with BEN SWANK of

Ben Swank plays with TAP Collective at a Velvet Sheep clubnight, Whitechapel Gallery 2008

Ben Swank plays with TAP Collective at a Velvet Sheep clubnight, Whitechapel Gallery 2008

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.

Today’s guest is a man that’s played Velvet Sheep when it was a club night at the Whitechapel gallery in the noughties. That day it was as drummer of the TAP Collective, but he’s better known as a member of Ohio then Detroit garage rockers Soledad Brothers and co-founder with Ben Blackwell of The Dirtbombs and Jack White of the already legendary Third Man Records. You will normally find him up to his eyes in vinyl in their destination Nashville store, it’s the inestimably cool Ben Swank!


Just as I look back fondly on when John Peel mentioned Velvet Sheep fanzine live on air in 1995 I will always associate Ben & Soledad Brothers with the great broadcaster as the line “My name’s Johnny you deal with me now” leading to the Soledad Brothers’ track “Break ‘Em On Down” opens one of the few mix records ever helmed by Peel, with Fabric nightclub. When I heard Peel had passed, it was the first thing I listened to.

I was already a fan of the band. While channel manager of MTV2, the White Stripes had begun to hit big in the UK and just like Nirvana led me to The Jesus Lizard, so the White Stripes turned me onto other Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit like The Dirtbombs, Von Bondies, The Detroit Cobras and of course Soledad Brothers of whom Swank was drummer. I bought “Voice of Treason” in ’03 and was a bona fide bro’.

It was with excitement then that based on a recommendation I booked the London swamp garage band TAP Collective for a  Velvet Sheep night and found out that Ben was their drummer. He had been writing for VICE magazine and turned out to be a witty, fun and down to earth guy who could pummel the drums further down into the earth.

As the Von Bondies sung in their tune almost named after him, he’s “Been Swank and lovin’ it”, and since Velvet Sheep love Ben, we thought we’d ask the man at the coal face of garage rock, and in the heart of country music what he’s been listening to lately.

This is Ben’s “song for ewe”….

“Maybe this isn’t very obscure, but it’s in high rotation for me…

“Don’t Answer Me” – Alan Parsons Project. 

It’s 80’s sax solo schmaltz meets Spector-esque production for an end product of AM Radio golden perfection. This is my number one jam for day drinking in the sunshine.”