Cry For Us Black Swans is the ethereal art-rock passion project from once feral frontman turned experimental singer-songwriter Jon Piotrowski.
Piotrowski has been in and out of the San Diego music scene for nearly a decade. Weary of lack of progress, lack of change and numerous inner band quarrels, Piotrowski stepped away from three projects he was deeply vested in at the start of 2010 - thrash rock/electro group Shark Attack, danceable new-wave group Cats From Japan, and most notably the grunge/post-punk band Demasiado whom he started with musical counterpart Damon De La Paz (original drummer of 30 Foot Fall and guitarist of Fenix TX) back in 2005. (Demasiado was joined in 2008 by founding member of Unwritten Law, Wade Youman).
In search of an artistic challenge, Piotrowski decided to pick up a guitar and play shows alone, harnessing the raw vulnerability of that approach. The batch of songs that he had written discretely over the latter half of the past decade soon became Piotrowski's Live set, 'Cry For Us Black Swans' became his moniker and recording an Album became his top priority.
Cry For Us Black Swans in present day is part moniker/part band in that a mojority of Live shows are stripped and raw, still with only Piotrowski's haunting vocals and an acoustic guitar; while other performances feature an array of added players and eclectic instruments - making for an emotionally encompassing and evocative take on the skeletons that are normally brought to the table (stage).
The Debut Full Length Album, "A Thousand Years" (Release Date: 5/29/2011) - Available on iTunes, BandCamp, and Vinyl Record blends these two extremes, showcasing the macabre songwriting of Jon with longtime friend, studio engineer, co-songwriter and ambient accompanying guru, Eric Walton.
In October 2011, "We Are Shadows" was released in a strictly digital format. It is a collection of B-sides and rarities from 'A Thousand Years', along with brand new tracks from Piotrowski and Walton.
In July 2011, Cry For Us Black Swans was nominated for a San Diego Music Award as the year's 'Best New Artist'.
Piotrowski currently resides in Austin, TX where he is recording the band's third album entitled "Silhouette Locust Valley" due out in Summer 2012.
Jon Piotrowski - Guitar, voice
Eric Walton - Bass, Guitar, Piano
"A Thousand Years" - Full Length Debut Album
Release Date: May 29, 2011
Available on Vinyl Record / iTunes / Bandcamp
"We Are Shadows"
Release Date: October 15, 2011
Available on iTunes / Bandcamp
Radio Airplay: Courtesy of FM94.9 (San Diego, CA) and 91X (San Diego, CA)
Learning to Cry - Former Demasiado singer Jon Piotrowski just wants to get the butterflies back
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Jon Piotrowski might not be a household name, but he just released a greatest-hits record. Well, kin...Jon Piotrowski might not be a household name, but he just released a greatest-hits record. Well, kind of.
“Yeah, this is ‘Best of Jon, Volume One,’” he jokes, referring to his new album, A Thousand Years. “And I mean that in the most narcissistic manner possible.”
Actually, Piotrowski, who’s been performing and recording under the name Cry for Us Black Swans for about a year, looks at the new record as more of a retrospective of the last decade. During that time, he’s been in a few bands, most notably alt-rockers Demasiado and the electro group Cats from Japan, but he says he kept wanting to work on the 10 songs that make up A Thousand Years.
“There are two songs on there that were recorded 10 years ago,” he says. “These songs have just been hanging around in my back pocket for a while. I was destined to put it out eventually.”
The casual listener could never tell that the record was a collection of songs from the Poway native’s entire musical career. The album seems thematically cohesive, as if the entire thing were recorded over a weekend in some dank studio. At times, it almost feels like a concept album with recurring themes of isolation, loneliness and unrequited love. If it sounds like a break-up record in the vein of Beck’s Sea Change or Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Piotrowski says that’s because it is.
“All the songs on A Thousand Years are break-up songs, but not about breaking up with a girl,” he says. “They are about the break-ups I went through with the four other members of Demasiado and the one other member of Cats from Japan. With these five guys I took a journey. Physically, we went nowhere, but spiritually, mentally and even metaphysically, we were off the charts—way off in another time and space. To come back from that with nothing but some dark memories and an acoustic guitar forced me to quit bands for the time being and purge all my songs out that I have been carrying around for so long.”
One of the album’s greatest strengths is Piotrowski’s undeniably affected voice. Sounding like a young Mark Lanegan, it’s an instrument in itself and one of the main reasons Demasiado gained a strong local following and appeared poised to break out nationally.
When they broke up in 2009, Piotrowski began garnering a reputation in the electro scene, playing with DJ Eric Flynn in Cats from Japan and collaborating with electro-rockers Shark Attack. He says he enjoyed dabbling with a new sound but that it garnered him a reputation he wasn’t necessarily looking for.
“People have asked me and still ask me if I’m a DJ, and I’m like, ‘Nah, man I’m not a DJ.’ I had to tell them, ‘No, I’m in a band, I swear.’” For someone who just turned 30, Piotrowski seems unaffected by the prospect of having to start over with Cry for Us Black Swans. He recently played the South by Southwest music festival, and even though he didn’t return with a record deal or media-hyped buzz, he says he’s just excited about playing music again.
“I think slowly if I just make albums and get on the road and tour and get people to know about me,” he says, “then maybe I’ll have the resources to sing with an orchestra or something like that.
“I feel the same hunger that I did when I was 16 years old. It got to a point with those other projects where I lost the butterflies,” Piotrowski says, referring to the feeling of nervousness before a show. “A lot of times, there was never that ‘Holy shit, I’m so fucking nervous’ moment when I played live. It was more like, ‘La-te-da, I have to go roll around on the ground again and act crazy.’ I want to challenge myself, pick up a guitar and get the butterflies again. I hate being that nervous, but you want to be that nervous, because then you know you’re doing something that’s completely challenging you and you’re completely vulnerable.”
--Article by Seth Combs
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