Any performer worth their salt knows what it’s like to slug it out on the club circuit.
You hear about this rite of passage from artists of all stripes; from comedians in dank bars, actors in community theaters and bands who have to bring their own makeshift pa system to gigs because the rooms they are playing aren’t equipped to handle a microphone.
Most people who have chosen this life harbor no illusions of future fame and fortune. It is a vocation and the art is its own reward.
If anyone knows what it’s like to be a working musician, it’s Trent Reznor. Long before his success with Nine Inch Nails, the visionary producer worked as a keyboardist and hired-gun in a number of Rust Belt based new wave bands such as Option 30, The Innocent and Exotic Birds, as well as art rockers Lucky Pierre.
Reznor and his Exotic Birds bandmates even showed up in the 1987 Paul Schrader film Light Of Day as a fictional band called The Problems. Around this period of time, Reznor worked as an assistant engineer and a janitor at Right Track Studio in Cleveland, Ohio. Bartering his services for after-hours recording time, he developed Nine Inch Nails.
Slam Bamboo was a synthpop band from Cleveland, for which Reznor acted as a touring keyboard player along with original Nine Inch Nails drummer Ron Musarra. They appeared on local morning show AM Cleveland in 1987.
Lost to obscurity with the sands of time, the Slam Bamboo checked the boxes for practically every 80s trope. With vivacious suits, feathered hair, and bouncy, awkward dancing, the band were a caricature of 1980s stereotypes… except for Trent Reznor! Adorned in all black clothing and sporting dyed black hair, the future Nine Inch Nails mastermind looks almost exactly like he does today.
Frankly, he sticks out like a gangrenous thumb among his jovial bandmates. Keep in mind that according to the timeline Reznor was knee deep into making Pretty Hate Machine during this period.
Check out Slam Bamboo’s AM Cleveland performance below!