Full Circle – Ben Kweller

Goodbye old friends, hello new life: Ben Kweller is moving on.

The phone rings. “Hi, it’s Ben,” the voice on the other end says, “where are you?”

Clash is in Ben Kweller’s home town of Austin, Texas. The city is overrun with musicians, bulking under the weight of South By South West and ten thousand hipsters, yet in the middle of all the madness, Ben is wandering around on his own, trying to find us to make this interview happen. When we finally find each other, it turns out that he’s been doing-it-himself for a while now.

His fifth and latest solo album, ‘Go Fly A Kite’, is the first on his own newly launched label, The Noise Company. “It was something that I had been wanting to do,” Ben explains, “but in the beginning, there was no way I could pull off a label, so I did record deals. It just made sense: my contract was up last year with ATO, so I had a big talk with them and I was like, ‘Look, I feel like I wanna try my own thing’. Over the past few years I’ve been on this mission to achieve complete independence and be self-sufficient with all the different aspects of my career and just kinda keep it downhome, and so this is all part of that plan.”

“It might all blow up,” he adds, “but at the same time, when I get an idea in my head I have to fuckin’ go for it, and when I do something, I do it full-on.”

Though it sounds impressive to be your own boss, life at The Noise Company is somewhat rudimentary at this point: three people work from their South Austin office, while Ben makes all final decisions. ‘Go Fly A Kite’ was a groundbreaking and sometimes difficult experience for all involved. The major challenge for Ben, he admits, was stepping out of his comfort zone: “There’s so much to do when it comes to marketing and promotion,” he sighs. “I love coming up with the ideas for that stuff, but the actual doing it and the business side of it isn’t actually something that I enjoy very much – I’m an artist, you know?”

It may be something he’ll have to get used to, as his intentions for the label are to see it grow beyond his own records. “We want to sign bands, we want to go slow though. I don’t want to be another label that signs a ton of bands and then fuckin’ falls apart two years later – that happens all the time. I think we’ll start with a series of seven-inches and then maybe some random little releases here and there. I’ve been an artist for so long on labels fighting for attention, the last thing I want to do is sign bands that have to fight for attention on a label. I really want to make sure that whoever we bring in is a band that we really can give one hundred percent to. For so many years artists were not told the truth, so I’m trying to change all that. When we start helping out other bands, we just want it to be real and honest and simple.”

Words by Simon Harper
Photo by Al De Perez

The full version of this interview appears in the July 2012 issue of Clash Magazine. Find out more about the issue HERE and subscribe to Clash magazine HERE.

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