Le Pig (also known as Pig) was a home recording studio located at 10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, occupied by Nine Inch Nails from 1992-1993. The home was the site of the infamous Manson Family-Tate murders in 1969.
The Downward Spiral, part of Broken, the music video for "Gave Up", and part of Portrait of an American Family by Marilyn Manson were recorded at this location. Soon after Reznor left, the house was demolished in 1994, and a mansion was built in its place.
What about something like the fact that you lived and worked in a house where the Manson family killed people? Was that part of the same desire to be subversive?
No. I had to answer questions about that for ten years. I can tell you the story behind recording The Downward Spiral in the Sharon Tate house: We were looking for a place to work on the album, and I saw a number of places, and one of them happened to be the house where the Tate murders occurred. But no one told us that.
You can imagine a realtor not wanting to mention that.
I just didn’t know. That place sits up on a hill overlooking Beverly Hills, with the ocean on one side and downtown in the other direction — it was a cool, tranquil little ranch house with a nice yard. And it was cheaper than the rest of them.
That’s always a clue.
I remember having dinner with [music booker] Ian Copeland and he asked where I was going to be in L.A., and I mentioned a house on Cielo Drive. He said, “That’s where the Manson murders took place.” I had read Helter Skelter as a kid and was freaked out by it; Ian said he had a copy. So we finished dinner, and I got his copy of the book and turned to the pictures in the middle. I’m thinking, Man it would be fucking crazy if it’s the same house. Then I saw a picture that showed a wooden ladder going up to the loft — I’d just gone up there earlier that day — and I thought, Holy shit, it’s the same place. No part of me thought, That’d be cool!
People thought your staying there was contrived.
And it wasn’t. I wasn’t trying to create some manufactured spooky thing. Any shock value to what I was doing was about trying to sneak subversive things to a wide audience. With Marilyn Manson, who I thought was a great artist back then, he knew exactly what he was doing and exactly what would be shocking. Those were very conscious decisions on his part. What I was doing wasn’t the same thing.
In a 1997 interview with Rolling Stone, he expressed regret about the situation:
My awakening about all that stuff came from meeting Sharon Tate's sister. While I was working on Downward Spiral, I was living in the house where Sharon Tate was killed. Then one day I met her sister. It was a random thing, just a brief encounter. And she said: "Are you exploiting my sister's death by living in her house?" For the first time the whole thing kind of slapped me in the face. I said, "No, it's just sort of my own interest in American folklore. I'm in this place where a weird part of history occurred." I guess it never really struck me before, but it did then. She lost her sister from a senseless, ignorant situation that I don't want to support. When she was talking to me, I realized for the first time, "What if it was my sister?" I thought, "Fuck Charlie Manson." I don't want to be looked at as a guy who supports serial-killer bullshit.
I went home and cried that night. It made me see there's another side to things, you know? It's one thing to go around with your dick swinging in the wind, acting like it doesn't matter. But when you understand the repercussions that are felt . . . that's what sobered me up: realizing that what balances out the appeal of the lawlessness and the lack of morality and the whole thing is the other end of it, the victims who don't deserve that.