Ex-Nine Inch Nails Guitarist Aaron North Recounts Musical Slide
In his heyday, guitarist Aaron North (seen at right above) was a force of nature, as his take no prisoners approach was lauded during his run with the Icarus Line and, most notably, during his several year run with Nine Inch Nails. In an incisive Spin interview, North reflects on how a once promising career went south.
Although he claims he’s been drug free for a decade, North takes his share of medication and candidly believes he has the body of a person in their seventies. His seemingly self imposed exile from his closest friends as well as the music industry (he hasn’t publicly played since 2008) is befuddling, considering his gloried run with NIN as well as participation in the formidable music website and former label Buddyhead.
“The reality … ” said guitarist Ben Weinman, whose band Dillinger Escape Plan once toured with the Icarus Line. “… is that Aaron North is a hard person to believe. When he joined Nine Inch Nails, it was the perfect scenario — it was like the good guys won. He never kissed ass to get somewhere. He didn’t drink or do drugs. He was this lone-wolf person who didn’t fit in anywhere but found really amazing creative outlets. But Nine Inch Nails didn’t work out. It made him obnoxious.”
After signing up with NIN in 2005, North claimed he took “crazy pills” to deal with the band’s touring schedule, and frontman Trent Reznor said that North’s unpredictable onstage performance would bleed over to his real life. “He started behaving erratically,” said Reznor. “It got difficult to have him around. I was still somewhat newly sober at the time, and basically just went to my hotel room and closed the door after the shows, but later I learned that there was some stuff going on that maybe explained Aaron’s behavior.”
North eventually left NIN in 2007, and although he has had his share of arguments with friends and colleagues over the years, he only has kind words to say for Reznor. “It was manic depression, manic episodes, and I feel terrible about them and the trouble they were causing,” he added. “That’s why I left the band. You don’t just leave a band like that lightly. I’m still bummed about what happened with Nails. I have nothing bad to say about Trent Reznor. He’s a great guy.”
Depending on one’s own viewpoint, North’s philosophical take on his rise and fall from the music industry can be taken in positive stride or a wistful feeling of sheer loss. “If I die, it’s okay,” said North, who claims he doesn’t want anyone’s pity. “Because I lived. I got to travel the world. I got to play music.”