It is snowing in Omaha on Presidents Day and Ben Kweller says he has not brought along his cowboy hat.
Still, as Kweller’s tour bus makes its way toward the District to play show promoting “Changing Horses,” he espouses commitment to the newly released country album’s sound.
And to Texas.
Kweller will be at the 9:30 Club on Thursday, Feb. 26. Tickets are $20.
What is different about “Changing Horses” compared to your past albums – aside from the fact that you’re doing country – let’s talk about that.
In the past I’ve put few country songs on my albums, but whenever I’d write a real country one like “Fight” or “Things I Like to Do” [from “Changing Horses”] I would just kind of put it on the side and say, “Oh, these are cool. I want to make a whole album of these one day.” I’ve been writing [the songs] for about 10 years and then chose my favorite and decided to put it out, finally.
So this was a pretty natural progression – you saw a country album happening for yourself?
Oh yeah, definitely. My first songs – when I was about eight and nine years old – were country songs because it was all that I listened to when I was a kid. I grew up in Texas, listening to Garth Brooks and shit like that.
What do you like about country music?
I just love the stories, and it sort of describes my surroundings from when I was a kid. You know, playing in creeks, nature . so I understood it. Maybe that’s why I never got into Public Enemy and hip-hop. I didn’t grow up on the street in Queens.
What was it like to produce this album yourself?
It was really fun. Some albums you want to have a producer – you want to have somebody to lean on – other albums you just want to do it yourself. This was one where I just felt like I had a real grasp of the kind of music [it represented]. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. The producers that I’ve worked with – I don’t think they really get the Texas country thing. And I didn’t want to go and work with some national hot producer. So I just thought I’d do it myself.
So did you write the bulk of it while you were in Texas, at home?
I’m always traveling, so a lot of the songs were written in hotel rooms, but I wrote everything while I was living in New York. I didn’t move to Texas until about eight months ago. We recorded the album over a year ago now.
Have you had ever really crazy fans? What’s been really out there?
I had this Japanese fan named Kimmy who wanted my e-mail address, so I gave her my friend’s e-mail address, because she would come to like every show in Europe and travel around and cry whenever she would see me, and she thought we were soul mates. So she was finally like, “I need your e-mail address.” And I gave her my friend Matt’s e-mail address. And so for my birthday a year later my buddy Matt made me this book of every e-mail. He never told me that she e-mailed him. Apparently she e-mailed him every day for a year and sometimes two times or three times a day. He put together every e-mail. The last e-mail was like “I guess you just don’t love me anymore and I will leave you alone now.” She used to bring gifts and offer them to me. She was definitely a weirdo.
If you could play a show with any musician anywhere who would it be?
Me and Kurt Cobain in his old apartment in Aberdeen, Wa., in 1988. Just like two guitars. That’d be it. Maybe like three friends around.
You’ll be performing here next week. Do you like D.C.?
My father’s from Bethesda, my mom’s from Baltimore, my Aunt Ronnie lives in D.C. So I’m from a big family around there. I’ve been coming there my whole life.