Mr. Self Destruct

Mr. Self Destruct
For the Soft Cell song of the same name see This Last Night in Sodom.
"Mr. Self Destruct"
Song by Nine Inch Nails from the album The Downward Spiral
Released March 8, 1994
Recorded 10050 Cielo Drive (Le Pig), Beverly Hills, California
Genre Industrial metal
Length 4:30
Label Interscope, Nothing, TVT
Writer Trent Reznor
Producer Trent Reznor, Flood
The Downward Spiral track listing
"Mr. Self Destruct"

"Mr. Self Destruct" is a song by American industrial rock act Nine Inch Nails. Written by frontman Trent Reznor, co-produced by Flood and recorded at Le Pig in 1993, it is the opening track off The Downward Spiral (1994), and predicts the album's ugly aesthetic and mostly angry tone. The song also gives a lyrical background of the album's protagonist.

Receiving positive feedback from music critics, its title became used as the official name for a tour by the act. "Mr. Self Destruct" has been remixed multiple times, with five of them appearing in its accompanying remix album, Further Down the Spiral (1995)), and in 1996 Reznor granted film director David Fincher (whom he later collaborated with along with Atticus Ross to create soundtracks to two of his films) the permission to use a remix of the song in a Levi's television advertisement.


Writing and recording

The first ideas for the song were conceived after the act's role in the Lollapalooza 1991 festival.[1] Production began after the completion of Broken (1992), when Reznor wrote a short poem. This was transformed into a prototype of "Mr. Self Destruct", along with many other songs.[2] Flood was the co-producer of the song, as with the remainder of the then-upcoming album from Reznor's project.[3]

Reznor was considering Adrian Belew (who played in several bands, including King Crimson and the live band for David Bowie) exhibited to Le Pig, so Flood made a welcoming phone call and invited him to the house surrounding the studio (10050 Cielo Drive).[4] Upon entering Le Pig he asked, "Hi, what do you want me to do?". The production team communicated back to Belew, who spoke about what tuning the song was played at. Reznor responded, "Um, I'm not sure. Probably E. See what happens. Don't worry about it. Here's the tape, [and] do whatever you want. Go!". Belew eventually recorded what became the odd ending of the song.[5][6]

Belew said of Reznor: "Trent [Reznor] has an astounding command of technology, old and new; he's such an intriguing person to work with, but that may have actually helped in some way. The music just lent itself to so many ideas that are in my realm."[7] He went on to collaborate on two more Nine Inch Nails records, follow-up The Fragile (1999) and the instrumental, independently released Ghosts I–IV (2008).[8]

Music and lyrics

Lyrics to the song are a background to the protagonist of The Downward Spiral;[9][10] claiming himself to be "the voice inside your head,"[11] he is interested in sexuality, often avoids letting people stop criticizing him, and is a religious person.[11][12] He appears to be highly atrocious and lousy at certain points (for example the character spectalates that he's a "bullet in the gun"), though he would make appearances at the ending of a random dream.[11][13]

Almost all of the lyrics launch with the word "I," while virtually all lines of the verses (with the ruling out of the powerful "and I control you" line, introduced by the word "and") begin with "I am the."[11]

"Mr. Self Destruct" predicts the album's ugly aesthetic and mostly angry tone;[14] the opening sounds of the song are a portion from the George Lucas-directed THX 1138 in which a man is being beaten by a prison guard while flanked inside a jail.[15] It then immediately cuts out to aggressive verses and choruses[16] . These parts are set in the tempo of 200 BPM (like "Big Man with a Gun").[17] Reznor's casual vocal delivery contrasting with the noisy cacophony around it.[18]

The only section of the song to feature bass is the bridge, the opposite of the rest of the song.[6] This portion has Reznor singing in a quiet voice. The remaining quarters follow, ending with manipulated and looped guitar noises made by Belew, who was invited by Reznor to the production.[19] Like "March of the Pigs", "A Warm Place" and "Reptile", the song is played in the Drop D tuning.[17][18][20]

Release and reception

Sputnik Music said about the song in a review of The Downward Spiral, declaring that "'Mr. Self Destruct''s cryptic declarations of the many addictions we seem to openly enjoy are jarringly poetic, and its blistering chainsaw guitars and machine gun drum loops are an outstanding example of how aggressive yet tuneful industrial music can be."[13] Rolling Stone was also positive towards "Mr. Self Destruct", saying that the song "the soft passages are soft chiefly in the sense of not being loud, as if there were a really great party down the street that you were wimping out on, pumped guitars and cranking boom-thwack drum machines and what not. But almost as soon as you rush to your pre-amp and squeeze in more juice, the loud comes back in, but so unimaginably loud this time that you think your speaker coils might melt, and old man Reilly in the next apartment has already started to bang his broomstick on the wall."[16] "Mr. Self Destruct" was remixed five times in Further Down the Spiral (1995), with one of them having the second half created by Aphex Twin.

Media usage

In 1996, a remix of "Mr. Self Destruct" ("The Art of Self Destruction, Part 2") was used with permission from Reznor in a Levi's television advertisement, which was directed by David Fincher (note-worthy at the time of the advertisement's release date for directing his breakthrough movie Se7en (1995)).[21] Fincher later directed the music video for "Only" in June 2005, and along with Atticus Ross, Reznor later collaborated with him for the soundtracks to the films The Social Network (2010) (which won many awards) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).[22][23][24][25][26] In 2004, "Mr. Self Destruct" was featured in Man on Fire (2004), a film Reznor was involved with.[27]


  1. ^ Huxley (1997), p. 95
  2. ^ Huxley (1997), p. 100
  3. ^ Making Records: Where Manson Murdered Helter Shelter. Entertainment Weekly. 1994-03-18.,,301460,00.html. Retrieved 2011-06-20 
  4. ^ Huxley (1997), p. 106
  5. ^ Steve Taylor (2004). The A to X of Alternative Music. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 165. ISBN 0826482171. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  6. ^ a b Nine Inch Nails. Musician. March 1994. Retrieved 2011-06-20 
  7. ^ Adrian Belew & Trent Reznor: Nine Inch Nails Meets The Lone Rhino. Guitar Player (April 1994). Retrieved 2011-06-20.
  8. ^ Smith, Justin M. (2008-11-10). "Adrian Belew: Power Trios and Crimson Heads". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  9. ^ Huxley (1997), p. 112
  10. ^ Mitchum, Robert. Review: The Downward Spiral. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2011-06-20.
  11. ^ a b c d The Downward Spiral (Interscope Records/nothing/TVT, March 8, 1994) booklet; "Mr. Self Destruct" lyrics.
  12. ^ Limmer, Seth. Review: The Downward Spiral. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-08-29.
  13. ^ a b Med57. Review: The Downward Spiral. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on 2011-06-20.
  14. ^ Sinclair, Tom. Review: The Downward Spiral. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2011-06-20.
  15. ^ "Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral". Discogs. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  16. ^ a b Gold, Jonathan. Review: The Downward Spiral. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2011-06-20.
  17. ^ a b Vienet, Rene. Review: The Downward Spiral. Blender. Retrieved on 2011-06-20.
  18. ^ a b Huey, Steve. Review: The Downward Spiral. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2011-06-20.
  19. ^ Huxley (1997), p. 107
  20. ^ Gundersen, Edna. "Review: The Downward Spiral". USA Today: 06.D. April 20, 1994. Archived from the original on 2011-06-20.
  21. ^ Nine Inch Nails Song In Levi's Commercial (transcirpt). CDNow All Start Music News (September 1996). Retrieved 2011-06-20.
  22. ^ Fowler, Aaron (2010–09–17). "Trent Reznor releases free 5-song sampler EP". Alternative Press. Retrieved 2010–09–17. 
  23. ^ Graham, Bill (2010–09–17). "Trent Reznor Releases Five Songs from The Social Network For Free; Full Tracklist Revealed". Retrieved 2010–09–17. 
  24. ^ "68th Annual Golden Globe Awards Nominations". 2011–01–16. Retrieved 2011–03–22. 
  25. ^ "Oscar - The Official Website for the 83rd Academy Awards - Winners and Nominees". 2011–02–27. Retrieved 2011–03–22. 
  26. ^ "Trent Reznor to Score 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'". Retrieved 2011-02-24. 
  27. ^ Man on Fire closing credits


External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • self-destruct — /self di strukt /, v.i. 1. to destroy itself or oneself: The missile is built so that a malfunction will cause it to self destruct. 2. to cause itself or oneself to reach a state of collapse, dysfunction, confusion, or the like: The committee is… …   Universalium

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  • self-destruct — ☆ self destruct [self′di strukt′ ] vi. 1. to destroy itself automatically [a missile designed to self destruct] 2. to greatly harm oneself or itself, specif. as the result of inherent or fundamental flaws …   English World dictionary

  • self-destruct — self′ destruct′ v. i. 1) cvb to destroy itself or oneself 2) cvb causing something to self destruct • Etymology: 1965–70, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • self-destruct — self destructs, self destructing, self destructed VERB If someone self destructs, they do something that seriously damages their chances of success. They re going to be famous, but unless something happens, they re going to self destruct... He… …   English dictionary

  • self-destruct — self de|struct [ˌself dıˈstrʌkt] v if something such as a bomb self destructs, it destroys itself, usually by exploding >self destruct[i] adj …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • self-destruct — ► VERB ▪ explode or disintegrate automatically, having been preset to do so …   English terms dictionary

  • Self-destruct — A self destruct is a mechanism which causes a device to destroy itself under a predefined set of circumstances. Self destruct mechanisms are sometimes found in high security data storage devices, where it is important for the data to be destroyed …   Wikipedia

  • Self Destruct Tour — Infobox concert tour concert tour name = Self Destruct Tour image caption= artist = Nine Inch Nails location = locations = North America Europe type = album= The Downward Spiral start date = 19 April 1994 end date = 13 August 1994 number of legs …   Wikipedia

  • self-destruct — UK [ˌself dɪˈstrʌkt] / US verb [intransitive] Word forms self destruct : present tense I/you/we/they self destruct 1) if something self destructs, it destroys itself, especially by exploding 2) informal to do something to harm yourself or to make …   English dictionary

  • self-destruct — verb (I) if something such as a bomb self destructs, it destroys itself, usually by exploding self destruct adjective: a self destruct mechanism …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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