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Indie rocker Ben Kweller hopes to fly with Columbus audiences

Courtesy of Lev Kuperman

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Ben Kweller remembers listening to The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” as a kid, and having the feeling that he wanted to speak to others through music.

“I don’t know what it was, but it felt like magic,” Kweller said. “I have been going off of that feeling ever since.”

Kweller is scheduled to perform with Sleeper Agent and The Dig at 8 p.m. on Monday at The Basement.

The audience at a Kweller concert can expect a high-energy show.

“I am pretty manic on stage,” Kweller said. “I’m all over the place. It’s a lot of fun, that’s for sure.”

His new album, “Go Fly a Kite,” features samples of the many styles of music Kweller plays.

“My new album ‘Go Fly a Kite’ is my favorite for sure, because I feel like it’s a great mixture of everything I do all rolled into one,” Kweller said.

Kweller has toured with bands such as Kings of Leon and Bright Eyes.

“One of my favorite shows that I have ever did was with the Violent Femmes,” Kweller said. “They are badass.”

Brittany Hill, a local musician who plays guitar for Vanity Theft, said she likes Kweller’s latest album.

“I really like ‘Go Fly a Kite,'” Hill said. “It’s listener-friendly music with clever lyrics.”

Kweller said 1960s rock ‘n’ roll such as Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles had a major influence on his musical beginnings. When Nirvana came onto the scene, it pushed him to start his first band, Radish.

“The Beatles got me into writing songs, and Nirvana got me into playing with other musicians,” Kweller said.

Kweller’s influences are noticeable in his music.

“You can hear a lot of influences in his music like Paul McCartney, as well as a mix of alternative country and pop rock,” Hill said. “He’s unique and offers a breath of fresh air in my opinion.”

Kweller said his dad also helped him get his start in music,

“When I was 7, my dad got his drums out of the attic,” Kweller said. “He set them up in the living room, taught me how to play a drum beat. He would play guitar while I would play the drums.”

Playing the drums was just the beginning of Kweller’s childhood music career.

“When I was 8, someone taught me how to play ‘Heart and Soul’ on the piano, and I just started changing the keys and cords around and started writing my own songs,” Kweller said.

Nils Lofgren, who has played with musical giants such as Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young, had a huge impact on Kweller.

“I listened to him at times, and he would show me stuff on the piano,” Kweller said. “He was a big inspiration to me when I was a kid.”

The band even has a local tie with drummer Mark Stepro from Galion, Ohio.

“He even has the Ohio flag tattooed on his forearm,” Kweller said.

Stepro lived in Columbus for a while as well.

Kweller performed at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, March 16.  

“I was in need of melody, passion, good humor and a general reboot of my rattled disposition,” austin360.com’s John T. Davis said of Kweller’s performance. “All of which Ben Kweller, bless his heart, provided with a 40-minute set at the SXSW Day Stage.”

Tickets are $20 the day of the show and can be purchased at The Basement or through Ticketmaster.

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