ACL Music Fest Interviews
Saturday, 2:30pm, AT&T stage
Ben Kweller's latest album borrows a page from the Stevie Wonder playbook; the credits boil down to just six words: "Written and performed by Ben Kweller." At the urging of über-producer Gil Norton (Pixies, Foo Fighters), the Dallas expatriate's third album is a solo set in the truest sense.
"Gil imagined a perfect groove; the same hand that's playing the high hat is playing eighth notes on the acoustic guitar," Kweller says of the process behind the simply titled Ben Kweller. "I'd have my fingerprints on every instrument, which we thought could be something special in itself."
And it is. Ben Kweller may be the most honest-sounding work he's ever done. Alternating between Elvis Costello-styled pop and fidgety Tom Petty guitar rock, it's easily his most cohesive album yet. So much so, in fact, that Kweller thinks this could also be the album where his backstory and the hype that went with it finally take a back seat to the music itself.
"Sha Sha was the boy moving from Texas to the big city, not knowing what was going to happen and being excited for the future," says Kweller, who first came to our attention at 15, battling a slew of "next Cobain" predictions as the leader of Dallas' Radish. "On My Way was the rebellious coming-of-age record. This is Ben Kweller, the adult."
So adult is Kweller that he's in serious discussions with his wife about moving to Austin a transition they'd make so their newborn son could grow up with a decent yard and grandparents just a few hours away in Dallas.
"ACL is at the start of this first tour with the band," Kweller says. "I'm hoping Jack White brings his kid, too. We could set up our Pack 'n Plays side-by-side in the artist area. How cool would that be?"