After more than two years, Telefon Tel Aviv finally gets the chance to entrance fans at Lodge Room before taking a break from performing

Telefon Tel AvivBy Josh Herwitt //

Telefon Tel Aviv with Chasms //
Lodge Room – Los Angeles
July 29th, 2022 //

More than a decade has passed since Joshua Eustis tragically lost the other half of Telefon Tel Aviv.

Forming the band with his high school friend Charles Cooper in 1999, the two would go on to release an EP, three LPs and a number of remixes together while carving out their own space in the glitch and IDM scenes alongside Leftfield, The Future Sound of London and Boards of Canada to name a few. But just two days after unveiling their third full length Immolate Yourself, Cooper was found dead.

Cooper’s accidental death marked a major turning point for Eustis. Had the time come for him to shut it down for good or should he continue to make music under the TTA moniker in honor of his bandmate?

Over the next four years, Eustis would find himself working with other bands. He co-produced Puscifer’s Conditions of My Parole in 2011 and then toured with Nine Inch Nails, manning any instrument that was requested of him whether it was guitar, bass, keyboards, saxophone or even the erhu.

Eustis, though, wasn’t ready to give up on a solo career quite yet so he returned to the studio in 2014 after NIN’s “Tension Tour” to focus on a different project named Sons of Magdalene before turning his attention to recording the first TTA album without Cooper.

Telefon Tel Aviv

The end result, almost five years later, would be 2019’s Dreams Are Not Enough. The nine-track effort on Ghostly International officially put TTA back on the map as it garnered high praise from music critics, including Pitchfork (if you can believe that), and offered him the chance to take the stage again.

So when Eustis announced in early 2020 that he would be playing a TTA show in his current hometown, it was an opportunity to cross another 90’s electronic act off my bucket list. Of course, the performance would end up being rescheduled twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it finally came to fruition last Friday at LA’s Lodge Room inside the same historic, three-story building that the Highland Park Masonic Temple once called home.

To make things all the more special, Eustis had previously said on social media in advance that Lodge Room and Grey Area in San Francisco would serve as TTA’s final two dates in support of Dreams Are Not Enough and the last ones he’ll perform live (“like, not DJing” in his words) stateside for a while.

That might not be what TTA fans outside of California wanted to hear after waiting patiently for live music to come back safely, yet given the fact that Eustis has produced Apparat, Drab Majesty, Tropic of Cancer and Vatican Shadow among others and spent a few years in synthwave trio The Black Queen with Greg Puciato and Steven Alexander of The Dillinger Escape Plan, it’s not hard to understand why he’s taking a break now.

And while no one knows how “long” it will be except for maybe Eustis, if this was the only night I ever got to see TTA in the flesh, it will certainly not go lost on me.

Setlist:
Intro
The Means Whereby Lovers Are Waylaid
A Younger Version of Myself
Standing at the Bottom of the Ocean
Mouth Agape
What It Is Without the Hand That Wields It
Introductory Nomenclature
Something Akin to Lust
Not Breathing
Arms Aloft
Mean Friend (Telefon Tel Aviv Remix)

Encore:
I Dream of It Often
The Birds

If we never see Nine Inch Nails live again, it’s been quite a ride

Nine Inch NailsPhotos by Rob Sheridan for NIN.com // Written by Josh Herwitt //

When Trent Reznor told Nine Inch Nails fans six years ago that it was “time to make NIN disappear for a while,” no one knew if they would ever have the opportunity to see the industrial rock goliath perform again.

As someone whose musical palette was heavily influenced by such 90’s masterpieces as The Downward Spiral and The Fragile — two albums that will likely go down as some of the best rock music that’s ever been made — but never got to see NIN live, it came as a shocking blow to my psyche.

For me, NIN was always that band whose music felt uniquely original and accessible, yet remained frighteningly dark in image. More than 20 years ago, it was MTV that was forced to significantly censor the music video for “Closer” — still NIN’s most popular song to this day — in which Reznor combined themes of religion, sex, animal cruelty, politics and terror to go along with his disturbingly eerie lyric “I want to fuck you like an animal.”

Still, for as creepy as Reznor made himself appear — and there may be no better example than NIN’s epic performance at Woodstock ’94, which was officially released online almost two weeks ago — there is no band that has bridged the gap between heavy metal and electronic music better than NIN. From his early days as a sound engineer to his passion for analog synthesizers and digital technologies more recently, Reznor created a genre of music that few have ever come close to emulating. While other industrial acts like Ministry, MDFMK, Killing Joke, Filter and Rammstein achieved moderate levels of success at one point in time, none of them ever garnered the same mainstream appeal that NIN has sustained for more than two decades.

Nine Inch Nails

But even with two Grammy Awards and nine full-length albums to his name, Reznor has had his doubts about keeping NIN going. It’s why he announced in early 2009 that the band would be done performing live “for the foreseeable future” before embarking on its “Wave Goodbye” tour, which culminated in a 37-song show at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, before that fire was eventually rekindled with the release of 2013’s Hesitation Marks last September.

It’s not that Reznor fell off the face of the Earth during that five-year layoff, though. With NIN on an indefinite hiatus, he went on to win an Oscar and a Grammy for his soundtracks to The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, write the theme music for the video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” and form the post-industrial outfit How to Destroy Angels with his wife and lead vocalist Mariqueen Maandig, whom he shares two children with now. Over the last two months, he’s managed to find the time to finish composing the soundtrack for David Fincher’s upcoming movie Gone Girl while touring North America with his NIN sidekicks for quite possibly the last time.

After all, from what he told the crowd last Thursday night in Chula Vista, Calif., Reznor has no plans for another NIN album or tour right now. Even if he continues writing music like he told us he would that evening, just miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, there is no guarantee it will be for NIN. And at this point, it would be completely understandable for Reznor to retire the band he once gave birth to 26 years ago in Cleveland, where it will likely return to some day for its induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Reznor, of course, isn’t getting any younger. At the age of 49, the NIN mastermind and only official member of the band has battled plenty of inner demons in his younger life, having overcome both drug and alcohol addictions, depression, social anxiety disorder and sadly, even his own suicidal tendencies. Now as a sober family man, he has openly admitted that the rigors of touring have taken their toll on him.



So, if this was the last time I ever got to see Nine Inch Nails perform live, I have no regrets attending four of the 26 shows that they are co-headlining with Soundgarden this summer.

In fact, seeing one of my favorite bands of all time at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre was an absolute dream come true — a show that no doubt will go down in memory as one of the best I have ever witnessed in all my concert-going years. Then, there was Monday night’s noteworthy performance at the Hollywood Bowl, which marked another important moment for the band in playing the historic LA amphitheater for just the second time ever, with the first coming almost nine years ago following the release of 2005’s With Teeth.

Sure, seeing four shows (Red Rocks, Chula Vista, Irvine and Hollywood) on this tour might seem like overkill to some. For me, it felt like the right thing to do. It didn’t matter that the setlists have varied little from show to show over the last month. Instead, just having the chance to connect with the music and art that Reznor specifically curates for each NIN tour more than once is something I will always cherish, whether or not I ever get to do it again.

Because even if I don’t, I’ll know that those four shows I saw were worth every penny spent.

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails