My name is Ben Kweller. I was born in San Francisco, CA on June 16th, 1981. I grew up in Greenville, TX. My whole life I have loved music. My dad taught me how to play the drums when I was 7. I wrote my first song on the piano when I was 9. I got my first guitar on my 11th Birthday. It was a Red Fender Stratocaster that was made in Mexico. Soon after learning how to play guitar I formed the bands Mirage, Fox Glove and Digitalis. When we were teenagers, John Kent and I formed the group Radish. Eventually we left High School to pursue Rock and Roll for good.
From floors to fancy hotels, we got to see a lot of the world. We played Reading Festival, we saw the Eiffel Tower. We played guitar with Joe Strummer and hung with Brian Wilson. We walked away with countless stories and memories. Radish made 4 albums - Hello, Dizzy, Restraining Bolt and Discount Fireworks. Discount Fireworks was never publicly released. When I was 19 I moved to New York City with my girlfriend Liz Smith. We lived in a small apartment on Smith St. in Brooklyn. In that apartment I wrote many songs. I recorded them on my computer and made a CD called Freak Out... It?s Ben Kweller. Thats when my solo career officially began. I played in the city as much as possible. One acoustic guitar, one keyboard and a microphone (and harmonica, glockenspiel, shakers, and whatever else I could find). before each show I would make a big sign out of glitter and markers bearing my name, Sometimes just write "BK". I?d walk on stage with it and set it up behind me as my back drop. after that I would play my music which people later called, "Anti-Folk".
One day Evan Dando looked me up in the phone book, called me up and left me a message. "Ben! This is Evan Dando calling. We got a copy of your album and can?t stop playing it! GIve me a call! Let?s hang out!!" I was stunned. Evan was a long time hero of mine up there with Kurt. I nervously called him back. Soon he would be riding shotgun in my Volvo with two guitars in the trunk. I was Evan?s main support act for many months at home in America. Evan also brought me to Europe to play with him and in Glasgow we stayed with Eugene Kelly, singer of The Vaselines. I think It was in the fall of 2000 when I was doing a lot of playing and hanging out at places like Mercury Lounge, Brownies and Knitting Factory. I became friends with Adam Green and Kimya Dawson (Moldy Peaches), The Strokes, Nada Serf, Tim Fite, Guster and just about everyone else hanging around at that time.
From Jeff Tweedy to Juliana Hatfield, I opened for a bunch of great artists. On a Sunday night at the VIllage Underground I was approached by Michael Mcdonald, who at the time was starting an indie label with Dave Matthews called ATO. Their focus on originality and integrity was very appealing to me. The career that Dave was building as an artist whose music has always been left of center and straight from the heart was something I had tons of respect for. I signed with ATO in 2001 and in December released EP Phone Home. In March 2002 the album Sha Sha was released. For the first time since the Radish days I hit the road with a band and didn?t look back. My band included Josh Lattanzi on Bass, Mike Stroud on Guitar and Fred Eltringham on Drums. At first I continued to open for others. Dashboard Confessional a new band at the time, took me on two US tours with them. Adam Green and I opened for The Strokes on The Wycked Septre Tour. On that tour Adam and I started covering "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys. It started out as a joke but eventually became a B-side on Adams "Jessica" single. I also played five shows with Dave Matthews band in huge arenas.
During Sha Sha, I did many things for the first time. I got to play on the Austin City Limits TV show, I moved from a Van to a Bus, I toured in Japan, I sold more records than I ever had before and I did my first "Sold Out" headlining tour. After Sha Sha, I went in to record the album On My way. Although On My Way was recorded at the same studio as Sha Sha, The Approach was completely different. I really wanted to capture the band that had been backing me up for the past year and a half. We recorded everything live, in one room without headphones and hardly any overdubs. I?m very proud of On My Way?s spontaneity and honesty. I?m especially proud of the song "On My Way". I feel it?s one of my best. After the albums release in April of ?04, I once again hit the road. The band included John Kent from Radish, Jason Roberts on guitar and Josh on Bass. On My Way saw the first Headlining tour of France where we played in nine cities. I did a US co-headlining tour with Deathcab For Cutie which had many multi night stands in various cities. We also played Fuji Rock in Japan with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs & White Stripes. We had a nice game of Whiffleball with some Japanese kids and friends from RCA Japan. They love Baseball in Japan and Bass Fishing - two of my favorite things. Towards the end of touring for On My Way we opened for The Black Crowes at one of their Hammerstein reunion shows.
When all the touring for On My Way was over I took time off to relax and write for a new album. for six months I wrote and recorded demos with longtime friend/producer Roger Greenawalt at Shabby Road Studio. In the beginning of October ?05 I began talking to different possible producers for the album. I decided to work with Gil Norton who recorded loads of Pixies stuff, Foo Fighters, Counting Crowes, Dashboard, Echo & The Bunnymen, and much more...
in December i went to France to produce a french singer named Pierre Guimard. His album will come out around the same time as my new album in September ?06.
Gil and I started recording my new album "Ben Kweller" in February at The Magic Shop in NYC. The making of this album was very exciting, emotional and challenging. I played all the instruments. This was a big change for me and it produced something really intimate and special. It?s such a different way of working but if you can pull it off it makes a very cool and unique sound. A bonus for me, and you, is I think I might have written my best song while I was in the studio. It?s called "Thirteen". It?s very personal and almost hard for me to listen to.
"Ben Kweller" is set to be released sometime in September of ?06. We are setting up the world tour right now. I really can?t wait to get back on the road and see all of you again.