Interview : Five Questions with Dr. Robert : Ben Kweller

It’s been a while since we chatted with Ben Kweller, but luckily the good doctor found time during BK’s recent Colorado visit to grill him on all things music and life.

Dr. Robert: Changing Horses seemed to be a bit of a departure into a more alt-country vibe. Where did you wanna go with Go Fly A Kite? Did you have a particular sound in mind before recording it? was there any music you were listening to prior to recording it that influenced the album?

Ben Kweller: Oh Doc, you know I don’t listen to music, I just make music! For Kite, I knew it would be a “rock” record so-to-speak… As always, the songs dictate what kind of record I’m going to make. sometimes I feel powerless a little – as if I have no say in the matter. For Horses, I just kept writing these damn country songs. I wasn’t mad at them, I loved them! But, the point is, I just go with whatever gets pulled out of the air. My goal was the same as always – to make a compelling album that’s fun to listen to, that’s different from anything I’ve done before. Seriously though, I don’t get inspired by what other musicians are doing. I just want to do my own thing. So the music I listen to is really for pleasure (even the guilty kind) or to turn my kids on to stuff they’ve never heard before. Lately, we’ve been listening to: Megadeth – Symphony of Destruction, GnR – Welcome To The Jungle, Rick James – Super Freak, Chubby Checker – Limbo Rock, LMFAO – Sexy And I Know It, Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer, T-Rex – Children Of The Revolution, Conor Oberst And The Mystic Valley Band – Cape Canaveral.

Dr. Robert: Having started out as a prodigy in Radish to now being an established solo artist, what has changed about the way you make albums and write music? Do you look at the process differently now then as a teenager?

BK: It’s funny… I don’t do anything differently – I write songs the same way I did when I was 10 years old. I guess I just got better at it over time? you certainly have more to write about as you get older and experience life.

Dr. Robert: Your website seems to have taken on a life of its own, how involved have you been in that process? What was your vision for your site?

BK: I wanted to have an official resource for my fans and fellow music nerds. I wanted it to be robust and more in depth then any other music site when it comes to my music. I want it to be a place for my fans to interact and create content of their own. We still have a long way to go, but I’m happy with the way the site is developing.

Dr. Robert: Your first Radish cassette came out in 1994. What goals do you have for your career as you approach your twentieth year in the music biz?

BK: Well, I guess my goals haven’t changed much either… I just enjoy writing songs. Seriously Doc, I reeeeally fucking love writing songs. Like, a lot. Writing makes me happy and I like to be happy. If today sucks, I want to believe that tomorrow will be better. Music helps me believe that. It does for me what religion must do for millions of people. I know my music makes other people happy too. That’s a great feeling. I’ve met people with my lyrics tattooed to their skin. I met a woman in Australia who named her son Kweller. The fact that my music has affected other lives is really a special thing to me. It’s not why I make music, but it is sacred and something I’m aware of. In the end, the goal is to be happy. If you’re not happy, do something else.

Dr. Robert: What new music should we be listening to?

BK: Beyond the weird list of stuff from question #1, there are a lot of great bands out there. Here are a few of my faves: The Murdocks, The Happen-Ins, Taurus, The Dig, Sleeper Agent, The Soft Pack, Smith Westerns, Japandroids, Yuck, The Candles, John David Kent, Mason Jennings, The Sword.

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