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    Head Like A Hole - John Fryer TVT Sampler Mix



    The Nine Inch Nails - Head Like A Hole (John Fryer Mix)

    Also known as 'Head Like A Hole (NMS 10 Sampler version)', this mix of 'Head Like A Hole' was exclusive to a TVT Records cassette sampler released for the 1989 New Music Seminar NMS 10 (credited as "The Nine Inch Nails"). This longer version is mixed by John Fryer before the release of Pretty Hate Machine (album version is mixed by Keith LeBlanc instead).

    It is an early, pre-album release mix and features several differences: the main snare sound is different, the breakdown after the second chorus is longer and has a more prominent synth percussion.

    DM me if you like.
    Last edited by shagg_187; 04-04-2024 at 02:32 PM.

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    I really like that mix! But without any further research Iím immediately suspicious of its origin story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shagg_187 View Post
    the breakdown after the second chorus is longer and has a more prominent synth percussion.
    There's a melody from That's What I Get in there too

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    https://www.discogs.com/release/9407...NMS-10-Sampler

    The cassette's discogs entry does say mixed by John Fryer, while the album version liner notes say mixed by Keith Leblanc.
    Last edited by Pyract; 04-02-2024 at 01:09 PM.

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    The different breakdown is interesting. The chorus is a lot more synth/bass heavy too. Very cool to hear this this is probably the closest we’ll get to a HLAH demo/rough mix.

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    I remember seeing this version once on Much Music decades ago and then never again. It drove me crazy for years and years not knowing what this version was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfte View Post
    I remember seeing this version once on Much Music decades ago and then never again. It drove me crazy for years and years not knowing what this version was.
    The video he used is misleading. There are two versions of the Head Like A Hole video, and neither uses this early John Fryer mix. The regular video (the one on Closure) uses the Clay mix, and the extended version uses the Copper mix.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trollmanen View Post
    The video he used is misleading. There are two versions of the Head Like A Hole video, and neither uses this early John Fryer mix. The regular video (the one on Closure) uses the Clay mix, and the extended version uses the Copper mix.
    Haha yes, I edited the video using Copper mix as it was longer and fits the song perfectly with very little editing (both have the drum break in the middle as well!)

    I'm glad everyone is enjoying it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfte View Post
    I remember seeing this version once on Much Music decades ago and then never again. It drove me crazy for years and years not knowing what this version was.
    This is probably what you're thinking of


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    Quote Originally Posted by mfte View Post
    I remember seeing this version once on Much Music decades ago and then never again. It drove me crazy for years and years not knowing what this version was.
    I do remember having the same experience first seeing the Copper mix on TV, which some people above have shared and clarified. I believe it showed up on one of those promo only music pool DVDs at some point, which is probably the highest quality digital option for it. I think I had the VOB file of it. Might still, if it wasnít on the hard drive that bit it last year. Fingers crossed.

    More on topic, this mix is a fun listen. Wild to me that demos of things otherwise unreleased like the Purest Feeling bootlegs have been widely for years, but this, while officially released, took this long to pin down.

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    Using the extended music video cut to go with this mix was a cool choice. I posted about this mix last year in the Random NIN Questions thread in response to someone else asking about it, but I never tried to upload it or anything. That's where the info that went up on NIN Wiki came from. I'm still shocked this was out there for so long and no one realized it was a different mix until recently.

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    I'm skeptical as to whether the John Fryer credit in the liner notes is accurate. He was only involved for the 3 week session in London in early 1989, and HLAH was the last song added to the album, IIRC.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBang View Post
    I'm skeptical as to whether the John Fryer credit in the liner notes is accurate. He was only involved for the 3 week session in London in early 1989, and HLAH was the last song added to the album, IIRC.
    I'm curious, why are you skeptical? The liner notes came from TVT, seems odd that the credits coming from them would be wrong. Also, this NMS10 Tape came out in July 1989, so that would still line up with what you're saying about Fryer being involved in early 1989. Lastly, for Trent on this album, a 3 week session is a long one. He was only able to get Sherwood to do two songs cause that's all they could afford.

    Edit: Here's the article that you're thinking of where Trent mentions writing HLAH last. So you are remembering that correctly, but that doesn't really give us a time frame by itself as to when the song was written. I know Trent's memory can sometimes be a little fuzzy when it comes to stuff like this, but I think he's right that it was likely the last song written because it's one of two songs from the album where no demos exist (the other being Something I Can Never Have).
    Last edited by trollmanen; 04-02-2024 at 10:23 PM.

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    I mean, liner notes have errors all the time. And especially for a label that doesn't have any real experience with regular music artists at this point? And for a song where there's no prior indication that Fryer ever had any involvement with it (on any version)? I think it's certainly suspect, at the least.

    As for the timeline, when I said early 1989, I meant like January. I think I had gotten that in my head, though, and in reviewing various interviews and articles today, I'm not quite sure from where. I really wish there were some kind of definitive timeline on the production of PHM.

    Looking over the articles, though, I think we can put some dates to some of it. For example, this article says that while Trent was working with Flood in Boston, they went to New York for the Depeche Mode 101 premiere. Apparently, that happened on April 27, 1989. From that same article, the work on Down In It was first when the TVT deal was signed, with LeBlanc doing some pre-production in New York, and the Sherwood doing all the remixes via mail from London. And it sounds like Fryer came after Down In It, but before Flood, because Fryer was Trent's 2nd choice when Flood was busy with Depeche Mode. After Flood was finished with Depeche Mode is when they did Terrible Lie and HLAH in Boston. This article also seems to confirm that order.

    And then there's another article, but I can't find it at the moment, where he says he had Leblanc do another pass at the mixes for Head Like a Hole.

    Edit: Hm, this article Trent seems to say they did the 2 Flood tracks in Boston first, and then went to London to do the rest of the album.

    Edit 2: Confirmation of the Boston recording dates and Depeche Mode 101 premiere.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBang View Post
    I mean, liner notes have errors all the time. And especially for a label that doesn't have any real experience with regular music artists at this point? And for a song where there's no prior indication that Fryer ever had any involvement with it (on any version)? I think it's certainly suspect, at the least.

    As for the timeline, when I said early 1989, I meant like January. I think I had gotten that in my head, though, and in reviewing various interviews and articles today, I'm not quite sure from where. I really wish there were some kind of definitive timeline on the production of PHM.

    Looking over the articles, though, I think we can put some dates to some of it. For example, this article says that while Trent was working with Flood in Boston, they went to New York for the Depeche Mode 101 premiere. Apparently, that happened on April 27, 1989. From that same article, the work on Down In It was first when the TVT deal was signed, with LeBlanc doing some pre-production in New York, and the Sherwood doing all the remixes via mail from London. And it sounds like Fryer came after Down In It, but before Flood, because Fryer was Trent's 2nd choice when Flood was busy with Depeche Mode. After Flood was finished with Depeche Mode is when they did Terrible Lie and HLAH in Boston. This article also seems to confirm that order.

    And then there's another article, but I can't find it at the moment, where he says he had Leblanc do another pass at the mixes for Head Like a Hole.

    Edit: Hm, this article Trent seems to say they did the 2 Flood tracks in Boston first, and then went to London to do the rest of the album.

    Edit 2: Confirmation of the Boston recording dates and Depeche Mode 101 premiere.
    Well, I'll certainly agree it's a mess with all these different producers.

    This article you linked, One of the first NIN interviews ever!, Trent says: "Our original plans were to produce it with Flood in London but he was busy with another project so I started producing it with John Fryer in Boston and finished it with Flood in London. The 12" single "Down In It", which is produced by Adrian Sherwood and the most industrial sounding song on the album, was finished before the album."

    So from that 1989 interview, along with this one you linked, it sounds like the first thing was pre-production in New York by Keith LeBlanc. Then he started with John Fryer in Boston, then moved on to Flood, and at some point went back to Keith LeBlanc because he wasn't happy with some of the mixes from John Fryer. I don't think he was involved with Flood for very long because of Flood's other commitments, and he is only credited on Head Like A Hole and Terrible Lie. John Fryer is credited on most of the albums songs, so it makes sense that he would have made a pass at mixing Head Like A Hole at some point.

    Since all the Sherwood stuff was done via mail, and only worked on Down In It, the timeline on that doesn't seem as relevant.

    The Rolling Stone article that says Flood came first I would take with a grain of salt since it's from 2019, 30 years after the fact, so his memory probably isn't as accurate on the details. In that article he says he went to London to work with John Fryer, but in the 1989 interview he says he worked with John Fryer in Boston. However, in that RS article, he does say "I went back in and re-tweaked “Head Like a Hole.” [Producer] Keith LeBlanc did a mix that felt right, one that turned up the aggression a little bit more, and that’s the version that is out.". That would seem to suggest that the John Fryer mix is the one he's unhappy with, since Flood isn't credited with any mixing but is on producing, and I can't find any indication he was unhappy with any work that Flood did.

    So all that, plus the credits in the liner notes, I'd say it's more likely than not that the mix on the NMS10 tape is in fact by John Fryer.
    Last edited by trollmanen; 04-03-2024 at 10:00 AM.

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    Not sure if it adds anything to the timeline, but here's Keith LeBlanc remembering working on PHM (skip to 38 minutes)


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    Quote Originally Posted by fillow View Post
    Not sure if it adds anything to the timeline, but here's Keith LeBlanc remembering working on PHM (skip to 38 minutes)

    RIP Keith.

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    Interesting exchange. Kinda funny how he's like, this sucks, just give me cash because I don't see a future in it. Whoopsie!

    His comments are interesting about Seven as well, because a *lot* of that remix is just arranging samples from the sample CD "A Poke in the Ear Vol 2"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    Interesting exchange. Kinda funny how he's like, this sucks, just give me cash because I don't see a future in it. Whoopsie!

    His comments are interesting about Seven as well, because a *lot* of that remix is just arranging samples from the sample CD "A Poke in the Ear Vol 2"
    Yeah. I got that sample CD and oh boy, Coil or Danny Hyde, has used it and not only in this track. Seven remix is an edit of Closer Precursor remix after all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trollmanen View Post
    The Rolling Stone article that says Flood came first I would take with a grain of salt since it's from 2019, 30 years after the fact, so his memory probably isn't as accurate on the details. In that article he says he went to London to work with John Fryer, but in the 1989 interview he says he worked with John Fryer in Boston. However, in that RS article, he does say "I went back in and re-tweaked “Head Like a Hole.” [Producer] Keith LeBlanc did a mix that felt right, one that turned up the aggression a little bit more, and that’s the version that is out.". That would seem to suggest that the John Fryer mix is the one he's unhappy with, since Flood isn't credited with any mixing but is on producing, and I can't find any indication he was unhappy with any work that Flood did.
    No, no, in that 1989 article, the journalist clearly mixed up either the locations or the producers. In numerous other interviews (including Fryer's own), it's clear that John Fryer was at Blackwing Studios in London and Flood was at Syncro Sound in Boston. The only question is whether Boston came before London or after London. If Boston came before London, then Flood would have already completed his work on HLAH and TL. Flood was clearly Trent's first choice; he got the two tracks he wanted from him. Why would there be any reason for Fryer to then have done work on them, especially when there are no credits anywhere that indicate that he worked on either track, apart from this one (potentially rogue) credit?

    What if this NMS sampler version is Flood's original version? And Trent wasn't happy with it, and so the album/Clay version is LeBlanc's remix of it that made the final album?


    Quote Originally Posted by trollmanen View Post
    This article you linked, One of the first NIN interviews ever!, Trent says: "Our original plans were to produce it with Flood in London but he was busy with another project so I started producing it with John Fryer in Boston and finished it with Flood in London.
    Looking at the quote again, I bet what Trent said was "Our original plans were to produce it with Flood in London but he was busy with another project so I started producing it with Flood in Boston and finished it with John Fryer in London" and the interviewer "corrected" it to what it says in print, because they probably thought Trent misspoke. While Flood is based in London, he was in Boston for other work, and that's when he was able to squeeze in some studio time with Trent. Fryer was never in Boston.

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    All valid points.

    I guess the point I’m trying to make is Flood isn’t credited for the mix on any song, he’s just credited for production. Even Terrible Lie, the other song Flood worked on has Fryer and Reznor credited for the mix.

    Going through the album credits, only three people have mix credits: Fryer, LeBlanc, and Reznor. Clearly the version on the NMS10 tape is an early mix, and since it’s stated that LeBlanc did another mix that ended up on the album, I’d argue it only makes sense that Fryer did the early mix, as credited in the liner notes. Flood having mixed the track seems less likely to me than Fryer.

    Edit: Many of the HLAH remixes credit Flood and Trent for mix, so I suppose it's possible he could have mixed this version, but I still lean towards the credits being correct just because why wouldn't they be?
    Last edited by trollmanen; 04-03-2024 at 11:49 PM.

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    Well that was some freakishly weird timing with @fillow dropping that Keith Leblanc video here just yesterday (even though it was a few years old) and then he went and passed today?

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    I had no idea about his health or anything... just remembered that I've seen him talking about PHM once and thought it may come useful here.

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    Omg... RIP Keith LeBlanc. Thank you for everything you've done. Godspeed, and rest easy.

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