Like Johnny Cash and Rick Rubin before them, Ryan Culwell and Aubrie Sellers reimagine a Nine Inch Nails song with chilling results. The two against-the-grain Nashville songwriters cover the 1990 single “Head Like a Hole” as a somber, haunted duet. The pair released the song on Thursday with an accompanying music video.
Over a simple acoustic guitar pattern, Culwell and Sellers’ voices intertwine as they sing the chorus — “bow down before the one you serve/you’re going to get what you deserve.” It’s in stark contrast to Trent Reznor’s delivery and production on the original, a howling performance over an industrial-noise music bed. Culwell and Sellers produced and recorded their “Head Like a Hole” remotely with Ethan Ballinger and Megan McCormick. It arrives via Missing Piece Records.
“Last summer I was up late trying to write a new song and ‘Head Like a Hole’ kept pummeling into my brain and overtaking the process. I made a quick voice memo and sent it to Ethan Ballinger and Aubrie Sellers who were both living in L.A. They encouraged me to chase the idea down and we recruited Megan McCormick into the process, so at that point I had a lot of my favorite artists working with me,” Culwell says. “Aubrie jumped in on a verse and really took the vocal production to another level, which in turn pushed the rest of the track in new directions.”
“I was a huge admirer of Ryan’s last record, so I was very excited when he asked me to work on this song with him,” Sellers says. “When he first sent over a worktape playing and singing the song, I knew it was going to be a unique rendition and something I wanted to be a part of. It’s always amazing to work with someone you love to listen to, and it’s a great time to revive this anthem.”