Norman Westberg

Last updated
Norman Westberg
Norman Westberg with Swans 2014.jpg
Westberg performing with Swans in 2014
Background information
Also known asNorman Westburg
OriginNew York City, New York, United States
Genres Experimental rock, noise rock, experimental, post-punk
Years active1982–present
Associated acts Swans, Wiseblood, Jarboe, Foetus, Heroine Sheiks, Carnival Crash

Norman Westberg is a guitarist from Detroit best known for his work with Swans. Present through almost the entirety of the band's existence, Westberg was brought on for Swans' debut album Filth (1983) and appeared on every album through 1991's White Light From the Mouth of Infinity (he also played on the 1995 album The Great Annihilator ). [1] Westberg became a full-time Swans member once again when Michael Gira reactivated the group in 2010. [2]

Swans (band) American band

Swans are an American experimental rock band formed in 1982 by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michael Gira. One of few acts to emerge from the New York City-based no wave scene and stay intact into the next decade, Swans have become recognized for an ever-changing sound, exploring genres such as noise rock, post-punk, industrial and post-rock. Initially, their music was known for its sonic brutality and misanthropic lyrics. Following the addition of singer, songwriter and keyboardist Jarboe, who first appeared on the 1986 single "Time Is Money (Bastard)" and debuted as a songwriter on the 1987 album Children of God, Swans began to incorporate more melody and intricacy into their music. Jarboe remained the band's only constant member except Gira and semi-constant guitarist Norman Westberg until their dissolution in 1997.

<i>Filth</i> (Swans album) 1983 studio album by Swans

Filth is the debut studio album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released in 1983 through Neutral Records, following the release of the band's self-titled debut EP in 1982. Though it did not receive much contemporary attention, Filth has since been recognized as ahead of its time and significant to heavy genres of music.

<i>The Great Annihilator</i> 1995 studio album by Swans

The Great Annihilator is the ninth studio album by American experimental rock band Swans. It was released on January 23, 1995, through frontman Michael Gira's own record label, Young God. The album has been described by Gira as a companion album to his solo album Drainland (1995); the two were remastered and re-released together in April 2017.


Westberg's playing can also be heard on many Swans side projects, including The Body Haters and solo albums by Jarboe. Before Swans, he was a member of Carnival Crash. Westberg was for a short time a member of The Heroine Sheiks with Shannon Selberg (ex-The Cows) [3] as well as John Fell (ex-China Shop). Aside from the present incarnation of Swans, he currently plays in the NYC bands NeVAh (with Vinnie Signorelli & Algis Kizys) and Five Dollar Priest (formerly Size Queens) (with Ron Ward of Speedball Baby & Bob Bert among others). [4] He also appeared (credited as Norman Westburg) in a short film The Right Side of My Brain directed by Richard Kern and starring Lydia Lunch.

In popular music, a side project is a project undertaken by one or more people already known for their involvement in another band. It can also be an artist or a band temporarily switching to a different style.

Jarboe Singer, long-time member of Swans

Jarboe La Salle Devereaux, known mononymously as Jarboe (;), is an American singer-songwriter and keyboardist who came to prominence as a member of the New York City-based band Swans in 1985. Jarboe and Michael Gira, the founder of Swans, were the two constant members of the group until it broke up in 1997.

Shannon Scott Selberg is a noise/punk rock musician known for his unusual antics on stage. Formerly the frontman for the Minneapolis-based group The Cows, Selberg provided lead vocals, trumpet, bugle and hardcore guitar. After the dissolution of The Cows in 1998, Selberg, described by Pitchfork Media as "the Crispin Glover of the noise rock community", moved on to New York City noise-rock band, The Heroine Sheiks, where he has added keyboards to his repertoire.

On February 25, 2012, Westberg made two limited edition solo releases available at his webstore. [5] Plough is a four-track EP recorded from 2006 to 2009 and features Westberg coupling guitar with banjo and DX drum machine. [6] Limited Edition of 75 features one fifteen-minute-long ambient piece and is packaged in one-of-a-kind imagery, each disk being decorated with a unique MRI from a CD Westberg was given in hospital. [7] Both CD-Rs are packaged in handmade sleeves, Plough with a signed inner and Limited Edition of 75 signed and numbered on the disk itself.

In February 2014 Westberg released a third limited edition solo CD entitled 13 , which was then reissued through the ROOM40 record label on November 13, 2015. [8]

<i>13</i> (Norman Westberg album) 2015 studio album by Norman Westberg

13 is a solo album by American musician and Swans guitarist Norman Westberg. Originally released as a handmade limited edition disc, the album officially released on November 13, 2015 through Lawrence English's Room40 record label.

In 2014, [9] Westberg joined with Mark Shippy (U.S. Maple), Jim Sykes (Invisible Things), Matthew Wascovich (Scarcity Of Tanks), and Mike Watt (Minutemen) to form the art rock project band Hidden Rifles. [10] Their debut album, Across The Neighborhoods, was released in October 2017. [9]

U.S. Maple band

U.S. Maple was an American noise rock band. The group formed in Chicago in 1995. The band consists of Al Johnson, Mark Shippy (guitarist), Pat Samson (drummer), and Todd Rittmann (guitarist).

Mike Watt musician, songwriter

Michael David Watt is an American bassist, vocalist and songwriter.

Minutemen (band) punk rock band from San Pedro, California, USA

Minutemen were an American punk rock band formed in San Pedro, California in 1980. Composed of guitarist/vocalist D. Boon, bassist/vocalist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley, Minutemen recorded four albums and eight EPs before Boon's death in an automobile accident in 1985; after Boon's death, the band broke up. They were noted in the California punk community for a philosophy of "jamming econo"—a sense of thriftiness reflected in their touring and presentation—while their eclectic and experimental attitude was instrumental in pioneering alternative rock and post-hardcore.



1983 Filth
1984 Cop
1986 Greed
1986 Holy Money
1987 Children of God
1989 The Burning World
1991 White Light from the Mouth of Infinity
1995 The Great Annihilator
2010 My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky
2012 The Seer
2014 To Be Kind
2016 The Glowing Man


1998 Delirium Tremens

The Heroine Sheiks

2000 Rape on the Installment Plan
2002 Siamese Pipe

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  1. "Norman Westberg Instruments & Performance" . Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  2. Yardumian, Aram. "Beatific Annihilation_Part 2: Swans, My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky, Young God Records, 2010" . Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  3. Kennedy, Patrick. "Biography: The Heroine Sheiks". Allmusic . Retrieved June 8, 2010.
  4. "Norman Westberg Personal History" . Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  5. "Atmospheric Undertakings by normanwestberg on Etsy" . Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  6. "Plough – Music by Norman Westberg" . Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  7. "Limited Edition of 75 – CD by Norman Westberg" . Retrieved March 25, 2012.
  8. "Swans guitarist Norman Westberg announces solo album 13". Fact . September 18, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  9. 1 2 "New Hidden Rifles' album out now". Hidden Rifles. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  10. "HIDDEN RIFLES: Across the Neighborhoods: CD". Razorcake. July 25, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2019.