Union Transfer


Ben Kweller

Ben Kweller

Sleeper Agent, The Dig

Wed, March 21, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

$20.00 - $22.00

This event is all ages

Ben Kweller
Ben Kweller
My name is Ben Kweller. I was born in San Francisco, CA on June 16th, 1981. I grew up in Greenville, TX. My whole life I have loved music. My dad taught me how to play the drums when I was 7. I wrote my first song on the piano when I was 9. I got my first guitar on my 11th Birthday. It was a Red Fender Stratocaster that was made in Mexico. Soon after learning how to play guitar I formed the bands Mirage, Fox Glove and Digitalis. When we were teenagers, John Kent and I formed the group Radish. Eventually we left High School to pursue Rock and Roll for good.

From floors to fancy hotels, we got to see a lot of the world. We played Reading Festival, we saw the Eiffel Tower. We played guitar with Joe Strummer and hung with Brian Wilson. We walked away with countless stories and memories. Radish made 4 albums - Hello, Dizzy, Restraining Bolt and Discount Fireworks. Discount Fireworks was never publicly released. When I was 19 I moved to New York City with my girlfriend Liz Smith. We lived in a small apartment on Smith St. in Brooklyn. In that apartment I wrote many songs. I recorded them on my computer and made a CD called Freak Out... It's Ben Kweller. Thats when my solo career officially began. I played in the city as much as possible. One acoustic guitar, one keyboard and a microphone (and harmonica, glockenspiel, shakers, and whatever else I could find). before each show I would make a big sign out of glitter and markers bearing my name, Sometimes just write "BK". I'd walk on stage with it and set it up behind me as my back drop. after that I would play my music which people later called, "Anti-Folk".

One day Evan Dando looked me up in the phone book, called me up and left me a message. "Ben! This is Evan Dando calling. We got a copy of your album and can't stop playing it! GIve me a call! Let's hang out!!" I was stunned. Evan was a long time hero of mine up there with Kurt. I nervously called him back. Soon he would be riding shotgun in my Volvo with two guitars in the trunk. I was Evan's main support act for many months at home in America. Evan also brought me to Europe to play with him and in Glasgow we stayed with Eugene Kelly, singer of The Vaselines. I think It was in the fall of 2000 when I was doing a lot of playing and hanging out at places like Mercury Lounge, Brownies and Knitting Factory. I became friends with Adam Green and Kimya Dawson (Moldy Peaches), The Strokes, Nada Serf, Tim Fite, Guster and just about everyone else hanging around at that time.

From Jeff Tweedy to Juliana Hatfield, I opened for a bunch of great artists. On a Sunday night at the VIllage Underground I was approached by Michael Mcdonald, who at the time was starting an indie label with Dave Matthews called ATO. Their focus on originality and integrity was very appealing to me. The career that Dave was building as an artist whose music has always been left of center and straight from the heart was something I had tons of respect for. I signed with ATO in 2001 and in December released EP Phone Home. In March 2002 the album Sha Sha was released. For the first time since the Radish days I hit the road with a band and didn't look back. My band included Josh Lattanzi on Bass, Mike Stroud on Guitar and Fred Eltringham on Drums. At first I continued to open for others. Dashboard Confessional a new band at the time, took me on two US tours with them. Adam Green and I opened for The Strokes on The Wycked Septre Tour. On that tour Adam and I started covering "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys. It started out as a joke but eventually became a B-side on Adams "Jessica" single. I also played five shows with Dave Matthews band in huge arenas.

During Sha Sha, I did many things for the first time. I got to play on the Austin City Limits TV show, I moved from a Van to a Bus, I toured in Japan, I sold more records than I ever had before and I did my first "Sold Out" headlining tour. After Sha Sha, I went in to record the album On My way. Although On My Way was recorded at the same studio as Sha Sha, The Approach was completely different. I really wanted to capture the band that had been backing me up for the past year and a half. We recorded everything live, in one room without headphones and hardly any overdubs. I'm very proud of On My Way's spontaneity and honesty. I'm especially proud of the song "On My Way". I feel it's one of my best. After the albums release in April of '04, I once again hit the road. The band included John Kent from Radish, Jason Roberts on guitar and Josh on Bass. On My Way saw the first Headlining tour of France where we played in nine cities. I did a US co-headlining tour with Deathcab For Cutie which had many multi night stands in various cities. We also played Fuji Rock in Japan with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs & White Stripes. We had a nice game of Whiffleball with some Japanese kids and friends from RCA Japan. They love Baseball in Japan and Bass Fishing - two of my favorite things. Towards the end of touring for On My Way we opened for The Black Crowes at one of their Hammerstein reunion shows.

When all the touring for On My Way was over I took time off to relax and write for a new album. for six months I wrote and recorded demos with longtime friend/producer Roger Greenawalt at Shabby Road Studio. In the beginning of October '05 I began talking to different possible producers for the album. I decided to work with Gil Norton who recorded loads of Pixies stuff, Foo Fighters, Counting Crowes, Dashboard, Echo & The Bunnymen, and much more...

in December i went to France to produce a french singer named Pierre Guimard. His album will come out around the same time as my new album in September '06.

Gil and I started recording my new album "Ben Kweller" in February at The Magic Shop in NYC. The making of this album was very exciting, emotional and challenging. I played all the instruments. This was a big change for me and it produced something really intimate and special. It's such a different way of working but if you can pull it off it makes a very cool and unique sound. A bonus for me, and you, is I think I might have written my best song while I was in the studio. It's called "Thirteen". It's very personal and almost hard for me to listen to.

"Ben Kweller" is set to be released sometime in September of '06. We are setting up the world tour right now. I really can't wait to get back on the road and see all of you again.
Sleeper Agent
Sleeper Agent
There are many markers of success in the first-year career of Sleeper Agent, the overachieving Little Garage-Pop Act That Could from Bowling Green, Kentucky. Drummer Justin Wilson, however, prefers to recall the one that best captures the goofy joie de vivre of his group. The date was March 2, 2011, the final day of the first leg of their grueling tour with local buddies Cage the Elephant. This was their first real tour, so Wilson and his bandmates—female singer Alex Kandel, singer-guitarist Tony Smith, bassist Lee Williams, guitarist Josh Martin, and keyboardist Scott Gardner—wanted to commemorate the occasion. They dispatched Gardener, dolled him up in a cheerleader's outfit—doughy gut and all! —and unleashed him onto the stage to crash their giggling friends' set. "He's already got this huge mane of curly hair," Wilson, 24, enthuses. "He looked like a pom-pom already!" This tour, in all its agony and ecstasy, embodied Sleeper Agents' rock & roll dream—and that night, they realized they were living it. The key to Sleeper Agent's steady ascent, recently punctuated by their rollicking shows at SXSW, is disarmingly simple: the band members know how to laugh at themselves, and their songs are joyously melodic. (Possible motto, according to Smith: "Live faster, don't die" —admittedly a work in progress.) You can hear this in particular on tracks such as the blogger-touted "Get It Daddy," a dizzying school's-out anthem about growing up, "Love Blood," a jerky WTF about commitment, and "Get Burned," the giddiest love-sucks tale you've ever heard that sounds like the Strokes doing the nasty with the Arcade Fire. "My previous band was very introspective and complicated," explains Smith, 24, who pens all the music and lyrics. (A sucker for tight rock-pop hooks, he cites T. Rex, the Beatles, and Jay Reatard as influences—though to his bewilderment, his voice has earned countless rhapsodic comparisons to Jack White's.) "So we under-thought everything, and just went for it." Their compositions back in the day were pretty straightforward, oscillating between the subjects of booze and chicks. But Smith is proud to report that his talking points have since evolved. Most of the tracks on their self-titled album—out August on Mom + Pop Records (Sleigh Bells, Metric)—are studies in relationships, both familial and romantic. And many of them, he adds, "I write from Alex's perspective, how I think she's feeling." This shift in perspective is key to Sleeper Agent's appeal: While the playful tug of war between the male and female vocals coolly recalls everyone from X to The XX, the immediate warmth they emit is entirely their own. The group—its name a Battlestar Galactica reference, courtesy of sci-fi geek Smith—first formed in 2008, as the drums-and-guitar duo of Wilson and Smith. Vets of hardcore and rock bands, the two hit it off while working together in a movie theater. "We were both fans of Rush," Smith explains. The pair stood out by being the only act in town with songs that boasted dueling vocals. No one seemed to mind that Wilson couldn't really sing, especially not the duo who were pocketing $500 a show at the local college hangout. The rest of Sleeper Agent assembled serendipitously. "Lee was a fanboy of ours. He'd come to all our shows," Wilson says, giggling. "And he was friends with Scott." Kandel, meanwhile, had opened for Sleeper Agent as part of a rock group she formed with a local buddy. "Tony swears he can't remember what I sounded like," she notes. Oh, but he certainly does remember that day in 2009 he, then 22, met up with the 16 year old over lunch about possibly joining the band. "I picked her up from high school," he says. Long pause. "That was weird." Deciding she was too young, he blew her off thereafter. "But I was pretty persistent," says Kandel. "I would message Tony on Facebook saying, 'Hey, don't forget about me. You still have to make me famous.'" Three months later, she finally broke him down. Smith attempted to teach her bass, but when she proved to have butter fingers, he switched her over to vocals. Today, "it's definitely a brother-sister kind of thing," says the 18-year old Kandel. (You can hear their declaration of siblinghood on the ballady "That's My Baby.") "I feel like an equal, but they're really protective." Scoundrels, you've been warned! The rest of Sleeper Agent's story has transpired at a feverish pace. After the six piece played their first show together in 2010, they decided to put together an eight-song demo. That recording caught the attention of friends Matt & Brad Shultz of Cage the Elephant, and their producer Jay Joyce (Emmylou Harris, The Whigs), who'd go on to produce Sleeper Agent in July 2010 in his Nashville studio. While laying down the tracks for Celabrasion the group teamed up with the Shultz's and Ryan Zumwalt's Death Panda imprint leading to a deal with Mom + Pop. All of the above happened in just NINE months. Since then, Sleeper Agent has been opening for with Cage across America, building a swelling fanbase. "We've been giving autographs and pictures every night after we play," marvels Justin. He's sincerely flattered by this, but it's also freaking him out. "Once 400 people came into this tiny room! I couldn't breathe! I couldn't see a way to get out." One day, he jokes, the band will "hire somebody who can, like, push through and clear a path for me," hip-hop style. But for now, the members of Sleeper Agent have been expertly plowing their way through the masses the only way they know how: one town at a time.

Alex "Kidd" Kandel - Vocals
Tony "Tutone" Smith - Guitar + Vocals
Justin "Keyser" Wilson - Drums
Lee "Grizzlee" Williams - Bass
Scott "Saga" Gardner - Keys + Synths
Josh "Junior" Martin - Lead Guitar
The Dig
The Dig
New York City's The Dig have been playing together in one incarnation or another since they were 12 years old. In late 2007, the band released their acclaimed debut EP Good Luck and Games and hit the road in spring/summer 2008. By steadily touring the east coast, playing two month-long residencies at NYC's Pianos, and taping multiple appearances on Fox's Fearless Music, the band has earned a loyal following. The Dig have been touring throughout 2009 in support of the three-song follow-up to the Good Luck and Games EP, most recently opening for Girl Talk, Mystery Jets, The Rakes, Tapes 'n Tapes, Longwave, Ha Ha Tonka, and As Tall As Lions. The band is currently in the studio recording their first full-length album, and will head back out on the road this Fall.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123