stuff. Right now I really like ‘Lego Star Wars,’ the video game. I play it a lot on the road. It’s really fun. And it’s funny – making Lego structures with the force. And if a character gets killed, they just turn into a pile of loose Legos. It’s great.”

Whew. Who knew he could be so chatty?

Currently, White is touring with industrial metal pioneer Reznor and his band Nine Inch Nails, which is scheduled to stop in Fort Wayne at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Coliseum.

White, also the bassist for A Perfect Circle, first toured with Reznor during the early ’90s, a time when White was known as Twiggy Ramirez, the androgynous, braided bassist for Focus on the Family’s favorite goth/metal band Marilyn Manson. This time, touring with the newly sober Reznor – a heroin overdose landed the Cleveland native in the hospital during “The Fragile” tour in 2001 – has shifted focus toward music and away from, oh, sniffing horse off a groupie’s navel and stuff like that, White says.

“(Reznor) is sober now, which is a little different,” White says. “But it’s good. It’s more tame. You remember most of it, instead of it all being a big blur. But aside from being more alert, it’s pretty much the same.”

“With Teeth” – Nine Inch Nail’s fifth studio album – delivers the dense industrial layering fans expect from Reznor, who is infamous for meticulously perfecting his albums for years before releasing them. The result this time is a polished, angry 13-track opus, filled with melodic hooks and fleshed out by slinky electronic beats and skull-crushing waves of rock.

White, who has been credited in the media with co-producing the album, denies having much to do with the finished product. (The album lists only Reznor and Alan Moulder as producers.)

“I was there,” White says. “But I just kinda sat in the lobby of the studio. When it was time to eat, I ordered the food. That kind of stuff.”

Of course, this makes White sound like the dorky girl at the prom – sitting in the corner, blowing up the balloons and watching other people dance. Actually, his plate is pretty full.

In addition to the Nine Inch Nails tour, he’s also working on an album with Goon Moon, White’s stoner rock side project with Masters of Reality’s Chris Goss .

“(The Goon Moon album) is filled with lots of experimental stuff,” White says. “It’s like, anything goes. There’s no boundaries on this album. If we want to play death metal, we play death metal. If we want to try something that sounds like the Beatles, we do. Or, we can play one note for 20 minutes.”

The untitled album is only partly recorded, so release is expected this year, White says. Until then, White continues to juggle his gigs with A Perfect Circle, Goon Moon and the tour with Nine Inch Nails. But that doesn’t mean he’s not looking for new ideas.

“As of now, I’ve got a lot going on,” he says. “But if anyone’s got any ideas for something else, give me a call.

“I’m always looking for something else.”