JEORDIE WHITE | BASE TENDENCIES
Jeordie White understands why Nine Inch Nails often is seen as a one-man band, even though he is one of its members. The former Marilyn Manson member, who has been described as a "bassist with a guitarist's attitude," knows that for many fans, NIN is all about Trent Reznor.
And that's how it should be, he says. "Nine Inch Nails records are Trent. That's what he does and then we turn it into what it is on the road," says White, who once was produced by Reznor when White was in Manson.
"When it is on the road, Nine Inch Nails is a band performing these songs. But [the essence] of NIN is Trent. That's pretty obvious and I have no problems with that."
The songwriter-musician has a long artistic relationship with Reznor. He's a good guy to work with, says White. "He's more demanding than some band leaders, but not for any bad reasons. He's looking to put on the best show and that just makes you more demanding of yourself in general. You also want to put on the best show you can," the Florida native explains.
He admires Reznor's patience, devotion and musicianship. He senses that the mystique that has built up around NIN has to do in part with Reznor's "connection with his lyrics. And it's what he conveys in a song, and the attitude and aggression of the band. It's a release of some sort, providing a sense of belonging to something."
He believes the sonic qualities just stand out in NIN. "If you listen to a song a million times, it just sounds different each time. And Trent has a sense of melody."
White sees NIN as the most challenging band in which he has ever been a member. "For sure," he says. "You have to be on top of your game. There's no room for error onstage. We all demand a lot of each other." He says some shows are more chaotic and perfection is not the goal. He likes to be challenged. "It relieves boredom and gives you something to focus on," he explains.
Music, for him, is "an escape and release," he says. That's also what makes playing live so much fun. "It's the release and connection with the audience. To communicate with a room full of people and everyone in the room is having the same feeling is great," he adds.
Shows that feel routine to him do not happen very often. "For the most part, everything seems really natural and unique in its own way on stage," White says.
Out in the audience there's a lot of excitement to be found. That sense of belonging of which he has spoken plays a major role. "They identify with what Trent has to say," he says. "Instead of being a fad or a trend, it's more of an emotional connection. I think that's why people stuck with the band when Trent kind of disappeared [from 2003 - 2005]."
The music has evolved through the years, White says. "I?ve seen it go into way more experimental and more pop oriented."
Nine Inch Nails is credited with being the most popular industrial group ever and largely responsible for bringing the music to a mass audience. Reznor, unlike other industrial bands, writes melodic, traditionally structured songs, emphasizing lyrics.
White says he always felt like an insider with NIN. "I got to work with Trent and tour in the early 1990s," he says.
White took up guitar at 13, influenced by 1980s icons Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Van Halen and Iron Maiden. He joined his first band at 15, and eventually became a member of the popular South Florida band Amboog-A-Lard. The group opened for such acts as Anthrax, Exodus, the Ramones, Savatage and Saigon Kick.
In 1992, Amboog-A-Lard captured awards in five categories at the First Annual South Florida Slammie Awards, with White winning best rhythm guitarist.
It was with the band's 1993 release, A New Hope, that his talents as a songwriter became evident, writing the music for the title track and three other songs. During this period he met Brian Warner, frontman of local rivals Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. Warner and White became friends, collaborating on several side projects until the departure of Manson bassist Gidget Gein in 2003.
That's when White became a member of Manson's band. He contributed to the group's 1995 EP, Smells Like Children. On the 1996 multi-Platinum Antichrist Superstar he emerged as an integral part of the creative process of the Manson band. He's heard on bass, lead and rhythm guitar. "Art makes me feel alive. Creating and playing music makes me feel alive," White says.
He also played a major role on 1998's glam-influenced and acclaimed Mechanical Animals CD. He drew from the early inspiration of David Bowie, the Stooges and Queen to achieve the sound he and Manson were looking for. That resulted in Holy Wood (In the shadows of the Valley of Death). On the track "Lamb of God," for which he wrote the music, White played some lead guitar, keyboards and drum loops.
In 2002, White left Manson for more musical exploration. On one project, he collaborated with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme, and a varied lineup of other musicians on Homme's Desert Sessions series.
A chance encounter with A Perfect Circle drummer Josh Freese led to White becoming bassist in the group in early 2003. He helped fine-tune the tracks for the group's Thirteenth Step CD, playing bass on most of them. Then it was off on an extensive world tour. White also has contributed to multiple other projects, including production work and original soundtracks, including a project with Chris Goss of Masters of Reality. It was the time spent with Reznor, though, that eventually brought them back in touch again.
Now White has the opportunity to contribute to Nine Inch Nails. "As long as I am playing well and can express myself, I'm happy," he says. "If I mess up onstage, I take it to heart. I get a little hard on myself. I take it a little too personally."
He thinks young bands can learn from NIN's example. "They can learn about sticking around, sticking to your guns and challenging yourself to trying new experiences," he says.