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Trent Reznor used to be in a cheesy 80s synth pop band – no, really

Slam Bamboo
(Image credit: Slam Bamboo)

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor used to play synth for an 80s pop group. In fact, he actually used to play for many.

In newly unearthed footage, shared via an Instagram profile dedicated to celebrating all things goth (so.you.think.you.can.goth), we can see Reznor looking almost cheerful while half-bouncing around behind a keyboard as part of obscure Cleveland synth-popper Slam Bamboo.

Sure, he may not be as chipper as frontman Scott Hanson – who is? – but we imagine he had many other things on his mind at the time, given that he was also writing Nine Inch Nails' 1989 debut album Pretty Hate Machine, and kicking off his path to international metal stardom, at the same time. 

The video documents the band's appearance on AM Cleveland in 1987, hosted by Scott Newell. Slam Bamboo perform two singles – House On Fire (1988) and White Lies (1986) – and then engage in a short interview with the anchor.

As frontman Hanson introduces his bandmates to the audience, Newell pauses to issue an "applaud for Trent back there", who had apparently been helping out a group of kids on the show, even teaching a "nice young man" how to play a synthesiser. Aww.

It's no secret that Reznor's musical ambitions span beyond rock and metal, but his early foray into 80s synth pop might still come as something of a surprise to some fans – and that's before we get to his other bands Option 30, The Innocent and Exotic Birds.

More footage of Reznor's early days can be found in a video of a full performance with Slam Bamboo posted by Hanson, where the Hanson also dropped an update in the comment section eight years ago assuring intrigued viewers that he's "Still making records, writing and producing. Living a great life with my Family and running my own restaurant."

And if Reznor's work with Slam Bamboo wasn't outlandish enough, check out his stuff with American new wavers Option 30 – where he also sings. In a clip of the band covering Ric Ocasek's Something To Grab For, one comment really captures Trent's formative career: "LOL I love how he's playin that cheesy 80s pop riff, but staring into the audience like he's on some sinister shit". Yeah, that sounds about right.

Watch the footage below:

Elizabeth Scarlett

Elizabeth (Lizzie) is a music-obsessed creative soul with a love for all things heavy. In her spare time you’ll probably find her designing music magazines, playing the bass and most likely fantasising about Lemmy.