Mr. Self Destruct

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"Mr. Self Destruct"
Album: The Downward Spiral
Length: 4:30
Tempo: 100 BPM
Versions: Mr. Self Destruct
Mr. Self Destruct (Instrumental)
The Art of Self Destruction, Part One
Self Destruction, Part Two
Self Destruction, Part Three
Self Destruction, Final
The Beauty of Being Numb (Section A)
Live: Self Destruct Touring Cycle
With Teeth Fall Arena Tour through Wave Goodbye Tour

"Mr. Self Destruct" is the first track on the 1994 release The Downward Spiral. Its loud and abrasive verses and choruses as well as the contrast in the quiet bridge and use of samples combine to make a comprehensive introduction to the sonic characteristics of the entire album.

The song's title seems to be one of several references to Soft Cell, a cited influence for NIN, as a song of the same name opens their 1994 album This Last Night in Sodom. Other references may include the reference to their album The Art of Falling Apart in the remixes titled "The Art of Self Destruction" and NIN covering "Memorabilia" and "Sex Dwarf," though the latter remains unreleased and/or incomplete.

Song Credits

Appearances

Halos

Seeds

Films

Versions

Mr. Self Destruct

This is the original album version. It begins with a restructured sample from the film THX 1138, and immediately picks up with very fast and aggressive verses and choruses, Reznor's casual vocal delivery contrasting with the noisy cacophony around it. The bridge is in stark contrast: quiet, subdued and atmospheric, it is the only section of the song to feature bass. A return to cacophony for the final verse and choruses gives way to manipulated and looped guitar noises made by Adrian Belew, which cuts off suddenly and leads into "Piggy". Its call-and-response style verses are later recalled by those of "While I'm Still Here".

In the April 1994 issue of Guitar World, Reznor was asked about the circumstances behind the guest appearance of guitarist Belew:

GW: How did you hook up with Adrian Belew?
REZNOR: His name just popped into my head. I called my manager and two days later he was here. As it turned out he was already in L.A., working on something else... The songs were pretty much arranged, but we thought, "What would it be like if we got someone in here who could really play his ass off? Let's see what happens." We basically told Adrian, "Just play whatever you want and we'll piece it together however we see fit. Maybe stuff from one song will fit into another." We did about six or seven songs with four or five passes each. One time we'd tell Adrian something like, "Concentrate on a rhythmic part." Another time, "Think in terms of countermelody." Or, "Think in terms of no pitch at all, just noise." He pulled out a bunch of great sounds that he never gets to use. Flood and I were definitely intimidated when he first came up. We were sitting in the living room of Sharon Tate's house--our studio--with this guy who's played with Paul Simon and David Bowie. The first song we played him was "Mr. Self Destruct"--the hardest-sounding one we had. I said, "Play whatever you want." He said, "What key is it in?" And I had to say, "Uh, I don't remember. It's probably in E." It's a real fast track. For a moment he thought, "What the fuck?" Then he kicked in and it was just the most awesome thing.

Mr. Self Destruct (Instrumental)

Released by Reznor through his account at remix.nin.com, this unmastered instrumental version does not include the opening sample, and its ending guitar noise loops run several seconds longer.

The Art of Self Destruction, Part One

This remix appears on Further Down The Spiral. In contrast with the vocals prominent in the original, the only words used are quiet and whispered. In fact, most of its non-linear structure builds using elements of the quiet bridge.

Song Credits

Self Destruction, Part Two

This remix, also on Further Down The Spiral, features the guitar work by Adrian Belew and samples David Bowie.

Song Credits

  • Remixed by J. G. Thirlwell at the Room of Doom, Unique Studios, NYC for Ectopicents
  • Engineered by Rob Sutton and Jim Janik

Self Destruction, Part Three

This version is on the UK edition of Further Down The Spiral in place of Part Two, and follows the original structure of "Mr. Self Destruct" with only minor changes in the mix and the removal of the sample and concluding guitar scramble.

Song Credits

  • Manipulation: J. G. Thirlwell

Self Destruction, Final

This is the last remix on the US edition of Further Down The Spiral. It also features the guitar by Adrian Belew and samples David Bowie, in particular the lyric "wanking" repeated many times, originally from Bowie's "Time."

Song Credits

  • Remixed by J. G. Thirlwell at the Room of Doom, Unique Studios, NYC for Ectopicents
  • Engineered by Rob Sutton and Jim Janik

The Beauty of Being Numb

The first part of this track is a version of "Mr. Self Destruct" played in reverse and remixed by NIN, Beavan and Pollack. The second part is an entirely new composition created by Aphex Twin, which eventually crossfades with the opening straw blowing sounds from "Eraser."

Song Credits

  • Section A: recreated by Nine Inch Nails (Chris Vrenna, Robin Finck, Danny Lohner, Charlie Clouser, Trent Reznor) with Sean Beavan and Brian Pollack
  • Section B: created by Aphex Twin

Live

Often used to open shows during the later Self Destruct tours, it begins with a count-in rather than the sample intro on album version, and features heavy amounts of guitar feedback at various points in the song. During the 2006 Live: With_Teeth winter tour and the Year Zero Warm-Up Tour, Alessandro Cortini joined the rest of the band at the front of the stage playing guitar. The 2009 Wave Goodbye Tour arrangement saw a synthesized ambient introduction surround manipulations of the THX 1138 sample before jumping into the first verse.

Lyrics

    I am the voice inside your head		And I control you
    I am the lover in your bed			And I control you
    I am the sex that you provide		And I control you
    I am the hate you try to hide		And I control you
    
    I take you where you want to go
    I give you all you need to know
    I drag you down I use you up
    Mr. Self Destruct
    
    I speak religion's message clear		And I control you
    I am denial guilt and fear			And I control you
    I am the prayers of the naïve		And I control you
    I am the lie that you believe		And I control you
    
    I take you where you want to go
    I give you all you need to know
    I drag you down I use you up
    Mr. Self Destruct
    
    I am the needle in your vein		And I control you
    I am the high you can't sustain		And I control you
    I am the pusher I'm a whore	                And I control you
    I am the need you have for more		And I control you
    I am the bullet in the gun			And I control you
    I am the truth from which you run		And I control you
    I am the silencing machine			And I control you
    I am the end of all your dreams		And I control you
    
    I take you where you want to go
    I give you all you need to know
    I drag you down I use you up
    Mr. Self Destruct

The final line of the quiet third verse is altered on the recording:

    I am the need in you for more		And I control you

Extra lyrics can be heard in the breakdown:

    You let me do this to you                   I am an exit

External Links

Previous track - "N/A" Track 1 from The Downward Spiral Next track - "Piggy"
This page was last modified on 28 October 2013, at 22:33. This page has been accessed 89,234 times.