The Exotic Birds was a synthpop group that formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 1983. They are best known for their song "Everything is Different Now" and their cover of Badfinger's "Day After Day" as well as the fact that the band's keyboardist, Trent Reznor, later became famous as the leader of Nine Inch Nails.
The Exotic Birds were formed in 1983 by three Cleveland Institute of Music percussion students, Andy Kubiszewski, Tom Freer, and Tim Adams. They wrote their own music and fit nicely into the contemporary synth pop and dance music movement. They achieved mainly local success, but they appeared as an opening band for popular new wave acts Culture Club, Eurythmics, and Information Society.
The band's first single, "Dance the Night Away," was backed with an earlier recording, "Who Knows Why," by Kubiszewski and Nick Capetanakis (who performed with Kubiszewski in a prior group). The order of the songs was accidentally flipped on the record, so the older song appeared as the A side. "Who Knows Why" received moderate local radio play and became a surprise hit in Japan. The band eventually grew to five members. Adams left to do orchestral work, but Mark Best and Frank Vale signed on.
Then, by 1985, Trent Reznor (who later formed Nine Inch Nails) joined the band on keyboards, programming and backing vocals. Shortly after that, Freer departed the band for the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and was replaced by Reznor's roommate, Chris Vrenna, who would also later join Reznor in Nine Inch Nails. Still, this was clearly Kubiszewski's band as neither Reznor nor Vrenna wrote any of the songs. By 1988, the band had broken up entirely.
Kubiszewski reformed with a new line-up including Doug Beck and Richard Carpenter, and released the group's first CD, 'Equilibrium', in 1989. In 1990, they signed to Alpha International Records out of Philadelphia, PA for what was to be their next album. Instead, Alpha repackaged 'Equilibrium', cutting several tracks, and adding the new song "Imagination" to lead off the disc. Alpha was bought out just days after "Imagination" was released as a single. After Beck departed, Rodney Shields (keyboards) and Marty Step (guitar) joined, rounding out would be the final Exotic Birds' line-up.
In 1993, Kubiszewski left to play drums with The The, but he returned to the "Exotic Birds' monkier for one final gig on Saturday, January 22, 1994. That was the end of the line for the group as such. Reznor, Vale and non-Exotic Birds member Mark Addison also served as the fictional band "The Problems" in Paul Schrader's Cleveland, Ohio based movie 'Light of Day', a 1987 piece that also featured Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett.
One-time Exotic Birds manager John Malm was Reznor's long-time manager and co-founder of Nothing Records. As well, Kubiszewski played percussion on some of Reznor's early Nine Inch Nails tracks and went on to drum for the aforementioned The The, Crowded House, Prick, and Stabbing Westward. To this day, Freer, now with the Cleveland Orchestra, and Adams, with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, remain close friends and often teach together.
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