Nine Inch Nails was formed in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio, in the United States, by singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Trent Reznor, the only official member of the band. Reznor has always had strong control over the band's work, usually with a support band only for concerts.
Like Ministry, Nine Inch Nails has become one of the main icons of American industrial rock. However, if the Ministry had the sympathy of the heavy metal audience, Trent Reznor's band built their career within the alternative rock scene, writing songs with melodic structures, closer to the traditional form of pop songs.
In 1988, the band went on their first tour, opening shows for the Canadian group Skinny Puppy. The following year, the band released their first album, Pretty Hate Machine, which was released on TVT Records. In 1990, NIN went on tour, opening shows for Peter Murphy and The Jesus and Mary Chain. And, in 1991, the band was one of the highlights of the first edition of the Lollapalooza festival.
In 1999, the band released the double album, The Fragile, which debuted at number one on Billboard, selling 228,000 copies in one week. However, it quickly left the American charts.
In 2007, the band released the album Year Zero. Anticipating the release of this album, Nine Inch Nails ran a viral marketing campaign, in which flash drives containing tracks from the album were found in restrooms where the group performed. These thumb drives also had a noisy audio file that, when played through a spectrum analyzer, emitted an audio wave in the form of a phone number. When dialed, the phone number falls on an answering machine, with conspiracy theories.
In 2008, the band released two albums: Ghosts I-IV, an album with 36 instrumental tracks, and The Slip, which initially came out only in digital format. On September 10, 2009, the band held a farewell show in Los Angeles. In 2012, Reznor announced that he was working on new material for a future Nine Inch Nails album, which came out in August 2013, entitled Hesitation Marks. Receiving positive reviews from critics, Bad Witch, the band's ninth studio album arrived in 2018. With jazz elements, Bad Witch was influenced by Blackstar, David Bowie's latest studio album. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, NIN released the albums, Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts, works that continued the instrumental album Ghosts I – IV of 2008.