JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
Jeordie White, the bassist formerly known as Twiggy Ramirez, must be the only rock star on the planet without a Myspace.com account. It’s practically a requirement these days for every band to stake out a corner of the online Myspace community in order to promote their careers.
Yet White, now touring with Nine Inch Nails, is so against the whole idea that he posted a disclaimer at the top of his website, basetendencies.com, warning that anyone claiming an affiliation with him on Myspace.com is full of it. Except for Nine Inch Nails, of course.
“I refuse,” he said in a phone interview. “I think it’s ridiculous. I just prefer human contact with real people — not on my computer.
White is not one to indulge in loose chit-chat with reporters about what it’s really like touring with a revitalized Trent Reznor, the formerly tormented mastermind behind the industrial rock beast that is Nine Inch Nails. Reznor, who hires new personnel as needed to make up the rest of the band, counts White, guitarist Aaron North, Alessandro Cortini on synthesizers and drummer Josh Freese in the current lineup. They pull into Scotiabank Place tomorrow (moshers, take note: a new block of 300 general-admission floor tickets was released this week).
They’re touring behind Nine Inch Nails’ first new material in five years, With Teeth, which Reznor has said he wrote after long battles with depression and alcohol and substance abuse.
With soul-baring songs like All The Love in the World and Every Day Is Exactly The Same, featuring strong melodies and soft musical touches, it’s widely considered the best Nine Inch Nails work since the groundbreaking 1994 opus, Downward Spiral. It’s also the some of the most accessible Nails music ever, containing a string of potential singles.
White first met the blackhaired brooder back in the Twiggy days, that is, when White was the fabulous, outrageous Twiggy Ramirez in Marilyn Manson’s band. Reznor produced a record for Manson, and kept in touch with White as the bassist went on to work with other artists, most notably A Perfect Circle.
After the years Reznor spent struggling with writer’s block, addiction and mood swings, you’d think he would be a far different man today, at 40, than he was then. Not according to White.
“He seems like the same guy since then,” White says, clearly unwilling to analyze the fiercely private Reznor behind his back.
So we talk about the music. What was White’s first reaction to Reznor’s new material?
“I liked it. I thought it was really good,” the bassist says. “It sounded like he was getting back to basics, really. In some ways, it’s more like his earlier stuff.”
White is also comfortable on the subject of the tour. On stage, Reznor has always made sure Nine Inch Nails is a source of face-melting power, and, by all accounts, this configuration surpasses previous levels of ferocity.
During a tour of western Canada last fall, Bartley Kives of the Winnipeg Free Press was startled to see Reznor, once the ultimate goth heartthrob, looking tanned and fit, but said that he hadn’t lost his edge. The Calgary Herald’s Nick Lewis described the band as “jawdroppingly” good.
From his standpoint on stage, White can feel the power, especially since his old A Perfect Circle bandmate, drummer Freese, boarded the bus late last year. As the NIN rhythm section, they’re a well-oiled machine.
“I think it’s really coming together now,” White says. “I wouldn’t say (Trent) is a taskmaster. But being in Nine Inch Nails in general asks a lot of you. It’s a lot of perfection.”
Although White is also a songwriter with his own album in the works, he doesn’t mind being a hired gun. His solo disc could be on hold for another year while he tours with Nine Inch Nails.
And then will we see the return of Twiggy Ramirez? He’s quick to rephrase the question.
“Will I ever work under that name? Possibly,” White says.
“Will I ever look like that again? Probably not.”