Ben Folds Five
|Origin||Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.|
|Years active||1993–2000, 2008, 2011–2013, 2023|
|Labels||Passenger, Caroline, 550|
Ben Folds Five was an American alternative rock trio formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The group comprises Ben Folds (lead vocals, piano), Robert Sledge (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Darren Jessee (drums, backing vocals). The group achieved success in the alternative, indie and pop music scenes. Their single "Brick" from the second album, Whatever and Ever Amen (1997), gained airplay on many mainstream radio stations.
During their first seven years, the band released three studio records, a compilation of B-sides and outtakes, and eight singles. They also contributed to a number of soundtracks and compilations. Ben Folds Five disbanded in October 2000, but reunited in 2011, and released their fourth album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, in 2012, before disbanding again in 2013.
Ben Folds Five was formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill by Ben Folds. They were 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. 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 released recording was a cover of Steely Dan's "Barrytown" for the Me, Myself & Irene soundtrack. The band had begun work on a fourth studio album, but following the worldwide tour in support of The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, the band "amicably" broke up in October 2000. Tracks from the sessions later emerged in solo projects.
After the break-up (2001–2011)
Folds went on to pursue a successful solo career, releasing his debut album Rockin' the Suburbs in 2001, followed Songs for Silverman in 2005, Way to Normal in 2008, and Lonely Avenue in collaboration with novelist Nick Hornby in 2010. He produced and arranged actor William Shatner's second album Has Been, co-writing the majority of the songs with Shatner. Folds also contributed songs to the soundtracks for the animated movies Hoodwinked! and Over the Hedge, as well as forming the one-off side project The Bens (with Ben Lee and Ben Kweller) in 2003.
Jessee formed the indie band Hotel Lights in 2004, with his songs featured in television and film. Jessee released three studio albums for Bar/None Records in this time – including Hotel Lights in 2006, Firecracker People in 2008, and Girl Graffiti in 2011.
Sledge played with International Orange until the group disbanded in 2005. He later became the bass player in the three-piece Chapel Hill band Surrender Human, with Matt McMichaels from the Mayflies USA.
Reunions (2008, 2011–2013, 2023)
Ben Folds Five made a one-off concert appearance in September 2008 at the UNC Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill as part of the MySpace "Front to Back" series, in which artists play an entire album live. The band played its then-final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, and were briefly joined on stage by Ben's father, Dean Folds, who read a transcript of his voice mail message that is used in the album song "Your Most Valuable Possession", encoring with some of the songs from their first two albums.
In 2011, Ben Folds Five reunited to record three tracks for Ben Folds' The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective. They made their first live appearance in four years as one of the headliners of the 2012 Mountain Jam festival. They made further appearances at that year's 2012 Bonnaroo and Summerfest festivals.
The band's fourth studio album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind was released in September 2012, supported by the single Do It Anyway, with a video featuring Anna Kendrick, Rob Corddry, and the cast of Fraggle Rock. and a tour of the US, the UK, Australia and Ireland.
In June 2013, the trio released their first live album, titled Live. During that year Ben Folds Five toured with the Barenaked Ladies and Guster, before entering a hiatus that ultimately became permanent. Folds resumed his solo career, releasing the yMusic collaboration So There in 2015 and continuing to tour extensively. Jessee, meanwhile, released a new album with Hotel Lights in 2016, entitled Get Your Hand in My Hand, before releasing two solo albums: 2018's The Jane, Room 217 and 2020's Remover.
Caleb Southern – the producer of the band's first three albums and considered the "fourth member" of the band by Folds – died on July 6, 2023. The band reunited for a concert in tribute to Southern on August 28, 2023, at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill.
|Ben Folds Five discography|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications|
|Ben Folds Five||—||37||—||72||—||—|
|Whatever and Ever Amen||42||8||48||6||38||30|
|The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner||
|The Sound of the Life of the Mind||
|The Complete Sessions at West 54th||
|Naked Baby Photos||
|Playlist: The Very Best of Ben Folds Five||
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Where's Summer B.?"||1996||—||—||—||—||—||76||Ben Folds Five|
|"Battle of Who Could Care Less"||1997||—||22||149||—||—||26||Whatever and Ever Amen|
|"One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces"||—||—||134||—||—||—|
|"Song for the Dumped"||1998||—||23||73||—||—||—|
|"Army"||1999||—||17||65||—||—||28||The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner|
|"Don't Change Your Plans"||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Do It Anyway"||2012||—||—||—||—||88||—||The Sound of the Life of the Mind|
|"—" denotes singles that did not chart.|
- Ben Folds Five – The Complete Sessions at West 54th (1999) – Epic Music Video
- Mr. Wrong soundtrack (1996) – Contributed "Song for the Dumped"
- The Truth About Cats & Dogs soundtrack (1996) – Contributed "Bad Idea"
- KCRW Rare On Air, Volume 3 (1997) – Contributed "Alice Childress"
- Lounge-A-Palooza (1997) – Contributed cover of "She Don't Use Jelly" by The Flaming Lips
- MegaHits Dance Party, Volume 2 (1998) – Contributed "Brick (3AM Dance Remix)"
- Triple J Hottest 100, Volume 5 (1998) – Contributed "One Angry Dwarf & 200 Solemn Faces"
- Sabrina, the Teenage Witch – The Album soundtrack (1998) – Contributed "Kate"
- Godzilla soundtrack (1998) – Contributed "Air"
- Burt Bacharach: One Amazing Night (1998) – Contributed "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head"
- Teleconned, Volume 1: We Want The Airwaves (1998) – Contributed "Theme From Dr. Pyser"
- No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees benefit album (1999) – Contributed "Leather Jacket"
- Me, Myself & Irene soundtrack (2000) – Contributed a cover of "Barrytown" by Steely Dan from their third studio album Pretzel Logic
- Songs for Summer benefit album (2000) – Contributed "Where's Summer B.?"
- Non Stop '90s Rock (2001) – Contributed "Brick"
- Songbook (2002) – Contributed "Smoke"
- Hofmann, Pieter (March 10, 1997). "Waist Deep in Pianos and Buses". Drop-D Magazine. Retrieved September 2, 2006.
- Thomas, Sarah (2006-08-25). "Ben Folds with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2006-09-23.
- "Ben with the Breeze". Melbourne: The Breeze. April 1, 2005. Retrieved November 27, 2006.
- "Ben Folds Five delights in reunion" Archived September 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
- "Catch Ben Folds Five's First Reunion Performance Tomorrow! | The Official Ben Folds Site". Benfolds.com. June 1, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Folds, Ben (September 17, 2012). "EXCLUSIVE!: Ben Folds Five and the Fraggles Sing "Do It Anyway"". Nerdist. Archived from the original on September 20, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
- Ben Folds Five First Official Live Album To Be Released June 4 | The Official Ben Folds Site, 2013-04-18. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
- "Ben Folds Tour". Benfolds.com. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
- Kivel, Adam (10 September 2015). "Album Review: Ben Folds and yMusic – So There". Consequence. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
- "Hotel Lights: Get Your Hand in My Hand (Bar None)". Innocent Words. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
- Ham, Robert. "Darren Jessee: The Jane, Room 217 Review". Paste Magazine. Paste Media Group. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
- Mosk, Mitch (13 October 2020). "SWOON, DEEP, & REAL: DARREN JESSEE'S 'REMOVER' IS A TENDER, QUIET TEMPEST". Atwood Magazine. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
- Brodsky, Rachel. "Ben Folds Five & Archers Of Loaf Producer Caleb Southern Dead At 53". Stereogum. Stereogum Media. Retrieved 19 July 2023.
- "Billboard > Ben Folds Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
- Australian (ARIA) peaks:
- Top 50 peaks: "australian-charts.com > Ben Folds Five in Australian Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
- Top 100 peaks to December 2010: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 105.
- "Battle of Who Could Care Less" and "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces": "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received May 24, 2016". Imgur.com. Retrieved May 24, 2016.
- "Song for the Dumped": "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 27 Sep 1998". ARIA, via Imgur.com. Retrieved February 3, 2016. N.B. The HP column displays the highest peak reached.
- "Army": "ariaNET The Chart! Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing 12th April 1999". ARIA, via Imgur.com. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
- Peak chart positions for albums in Canada:
- Whatever and Ever Amen: "Ben Folds Five Top Albums/CDs positions for Whatever and Ever Amen". RPM. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner: "Ben Folds Five Top Albums/CDs positions for The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner". RPM. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- Peak chart positions for albums in Japan:
- All releases except as noted below: "ベン・フォールズ・ファイヴのCDアルバムランキング" [Ben Folds Five: Highest position and charting weeks on the albums chart]. oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- The Best Imitation of Myself: "ベン・フォールズのCDアルバムランキング" [Ben Folds: Highest position and charting weeks on the albums chart]. oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- Peak positions for singles in Scotland:
- For "Whatever and Ever Amen": "Chart Archive > March 9, 1997". Official Charts Company.
- For "The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner": "Chart Archive > May 2, 1999". Official Charts Company.
- For "The Sound of the Life of the Mind": "Chart Archive > September 23, 2012". Official Charts Company.
- "Official Charts > Ben Folds Five". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
- "RIAJ > The Record > May 1997 > Certified Awards (March 1997)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 23, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2014.
- "American album certifications – Ben Folds Five – Whatever and Ever Amen". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1998 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- "MC > Album > June 1997 > Certified Awards (August 27, 1998)". Music Canada. Retrieved September 28, 2019.
- "RIAJ > The Record > June 1997 > Certified Awards (April 1997)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved February 17, 2014.
- "Billboard > Ben Folds Chart History > Radio Songs". Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
- "Billboard > Ben Folds Chart History > Alternative Songs". Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
- Peak chart positions for singles in Canada:
- "Billboard > Ben Folds Chart History > Japan Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved November 20, 2019.