Details you've never known about Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine

"Before I did the record, we went on tour with Skinny Puppy. That was the first time I played these songs live. It was a somewhat bad experience."

That quote came from Trent Reznor, discussing his first road shows featuring songs from Pretty Hate Machine and displaying a Debbie Downer attitude uncharacteristic of the normally sunny-side-up Nine Inch Nails frontman. As hard as it might be to imagine, 32 years and an empire of dirt later, the road to NIN's debut album was a difficult one. Sure, there was the initial disappointing tour, and the fact that PHM's songs had to be reworked from the ground up after sour audience reactions, according to a 1990 interview with Keyboard. And yes, after the album started to take off, Reznor et al made the requisite cheesy sellout appearances to promote their work, including counter-intuitive bits on Dance Party USA and MTV's 120 Minutes Christmas Special.

And then there was the really weird stuff, like how the music video for "Down in It" led to a year-long FBI murder investigation.

Nailed it

It was 1989, and Robert Reed had just noticed something funky floating above his farm outside of Burr Oak, Michigan. Much to the relief of any abduction-prone livestock in the area, it turned out to be a Super 8 camera attached to several weather balloons. According to Mental Floss, Reed was nervous — a few nearby farmers had recently been arrested for growing that devil's lettuce that the kids go nuts for — and concerned that his discovery might have been part of some Phileas Fogg security system set up by the nefarious ne'er do wells. Like a good citizen, Reed turned the camera over to the police, who discovered some alarming footage: two men dressed in black leather, standing over a body while a third man ran like the devil. Authorities were perplexed and disturbed. The FBI was called in.

It turned out that they were looking at footage from NIN's "Down in It" video. The crew had rigged the camera to weather balloons in order to get an aerial shot, but the ropes anchoring the setup to the ground had snapped. The dead guy in the footage was Trent Reznor, whom fans of the group will recall is still pretty much alive.

It took over a year before a sharp-eyed art student noticed the similarities between the "Down in It" video and a flyer he'd seen requesting information on an unsolved murder. Law enforcement was presumably let down and hurt.