You ask who? Or you say, yet another “supergroup” Frontiers has put together? Yeah I was one of those skeptics as well. Over the years Frontiers has assembled a decent amount of hard rock royalty, and added them to the usual components of their stable. Sometimes it works great, but a lot of times you can tell it’s just a bunch of guys going through the motions to collect a check. I’m happy to say Black Swan isn’t like that, or at least they don’t seem to be based on the title track of their debut. Once the band starts to get things cooking, especially Mr. McAuley, you can tell that the band has the power to hook you in. Now, let’s play six degrees of separation, the band is made up of Robin McAuley, Jeff Pilson, Reb Beach and Matt Starr. Robin and Jeff recorded two McAuley Schenker releases together, the McAuley Schenker MSG album, and then Unplugged Live. Reb and Jeff recorded Dokken’s first official post George Lynch album Erase The Slate together. Matt plays for Ace Frehley, who once had Anthony Esposito in the band, and happens to be the original bassist of Lynch Mob, George Lynch’s first project after Dokken. So these guys have some history between them, even if it’s vicariously through one of the other members. As Robin Harris would say “small world!” I am psyched to hear the entire release, here is the video for the track “Shake The World”:
Here’s some information sent to us about the band and Shake The World:
Vocalist Robin McAuley (McAuley Schenker Group), guitarist Reb Beach (Winger, Whitesnake), bassist Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, The End Machine, ex-Dokken), and drummer Matt Starr (Ace Frehley, Mr. Big) have joined forces in BLACK SWAN, a new band project signed to Frontiers Music Srl. Their debut album, “Shake The World,” an aptly titled album if ever there was one, is a delightful romp of powerful hard rock that is not simply the sum of its parts, but a powerful rock ‘n roll machine. It will be released on February 14, 2020 on CD, LP, & Digital formats.
The genesis of Black Swan was sparked by a conversation between Jeff Pilson and Frontiers’ President & Head of A&R, Serafino Perugino, who wanted a project that would not only showcase McAuley’s vocal prowess, but have a mighty musical backbone to stand skyscraper tall behind him. Thus, the initial seeds were planted and Pilson ran with it from there. “Shake The World” was tracked at Pilson’s home studio in Los Angeles and is a showcase of both the musical talents of the instrumental players in the band as well as McAuley’s powerful voice. The four members got Black Swan off the ground by exchanging ideas back and forth and then bringing all the songs together. The final result is something fresh, very heavy, but still intensely melodic and it’s certainly not Dokken, nor Winger, nor MSG, or some combination thereof, but it’s own unique animal. As an example, one of the songs was written by Jeff Pilson right after seeing the Queen movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. “I came home and I sat down at the grand piano and pretty much wrote exactly the chorus that we have, just coming straight [from] the movie. It is a bit Queen-like.”
Continues Pilson, “It’s amazing, incredible music. Wait until you hear everybody’s playing and singing. It’s beyond — way beyond.”
Adds Robin McAuley, “This is really exciting for me to read: Black Swan announces the release of “Shake the World,” the first offering from the band on the Frontiers’ label.” I’ve known Jeff for some thirty years and we have a history of performing together on MSG Unplugged, in addition to being great friends, musically and socially. When he asked me to do this and collaborate with Reb, I didn’t have to think too long with my response. Initially he wasn’t going to play bass on this, but Reb and myself soon changed his mind, lol!!! Bringing Matt into the mix was a great decision. His powerful energy and style is unmistakable on this album. Overall, it is a very powerful blend of styles and writing. Reb is truly an amazing guitarist and songwriter. Jeff captured my vocals the way I like to sound. Probably the best vocal sound I’ve had… ever!!!! Such a great and creative studio experience for me. This is kick ass, powerful music on an album full of great songs. If you love strong melodies and BIG choruses, BLACK SWAN won’t disappoint!! It’s time…”SHAKE THE WORLD!!!”
Guitarist Reb Beach says, “When Jeff approached me to do this, I was so excited because I loved writing “Erase the Slate” with him for Dokken. I also played in the band with Jeff for four years, and we worked so well together, writing and live too. He is as good as it gets when it comes to a rock musician, a great songwriter and an absolute joy to work with. I came in with riffs, Jeff arranged them into a song by adding his own parts, and then Robin wrote the lyrics, and knocked it out of the park with the vocals. I am pretty particular about singers, and Robin’s voice is so slammin’ that I wouldn’t want anyone else. Matt came in with his huge drum sound, and we had a great sounding band. Very exciting stuff!!”
“Shooting the video was a blast,” says drummer Matt Starr. “Shot in Los Angeles over the course of two days, it was similar to recording the record, everything was very organic and comfortable. That’s the advantage of working with guys who have so much experience. There’s not too much discussion going on. Everybody knows what to do, we just get to work and do it. That leaves more time for hanging out, chatting and smoking cigars!”
Black Swan’s “Shake the World” is a killer slice of melodic hard rock and heavy metal from seasoned players who have gelled musically. Whether you are a fan from “back in the day” or brand new to the scene and just diving in, this album is essential listening!