Before he became the crown prince of industrial music with releases like Broken and The Downward Spiral, Trent Reznor cut his teeth gigging in the ’80s Cleveland pop scene. And while there’s always been a lot of YouTube footage of the Nine Inch Nails lead from this era floating around, the internet occasionally rediscovers something randomly that captures the imagination. In this case, it’s a clip from 1987 of Trent performing with what may be the best-named band of the era: Slam Bamboo.
Everything about Slam Bamboo screams ’80s, from the Duran Duran sound to the singer’s completely unironic hairstyle and clothing…
to the electric drum kit…
and radical bass guitar.
But if you were hoping to catch Trent Reznor with hammer pants or a flock of seagulls hair-do, you’re going to be disappointed.
There’s Trent keeping it 100 with an all black ensemble that seems to say “While I sing about love on the outside, my heart is a void of silence on the inside.”
Despite the wardrobe, Trent wasn’t all doom and gloom back then. Later during the interview segment of the show, the host thanks the then 22-year-old for participating in a charity event, showing “a nice young man some synthesizers and all that sort of stuff.”
Later when Reznor left Slam Bamboo to start touring as Nine Inch Nails, he took another piece of the band along with him: Ron Musarra, who became NIN’s first drummer.
This is just the tip of the internet iceberg when it comes to Trent Reznor footage from the ’80s. There’s also video of him covering Billy Idol’s romantic ballad “Eyes Without A Face,” some more of his synth pop stylings under the moniker Exotic Birds, and a cameo in the Michael J. Fox movie Light of Day. Just more evidence that the internet never forgets.