Ben Folds Five, but has also struck out on his own as a solo artist. Despite playing in bands in high school, his musical career didn't really get off the ground until the late '80s, as a bassist for Majosha (the outfit issued such obscure releases as Party Night: Five Songs About Jesus and Shut Up and Listen to Majosha). Proving his multi-instrumental talents, Folds also played drums as a session musician in Nashville. After relocating to New York, Folds started acting again (he'd done some theater in high school previously) and signed a publishing deal with Sony Music.
Moving back to North Carolina, Folds in 1994 formed Ben Folds Five, a trio that also included bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jessee. Whereas most alternative bands of the '90s specialized in distorted teen-angst rock, the guitarless trio was a refreshing break from the norm, their sound akin to such past power popsters as Todd Rundgren, Jellyfish, early Joe Jackson, and such piano-driven artists as Billy Joel and early Elton John. But like punk bands, Ben Folds Five put on a high-energy, blistering live show. The band was signed to the independent Caroline Records shortly afterward, resulting in their self-titled debut one year later. Due to airings of their humorous anthem "Underground" (which poked fun at the politics of the punk/alternative scene) on MTV's 120 Minutes) and constant touring, quite a buzz was stirring for the band by the time of their second album.
Released in 1997, Whatever and Ever Amen was pure pop perfection -- easily one of the year's best releases and perhaps the best power pop release of the '90s. The band's songwriting and sound had improved even further, as evidenced by such gems as "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces," "Fair," "Kate," and "Battle of Who Could Care Less," plus their whimsical tribute to breakups, "Song for the Dumped." But it was the ballad "Brick" that broke the band commercially -- unlike the majority of their material, which was upbeat, the song contained melancholic music and vocals, as the lyrics told the story of a teenage couple who decides to get an abortion (it has been speculated that the tale was autobiographical for Folds). The single didn't hit until several months after the album was released, which meant that the band stayed on the road for well over a year, playing with such notables as Dave Matthews, Beck, and as part of the 1997 H.O.R.D.E. festival -- earning Whatever platinum status.
While 1998 didn't see a new studio album by the band, BF5's former label issued a 16-track rarities collection (Naked Baby Photos), as Folds released his first solo album, Volume 1, under the pseudonym Fear of Pop. Although the album went largely unnoticed, it included the song "In Love," which included overly dramatic vocals from none other than Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner (comparable in approach to Shatner's must-hear 1968 album, The Transformed Man) and which was performed on The Conan O'Brien Show shortly after the album's release. Ben Folds Five regrouped with 1999's The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, which was a more mature work than its predecessors, although the energetic lead-off single, "Army," showed that Folds' humorous approach hadn't dulled at all. Folds officially went solo again in 2001 with Rockin' the Suburbs. A series of EPs followed, with the new long-player Songs for Silverman dropping in 2005. He released Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP the following year.
Ben Folds Five: Ben Folds Five was an alternative rock trio formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The group comprised Ben Folds on vocals, piano, and principal songwriting; Robert Sledge played bass and provided backing vocals; and Darren Jessee played drums, sang backing vocals and co-wrote some of the songs. The group achieved mainstream success in the alternative, indie and pop music scenes. The band is best known for the hit single "Brick" from their 1997 album Whatever and Ever Amen, which gained airplay on many mainstream radio stations.
Much of Ben Folds Five's work was influenced by jazz, evident in frequent improv-styled passages through bridge and/or ending. During their seven years together, the band released three proper studio records, one retrospective album of B-sides & outtakes, and eight singles. They also contributed to a number of soundtracks and compilations. Ben Folds Five disbanded in October 2000, apparently under amicable circumstances.
The group reunited for a one-off concert on September 18, 2008, where they played their final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, in its entirety.
Ben Folds Five was formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill by Ben Folds. They were, in fact, a trio in spite of their name, and the primary motivation behind the name, apart from the band's well-known use of humor, was simple preference, according to Ben: "I think it sounds better than Ben Folds Three". Folds once described their music as "punk rock for sissies", a reaction to the angst prevalent in 90s rock.
Their first radio single was "Underground" from their self-titled debut album, released in 1995 on Caroline records. The band's biggest success was the single "Brick" from their second album, Whatever and Ever Amen, released in 1997. It was followed by the more somber and jazz-based 1999 album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. Despite a more somber record in Reinhold Messner album, live shows continued to pack in the energy and improvisation that Ben Folds Five had grown to have quite a reputation for.
The group contributed an outtake from the Reinhold Messner sessions, titled "Leather Jacket", to the 1999 benefit album, No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees. The band's final recording was a cover of Steely Dan's "Barrytown" for the Me, Myself & Irene soundtrack. Following the worldwide tour in support of The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, the band "amicably" broke up in October 2000.
(From Wikipedia) http://www.myspace.com/benfolds