Watch Trent Reznor on Keyboards in Pre-Nine Inch Nails ’80s Synth Pop Band Slam Bamboo
The darkness of Trent Reznor might not have been on display quite yet, but the talent of the musician had him landing gigs in several pre-Nine Inch Nails bands in the mid-to-late '80s. One of those was a synth-pop group called Slam Bamboo and footage of his performance with the band on a local Cleveland show has surfaced online (as tipped by Metal Hammer).
The performance was posted online by Scott Hanson, frontman for the late '80s band, as they appeared on AM Cleveland in 1987 with host Scott Newell. The group definitely has touchtones of that late '80s synth pop sound that had been so popular at the time, and it's easy to see where they showed promise. During a mid-performance interview with Newell, Hanson reveals that they had opened for such top acts of the day as The Bangles, Glass Tiger, The Models, Starship and Michael Stanley.
While much of the band is styled as many musicians would be in the '80s, Reznor was already cultivating his look, placed back toward the back of the staging on keyboards with his jet black hair, a black T-shirt and black leather jacket, a look he's continued to keep over the years.
Slam Bamboo perform their 1986 song "House of Fire" first, then stop for an interview with Newell who praises Reznor who had been helping out with some kids on the show and teaching a "nice young man" how to play the synthesizer. That was then followed by a preview of the band's new song "White Lies" that would be released in 1988.
Reznor actually toiled in multiple bands before getting his own Nine Inch Nails project off the ground. While still in high school he had joined the group Option 30 and had sang and played keys for them. Footage of Reznor rocking Ric Ocasek's "Something to Grab For" while in Option 30 can be viewed here.
He had also played in a cover band called The Urge (not to be confused with the St. Louis-area alt-rockers), spent a brief stint with The Innocent and was part of local band Exotic Birds (who actually scored a film role as The Problems in the 1987 Joan Jett-Michael J. Fox film Light of Day). He also played with another group called Lucky Pierre after his time in Slam Bamboo.
It was also during his time playing with Slam Bamboo that he was working out of Cleveland's Right Track Studio where he started recording demos that would lead to what we now know as Nine Inch Nails.
It's an interesting look at the development of a future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and this period prepared him for playing for a variety of audiences, including their infamous Dance Party USA appearance in the early promotion for Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine album.