Swans | Michael Gira | InterviewNot that many of you probably care, but I'll state my not-so-humble opinion: Swans are one of the only rock groups left in the country worth a damn. During their thirteen struggling years of existence they have never forsaken the frightening purity of their work. And if you can think of too many other rock bands deserving the title "pure"--save maybe for the Stooges--then I'd like to hear about them.
Formed in 1982 by singer/songwriter MICHAEL GIRA along with the recurring core of Norman Westberg (guitar), Al Kizys (bass), and a rotating door of other members, the band began putting forth an uncompromising claustrophobic palpitation, driving Gira's Iyrical explorations of domination and servitude stripped bare of any notions of romantic eroticism. After building up their sound into a veritable avalanche of sheer, atonal power in tracks "I Crawled" and "Raping a Slave", singer/keyboardist Jarboe moved to New York and joined the band, bringing in new, hauntingly beautiful textures. What had previously been a throbbing black hole was now put in balance with tracks of harmony, melody, and more traditional song structures, as evidenced on the stunning 1987 double LP Children of God. It was at this point Swans attracted the attention of a major label, MCA, and signed with its subsidiary UNI for the release of 1989's The Burning World, in what would become the most sordid debacle of their career. Forced to surrender production duties to Bill Laswell, the result was a lavish, extravagant work which succeeded in alienating earlier fans while at the same time failing to gain a new audience due to the label's lack of any promotion and ultimate dissolution. Finally recovering from the lingering fallout of the disaster, Gira regrouped Swans and eventually signed to Sky Records for a pair of brilliant releases, White Light From the Mouth of Infinite and Love of Life, both of which sustain a compelling and crystalline canvas of sound.
Enough of history. Swans have just released The Great Annihilator (Invisible), their first studio recording in almost three years. Once again, it's unlike anything you'll hear coming out of the so-called alternative music scene, although there's hardly an aggressive band in existence who don't cite Swans ' as a seminal influence. Michael Gira has composed a work of mind-expanding scope, from the simple evocative beauty of songs like "Blood Promise" to the swirling, relentless vortex of the title track. There are no concessions to commerce (witness the vicious sarcasm of the first single, "Celebrity Lifestyle") nor is there any desire to simply create cacophony for its own cheap sake.
Besides his work in Swans, Gira has also finished a solo album, Drainland, and this spring will see the publication of his book The Consumer and Other Stories (2.13.61), which collects his prose writings from 1985 to the present.
There's no point in weaving any long arguments why the music of Swans deserves your attention. The bottom line is that it does, and if you're lucky, you'll realize it sooner rather than later.
SECONDS: The Great Annihilator was recorded in Chicago as opposed to New York, where most of the past Swans work has been done. How did you end up there?
GIRA: Actually, we've recorded in a lot of different places around the world, and this just came about like most things, it seems, through inertia. We got hooked up with what was supposed to be cheap studio time there. I spent three months living inside a windowless warehouse, never going outside, drinking far too much and making fresh enemies with whomever had the bad luck to come in to work on the album or stare at me like an evil troll on display. A real fun time! Jarboe and I slept in a tent in the room next to the recording console because the warehouse was infested with mosquitoes that bred in the toxic sludge outside in nearby Cabrini Green and worked their way in through the air vents, honing in on our blood. It was like camping out, except in a subterranean cell where nothing ever changes. Most of my time was spent shuffling around comatose in the debris like a zombie, listening to the same sounds over and over, trying to remember what I was doing there--this is my impression of Chicago. But don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed myself. That's why the album sounds so great!
SECONDS: The new record features musicians such as Bill Rieflin from Ministry. What brought him into the folds of SWANS?
GIRA: According to Mr. Rieflin, he was on tour a few years ago with Ministry and got hold of the tape of White Light From The Mouth Of lnfinity, listened to it quite a bit on the bus, and though he was familiar with our earlier albums, decided now that if he ever had the chance he'd like to work with us. Later, he met Al Kizys backstage somewhere, so when it came time to record The Great Annihilator, Al put us together. Jarboe and I have since gone on to record and co-produce, with Bill, my so-called solo album, Drainland, at his studio in Seattle.
SECONDS: Who else participated in The Great Annihilator?
GIRA: Martin Atkins played on the Jarboe song "My Buried Child," and Clint Steele and Norman Westberg played guitar. Ted Parsons played drums on a few songs, and Al played bass ...
SECONDS: I take it you wrote most of the album and produced it, as on the previous few SWANS releases?
GIRA: Yes. Except for "My Buried Child" and the "outro" to the album, where Jarboe co-wrote the music with me. She is also a strong collaborator on the arrangements and obviously adds a lot with her singing too.
SECONDS: What was the extent of the SWANS relationship with Sky Records, and is the material they released still in print?
GIRA: The relationship with Sky was the typical disastrous and hopeless business blunder, and the material, though technically in print, is almost impossible to find. I don't want to single them out for particular contempt though, because managing Swans myself, as I have for the last twelve years in the US, I've done nothing but blow one opportunity after another and dig a deeper and deeper grave for the band the harder I work on it, so there's really no one to blame but myself, if things work out--and there's no guarantee of that--a large and extremely well-respected, honest, and wholly independent label which I can't name yet until it's finalized--will be taking over our entire back catalog, as well as a few new projects, in the near future.
SECONDS: Have your recurrent problems with labels been a result of your attempting to maintain as much direct control as possible over SWANS' destiny, or are they a product of dissatisfaction at how record companies (mis)handle the band?
GIRA: I think the problem lies with the fact that, even after so many years of persuasive reasons and believe otherwise, I tend to trust people and to assume the best rather than the worst and I give myself over to situations where I think I've finally found the place where our music will get a decent shot, because it feels so good to just give up on the pressure and responsibility of constant struggle. So then naturally I'm disappointed, and then I become uselessly vindictive and vengeful, alienating everyone thoroughly, and I develop a new camp of wounded and angry enemies. Then again, despite this obviously hopeless circle of naivete/cynicism, it's allowed me to keep making music, because I'm always optimistic that the hardship will ease up a little bit with the new album, so I continue. For instance, I'm currently delusional enough to think that just because the Great Annihilator is an original and powerful piece of work, that even though it's not on a major label and we have a tiny promotional budget. That it will naturally--maybe a little slower than otherwise--receive the attention it deserves. Isn`t that stupid of me, and shouldn't I know better by now?
SECONDS: What led you to signing with Martin Atkins and Invisible?
GIRA: The deal with Invisible is only for this one album. We rehearsed for the recordings at the Invisible loft, and Martin always made it clear that if nothing else worked out we could release the album through Invisible. So after we wasted a year dicking around with major labels it finally just seemed logical to take Martin up on his offer.
SECONDS: You appeared on the recent Pigface album, which seemed a bit out of character. Given your less than positive opinions on most American music, why participate in what sounds to me like a somewhat contrived Alternative Rock supergroup?
GIRA: I don't view Pigface in the same way you do. It seems to me the natural thing for Martin to do, being a drummer and a producer, to work with the wide variety of people he knows, according to how he thinks a track should sound. But anyway, I was in Chicago, and it was a trade-off for playing on the SWANS album.
SECONDS: What was your involvement with NO mag from LA in the early Eighties? One of my memories from around the age of thirteen was of my mother searching my room, finding a few issues of NO mag, and confiscating and destroying them as pornography.
GIRA: I started NO magazine with my friend from art school. Bruce Kalberg. We had started to go to the early Punk shows, videotaping them, and we really liked the destructive energy implied in the music and the scene. We admired Slash magazine at the time. Bruce once took out a full-page ad in Slash, a photo of the top of his head in close-up with a strip shaved down the center and a greasy strip of liver filling in the bald area, and an obscure text beneath the photo. In fact, I think he'd even started shopping wearing the liver, going to gigs, letting it rot on his head. Later, I took out a full page ad in Slash myself, a picture of myself squatting in front of the camera in a straightjacket, my face made up to look like Boris Karloff in The Mummy, and an incredible long and knobby penis stretching up from my crotch and into my mouth, dripping, as I leered into the lens. The caption read, "Here I am Seen Thinking Of You." Naturally this was meant to be an anonymous photo, but later when I was doing an interview with the Go-Go's for NO they all recognized me ... We thought we could help bring out the more repulsive and negative aspects of Punk Rock in a magazine of our own, so we started NO. We had interviews with the usual suspects, like X and The Germs. Both of which bands we admired and saw play every time we had a chance, but thought it would be good to include other aspects as well. We had an interview published of my personal god of the time, Suicide, as well as things like an interview with a working dominatrix from Hollywood who told about torturing judges and businessmen, alleviating her guilt by urinating in their faces or raping them with a dildo, things like that. We had a photo-spread of an autopsy, which we made the cover issue number two. Also crude pornography, tentative but endearingly scabrous drawings and anonymous writing by me, and various excellent photo-narratives by Bruce. We also had the usual gushing interviews with bands, and on occasion some really bad jerky graphics surrounding photos of the scene, for which I take the full share of embarrassment. So some of it was good, some bad, but we meant well. I really liked Punk Rock at the time--I don't like its present day stylized de-evolutions--and absolutely loathed American consumer society, so I enjoyed it when we'd Ieave a gig at two in the morning and break every window in our path--that kind of thing. It was all really puerile of course, but again, we meant well. It felt good to have so much bilious energy in the air, a place to vent pent-up misdirected rage. Anyway, we couldn't get NO Magazine in LA. We had to drive up to San Francisco to the place that printed all the porn for the West Coast, and I'd drive back in Bruce's VW bug with 1500 full newspapersized magazines in the back seat and trunk. In the end we could never sell them anyway--Bruce later kept on publishing it and had some success with it for awhile--and had to give most of them away at gigs. Only one newsstand on Hollywood Boulevard and a few Punkish record stores would sell it.
SECONDS: Was there a noticeable point for you when Punk lost its attraction or appeal?
GIRA: Yes, almost immediately! As soon as Hardcore set in it kind of made me sick, because it took the most stupid and obvious aspects of the style and used them like an anthem or rallying call for meathead teenagers, drunk on their sticky sense of belonging, group bonding. There are a few exceptions to that though. I really liked Black Flag, because of the immensity of the sound and the erupting violence of it (especially live), and Henry's agony was always a pleasure to watch, and I also appreciated the Dead Kennedys, particularly Jello's hilariously poisonous black humor. But I immediately hated the Hardcore audience, because they seemed for the most part just like football jocks looking for someone to beat up. So I gravitated more towards things like Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Public Image (who were far better than the Sex Pistols, musically, in my opinion), Suicide, then later Neubauten and, well, us!
SECONDS: What else were you doing in this period of your life?
GIRA: I started a bad Art band called Little Cripples, later called strict Ids, and finally just IDS. We played with the Bags, the Mau-Maus, X, and Negative Trend. Eventually I was fired, wisely, because I couldn't sing. The band went on to become the rather ineffectual B-People. I also wrote a few reviews of albums and live shows for Slash, did some truly, monifyingly stupid performance art, did construction work and painted houses for a living, and once had the opportunity to serve as an assistant in a Hermann Nitsch performance, Orgies Mysteries Theater, washing blood and entrails off the performers. Lately I've written a sort of homage to that period of time and to Bruce, in the form of a story called "The Young Man Who Hid His Body Inside A Horse, or My Vulvic Los Angeles." It was inspired by this performance Bruce wanted to do, but sadly was never able to execute. He wanted to get a horse, bring it into a gallery, slaughter it, and crawl into its guts wearing scuba gear. The idea was he would live inside its corpse as it rotted, breathing oxygen supplied by the scuba tanks. I've since found out that the Romans used to sew Christian virgins into the carcasses of animals, with just the heads protruding, and the poor girls would die slowly by their bodies rotting alive inside the animal's body. I don't know if Bruce was aware of this, though.
SECONDS: Tell me about what happened during the Nitsch performance you were part of?
GIRA: That was in Venice, CA, around 1978-79. A woman I was involved with at the time ran an arts organization that presented stuff that wouldn't otherwise be seen in any institutional or established art context. The Nitsch event was more of a ritual than a performance in that it lasted about four to six hours and was right there all around you--not on a stage--in a storefront that had been emptied out for the occasion. Strung up in this white room were the skinned carcasses of two lambs, ropes stretching out from each limb to the floor and ceiling so that the dead meat was suspended in mid-air. Something like a hundred gallons of lambs' blood and entrails had been supplied in vats as well, and as a series of young boys, naked and blindfolded, were brought out on a stretcher, the blood, etc. was poured through the carcass and over the tender youth's bodies, into their mouths, etc. This obscure series of ritualized actions was directed by Nitsch himself, who was this little fat guy dressed in black like a priest without a collar, with a pasty white Austrian face with ruby red moist lips, sort of like you might picture a bloated and drunk Napoleon-figure, and he was wearing this one oversized black rubber glove on his right hand, and with it he'd direct people. He'd gathered a sizable orchestra of street people, punks, volunteers, and with a raising or lowering of his black hand they'd let loose with a really loud squall of noise played by horns, drums, whistles, anything that made sounds, so this roaring cacophony punctuated or egged on the Mass taking place. Everyone was drinking lots of wine from jugs that were passed around; the idea was to get drunk as possible and revel in the blood and sound, and eventually it just built to a point where the boy volunteer sacrifices started shaking in uncontrollable convulsions. By this time--after hours of the overwhelming surges of sound, the stink of the meat and blood--the room had filled a couple of inches deep in blood and offal and everyone was just wallowing in it. Really wonderful! A couple of the assistants, who were pouring the blood and just and just generally executing Nitsch's commands--actually it was the kipper Kids, who'd met Nitsch once in Austria--got carried away and cut the bottom ropes so the blood was flying everywhere. Half the audience was naked by this point and blood-soaked and in a drunken dream state. Eventually the blood was pouring out the door onto the street outside and the police came. It was funny to see them in their neat blue suits amidst the slaughter...I don't really remember too much beyond that, because I was so drunk myself and it was so long ago, but the main thing I took away from the event--besides a stink that I couldn't wash off for weeks--was the sense of being overwhelmed by the blood and sound, the way it slowed down time, and I wanted it to go on forever. In a way it was a really pure religious experience. I think I fucked like a wild beast that night. By the way, there are now a few CDs out of the music from Nitsch's rituals, and I highly recommend them, though naturally they're really hard to find.
SECONDS: Can the other earlier New York band you were involved with, Circus Mort, be seen as a precursor to what would become SWANS?
GIRA: That was an idiotic waste of time. I had nothing to do with writing the music. Again, I sang badly and my main talent seemed to be standing there looking emaciated--at 6-foot-5 I weighed 150 lbs. due to an unhealthy attachment to speed--and making my eyes bulge as I squeaked, struggling to find my voice. I wrote good words though.
SECONDS: How prevalent or integral were drugs to the punk scene in your experience?
GIRA: People seemed to drink a lot, and certainly there was a lot of Methadrine around--a really evil and corrosive drug--and though at first LSD was looked down upon as a vestige of the hated Hippies--I took a lot of it myself when I was a psychedelicized thirteen-year-old runaway street kid--towards the end of my time in LA, around 1979, I seem to remember that people were taking a lot of LSD, which was a weird sensation coupled with the music of that time. I suppose I should point out here that I don't recommend drugs to young people, but then again, you have--though it's outmoded to mention it--something called free will, so you can fend for yourself.
SECONDS: Has the idea behind the SWANS changed significantly over its twelve-year history?
GIRA: It's very simple. Swans has always been a vehicle for satisfying whatever urges I'm subject to at the time, a place where I can make sounds or sensations happen that I want to experience. As I grow bored with one thing. I move on to something else.
SECONDS: At one point SWANS were touted--presumably at your instigation--as the "loudest band in the world."
GIRA: That slogan certainly did not originate with me. I hated that perception of SWANS. But of course the music was loud--still is, sometimes--simply because the sounds weren't the same unless they were at a certain volume level. You can't get the same over tones in a room and your body doesn't really feel the bass frequencies unless they're at a certain volume, and these were aspects of the sound I was interested in experiencing at the time: they turned a key in my head, changed me in a way I found stimulating and enjoyed. But there was nothing macho about it, no desire to dominate. Instead I wanted to elevate, or disintegrate--I used to make tape loops of grinding metal, a baby crying, slowed down, low-frequency synth noise, distorted screams, etc., and I'd put, say, a half-hour of each of these loops on its own cassette. Then, in the rehearsal space I had on 6th Street in NYC, I'd give each cassette its own tape player and hook each tape player up to its own SVT bass set-up, with the amps arranged in a circle, pointing inward, and I'd play the tapes at full volume, with me standing in the middle of it as the loops bombarded me. It felt great! That's the sensation I wanted from SWANS, in the early days, except more...
SECONDS: Are some of these the same recordings that appeared on Body To Body, Job to Job?
GIRA: Some of them, yes.
SECONDS: You've often expressed dismay at the kind of audiences the early SWANS shows began to attract, i.e., the Metal crowd. Was there some kind of elusive audience you would have preferred to those who merely showed up to be blasted with noise?
GIRA: I have a problem, or an uneasiness, with audiences generally. Except in a few rare circumstances I can't stand to be in an audience anymore. Something about the warmth, the density of the flesh, makes me feel like I'm choking. It's just oppressive. Now I know that as a performer you're supposed to give your all no matter what the circumstances, but I found it particularly hideous when we start to attract--not all, mostly in the front row--really dumb-looking Rock & Roll types, banging their heads. I realize that the extremity of the music and the way it was presented in the press had a lot to do with it, but I couldn't tolerate looking at them as I sang, and Jarboe had to put up with much worse--sexual taunts, gobs of spit, trying to reach up her leg as she sang--and so I had to question what it was attracting those kind of people and excise it.
SECONDS: Is there an appropriate audience then?
GIRA: I'm not saying I expect reverie or admiration from an audience, but I would like to have the feeling they're actually listening to the music and not just using it as an excuse to twitch and rub their bodies up against each other. Why don't they just go out in the parking lot, if that's all they want, and just massively buttfuck each other--get it over with? But anyway, no, just judge by our lack of commercial success; there is no appropriate audience for Swans, and I don't really care who's there in front of us, so long as they're not repulsive to behold.
SECONDS: How much does the composition/attitude of the audience matter?
GIRA: As I say, for the most part the audience's job is to be still and listen, sort of like bipedal cows, or less disparagingly, like someone who is actually polite enough to sit quietly and listen to what you have to say during a conversation. As long as they don't distract me, they're fine with me.
SECONDS: To what extent was physical violence between you and the audience a part of early Swans shows?
GIRA: None, really. Except one time years ago when we were touring with Sonic Youth when we typically had an audience of about ten people, some guy was actually pogo-ing in his bright orange Devo jumpsuit at the front of the stage as we played, and it was just so pathetic I couldn't help myself. I climbed down from the stage and threw him to the ground, yelled at him to get the hell out of there. Similarly now, if anyone stage dives or moshes (what a joke!) at one of our shows I'll stop the music. I really hate group identity rituals like that. They're just a microcosm, a little factory workshop exercise in conformism.
SECONDS: It seems to me that some of the repetitive dissonance of your earlier work has a renewed prominence on The Great Annihilator. Was this catalyzed by anything specific?
GIRA: I don't really understand the question, because I've never thought our music as dissonant, ever. I've always modestly thought that it was and is very beautiful and harmonious, transcendental...
SECONDS: So a song like "Raping a Slave" is harmonious?
GIRA: Yes! Very much so! In fact, at the moment I'm rehearsing several songs, old ones and new ones, to perform solo with just me and an acoustic guitar, and that song in particular sounds really rich with the opening tuning I use, like a medieval love song--very pleasant I think.
SECONDS: You've expressed misgivings about your older prose writing, which I think appeared originally as a book called Traps.
GIRA: There never was a book called Traps. The old writing appeared in a compilation book of NYC writers and musicians and artists that Barbara Ess and Glenn Branca published, called Just Another Asshole, as well as in Forced Exposure and in Charles Neal's book about music in the Eighties, Tape Delay. There was also a pamphlet/book with Raymond Pettibone drawings called Selfishness.
SECONDS: Selfishness was the title I was thinking of. Who put that out, and did it get any wide circulation?
GIRA: SST distributed that, and I got paid once in awhile, so I think it got around.
SECONDS: Are you able to view the earlier writing in a more detached way now, or do you dread seeing it in print again as part of your upcoming book?
GIRA: I think that the older writing I did, although extremely disgusting to me--especially after not having read it in so many years and having recently re-edited it--is very good writing and deserves to be read, even if only from the point of view of cautionary epigrams. My main reservation about seeing it re-published is that I suspect if anyone notices I'll be vilified for it in today's less-than-tolerant climate. But so what? The newer writing, though maybe more developed, ain't exactly fun-loving either, and how much lower can I really sink anyway? I am happy that Rollins and 2.13.61 had the good judgement to publish a book by me and I hope it sells and they make a large amount of money for their efforts.
SECONDS: How would you differentiate the new prose from the older material?
GIRA: Well, I'm no longer a stewing agglomeration of cancerous hormonal hatred, for one thing, so I'm not just spitting out barked declarations of objectified poison! Or maybe I've learned to tell a story and can get my personal corruption out of the way. Who knows?
SECONDS: Is Swans music a reflection of your external or your internal worlds?
GIRA: I can't really tell the difference between the "inside" and the "outside," so it's hard to say.
SECONDS: Are you glad to have left New York?
GIRA: Ecstatic might be a better word. I can't blame it on the place per se, of course, but to me it went from a wonderland when I first arrived there to be a hunched, claustrophobic concrete maze stained with bad memories, lost friendships, public failures ... the walls of the windowless bunker I lived in for twelve years were fairly gooey for so long, by the time I left.
SECONDS: Does writing music fulfill some necessary aspects of your existence, and has your troubled history of dealing with the record industry affected your feelings about it?
GIRA: To me it's a satisfying job, as any job would be under ideal circumstances in that it taxes the full extent of my resources, except that in my case it pays nothing and in fact seems to want to hammer me further and further into hopeless debt! So as a result, I am definitely bitter and hateful towards the music industry, while simultaneously not really caring at all. But what is there to actually be bitter about? I made my own choices, dug my own grave, and ultimately I'm responsible for my own fate, so why complain? Still, hatred does inspire me sometimes and I often write about people I'd like to see suffer horribly.
SECONDS: There's an undeniable central importance of violence in the music and more specifically, the lyrics of Swans. Do you not feel some sort of complicity in endorsing violence?
GIRA: Actually, I think that we here in the US, probably to our detriment, live in the least truly violent society of any in history.
SECONDS: What would be a more fitting time and place for us?
GIRA: A place where in order to get the keys to the kingdom you'd have to climb naked up a hundred feet of rope made of razor blades.
SECONDS: How is alcohol the seed?
GIRA: If you're talking about the song "Alcohol The Seed," that was a little prayer I wrote to myself in partial delirium during one of those quasi-conscious states of hyper-awareness one gets when they wake up an hour or two after passing out drunk. In fact this night was the drunkest I recall ever being, and my mind was flashing hot white light, like peaking on LSD, and in a way, despite the degenerate quality of the experience and all the bad and regrettable self-destruction associated with such behavior, I was soaring in a real pure way, and had a sense of my molecules dissolving in liquid-space, and it felt good, so I mapped the chords out on my guitar, then slept for a few days.
SECONDS: I don't usually think of alcohol as having such transcendental qualities, but maybe I just haven't gotten to the proper levels yet.
GIRA: I guess you had to be there.
SECONDS: On Drainland there's a very personal conversation in the background of one of the songs. Why would you want to put something of that nature into the public domain?
GlRA: The song is called "You See Through Me." I view it in a couple of different ways. In one way, it's a homage to Jarboe--as was the song "Her," with the recording of her made when she was thirteen--and in another sense it's just a found narrative put over some music to make a little audio-film, the words and music qualifying each other. I don't mind that I'm obviously the villain/fool of the scenario. It was recorded surreptitiously while I was quite drunk, and it's a real argument--it's not staged. But it was about three years ago, so I don't really care about it being "personal." I think it's like a one-act play, maybe a more lumpen--on my part--version of an Albee play.
SECONDS: Do you still drink the way you apparently did at the time that argument was recorded?
GIRA: Just because I decided to make that one fragment of time, that little moment of decrepit vaudeville, a section of a piece of music that other people might hear, doesn't mean my personal habits are anyone's business.
SECONDS: There have been a number of found recordings turning up on the last few Swans records.
GIRA: We're going to make a whole album of so-called "found" narratives like that, set to music, sometime this year. We have a growing collection of tapes: surveillance tapes Jarboe's father made--he was an FBI agent--that she found in his desk after he died, interviews I did with my father and mother, people I owe money to calling me up and threatening me on the phone machine, more tapes of Jarboe as a little girl, Jarboe reading stories, etc.--sort of like those Burl Ives records where he narrates the story of Br'er Rabbit to music! Any old excuse to make seventy minutes of marketable escapism.
SECONDS: Why hasn't Swans received the recognition it deserves?
GIRA: Well, there's a boundless stream of recriminations, self and otherwise, that could flow from that question, but let's just leave it with this oppressively truthful axiom: you get what you deserve.
SECONDS: What motivates you to continue with it all, despite the disappointments and the parasitism of the music business?
GIRA: As I say, blind, pigheaded perseverance. Also, I sure as hell can't go back to construction work, because my knees and elbows were ruined by it.
SECONDS: If you wrote an epitaph for Swans, what would it be?
GIRA: It would read: "Stay back! Turn around! Go Away!"