Trent Reznor’s obscurity may not have been on full display yet, but the musician’s talent landed him gigs in several pre-Nine Inch Nails bands in the mid to late ’80s. them was a synth-pop band called Slam Bamboo and footage of his performance with the band on a local Cleveland show has surfaced online (as reported by metal hammer).
The performance was posted online by late 80s frontman Scott Hanson as they appeared on AM Cleveland in 1987 with host Scott Newell. The band definitely have touches of that late ’80s synth pop sound that was so popular at the time, and it’s easy to see where they showed promise. During a mid-term interview with Newell, Hanson reveals that they had opened for top artists such as The Bangles, Glass Tiger, The Models, Starship and Michael Stanley.
While much of the band is stylish as many musicians would be in the 80s, Reznor was already cultivating his look, tucked backstage on keyboards with his jet black hair, black T-shirt and a black leather jacket, a look he has continued to keep over the years.
Slam Bamboo first performs their 1986 song “House of Fire,” then stops for an interview with Newell who praises Reznor for helping kids on the show and teaching a “nice young man” to play the synthesizer. This was then followed by a preview of the band’s new song “White Lies” which would be released in 1988.
Reznor actually worked in several bands before launching his own Nine Inch Nails project. While still in high school, he joined the band Option 30 and 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 St. Louis-area alternative rockers), had a brief stint with The Innocent, and was part of the local band Exotic Birds (which went on to scored a film role as The Troubles in the 1987 Joan Jett-Michael J. Fox film Day light). He also played with another band called Lucky Pierre after his time at Slam Bamboo.
It was also while playing with Slam Bamboo that he worked at Right Track Studio in Cleveland where he began 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 has prepared him to play for a variety of audiences, including their infamous Dance party United States appearance in the first promotion of Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty hating machine album.