Alt-rock's Ben Kweller returns to town for a sweet solo gig at OU 

Ben Kweller
8 p.m. tonight
East Lawn, Oklahoma Memorial Union
University of Oklahoma
900 Asp, Norman

The last time Ben Kweller came through the Oklahoma City metro, he went on a walk with his then-4-year-old son, Dorian, who delighted at the discovery of sprinklers, water and gushing fun at Bricktown's outdoor sprayground.

Then, along came "a dude with dreads," who was towing his wife and young son.

"They walk up and our kids were playing, and we realized: It's Jonathan (Davis) from Korn. How weird is that?" says Kweller.

Oddly enough, Korn and Kweller have a bit of history together. The performer cut his teeth with Texas alt-rockers Radish, which gigged alongside Korn at a handful of shows in the mid-'90s, Kweller says.

"Here we are, like two rock 'n' roll dads, on tour with our kids in this sprayground," he says. "What are the chances?"

Kweller will perform a solo acoustic show 8 p.m. tonight on the East Lawn of the University of Oklahoma's Oklahoma Memorial Union, 900 Asp.

His forthcoming album, "Go Fly a Kite," is slated for a spring release.

"It's upbeat, up-tempo and there's a lot of electricity, a lot of harmonies," he says.

Long a devotee of the traditional recording process, Kweller finalized a plan last year that would make creating music convenient, while not sacrificing the sense of purpose that comes with booking time in a commercial studio. Instead of installing a home studio, he created Hideout Studios with his friend, Steve Mazur, an engineer who worked at New York City's iconic Seer Sound. Kweller met Mazur while recording his 2001 album, "Sha Sha," there in 2001.

Mazur moved to Austin from New York last year to help run the studio, which was outfitted with a two-inch Studer tape deck and a rare, black-and-white Electrodyne recording console.

Kweller says owning a full, commercial studio, as opposed to a basement or spare-bedroom setup, helps him feel on-the-clock when he records and helps him focus. Most of his writing is done well before he enters the studio, even now that he owns one, he says.

"I'm a big believer in the old school: You write your songs, you do preproduction with your band outside of the studio, you get everything the way you want it, then you book your studio time," he said. "There's just something about having some kind of preparation that I dig."

The sometimes-fiery new album has at least a few tracks, songs with titles like "Jealous Girl" and "Gossip" inspired by his fallout with his best friend.

"You know how it goes: Best friend gets a new girl; she doesn't want him to have any other friends, and everyone gets pushed out," Kweller says. "It's kind of gritty " dark, even."

But, like his half-dozen other full-length releases, "Kite" will show off his "signature optimism."

"It's always in there, that light at the end of the tunnel," he says.

For tonight's show, Kweller is sans band, which means he doesn't have to pre-assemble a set list, which he's excited about. He says he'll pull from his entire discography, but won't be sharing any new tracks " not that he doesn't want to.

"I can't wait, and I used to do that: I'd write a song and go play it that night onstage, but as my career moved along I learned better," he says, laughing. "Man, if I did that, I'd be so fucking sick of the music before my record even came out." "Joe Wertz

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Joe Wertz

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