Ben Kweller (born June 16, 1981, San Francisco, California) is an American singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Ben Kweller was born in San Francisco, Calif. in 1981. In 1982, his family relocated to Emory, Texas where his father Howard Kweller became the town's first doctor. In 1986, The Kwellers moved to a much larger city, Greenville, TX,. Kweller was exposed to music at a very early age. Howard taught Ben how to play the drums when he was seven years old. For the next year, the father-son would play together almost every night after Howard got home from work. With Howard singing and playing guitar and Ben keeping the beat, the duo would play songs by The Beatles, The Hollies, Jimi Hendrix and other artists of the 1960s. Howard is also a longtime friend of Nils Lofgren, a neighbor with whom he went to high school. . Kweller has mentioned in interviews that his meeting Lofgren greatly helped his exposure to music. When Kweller turned eight, someone showed him how to play Heart and Soul on the piano. The youngster immediately began to create his own songs using the same chords. He still uses the same techniques to write his songs today. By the time he was nine he had a dozen original compositions under his belt and entered a songwriting contest sponsored by Billboard Magazine. Kweller won an honorable mention.
Kweller married his girlfriend Liz (aka song "Lizzy") and they had a son named Dorian Zev Kweller. At the time of Dorian's birth they lived in New York City, but then they moved back to Kweller's home state of Texas and currently reside in Austin.
In 1993 Kweller became friends with a local musician, drummer John Kent, and formed the band Radish with bassist Ryan Green. The trio played locally in and around Greenville and recorded two independent releases, Hello (1994) and Dizzy (1995), with Martin Baird at Verge Music Works recording studio in Dallas, Texas. Around the time of the release of Dizzy', Green left Radish to focus his attention on school. Lorin Hamilton stood in for Green for a few months until Bryan Bradford, also known as Bryan Blur, joined on for most of the band's career. Kweller sent a copy of Dizzy to guitarist Nils Lofgren who grew up with Kweller's father in Maryland. Lofgren was impressed with Radish and recommended them to Roger Greenawalt who was producing Lofgren's album Damaged Goods at the time. Greenawalt took Radish to a studio to record a demo tape which was subsequently sent to record labels nationwide. After an unexpected bidding war for "Dizzy," Radish signed to Mercury Records to release the full-length "Restraining Bolt." Radish made appearances on The Weird Al Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Late Show with David Letterman, but despite a much-hyped signing, the band failed to strike success. Radish earned a cult following in the United Kingdom with its top-40 hit "Little Pink Stars". The band went on multiple European tours, including opening slots for Faith No More and Main Stage at Reading Festival in 1997. Radish released two singles. In 1998, Radish became a quartet; it featured Joe Butcher of the Polyphonic Spree and UFOFU on lead guitar and Debbie Williams on bass. Radish went to Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama to record the follow-up to Restraining Bolt, provisionally titled Discount Fireworks. The band recorded with producer Bryce Goggin (Pavement, The Lemonheads). While mastering Discount Fireworks in NYC Kweller and Kent met bassist Josh Lattanzi who would become Radish's fifth and final bass player. As a result of Polygram's merger with Universal Music Group, the 18-song album was never released and Radish secured a release from their contract with Mercury Records.
At age 19, Kweller moved to New York with his girlfriend Liz Smith, where he began his solo career. He played acoustic shows and self-released four EPs, comprising some of the unreleased Radish Discount Fireworks recordings and other songs recorded in his apartment on a laptop computer. It was one of these EPs, Freak Out, It's Ben Kweller, that caught the attention of Evan Dando of The Lemonheads. Dando invited Kweller on tour with him. Jeff Tweedy, Juliana Hatfield and Guster also noticed Kweller and took him on tour with them.
EP Phone Home and Sha Sha (2002)
In 2001 Ben Kweller became ATO Records' first worldwide signing and released a 5-track EP entitled EP Phone Home. In March 2002, Sha Sha, Kweller's first solo studio LP was released. Sha Sha included the radio-friendly and popular single "Wasted & Ready," which reached #29 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album featured John Kent on drums and Josh Lattanzi on bass, and showcased a wide variety of sound from quirky Pop, to folk, to punk. The album grew in popularity with a grassroots effort based on his website and a promotion group called teamBK, which promoted via word-of-mouth advertising. To support the release of the album and EP, he put together a live band, initially comprising Lattanzi on bass, Fred Eltringham on drums, and Mike Stroud on guitar and keyboards. Towards the end of the Sha Sha album cycle, the four-piece performed on PBS's Austin City Limits
Kweller performing at The Fillmore
Kweller performing at The Ohio State University
The Bens (2003)
In 2003, Kweller toured Australia with Ben Folds and Ben Lee as The Bens. The trio produced an eponymous four-song EP, with each member taking lead vocals on one song, and a final song in which they all contributed vocals. In an interview on October 14, 2006 Ben hinted that The Bens may do another album.
Guster collaboration (2003)
Late in 2003, Kweller provided lead vocals on the song "I Hope Tomorrow is Like Today" from Guster's album Keep It Together. Kweller and Guster co-wrote the song after a late night jam at Guster's Brooklyn studio. The song is prominently featured in the movie Wedding Crashers.
On My Way (2004)
On My Way, Kweller's second LP, took a new direction. The album, produced by Ethan Johns, was recorded 'live' - there were limited overdubs and no use of headphones. After the release of On My Way, Kweller embarked on more touring. On these tours, Kweller played for his largest audiences ever, including a US tour co-headlining with Death Cab for Cutie . By this point, the lineup of his live band had changed to include John Kent on drums and Jason Roberts on guitar and keyboards, after Mike Stroud left to concentrate on his own band Ratatat and Fred Eltringham left to play drums in The Wallflowers.
Ben Kweller (2006)
In 2006 he recorded his third LP, Ben Kweller with producer Gil Norton . Unlike the previous studio albums, Kweller played all the instruments on this record himself. Kweller continued to tour to support his self-titled album, and expanded his band into a five piece, which grew to include Dan Horne on bass, Mark Stepro on drums, Jay Barclay on guitar and organ, and Jason Roberts on lead guitar. Kweller continued to play guitar and piano on this tour, but it also gave him the opportunity to just sing on certain songs. The Canadian group, the Sam Roberts Band, and New York based Hymns, opened for Kweller.
His tie-in "Trio on the Train Track Tour" included a new live band comprising Chris Morrissey on bass, vocals & keyboard and Mark Stepro on drums, vocals, glockenspiel, percussion & "whatever else he feels like" during appearances in the United States. During the Australian leg of the tour, the band was composed of Jay Barclay on guitar, keyboard & vocals, Dan Horne on bass & vocals, and Mark Stepro continuing his previous roles.
Changing Horses (2009)
Changing Horses is Ben Kweller's fourth studio album, which was expected for release in September 2008 but was pushed to , 2009 in Europe and 2009 in the United States through ATO Records. Kweller has described the new album as being more country in style than his previous releases. The album features his rhythm section Chris Morrissey (bass) and Mark Stepro (drums). It also debuts the talents of Kitt Kitterman, who played pedal steel guitar and Dobro. On , 2008, the full album was leaked to the Internet. In a statement, ATO Records said the leak was not the final version of the album. The song "Hurtin' You" debuted on Stereogum, and the whole album was made available to stream exclusively on Last.fm.
Kweller is married and has a son named Dorian Zev, born in May 2006. Ben's middle name, Lev, means "Heart" in Hebrew and his son's middle name, Zev, means "Wolf". Ben has said in interviews, "Together we're Heart of the Wolf..."
In April 2009, Ben Kweller appeared at Australian festivals such as Chill City, East Coast Blues & Roots Music Festival and West Coast Blues & Roots Festival.
Austin City Limits Performances
As part of his 2006 tour, Kweller played the Austin City Limits Music Festival, where he was plagued by a severe nosebleed for the entirety of his set. After covering his guitar in blood, he attempted to stop the flow by inserting a travel-size tampon thrown onto the stage by a fan, which expanded painfully during a performance of "This Is War." After attempting to play "Falling" at a piano which he also covered in blood, Kweller was forced to end the set early.
In spring of 2007, Kweller co-headlined with his label-mates Gomez. He continued through the summer with his own string of headlining dates which eventually ended at ACL fest. This time no bloody nose, however, commemorative T-shirts were sold at the merch booth with fake blood stains that said "ACL 2007: The return of Ben Kweller".
Immediately following his performance at ACL, Kweller began recording his fourth full-length LP, Changing Horses in Austin, Texas on September 21, 2007.
All Ben Kweller lyrics
- Ann Disaster
- Commerce, Tx
- Debbie Don't Worry Doll
- Different But The Same
- Family Tree
- Harriet�s Got A Song
- Hear Me Out
- Hospital Bed
- How It Should Be
- How It Should Be (Sha Sha)
- I Don't Know Why
- I Gotta Move
- I Need You Back
- In Other Words
- Launch Ramp
- Living Life
- Make It Up
- My Apartment
- No Reason
- On My Way
- The Rules
- The Sweater Song (Live) (Brattle Theathre, 2000-10-18)
- Walk On Me
- Wantin' Her Again
- Wasted & Ready
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.