Michael Rolfe Gira (pronounced jeer-AH) (born February 19, 1954) is an American musician, author, and artist. He is the main force behind the recently reformed New York City musical group Swans and fronts The Angels of Light. He is also the founder of Young God Records.
Gira lived with his parents in a relatively affluent suburb of Los Angeles, California though they divorced when he was a young teenager. After staying with his alcoholic mother for much of his youth, he was sent to live with his father in Indiana and then Paris.
He ran away from home and hitch-hiked across Europe, and was finally arrested for selling drugs in Israel. Although he was only a teenager at the time, he was placed in an adult prison. His father found Gira with the aid of Interpol and sent him back to the United States.
Early musical career
Back in Los Angeles, he played in a band called Little Cripples and enrolled in art school and imagined that he would someday be a visual artist (Gira sketched obsessively); however, he soon became disillusioned with the elitism and academia surrounding the art world and dropped out. However, Gira's interest in art is known to have affected his music; The Angels of Light song "Inner Female" is a study of Francis Bacon.
In 1979 Gira moved to New York City in order to start a band; he was influenced by No Wave and noise artists like Suicide and Glenn Branca. He played with the band Circus Mort before forming Swans. Before achieving success with his music, Gira worked many jobs in construction and demolition. He also began a short-lived art magazine, No.
Initially, Swans' focus was raw rhythm and abrasive textures, usually eschewing melody for visceral power. They became known for their abrasive experimental and post-industrial sound. Their commercial success was limited, but Swans earned much critical notice and had a devoted following.
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