BOULDER, Colo. –
Ben Kweller’s in the midst of Changing Horses.
The musician recently gave up his New York City life and returned to his Texas roots. The move inspired Kweller to write an album of countrified tunes, and now he’s touring behind that new CD, Changing Horses.
On Sunday night, Kweller gets to play his new music for environmentally friendly radio show “etown” at the Boulder Theater.
“So much has happened since the last time I played Boulder,” Kweller said. “I played Club 156 and I was touring with my last album.
“Since then, I’ve had a little boy and I moved from Brooklyn to Austin, Texas. I originally went down there to make the album and really fell in love with the city.”
Kweller also fell back in love with his Texas roots.
The musician grew up in rural east Texas, and the memories of small-town life inspired his new songs.
“I grew up in Greenville, Texas. It was a small hick town,” Kweller said. “You could only listen to country radio stations, go out to the mall or go to the skating rink.
“I used to listen to Garth Brooks and Sawyer Brown. This kind of music was really big to me.
“Those songs just kept it real.”
For fans who have reveled in Kweller’s rock and punk sounds, the musician says this CD is just the next stop on his musical journey.
“For years I’d written these country songs, but I just held onto them,” Kweller said. “They were so catchy and fun that I felt they deserved to have an album dedicated to them. This album’s been in me the whole time.
“Usually my albums are random, but this is my most consistent album and these stories are really different.”
The music on Changing Horses is country-tinged, but the CD’s songs go beyond the perimeter of rural, down-home stories.
The CD opener “Gypsy Rose” tells the story of a prostitute, “The Ballad of Wendy Baker” is about a friend who died in a car crash and “Homeward Bound” reveals the tale of a Colorado junkie.
“I definitely wanted to emphasize these people that were going through all these problems,” Kweller said. “I wanted to write about people from all walks of life. I wanted to write about the people in the shadows, instead of always writing about happy people.”
To balance the starkness of his lyrics, Kweller rounded out the new tunes with upbeat melodies.
“I could never make an album of sad songs,” Kweller said. “It was important to me to have that yin and yang, so there’s a light at the end of the tunnel â even if it is depressing.”
Kweller took a lot of care in creating Changing Horses.
That’s because the musician took on the complicated job of producing his own record.
“I knew what I wanted to achieve and I really knew what I wanted in terms of arranging the songs,” Kweller said. “I really had a grip on these songs and I didn’t want another cook in the kitchen.
“This is a very personal album and I didn’t want it to be a pop Nashville record.”
The musician says some fans miss his electric guitar sounds, but confirms that many fans have been pleasantly surprised with his new album.
“I’m already writing songs for the next record,” Kweller said. “I try to do something different with each album. A few new songs would be useful on an Americana format, but these songs will embrace everybody and pick up all the chips.”
Now Kweller is heading out on a spring tour â and his first stop is “etown.”
The musician said he has an avid interest in the environment, but this marks his first appearance on the eco-friendly radio show.
“I’m really excited about being on ‘etown.’ Yes, I am an environmental guy,” Kweller said. “I work with the Greenroots group and we work to spread the word about climate change.
“I also do a lot of recycling and my merchandise is all made from organic cotton. We even started composting at my house. Now I never want to go back.”