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Ben Folds Five

After a break-up and a decade of silence, the alt-piano-rock trio Ben Folds Five is back. Louder and prouder.  They join us.

Ben Folds Five (Autumn de Wilde)

Ben Folds Five (Autumn de Wilde)

Ben Folds Five was a life raft in the ‘90s for music lovers who weren’t finding their joy in mainstream pop.  Just three guys – yes, not five – with an alt piano rock sound that was smart, not big.  Funny, not fiery.  “Punk rock for sissies,” Ben Folds once said.  Nuance.  Melancholy.  Self-conflict.  Sarcasm.

Think Todd Rundgren or early Joe Jackson or a post-modern Elton John.  They broke up.  They wandered.  And they’re back.

This hour, On Point:  the return of  Ben Folds Five.

-Tom Ashbrook


Ben Folds, singer-songwriter, producer, pianist and frontman for Ben Folds Five. He was a judge on the NBC a capella contest “The Sing-Off.” His latest album (with Ben Folds Five) is: The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind.

Robert Sledge, multi-instrumentalist for Ben Folds Five.

From Tom’s Reading List

Rolling Stone “Ben Folds insists he’s the last one to heap praise upon his own work. But as the singer tells Rolling Stone, after listening to the new Ben Folds Five album, he couldn’t help but swell with pride.”

New York Post “Asked why Ben Folds Five broke up back in 2000, bandleader Ben Folds offers a surprising explanation: “Darren [Jessee, the band’s drummer] made a pass at my mom. That just wasn’t acceptable.” Folds, long known for a barbed sense of humor, is joking, of course, and this skewed worldview is ever present on “The Sound of the Life of the Mind,” the band’s first album in 13 years, out on Sept. 18.”


“Brick” was the break-out hit for Folds in 1997.

Check out Folds’ piano playing on his “Song for the Dumped.”

And on the song “Army.”

You can hear a track, “Erase Me” from the new album here.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/tripp.cox Tripp Cox

    So happy to see Tom dive into “the Underground”;-) for this one… many props!!

  • J__o__h__n

    Ask about working with William Shatner.

  • writeeye

    No excuse for not replacing this hour with one addressing Ambassador Stevens’ murder yesterday.

    • adks12020

      Did you ever think that maybe they want to gather more information about the situation before doing a show on it?  I’m sure they don’t want to be like CNN and report things that are false just so they can jump on a story.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        Touche! The need for instant gratification trumps the need for gathering accurate data. I guess that is what the general population has come to expect in this post-truth reign our neo-feudal lords.

        If you want conjecture, fear mongering and vitriol, tune to Fox. Otherwise you’ve got CNN, MSNBC, NECN… plenty of conduits to tap into to hear the same stories being repeated every 15 minutes or less.

        • StilllHere

          Accurate data, you’re funny.  You’ve never let accuracy get in the way of any of your ill-informed opinions.

      • StilllHere

        That didn’t stop them with the rush to judgment on the Tucson shooting.  Remember all the hand-wringing about rhetoric, blah blah; within 3 months Tom was spewing the same garbage.  

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Beautiful! Reminiscent of Beech Boys and XTC’s Skylarking. Love it!!!

  • amitchells

    My husband, a transplant from New Orleans, loved Ben Folds 5 from the beginning and dragged me to their concert in the 1990′s on Landsdowne Street in Boston.  I was grumpy being there and suddenly they played a cover of Video Killed the Radio Star.  I was hooked.

  • Mandy Foster

    “Brick” came out when I was a teen amd my views on abortion were evolving.  I was pro-life then and am pro-life now but your song showed me the humanity behind this decision and the depth of pain for all involved and that has stayed.  You not only created a beautiful song but a moral one and for that I thank you.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GT3QXSWJJY7JUFMVUASWSHSPTA David

    I’d love to know the difference for Ben between his solo work and working with the band.

  • Molly Shangraw

    I went to Kenya for my study abroad program in 2002 and back in those days we had to pack cd’s. “Whatever & Ever Amen” and a few others made the trip with me. I memorized the entire thing and it remains in my top 5 because of that. I will forever associate the opening lines of “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces” with my friend Becky dancing out the door of our house onto the lawn while we procrastinated working on our final papers. 

  • Kelly Zahn

    Evaporated. Anyone who has suffered from depression can relate to this beautiful piece, along with many other witty, clever tunes. thank you. And Thank you Tom for having them on your show. Ben, miss you! Kelly

  • philswenson83

    So many Ben Folds Five songs focus on characters/people as the subject matter…vs ephemeral ideas, love, pain etc. The songs explain people going through these abstract things. What is the line between fiction and reality (real people) when the band writes songs?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=666848589 Kate Ramsey

    I love Ben Folds Five music because its actual music. The majority of “music” out there today is a fraud. There is feeling behind each song of Ben’s. It might be happy feeling, sad feeling, whatever. But you feel that. It hits home. They are all talented (all members of BBF) but Ben, wow! He is amazing. I can not WAIT to see them in concert for the first time later this month. 
    Also, I love love love The Sing Off. 

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Bad-assed… more power to the wordsmiths with taste and humor!!!

  • Ron Frisard

    I have seen Ben over 10 times now.. By far the best show I have ever seen!  I can’t wait to see the upcoming show next month!  Hope Underground is on the bill..

  • http://www.facebook.com/WAYFan Austin Nebbia

    Can I just say, this is amazing. Tried calling in but the line was busy. That’s whatcha get with BFF, I guess. Also, um, wow. When Ben was on the Nerdist Channel last year, I just realized that he played the framework of what would eventually become “Erase Me”. So cool to hear that melody again, and to hear it from seed of an idea to full-blown Elfman-esque rock number. Fantastic.

  • http://profiles.google.com/filmi.girl Filmi Girl

    What a pleasant surprise to wake up to in my iTunes! I was a huge fan of the BFF from the self-titled album and am THRILLED they are back together for another album. Loved the tracks that were played on the show – and since nobody called in to say it, I will: Robert Sledge is one of the best pop bass players of the last 30 years. The band would not be the same without him. He can pop, lock, keep the dirt and the funk, and play the upright.

    Very interesting conversation – Tom, you did a great job getting the musicians to open up a bit.

    Since nobody will be reading this, I’ll just add that – as a fan – the experience of liking BFF changed a lot after “Brick.” Not just that there were now screaming teen girls and douchey guys at the shows but because “Brick” was so different from anything else they had done, it was disappointing to find that the ballad style took over the next album and I drifted away. I love Ben’s ballads, too, but you need the contrast with the more upbeat stuff to get the full experience. Otherwise, it’s just a drag…

    So, I was really happy to hear a mix of styles – and if I’m not mistaken, there are some Nashville influences? I thought I heard some bluegrass drums on one of the tracks.

    Anyways… tl;dr – I’m psyched and definitely buying the album off iTunes as soon as it’s available. It’s been a long 13, boys, and I missed you. <3

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amanda-Dissinger/517683897 Amanda Dissinger

    Loving “Do It Anyway”! So glad Ben Folds Five is back-
    really excited for the new album! 

  • Pingback: Ben Folds Five x 'Do It Anyways' | Adventured

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