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Children are often raised in musical families, but few receive the same introduction to music as singer/songwriter Ben Kweller. Before he was old enough to enter kindergarten, a young Kweller emulated Nils Lofgren (who, during his time with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, would hang out with Kweller's father) by playing his toy version of the guitar. He also played piano, and by the age of eight, Kweller had begun penning his own songs. The following year, he received a nod of encouragement from Billboard magazine when it conferred an honorable mention on the youth for his entry into Billboard's yearly songwriting competition. By the time he hit his teenage years, Kweller was an accomplished guitarist and had begun playing drums as well. He pulled together his first band, Mirage, and followed up with groups like Green Eggs & Ham and Foxglove. All the while, he honed the skills that would later launch his respected solo career.
With help from bassist Bryan Blur and drummer John Kent, Kweller established Radish in 1993. The group made its mark on the local Dallas scene, not far from Kweller's hometown of Greenville, TX. In 1994, the musical wunderkind and his teenaged outfit released the Hello EP through Practice Amp Records. That same year, the label released the full-length album Dizzy, which convinced producer Roger Greenawalt to partner with the group. Under his wing, Radish produced another demo and inked a contract with Mercury Records during the summer of 1996. Ben Kweller was still a teenager at the time, having turned 15 years old that June.
Mercury Records released Restraining Bolt the following spring, and Kweller led Radish through European and American tours (as well as several late-night TV appearances, including The Conan O'Brian Show and Late Night with David Letterman). Despite scoring a Top 40 hit in the U.K. with "Little Pink Stars," Radish failed to enjoy significant success at home, and changing tides at their label (Polygram, Mercury's parent company, was absorbed into Universal Music Group in 1998) prevented them from releasing another album. When the group disbanded in 1999, Kweller headed east to Guilford, CT, where he stayed only a short time before relocating to Brooklyn, NY. Not yet 20 years old, he signed with Island Records as a solo artist.
Ben Kweller launched his solo career with a series of EPs, some of which reprised the material that Radish had written but not released. His heartland hooks and folksy flourishes made fans out of several artists, and Kweller soon found himself touring with the likes of Juliana Hatfield, Guster, Kristin Hersh, and Evan Dando. He inked a deal with ATO Records in 2001 and released one final EP before issuing Sha Sha, his solo full-length debut, in 2002. More touring followed, as did a collaboration with Ben Folds and Ben Lee known as the Bens. Kweller's sophomore effort, the subdued On My Way, followed in spring 2004 and was supported by a co-headlining tour with Death Cab for Cutie. Two years later, he returned with his self-titled third album, on which he played all the instruments. Kweller furthered his experimentation with 2009's Changing Horses, which saw the songwriter embracing country music and employing a pedal steel guitarist. The singer continued to explore pop music on 2012's Go Fly a Kite, which found Kweller dabbling in everything from power pop to alt-country.
Benjamin Lev "Ben" Kweller (born June 16, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
Early life 
Ben Kweller was born in San Francisco 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 the larger Texas town of Greenville. His family is Jewish.
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, they would play together almost every night after Howard got home from work. Howard sang and played guitar while Ben played the drums. The duo played 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 of his. Kweller has mentioned in interviews that meeting Lofgren greatly helped his exposure to music. When Kweller turned eight, someone showed him how to play "Heart and Soul" on the piano and the youngster immediately began to create his own songs using the same chords. By the time he was nine, he had a dozen original compositions under his belt and entered a songwriting contest sponsored by Billboard magazine, where he won an honorable mention.
Adult years 
Kweller married his girlfriend, Liz Smith (the subject of the song "Lizzy") and they have two sons, named Dorian Zev Kweller, born in May 2006, and Judah Evan Kweller, born April 3, 2010. At the time of Dorian's birth they lived in New York City, but they later moved back to Kweller's home state of Texas and currently reside in Austin. 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..."
Radish (1993–1999) 
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.
Solo career 
At age 19, Kweller moved with his girlfriend, Liz Smith, to New York, 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
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 Montreal group 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 February 2, 2009, in Europe and February 3, 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 Ben Kitterman, who played pedal steel guitar and Dobro. On November 23, 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.
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.
Go Fly a Kite (2012) 
Kweller's fifth studio album, entitled Go Fly a Kite, was his first release produced solely by his own record label, The Noise Company. In earlier interviews, Kweller had stated that it would be released as early as March or April 2011. However, a conversation with the manager of The Noise Company revealed that it is now set to come out either late January or early February 2012. The delay in release is a result of Kweller's parting ways with his former record label, ATO Records. This was confirmed by Kweller himself while onstage at Stubbs in Austin, Texas, on April 16, 2011. More recently, Kweller posted on his Twitter account that "Kite's" released date will be February 12, 2012. This was followed by a tweet saying that it will be available for pre-order in October. Kweller's album was released a few days earlier than expected on iTunes on February 7, 2012.
As his first release solely on a new label, Kweller opted to take additional time to ensure the album is just right rather than rushing it. Kweller has stated the album will be very electric and energetic while dealing with some darker topics. It will be accompanied by a comprehensive world tour and several media appearances.
Austin City Limits performances 
Kweller played the 2003 Austin City Limits Music Festival at the conclusion of his tour, where he played Sha Sha in its entirety.
He returned to the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2004 when he performed on the Bank of America stage.
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, he did not get a 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.