Nine Inch Nails: Live 1995

Everything on this page is for reference on how this came about. If you feel I missed some information, please let me know.

Nine Inch Nails: Live 1995

Nine Inch Nails Live (1995) Are: Trent Reznor, Robin Finck, Danny Lohner, Chris Vrenna, Charlie Clouser

Director: Simon Maxwell
Executive Producer: Cordelia Plunket
Produced By: Marion Maxwell, Adam Stern, Lawrence Novitch
Director of Photography: Crescenzo Notarile
Editor: Tim Waddell
Colorist: Morgan Rengasamy

Lighting/Set Designer: Roy Bennet
Sound: Sean Beavan

Filmed By: Simon Maxwell, Jonathan Rach and others.

On August 8th, 2013 on the Nine Inch Nails EchoingTheSound message board. A new member by the name of “Norton Canes” created a thread called “What’s This Concert Footage?” and it caused quite a stir at the time. Here is what they posted:

“OK, let me tell you the story.

Back in about 1995 I was working in the library (storeroom, yeah?) of a video production facilities house in Camden, London. We handled a lot of pop and rock music stuff - promos, live concerts, that sort of thing. We had all the footage from Glastonbury turn up when Channel 4 UK had the rights to show it, for instance. Anyway, one day a whole stack of films tins arrived. There were scores of them - close to a hundred, I guess - and they were all marked 'Nine Inch Nails'. Well, my curiosity was piqued, 'cause I was a fan; so when, a few days later, the director turned up in an edit suite to put all this stuff together, I went down to ask him what he'd got.

He told me it was footage from a recent NIN concert, and the reason there was so much of it was that it had been shot by far more cameras than usual, to get as many different angles as possible. There was backstage stuff too, shot on handicams. In short, it all sounded pretty awesome. I paid regular visits to the edit suite as the guy worked on, watching over his shoulder whenever I could.

Eventually, after a few weeks, he'd got the thing finished. The film cans all came back to the library, and he jetted off to LA, for a meeting with Trent, who would give the movie his approval. Except... he didn't. The director came back a couple of weeks later totally crestfallen, telling us that Trent had changed his mind - rather than wanting an epic production shot from all angles, he now wanted the record of the concert to be more intimate. So the completed movie was shelved, and we never saw the director again.

Except the story doesn't end there. A few weeks on again, and who should suddenly turn up in our library but the imposing figure of Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson, founding member of Throbbing Gristle and Coil, and experimental music promo director. He had been recruited by Trent to rescue the movie, by re-cutting much of the footage. So that's what he did. And shortly afterwards I left the company, so I guess most of you have a better idea of what happened to Sleazy's version of the concert than I do. I presume it found favour and was released in its truncated form, but I haven't checked the NIN filmography.

But... wait. If you've been following me, I know what you're thinking. Doesn't that mean that the extended version of this concert footage is still hanging around? The one that the original director took to Trent Reznor? The one with all the angles? Someone must have the master tape, yeah? Well, I couldn't say exactly where the master tape is now - last time I saw it, it was sitting on the 'N' shelf of the video facilities house library. But I know where a VHS copy of master tape is. It's on my desk, right here. I had one of the tape engineers make it for me, when I found out it wasn't going to be released. Let me look at the track listing...

Mr. Self Destruct
March Of The Pigs
Gave Up
Happiness In Slavery
The Downward Spiral
The Only Time
Down In It
Head Like A Hole
Dead Souls
I Do Not Want This
Something I Can Never Have

I wish I could remember the name of that first director. Ginger hair (Simon Maxwell come to find out), is all I can recall. The name totally escapes me. It was a long time ago! I thought it was such a shame he got the rebuke from Trent, after all that hard work.

CAVEAT: All the above is true. But for all I know, a hundred other copies, and copies of copies, were made of that master tape, and there are a million versions of it sitting on people's hard drives. Hell, I haven't even checked YouTube. But for a while, mine was unique.”

It came out that is was indeed Simon Maxwell that was the one who directed this film. He also is credited on directing the videos for Hurt, Eraser and Wish on Closure (thanks to leviathant/NINWiki). The footage from these videos had footage from Dallas, Texas and Omaha, Nebraska in February 1995. According to an old NIN FAQ dating back to the early 90’s. Sean Beavan said that an additional show was recorded, 2/14/1995 St. Louis, with the intent of releasing a live album as a companion to the concert movie. Come to find out that Norton did NOT have a VHS player to transfer/play the tape and said it was worth exploring. Many wanted to know what happened to the stock footage. Well, the place that had this footage has been closed/demolished since. So for all we know this is the only known full/in-tact iteration of this footage.

This Simon Maxwell footage has been sought out by long time NIN fans who knew about this potential “release” years ago. I posted about this on Instagram and Jonathan Rach confirmed that he filmed some of these shows. On accounts of a few NIN fans, there have been a number of reasons read why this didn’t come to fruition… Trent wasn’t satisfied with the film, it looked too professional. An example was it looked too much like a “Bon Jovi HBO special.” Another reason was that the show had to be lit differently in order to effective capture it on film. The alternative lighting scheme wasn’t representative of how other dates on the tour looked. Some questioned that if this was to be shelved, why did Trent leave the time-stamped clip of Mr. Self Destruct leak out on the Closure DVD bonus features?

It’s not until August 16th, 2013 that we get a second message from Norton. He said he would head in to town to get the VHS tape digitized! Great! Welp… It didn’t happen. The thread went dark. People were not hopeful about ever seeing this footage.

On June 16th, 2014. David Farrier, journalist and huge NIN fan found out Simon Maxwell was a Kiwi and finally got an interview with him after lots of persistence. The interview was on Pantograph Punch and David brings up this thread to Simon…

Q: So how did the meeting with Trent come up? Because you did the video for ‘Hurt’, and also some other live videos from that tour – ‘Eraser’ and ‘Wish’.

Simon: I suppose it was just evolution. I got more involved in directing, and less and less in editing. And people kept saying to me, “There’s more money in the States. Go to the States and get representation.”

And so I tapped all my contacts, and went to LA with a portfolio and contact numbers, and did what everyone else does, which is meet people and meet people, until this production company called The Underground picked me up. They were looking for someone with that underground, gritty, ‘90s grunge thing, which is what my look was.

Trent was looking for someone to do some stuff with him, and they put my name forward. I never met him at first - I talked to him on the phone a lot. He was doing the soundtrack for Natural Born Killers when I started working for him. So he was based down in New Orleans, and I was in London. We talked a lot on the phone and he gave me some ideas of what he was thinking of, and it was just luck in a way. Creatively we were looking at the same thing.

Q: So what was your role? Because it’s essentially a very simple video - it’s mostly a big wide of the performance. Did you have anything to do with the visuals that were actually being displayed?

Simon: Yes.

Q: So it was all you! Because that stuff’s iconic!

Simon: It just evolved. We had a few goes trying to make the video. At that time he didn’t - I suppose he didn’t like the look of himself, or something about his appearance. He was going through a phase where he didn’t like the way he looked. So, from the video point of view, we had a go: We shot a video in New York at Silvercup Studios. And he didn’t like it.

Q: So it was a band performance?

Simon: Well, it was a solo performance, really. We shot one day, we looked at the rushes, and we decided it wasn’t the right route. So we thought we’d use the elements from the live performance and all of the screen projection stuff, and see what we could make out of that.

So we re-shot it. I shot the whole tour, the tour across the States. I had masses of footage. We shot it in New York, and all over the place. Places I can’t even remember. We had miles and miles of 35mm footage of him performing and all sorts of things. And then we went back to Madison Square garden and shot it all again.

Q: OK. I have to show you this thing. I did my research. I have been on Nine Inch Nails forums since the late 90s, and this great post popped up on a forum about three years ago. Just read it for your own curiosity, really. --- (This is when David shares the EchoingTheSound post to Simon that is posted above)

So… time to find out, I guess, about the dumped video for 'Hurt'.
[Simon reads the post]

Q: That’s you?

Simon: Yeah, that’s interesting.

Q: So that person came into the forum, dropped that bombshell, created a huge uproar, then left. And it went dead. So when I found out about you, I went, “Fuck, that’s probably Simon!”

Simon: Yeah. I shot all this footage. This is a really funny story, actually. We shot all this footage, and put it all together, and sent it over to Trent, and.... I don’t know what was going on. But anyway… he didn’t like some of it. For various reasons. I have no idea why. So we cut three or four of the songs, and they were okay, and then… we didn’t hear from him anymore.

Q: So to clarify, you were cutting songs from the tour, not from that studio shoot in New York you did?

Simon: From the live tour. We were going to do a whole live thing. So we shot all across the States. And we recut it several times, and then there was – I’m not sure if there was a falling out between management – with him and Interscope? There was some politics going on in the background. And so, yeah, that was probably the last time I saw him.

Q: So he said “no” to that stuff you’d shot with a million cameras.

Simon: Well, it was the editing side of it. Because it was such a huge thing, we had three or four editors working on it just to get through it all. So from memory, there were three or four songs that worked really well, but some of the others.... I dunno. So from there, you all decided to cut it back and make it much simpler, and we have the ‘Hurt’ video we know today?

Well that was done earlier. That was done about six or eight months earlier. Then Trent wanted a documentary-style thing of the tour. So we shot loads for footage of the tour. We had 35mm cameras on the main performance, and then Super 8s on the audience. There was reams and reams of footage.

And from what I remember, someone stole all the Super 8 footage! It just disappeared. It was shot all over the country in the States, then it was shipped to LA and then it was shipped back to England. When we came to put it all together, a lot of the Super 8 footage had disappeared. I knew we had it – I had seen the rolls of film – but when we came to put it together – you know, we had these rolls sitting next to the telecine machine - I am going, “Where the fuck is all the Super 8?” Because that was the idea, capturing the essence of the whole gig on Super 8, and intercutting it with the high production, 35mm stuff. But – it disappeared!

David: How weird.

Simon: That kind of put a spanner in the works, and we were really short on that footage. It’s not something you can go back and repeat again. So yeah, that did cause a problem. And we didn’t reshoot anything as the tour had finished.

So the ‘Hurt’ video was done and dusted before then, and that was quite a straight-forward process. And it evolved a little bit, but effectively that never changed.

David: Well that video turned out great, at least.

Simon: Yeah I was quite happy with it. It was quite an interesting creative path, because it was quite different from how I imagined it was going to be when we started.

It was a mixture of footage I shot, and stock footage. A lot of the abstract stuff I shot. It worked well. It took on a life of its own after it had been projected on this operatic gauze, semi-translucent. As the light changed on the screen, it became translucent and opaque so that worked out really well.

Q: There is that really iconic moment where the snake head pops up, and the crowd just goes crazy. Why did the crowd go crazy there - were they used to that shot happening in the tour and reacting to that, or was it just the image itself?

Simon: It was just that image. It was projected on a huge screen, a 50-foot screen, and after a few beers, it gets quite disturbing, I imagine, in an arena. And I chose it deliberately because it is quite frightening, and has that pose to it, the way they look before they strike, they kind of fix you in their stare, and wave back and forth before going in for the kill.

My interpretation of it was like an homage to death. That was the whole point of it. So rather than be overtly blatant and make it from a human perspective, I chose that nature can be more cruel than we can, even though humans can be quite cruel to each other. And so that’s why there were a lot of nature shots: Dead and dying animals, animals eating animals, and that sort of thing.

Q: This concept of using stock footage in a way it wasn’t intended - where did that come from? Was that you?

Simon: It was me. I remember I struggled with the whole concept for ages and ages. I remember Trent’s management would phone up going, “How’s it going?” You know, the usual management question:

“How’s it going?”

“It’s going well.”

“Can we see anything?”

“Oh, I’ll have something for you soon.”

And I remember the whole timescale was moving towards that brick wall we have as creators, and I remember one night not being able to sleep, as I hadn’t come up with an idea, and it had to be delivered next week. And I suddenly had this thought: “I know exactly what it is - an homage to death!”

So I got up at two in the morning and went down to the edit room and downloaded some stills – this was in the old days of the Internet – of this nature stuff, and dead bodies, and all this kind of shit – and just sat there for a few hours editing it together until the sun came up, and showed it to a few people, and they went, “That’s the one. That’s what you need to do. That’s fucking brilliant!” and so we had, I dunno, five days to pull it off, to get it all done.

It came out of nowhere.

Q: I mean that’s where all the best ideas come from, right?

Simon: I think they come at 3am when you’re desperate. I think so. Did with that one, anyway.

Q: What was the experience like touring with Nine Inch Nails during 1995? That was a crazy tour - Trent Reznor had this giant record and fan-base on his hands thanks to The Downward Spiral. It must have been a madhouse!

Simon: Well, being on the road in America in the 90s was, you know, quite an amazing experience. The first thing that was overwhelming was the number of fans he had in the States. I think we toured mainly university towns, and many arenas - so up to probably 4000?

And to a lot of these students, he was a god. I remember we did this gig in an ice-skating rink that had been converted over. We had a track set up in the middle of the mosh pit, and the fans just went wild. They trashed it. They trashed everything. They trashed a 35mm Panavision camera, everything. There were hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gear that just got trashed.

Because on that particular tour, because of the way it worked and because they were right in the middle of the audience, we used Panavision cameras with the larger magazines, I think 20-minute run-times on them, and they just went wild and trashed it all. They ripped all the gear off the tracks.

Q: Gosh. I mean, the band’s big thing back then was trashing their own gear on stage, so in a way they’d be almost inciting it. Trent’s suddenly smashing his keyboard, his guitars, so the crowd gets stuck in as well...

Simon: Yeah, they got stuck into all the camera gear.

David: Well it was called The Self Destruct tour…

Simon: It lived up to its name! It was always full on. There was always an after-gig party of some description that took place afterwards.

Q: That tour is when Trent was at the height of drugs and excess. Was that mad?

Simon: Yeah. The honest truth is, they’re just like normal people. They weren’t into the whole pretentious rock ‘n’ roll excessive thing that the press claim they were. In fact, none of the people I’ve been in contact with have been like that. Once you get away from the outside circus, it all becomes quite normal. Coming up with ideas, thinking about this and that, and talking about this and that.

Q: I feel in a way that’s why someone like Lorde is so successful and great in that way. She’s the driving force. Like Trent. Or Michael Jackson. They know what they want.

Simon: They’re focused. They’re lucky they have that vision. They can see a creative path for themselves. And they bring people in to help them realise that.

Let’s now fast forward. 9 years after the initial ETS post to April 6th, 2022. Norton pops back up with “Sorry, it’s been awhile..” and has the VHS ripped and posted to YouTube!

Hi people

First of all, big apologies again for waiting nine years before making good on this. Life stuff happened, I'm afraid, and it just got forgotten.

Secondly, though, great to see you all buzzing off it now it's finally out there.

Except it isn't, of course, following a copyright takedown from Kobalt Music Publishing. Obviously not sure exactly why they've done it but I'll send them a polite retraction request, see what they say and go from there.

In the meantime I've still got the VHS rip file which I really want to upload to but I'm just going to talk to someone in the know first about any further potential copyright pitfalls. Hopefully it will be there soon (sooner than nine years, anyway!)

I guess it would also be good to get it over to The NIN Live Archives?
Last edited by Norton Canes; 04-07-2022 at 09:39 AM.

Norton and the NIN Live Archive exchanged messages about the VHS rip that they had in their possession. The video file that was given to Norton from a tape conversion company was compressed. It was not the raw transfer of the video. Also, when they were attempting to transfer it. The beginning of the tape snapped. They had to rehouse the film in another VHS enclosure. Norton was kind enough to send it to the NIN Live Archive in order to preserve a proper transfer of it.

The transfer lineage of the VHS is as followed:

PAL-VHS > Panasonic FS200 VCR (S-VHS + TBC On) > S-Video/RCA Out/In > TBC-1000 > S-Video/RCA Out/In > Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle Thunderbolt (Color adjusted and audio input increased +4db) > Thunderbolt In > 2014 Mac Mini > Final Cut Pro > .MOV (PAL ProRes 422)

- Color adjustments confirmed with Kramer 810 Color Bar Generator

This VHS was archived and preserved. Nothing more. It is too big of a legal hot potato to host here on the archive. Being footage shot by Interscope. Although, who knows whatever came of all the master footage shot on the different media. If it is even around anymore. It seems that from talking with Norton, there are other VHS copies of this out there. The YouTube rip is out there for people to watch and enjoy. This has been sent off to NIN management and Kraw. I hope that one day Trent will do something with the footage (if he legally can too). I just want to share the story in which all of this transpired.

Fan made VHS case for the Live 1995 Performance