Trent Reznor grew up in Mercer, Pennsylvania, a town less than 100 miles away from (but slightly southeast of) Cleveland. While in college, he started playing keyboards and singing in a band called Option 30. Although he apparently wasn't part of the songwriting team within the band, a bunch of videos have surfaced of the group playing live. The footage mostly involves performances of cover songs, which are something Reznor would continue to favor throughout NIN's career.
Trent Reznor in Option 30, covering Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face"
Option 30 covering Joe Jackson's "Look Sharp"
Option 30, "Show Me What It's Like"
After moving to Cleveland in the mid-'80s, Reznor apparently joined a group called Slam Bamboo. According to an interview video, the band opened for the Bangles, Glass Tiger (!), Starship (!!) and Michael Stanley (a classic rocker who is bigger than God in Cleveland, went to my high school, and as legend has it, once showed up to a reunion in a helicopter). Hilariously, this TV appearance (from a show I totally watched growing up) features totally geeky musicians and a black-clad Trent looking like a goth misfit hanging in the shadows. I believe this dates from 1987.
Interview. The host gives Reznor props, for showing kids some synthesizers. He looks bashful at the praise.
song called "White Lies."