Texan singer-songwriter Ben Kweller is back for a rare full-length acoustic tour. The 29-year-old father of two, whose last album was 2009's country-leaning "Changing Horses," spoke recently about the tour, the next album, and fatherhood.
Q. You hadn't played Charlotte in six years before this summer. What brings you back so soon?
It's a solo acoustic tour, which I haven't done in years. I'm playing music from my whole career and taking requests. It's really been a lot of fun. Kids are singing along to every song and yelling out songs. I try to remember how to play them, and then I play them, sometimes badly. I'm not doing any new material. That way it keeps it special.
Q. What can you divulge about the next record?
It's called "Go Fly a Kite." It's upbeat and uptempo. There are definitely darker, sadder moments. It's really electric and full of energy, very spirited sounding. It's a really fun album. Mainly a rock n' roll album with a few ballads and a few that are kind of folky that fans of "Changing Horses" will relate to.
Q. Did moving back to Texas from New York City affect your work?
I just have a cooler place to work and my little studio, a big yard and trees. There's so much nature in Austin (Texas). New York gave me certain inspiration, but I think I kind of used it up over the nine years. I used to just write sitting under big oak trees. Now I can do that again.
Q. Living in such a music hub, do you go out and check out bands much?
I go out when my friends come through town. Monsters of Folk was here a little while ago. I hung out with Jim (James) and Connor (Oberst). It's actually a cool place on that tip because it's a smaller city but everybody comes through it on tour. When you live in New York (bands) have a million people on their guest list, a lot of business people. You never get quality time. If Connor is in town I drive him out to the country and go to my studio. I spend more quality time with my friends. I haven't been out to see music just to check out bands. I'm also a dad so I've got to do bedtime.
Q. How old are your sons?
We have a 4-year-old and a new baby boy that's 7 months, born April 3.
Q. Has their presence influenced your writing?
I developed the way I work long before they came. I found my style and the way I write. Obviously they're a huge inspiration in my life. I've always been really nostalgic and sentimental. I always wanted to be a father and was already writing songs about being a dad. Having them now in my life confirms my beliefs.
Q. Are they into music?
Judah, the 7-month-old, is getting into Bob Marley, the "Legend" album, which is always one of Dorian's favorites. Dorian is a little drummer. He likes Neil Young, Tom Petty.... Lately he's really into metal, like Black Sabbath because he likes superheroes. "Iron Man" is his favorite song.