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Swans during a concert in Warsaw on December 10, 2010
Swans during a concert in Warsaw on December 10, 2010
General information
origin New York City , United States
Genre (s) Post-Rock , Noise-Rock , No Wave , Industrial , Noise , Drone
founding 1982, 2010
resolution 1997
Founding members
Michael Gira
Bob Pezzola (1982)
Daniel Galli-Duani (1982)
Jonathan Kane (until 1983)
Current occupation
Vocals, guitar
Michael Gira
Norman Westberg (1983–1991, 1995, since 2010)
Kristof Hahn (1991, 1997, since 2010)
Phil Puleo (since 2010)
Chris Pravdica (since 2010)
Drums, percussion
Thor Harris (since 2010)
former members
Vocals, keyboard
Jarboe (1984-1997)
Roli Mosimann (1983–1985)
Ivan Nahem (1985-1986)
Ted Parsons (1986-1987, 1992-1995)
Vincent Signorelli (1992)
Harry Crosby (1983-1986)
Al Kizys (1986-1987, 1992-1995)
Bill Rieflin (1995)
Martin Atkins (1995)

Swans ( English "swans" ) is an American band of experimental rock music , which was founded in 1982 by the musician Michael Gira in New York . The early musical work is often assigned to the No Wave and Post-Industrial . The avant-garde pieces of later releases contain borrowings from noise and post-rock , but also acoustic, folkloric and orchestral influences. The band became known to a wider audience in 1988 with their cover version of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division and the album The Burning World produced by Bill Laswell .


According to Michael Gira, the name was chosen because swans fit the band's musical style best:

“Swans are these beautiful animals, who are in reality completely obnoxious. They're hateful things. "

“Swans are those beautiful animals that are in truth completely repulsive. They are hideous beings. "

- Michael Gira : Reflex , edition 03/1988.

In 1982 the Swans made their debut with an EP that still had clear no-wave influences. The first album Filth then marked the change to monotonous, rhythmic power rock sounds, which were expanded by more complex arrangements from the mid-1980s.

Until 1988 Swans were under contract with independent labels such as Neutral Records , K.422 and Caroline Records . With the success of the single Love Will Tear Us Apart , the major label Universal Music Group noticed the band and hired Bill Laswell as producer for The Burning World (1989). In order to be able to fully follow his musical vision of Swans, Gira founded the Young God Records label in 1990 , which still exists today and which also represents other artists such as Lisa Germano .

A characteristic of the band is the frequent change of line-up. So alongside Michael Gira Jarboe and Norman Westberg were the only constant band members for several years. In total, over 20 different musicians have already played at Swans. Due to this frequent change, both the musical and the visual appearance of the band changed.

Another hallmark of the early Swans were painfully infernally loud concerts, to the point where visitors passed out or the police had to stop shows. This gave the Swans a reputation that Gira was tired of in the end. For him, this reputation was one of the reasons for resigning from the project in 1997.

In the time after the dissolution, both Michael Gira and Jarboe released several compilations, live recordings and a Best Of CD ( Various Failures ).

Reunification 2010 / dissolution 2017

Frontman Michael Gira 2010 in Glasgow

In 2010, Gira reformed the Swans. 14 years after the last studio album, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky was released in September 2010 . Jarboe did not appear on this album or on the subsequent tour because Gira had not asked her to participate. In 2012 a live album followed, We Rose From Your Bed With The Sun in Our Head , and another studio album, The Seer , on which Jarboe sang again. With the proceeds of the live album Not Here / Not Now (2013), the band financed the production of the next studio album. To Be Kind (May 2014) met with great critical acclaim.

With the release of the album The Glowing Man , Gira announced the renewed breakup of the band with the end of the accompanying tour in early November 2017.

Leaving Meaning 2019

The new album Leaving Meaning was released in October 2019 . The songs on the album were recorded by a "rotating" cast, the musicians being selected according to their personal and musical character. In addition to the band boss Michael Gira, Kristof Hahn, Larry Mullins, Yoyo Röhm , The Necks , Tony Buck , Norman Westberg , Anna von Hausswolff , Maria von Hausswolff, Ben Frost, Baby Dee , Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost as well as other guest musicians are named. A European tour is planned for 2020.


After the no-wave sounds of the debut EP, the Swans switched to a noisy power rock with their first album, which was characterized by distinctive percussion, Norman Westberg's very own guitar playing and Michael Gira's sonorous chanting. The texts mostly dealt with loneliness, emotional and sexual dependency and (often erotic) individual or institutional violence. On the album Children of God (1986) the sound was supplemented with acoustic instruments. Keyboardist Jarboe, who joined the Swans in 1985, now also appeared as lead singer.

The Burning World (1989), co-produced by Bill Laswell, had an even stronger folk and ethno influence. White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity (1991) and Love Of Life (1992), again produced by Gira alone, combined folkloric, orchestral and noise rock elements with sound collages. The instrumentation in this phase was very complex: Among other things, twelve-string guitars , mandolins , violin and cello could be heard.

With The Great Annihilator (1995) and Soundtracks for the Blind (1996) the folk influence faded into the background in favor of ambient sounds. The latter album in particular is one of the most complex in the band's history.

The Swans had a big impact on the Doom Metal scene due to the slowness and dark atmosphere of their early albums .


Chart positions
Explanation of the data
The Seer
  US 114 09/03/2012 (1 week)
To be child
  DE 56 05/23/2014 (2 weeks)
  AT 51 05/23/2014 (1 week)
  UK 38 05/24/2014 (1 week)
  US 37 05/31/2014 (2 weeks)
The Glowing Man
  DE 29 06/24/2016 (2 weeks)
  AT 24 07/01/2016 (1 week)
  CH 54 06/26/2016 (1 week)
  UK 61 06/30/2016 (1 week)
  US 151 07/09/2016 (1 week)
Leaving Meaning
  DE 58 11/01/2019 (1 week)
  AT 73 11/08/2019 (1 week)
  CH 77 03/11/2019 (1 week)

Studio albums


  • 1991: Body to Body, Job to Job (Unreleased Recordings 1982–1985)
  • 1999: Various Failures 1988-1992
  • 2003: Forever Burned
  • 2004: Mystery of Faith - Unreleased Pieces: Swans + World of Skin (compilation released under her name by singer Jarboe)

Live albums

  • 1986: Public Castration Is a Good Idea
  • 1986: A Long Slow Screw (VHS)
  • 1987: Feel Good Now
  • 1990: Anonymous Bodies in an Empty Room
  • 1992: Omniscience
  • 1995: Kill the Child
  • 1998: Swans Are Dead
  • 2012: We Rose from Your Bed with the Sun in Our Head
  • 2013: Not Here Not Now
  • 2015: The Gate

Singles and EPs

  • 1982: Swans ( EP )
  • 1984: Young God (EP)
  • 1986: Time Is Money (Bastard)
  • 1986: A Screw
  • 1987: New Mind
  • 1988: Love Will Tear Us Apart
  • 1989: Saved
  • 1989: Can't Find My Way Home
  • 1992: Love of Live / Amnesia
  • 1994: Celebrity Lifestyle /
  • 1996: The door is closed (EP)
  • 1996: Failure / Animus
  • 1997: I Am the Sun

See also

Web links


  1. Jessamy Culkin: Nobody knows No Wave . In: The Daily Telegraph , January 26, 2008. Retrieved May 24, 2010. 
  2. Gira in an interview with the magazine Reflex , issue 03/1988.
  3. Swans. Band profile and records. (No longer available online.) In: Young God Records. Archived from the original on October 16, 2012 ; Retrieved October 30, 2012 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / younggodrecords.com
  4. Michael Moynihan: Swan's interview with Seconds (1996). (No longer available online.) In: Swans website. Archived from the original on June 2, 2015 ; Retrieved July 31, 2011 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / swans.pair.com
  5. Chris Mitchell: Swans: Swans Are Dead: Swans' Song. In: Spike Magazine. Retrieved July 31, 2011 .
  6. ^ Jordon N. Mamone: The Final Sacrifice: M. Gira retires Swans. (No longer available online.) In: Swans website. CMJ, archived from the original on November 28, 2012 ; Retrieved October 30, 2012 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / swans.pair.com
  7. Max Lampin: New Swans album in September. In: Loss of Form - Blog . Retrieved October 30, 2012 .
  8. Jarboe . In: Slayer , No. 20, Blood Fire Death , 2010, p. 84.
  9. Johnson Cummins: Back on dark waters ( Memento from January 20, 2012 in the web archive archive.today ).
  10. http://pitchfork.com/news/52639-swans-funding-new-album-with-live-record-and-more-michael-gira-will-write-a-song-about-you/
  11. metacritic : The Swans: To Be Kind
  12. M. Gira, Young God Records 2019
  13. Tour dates 2020
  14. Jim Knipfel: Addicted to Sound: An Interview with Michael Gira. In: The Brooklyn Rail . February 2007, accessed October 30, 2012 .
  15. Chart sources: DE AT CH UK US