Joseph Cultice's photographs of Nine Inch Nails originally appeared in Revolver's Aug/Sept 2018 issue.
In 1988, Trent Reznor emerged from Cleveland, Ohio, with a demo tape of dark industrial songs and a modest dream of releasing a 12-inch single. No one could have predicted that his uncompromising vision and iconoclastic spirit would lead Nine Inch Nails to become one of the most commercially successful and creatively influential bands of the Nineties.
In particular, the period around 1992's Broken and 1994's The Downward Spiral saw Reznor testing the limits of art, propriety and his own damaged psyche in a frenzy of confrontational music, visual and live performances that somehow resonated with the masses. Photographer Joseph Cultice was on hand to document much of this game-changing period.
Below, Cultice shares the stories behind some of his iconic photos from around the filming of Nine Inch Nails' music video for Downward Spiral standout "March of the Pigs."
JOSEPH CULTICE That [image above] was for a video that never got released for "March of the Pigs." It looked too much like a video they'd done before with the director [Peter Christopherson]. So we stayed [in the studio] the next day and they shot that 'March of the Pigs' [performance] video. They came up with the idea at night: a one-camera shot. And they shot it maybe five times all the way through, and that was it.
Trent's in a big black plastic pool they made, basically a kiddie pool. What was supposed to happen in the scene was there's creature hands that come up and grab his head and pull him underwater. So he's laying there getting ready for that. And underneath him is a guy in a black outfit that you can barely see him, but [those are his] hands. That water was really really warm, it was like a Jacuzzi.
That's the [original] 'March of the Pigs' video [seen in the lead image and in the above video]. It's inside this, like, cave they built inside with water and smoke machines. They just jumped around there really, really loudly to 'March of the Pigs' for 20 million takes.
This is 1993, before the release. It's right after Broken came out. The first time I shot them was for Broken. And then they worked on The Downward Spiral and I was in and out doing shoots with them around the time when the record was getting finished. Trent never stops working, even back then. He'd finish a video then go to the recording studio at night. I can't remember the sound stage, but it was somewhere in Los Angeles.