San Diego’s Ilan Rubin will be youngest Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee ever as member of Nine Inch Nails
The 32-year-old drum wiz and versatile multi-instrumentalist is also a member of Angels & Airwaves and leads his own band, The New Regime
San Diego-bred drum prodigy Ilan Rubin was just 11 when he became the youngest musician to perform at the 1999 edition of the Woodstock festival in upstate New York. Now, 21 years later, he is set to make history in an even bigger way as the youngest musician to ever be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Rubin’s induction will come as a member of the pioneering industrial-rock band Nine Inch Nails, which he joined in early 2009 at the age of 20 and has been a member of for the past 11 years. The two previous youngest inductees are Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who was 33 when the group was inducted in 2012, and Stevie Wonder, who was 38 when he was inducted in 1989.
“Playing at Woodstock is something I never think about,” Rubin told the Union-Tribune Thursday night. “But being 32 and being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is something I’m genuinely proud of. And it’s something I will continue to be proud of for the rest of my life.”
News of Rubin’s upcoming honor emerged Wednesday, when the Cleveland-based Rock & Roll Hall of Fame quietly confirmed that he and five other current and former members of Nine Inch Nails have been added to the list of previously announced 2021 inductees.
That list, which was announced in January, also includes Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers and three posthumous inductees — Whitney Houston, The Notorious B.I.G. and T-Rex. Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording. Votes are cast by more than 1,000 artists, historians, critics and other music-industry professionals, including this writer.
When the hall announced its 2021 inductees in January, the only member of Nine Inch Nails named for induction was Trent Reznor, the 32-year-old band’s founder and conceptual mastermind.
In the months since then, Reznor lobbied the hall to include more members of Nine Inch Nails. His successful campaign resulted in the hall agreeing to also induct Rubin, Robin Finck, Chris Vrenna, Danny Lohner, Alessandro Cortini and Atticus Ross. Reznor and Ross shared the the 2011 Academy Award for Best Original Score for the music they composed for “The Social Network.”
“Trent called me in January, after the inductees were first announced, and told me: ‘I’m trying to get you and a couple of other key guys added’,” Rubin said, speaking by phone from the Los Angeles home he moved into last year. “That was months ago. Then, with COVID-19 hitting and the induction ceremony in May being canceled, there was an extended period where I was like: ‘Well, I won’t hold my breath.’
“Obviously, Nine Inch Nails is Trent, and it’s been his thing for a long, long time. But there was some glimmer of hope in thinking it could be a possibility to be inducted with him. I found out when he phoned me a couple of weeks ago, and it’s an amazing thing. I’ve had a little pep in my step since then!”
The canceled May induction ceremony is being replaced by an HBO TV special that will air Nov. 7. It is unclear what form that special will take, or if it is to include any of the inductees performing, whether in person or remotely.
“If there was something to attend, I’d love to,” Rubin said. “I don’t have a tuxedo, although I might look OK in one. But that’s not where my mind goes when I think about getting dressed up.”
Rubin has made several solo albums under the name The New Regime — including this year’s critically acclaimed “Heart Mind Body and Soul,” — on which he performs all the instrumental and vocal parts. Since 2011, he has also been a key member of Angels & Airwaves, the San Diego band led by blink-182 co-founder-turned-UFO-investigator Tom DeLonge.
“My ‘Heart Mind Body and Soul’ album came out in March, which in hindsight was the absolute worst time to put out new music. My tour opening for Silversun Pickups was cut short, and we drove straight back from Tennessee to San Diego,” said Rubin, who moved to Los Angeles last year and is now at work with DeLonge on a new Angels & Airwaves album here.
“There’s definitely a professional concern, as far as staying healthy and touring being shut down. I’ve just been doing my best to be as productive as I can. I’ve been diving into learning film scoring and studying and experimenting with new instruments.”
Rubin has yet to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But he has watched a number of its previous induction ceremonies on TV, in particular the 1995 edition that honored the three surviving members of Led Zeppelin, his all-time favorite band. Should Zeppelin ever reunite, he would leap at the chance to be considered for the drum chair.
“I know it sounds immodest, but I have no doubt I would be the best replacement for (deceased Zeppelin drummer) John Bonham,” said Rubin, who has performed on albums by such diverse artists as Beck, Paramore, Phantogram and Jesse & Joy.
“The infinite greatness of Zeppelin’s music has seeped into me since I was a young kid. To this day, nothing affects me like they do. Zeppelin hits me like nothing else and i genuinely feel like I would do the best job. Their music has been pumping though my head and heart for years.”
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