Ben Kweller's Growing Pains

Ben Kweller's Growing Pains
"Music is the one thing that's been a complete constant, the one common thread throughout my crazy life," explains Ben Kweller — and he ain't kidding.

It's often noted that the Texas-raised, Brooklyn resident was a prodigy of sorts, scoring a record deal at age 15 with his Nirvana-wannabe band Radish. But Kweller actually began long before that — winning an honourable mention in a Billboard songwriting competition at the age of, um, nine.

"I was writing songs on the piano and it said no professionals allowed. I was like ‘Yeah dude, I'm not a fuckin' pro. I'm a kid!' Two months later I got this plaque in the mail for the song "I Was Made For You and You Were Made For Me." The Beatles always sang about love in their early songs, so I figured I'm supposed to sing about love and making out and shit."

More than a dozen years later, Kweller is still writing love songs, though he's long since traded the sap for quirk. After breaking through with the great, but slightly goofy, piano-pocked pop-rock of 2002's Sha Sha, his solo career is continuing to age gracefully with the grittier On My Way.

"I got married in September to my long-time girlfriend and that had a big emotional effect on me. I guess I got more serious and started thinking about life in general. Also my grandfather passed away; he was the first person close to me in my family that ever died so that really hit me hard. It seems like I've matured but it's just I've been faced with some real stuff for the first time — death and marriage — two heavy life changes."

The 22-year-old is adjusting well though, roughening up his sound with a guitar crunch while keeping his music as personal as possible. "I don't really keep a diary or anything. I just write songs."