Swans came to underground prominence during the NYC “No-Wave” movement in the early 80s. Mixing elements of industrial, drone, noise, and other sub-genres of ‘rock’ (I’m sure there’s a music nerd [nerdier than me] somewhere who has thought up a condensed, two-word hybrid term that can summarize their initial sound), Swans both baffled and mesmerized their audiences. Enigmatic founder/frontman Michael Gira would sometimes wear nothing more than a bath towel on stage, screaming obscenities into the microphone until his voice was hoarse. Other times, the band would turn their amps up so loud that some audience members would actually become physically ill. This initial incantation of Swans spanned from 1982 to 1997.
In 2010, Gira reinstated the band (with a mix of original members and newcomers). Since then, their sound has evolved into something much more approachable. Well, at least more approachable for open-minded music lovers. These days, their compositions are much more cinematic and melodic. However, as is often the case with drone music, a lot of their songs still stretch past twenty minutes in length.
Interesting Fact: Gira spent a number of months in jail in Istanbul for selling hash when he was fifteen years old.
Recommended listening “The Glowing Man”