Swank's Guide to the Hate Life, Volume 1

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Editor's Note: You may know Ben Swank as the co-founder of Third Man Records. Or as the founder of Hate Life. Or as the drummer for The Black Faces. Swank has a decade-plus of experience as a hard-livin' rock 'n' roll dude, and has decided to share his expertise on relationships, sex, bands and life in an advice column we're calling "Swank's Guide to the Hate Life." In his own words, his responses will feature "examples of my many failures in whatever situation." Do you have a question for Swank? Email cream[at]nashvillescene[dot]com with "Ask Swank" in the subject line, and perhaps the man himself will help you figure out how exactly to hate life, and how to live The Hate Life. And now, without further ado ...

Q: My girlfriend says I drink too much, and she wants me to take a break. I'm just having a good time rocking and rolling, and I don't see what the big deal is. Should I quit or cut back for her?

A: How old are you? Are you past 35? If so, you should listen to her. If not, she's probably not the right girl for you (read: nagging harpy). I think you have until you're at least 35 to hit rock bottom. Never quit ANYTHING until you hit rock bottom. How do you know when you're as low as you're gonna go? Do you spend most of your days snorting Vicodin and masturbating and wondering if that branch in the tree outside your bedroom window could support your weight in a deadfall? Yeah, that's the spot.

Q: My boyfriend's band sucks, and he always wants me to come to his shows. How do I tell him I don't want to?

A: That's some Dark Ages shit right there. You're supposed to be the silent supporting girlfriend, when actually in REAL life you're the one who actually has good taste and a clear idea of what's what?! Listen, you're his woman and it's your duty to not only let him know that his band is shit but more importantly to undermine his every effort at success. You gotta break that shit up! Not only for you, but for the good of this town and his future self, who could very likely be filled with regret for the rest of his miserable life for having spent the prime years of his life in a ridiculous joke of a band. Ok. When I was fresh out of high school back in Toledo, we had this band called The Poop Spoons (yes, The Poop Spoons. Almost as bad a name as Diarrhea Planet), and The Poop Spoons would book gigs at all-ages shows at Veterans Halls and places like that ... basically anywhere really bad local bands were playing. We would show up and plug in TVs and use guitars as snare drums and make an unholy noise and smash televisions and radios on the floor until they cut the power, and basically the show would be over, thereby keeping these other terrible bands from doing their thing and inflicting their bullshit on the suburbs of Toledo. The point? The point is that my girlfriend at the time let me be in a band called The Poop Spoons, and I have to live with that forever, so I now hate her.

Q: I'm in this band, and our bass player is no good. We really want to replace him, but he's still our bud. How do we tell him?

A: Passive aggression. Make him always load all the equipment in and out. He has to buy the beer at practice. Gang up on him by telling him you hate his ideas and then suggest the same idea at the next practice. Make him do all the driving. Cock-block him every chance you get. Pretend you are giving him timing cues onstage so the crowd thinks he's an idiot. In short, make him hate you, but make him think it's all his fault. This, by the way, works in all of life.

Q: I wrote a song, and I'm getting an offer to have it featured in a Bank of America commercial. I want to be punk, but also, I don't like being poor anymore. Should I do it?

A: Man, this isn't even a question. There is NO integrity involved with not making money off of something you worked really hard on and care about. It's not like your record label is giving you any money (Do you have one? Doubt it ... ). Are you Kurt Cobain, did your Bank of America song inspire and motivate an entire jaded generation? No. Nobody cares about you and nobody knows who you are and nobody ever will. They'll just know that slightly annoying song that they heard on the commercial, and even then they won't go out and buy it. So definitely take whatever money the evil corporation is offering you. It's the only way bands have to survive any more. Trust me. I turned down 40 grand once for a Hummer commercial. That's how big of an idiot I am. I regret it every day of my integrity-filled life.

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