The Black Swans:
Jerry DeCicca- acoustic guitar, vocals
Tyler “Turkeyfoot” Evans- banjo, deep breathing
Canaan Faulkner- bass, backing vocals
Chris Forbes- electric guitar
Keith Hanlon- drums, engineer
Noel Sayre- violin (R.I.P.)
Here’s a story about the Black Swans, happy and sad and blah.
Who Will Walk in the Darkness with You?, is the debut album released by Delmore Recording Society in 2004 to lots of really good and really bad reviews.
It dives deep into a pond of existential doubt and functions as a collection of musical vignettes where characters negotiate how to get along in the world with and without the person to whom they feel closest. Rarely acknowledging gender, the lyrics have a purposeful drift, playing out strained, washed-out moments inspired by the likes of Robert Creeley, Kris Kristofferson, Gene Hackman in the Conversation and Elliot Gould in The Long Goodbye (What? No women?)
Sex Brain E.P. was released March of 2006 on Bwatue Records, our own little fake-label, named after the A-side of the Phil Ochs 45 on A&M that he recorded in Kenya. It means “Canoe” in Swahili.
The E.P. is a high concept, five-song cycle which examines the tragi-comic throes of intimacy concerning the deep and dark psychological-sexual tug-of-war between our superego and id without Freud’s referee, the ego, anywhere in sight. Yes!
Disturbing, funny, and completely unrepressed, Sex Brain subjects itself to casual intimacy (“I.D.W. 2 F.”), the dangers and highs of aphrodisiac (“Friends”), masturbation (“Your Hands”), hetero bed death (“Dark Plums”), and the anxieties and joys that a meaningful relationship can acquire (“My Lips”). “Erotic realism”? You bet someone was reading Ovid’s Amores and some Donald Hall and listening to a little Eminem. It holds the honor of being the least favorite Black Swans release of many moms and, oddly, a favorite among many feminist ex-girlfriends.
Change! is our third album and released by people that call themselves La Société Expéditionnaire in 2007. A dozen slow burning songs dealing with the reconciliation and reconstruction of the spirit and self, it is more heavy dung. To fund the finishing touches, crooner/songwriter DeCicca supplemented his Abe Lincoln balloon-animal children’s party gig (aka Dr. Silverfoot) and took a job for 3 months as an afternoon DJ at a strip club.
During this time, we traveled all over the US on self-booked tours in a ’95 Ford Taurus (new radiator, new used engine, new transmission, new battery, new starter, new used tires).
In July 2008, the worst thing happened. Our friend and band mate, Noel Sayre, passed away due to a swimming accident at a public pool in Portsmouth, Ohio. He was great violinist and a great person that will be sorely missed. He helped define the band in sound and spirit.
Are you still reading?
In April 2010, The Black Swans released, Words Are Stupid, on St. Ives, a boutique label brought to you by the fine minds behind Secretly Canadian. We were invited to by the label to make an album, so all words and music were created specifically for the release. Again conceptual, it deals with how language fails us and makes use of stray violin tracks that were found on Noel’s hard-drive after his death. It was released on 250 vinyl lps and digital download.
Too, in late June 2007, DeCicca co-produced the first new recordings by 1970’s Monument recording artist, Larry Jon Wilson and they feature Noel Sayre on violin on 4 tracks. Wilson was featured in the cult documentary Heartworn Highways that also includes early portraits of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. These new recordings took place in Perdido Key, Florida. It was released in June 2008 on UK label 1965 Record. Drag City released it in the US in summer 2009. Here is a video link that documents the making of the album. Larry Jon passed away in June 2010.
The Black Swans and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy paid tribute to Larry Jon Wilson with a split 7” distributed by Drag City in Sept. 2010.
DeCicca also produced a new album by Bob Martin, who’s 1973 RCA album Midwest Farm Disaster is a classic and a favorite. Black Swans Chris Forbes (electric guitar) and Canaan Faulkner (bass) also lend their talents to the recording. It is currently unreleased.
In May 2011, The Black Swans released Don’t Blame the Stars, on Misra records. A(nother) concept album, this time about being agnostic and placing your faith in music and friendship instead of a higher power, with nods to R&B, country, and rock and name-checking Joe Tex, Roy Orbison, Jimi Hendrix, Sam Cooke, Iris Dement, and many others. It was recorded (mostly) in a garage and mixed in a kitchen. It received nice reviews from MOJO, Pitchfork, Paste, Popmatters, and other fine places.
Noel played on most of the songs just weeks before he passed.
Our next record, Occasion for Song, is being released Spring 2012 by the Misra. The songs deal directly with the loss of Noel and the aftermath of memories, grief, and the rebound.
The Black Swans live in the wondrous Columbus, Ohio.