Last night I dreamt I was the emergency keyboardist for Nine Inch Nails during their Self-Destruct tour in 1994 despite the concert happening anachronistically in the current day. Touring keyboardist James Woolley had just quit, and for some reason Trent Reznor had heard of me and asked me to learn his part quickly for that night’s show.
Trent gave me the sheet music, and I spent time learning the part in a public park. I have the album playing in my ear while I’m figuring out the parts on keyboard, figuring out the sounds I need and whatever else I need to program. I was having a tough time with a little stretch of “Mr. Self Destruct” when Trent comes over and I had completely fucked up the sight reading of the part. I was really embarrassed because I do pride myself on sight reading (aka playing a piece just based on reading the music upon first glance.) I tell Trent that it’s a good thing I have listened to the album tons of time so it’s easier for me to pick up on the more subtle parts.
I was dressed in my stage clothes as some cousins and Hulu co-workers kept dropping by and interrupting. At one point instead of practicing on my keyboard I was using Danny Lohner’s by mistake. It was frustrating me to no end, but I had the confidence in my musical talents that I could pull it off.
The time to go on stage came real quickly, and Trent coached me up saying that I could handle this. “Pinion” was playing as we were going on stage and it hit me where I was almost paralyzed behind my keyboard: I only got the music for The Downward Spiral and not for anything else! The first sounds of “Terrible Lie” started playing, and I just said fuck it. I turned my master volume low and just fucking faked it smashing my hand onto the keys and writing away like mad. I felt really bad that I didn’t know my part and that I was letting Trent down in that respect, but at least I would make up for it with some theatricality.
Eventually it was time for “Piggy” and I was reassured that at least I had practiced this song. Despite getting the sheet music up on the music stand it would not stay in place, and I was completely messing up despite the simplicity of the song. Trent keep looking back at me giving me a look of approval which I kept thinking was his nice way of trying to give me confidence. But I knew I was making a mess. I did see this as an audition to maybe going on tour with NIN, but seeing the mess I was making of it, I knew this was going to be one and done.
I don’t remember the rest of the dream, but the parts of it I do remember were quite vivid. It leaves me wonder one thing:
WHO WANTS TO START A NINE INCH NAILS COVER BAND?