Born on May 17, 1965, Micheal Trent Reznor is the main creative force behind Nine Inch Nails.
Reznor began playing the piano at the age of five and showed an early aptitude for music. Said his grandfather Bill Clark in a 1995 interview, "Music was his life, from the time he was a wee boy. He was so gifted." His former piano teacher Rita Beglin said Reznor "always reminded me of Harry Connick, Jr" when he played. Reznor was sufficiently talented on the piano that he could have had a career as a professional pianist.
At the Mercer Area Junior and Senior High Schools, Reznor learned to play the saxophone and tuba. He was a member of both the jazz and marching bands. Former Mercer High School band director Hendley Hoge remembered Reznor as "very upbeat and friendly." Reznor also became involved in theater while in high school. He was voted "Best in Drama" by classmates for his roles as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar and Professor Harold Hill in the Music Man.
Reznor graduated from high school in 1983 and enrolled at Allegheny College. He studied computer engineering and music and joined a local band named Option 30. Option 30 began playing three shows per week. After a year in college, Reznor decided to drop out to pursue his career in music fulltime.
With his high school friend Chris Vrenna, Reznor moved to Cleveland, Ohio. In 1985, he joined a band named The Innocent as a keyboardist. They released one album, Livin' in the Street, but Reznor quit after just three months.
Reznor got a job at Right Track Studio (now known as Midtown Recording) as a handyman. Studio owner Bart Koster commented on Reznor, "He is so focused in everything he does. When that guy waxed the floor, it looked great." Koster allowed Reznor to use the studio during off hours, which he used to record demos for songs that ended up on Nine Inch Nails' first album, Pretty Hate Machine.
Reznor was the credited producer for Marilyn Manson's albums Portrait of an American Family (1994), Smells Like Children (1995), and Antichrist Superstar (1996), as well as the soundtrack for the films Natural Born Killers and Lost Highway.
Reznor likes video games, most notably Doom by id Software, which he has said he played in the Nine Inch Nails tour bus after doing shows. He also created the soundtrack for id Software's hit Quake. (As a side-note, the NIN logo also appears on the nailgun ammo boxes in Quake and prior to this, embedded in the floor of a secret room in Ultimate Doom). He also bears a striking resemblance to Harry Potter character Professor Snape, due to Alan Rickman's portrayal of the role. c During the five years between his albums The Downward Spiral (1994) and The Fragile (1999), Trent Reznor struggled with depression, writer's block, and the death of his grandmother. He has been reported to be suffering from bipolar disorder. It has also been revealed by Reznor that he had been suffering from alcohol addiction during the Fragile era. It was reported that Reznor had considered committing suicide during this period. In a 1999 interview for Rolling Stone magazine, he said that "It just took me time to sit down and change my head and my life around. I had to slap myself in the face: 'If you want to kill yourself, do it, save everybody the fucking hassle. Or get your shit together.'"
Reznor is in possession of John Lennon's mellotron, which he has used on Broken, The Fragile, and Marilyn Manson's second album, Antichrist Superstar. He also got in a feud with Chris Cornell by saying his album Scream! sucked.
In his own words:
"Nine Inch Nails was an experiment with me in discipline. I realized when I was 23 that I had never really tried anything. Schoolwork came easy to me. I learned to play piano effortlessly. I was coasting. I realized that I was afraid to really, really try something, 100 percent, because I had never reached true failure."