Ben Kweller - Trucks, Prostitutes and Ghost Whisperer

You might think you know all about Ben Kweller, and his pop-diddly tunes like ‘Wasted and Ready', ‘Sun Dress', and ‘Penny on the Train Track'. But the times, they are a-changing. And so is the Kweller.


Once a floppy-haired-baby-faced Dylan, Ben's swapped side-saddle pop to ride cross-country for his fourth studio album 'Changing Horses'.


"(Country) is something that always lived in me. (Fan's) just never knew about it. John Prine, Willis Alan Ramsey, Bobby Bare, Johnny Cash, George Jones. I've always been a little country boy."


"Even when I lived in NYC, I used to go fishing in Central Park, in flannel of course! I started wearing it in the 90's when I fell in love with Kurt Cobain."


Taking plaid to the stage in his younger years as part of quirky grunge group Radish, Kweller proved popular with his guitar, clever lyrics, and bleach blonde hair à la Kurt.


But then he started experimenting with regrowth, and went out on his own, moving to New York to start a solo career at nineteen.


Catching the eye of The Lemonheads' Evan Dando, Kweller soon became the charming new kid on the block. And even more so with his first commercial debut ‘Sha Sha'.


Capturing honest growing pains of drunk sex, first love, and finding his feet in the Big Apple, ‘Sha Sha' is a classic album that initially marked Kweller as ‘Ben Folds but Cooler' and ‘Weezer without the prostitutes'.


Well, no, actually that's wrong. There were prostitutes. And they seem to keep ‘coming' by the sounds of the ‘Gypsy Rose', a song off his latest album.


"I like country, folk, blues, and other roots music because of the stories they tell about real shit. My own experience (with a prostitute) plays into ‘Gypsy Rose' a bit, but it's mainly about a friend of mine who fell in love with a hooker he was seeing every Monday night. She broke his heart – it's a pretty fucked up love story actually."


Going back to his roots, ‘Changing Horses' also features more tales of youth as when he was sweet-sixteen, Ben wrote ‘The ‘Ballad of Wendy Baker' about the tragic death of a close friend.


"I usually never forget the good ones... ‘Wendy' was one of those. I have a library of all my (old) sketch books, and I'll have days of voice recording memos and ideas. It's pretty overwhelming to dive back through (old songs). My dream is to catalog everything one day and file every idea and song."


The change to alt-country seems to have been relatively smooth for Kweller – with even the fans coming round to spurs and slide guitar.


" ‘Changing Horses' was an album I always knew I'd make, people just didn't know about that side of me. We only know artists by the work they put out but there's usually a lot more to us than the albums. It's a shame because it's hard to release albums as quickly as I'd like."


"(But my) fans have pretty much accepted the album, especially the ones that like my acoustic work. The response from people that never heard me before was really what was so incredible. I have made so many new fans which is cool."


One such fan happens to be a busty ghost muttering brunette by the name of Melinda Gordon.


Confused about the connection between Ben and the now (sob) defunct ghost muttering show with Jennifer Love Hewitt?


Before the video disappears from sight, visit Kweller's website to view his Australian Tour Promo video.


He chats away about how excited he is, yadda, yadda – and then, all of a sudden, he touches fans with a snippet of ‘Ghost Whisperer'.


"I was just incredibly thrilled, shocked and impressed that a TV show would talk about me in their script and go on and on... it was a huge thrill. I'll have to ask Jennifer when I meet her, if that was her idea or what! I guess (JLH) is alright."


Truly the power of BKs music.


If he can touch Jennifer Love Hewitt and she touches ghosts, well, you'd think Ben has really done it all.


Ghost Whisperer, and now country. So what's next? Well, if you're lucky, you might hear him out on a truckin' CB radio, as Ben's a big fan of trucker culture:


"My handle is The Catfish. When you are on the road all the time, up and down highways, you become a (trucker). It's very helpful to communicate with (truckers) when you are doing long drives. It helps with traffic down road, and weather, and helps pass the time."


Ben Kweller tours Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth from Oct 2 – 9. Check The Dwarf for more info.

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