September 18, 2012
Jam
Music
      Artists A-Z
      Album Reviews
      Concert Reviews
      Concert Listings
      Pop Encyclopedia
      Music Blog

Movies
Television
Video
Theatre
Books
Country
Celebrities



Video Gallery
RSS Feed

SJP


Ben Folds, a man of sound mind
By Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency


Ben Folds (centre) and band. (File)

Ben Folds is a man of sound mind these days. At least slightly.

"I'm not nearly as much of a controlling jackass," cracks the Nashville-based singer-pianist. "Not that I was ever really that bad. But personally, I've relaxed a lot over the years."

That kinder, gentler nature came in handy recently when the 45-year-old musician finally resurrected his long-dormant trio The Ben Folds Five.

Some 13 years after Folds, drummer Darren Jessee and bassist Robert Sledge released their third album The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, the beloved '90s indie-popsters are back with the even-wordier followup The Sound of the Life of the Mind. Something else that's back in spades: Their signature fusion of Folds' articulate wit and Tin Pan Alley piano-pop with Jessee and Sledge's raw indie-rock power and propulsion.

Before taking his BFF back out on the road, Folds called up to discuss artistic types, being skillfully reckless and feeling like an heirloom tomato.

You're a guy who's known for moving forward. What made you want to turn around and revisit this?


Well . um . I don't know! What I want to say, I guess, is that making the record was one of most forward-stepping things I've done. That's what it feels like, anyway. I guess I could probably back that up somehow. If you take the three records we made, it's not like we were ever standing still at all. For the era we were in, it was pretty radical what we were doing and how quickly we were moving. And when we went back in, it would have been so easy to just relive the magic. But the record itself is very forward. Our approach in the studio and the way we looked at it, the way the songs were put together and the way we related, all that was pretty damn new for me. I can't speak about the results, but it felt like we were going forward.

Why does it feel new? How have those dynamics changed?

Well, we all got some rest. When we were playing together, it was very lucrative to stay together 24 hours a day and work, work, work. And we got really sick of it. But now it just feels like everyone's grown up a bit. That's the main thing that strikes me. We're all artists and we have artist mentalities. That's something I've come to realize in the last year or two: That's my mindset. I've always tried to not be like that. It's the way I grew up. I don't admire someone who is flighty and not practical and emotional and all that. But after a while I went, 'That's what I am. That's what I do.' And Rob and Darren are just like that. They're not machine-like musicians - they're crazy, artistic musicians. And since we all know that now, we just relax and laugh about stuff.

The record has a real live, rough 'n' tumble feel coupled with very intricate elements. How did you combine those?

Yeah, it's a beast. There's an element of it that's effortless, with no second guessing. And there's an element that is very considered and arranged. And those two things are really difficult to put together. It's very easy to get lost in the weeds. You have to stay balanced. For example, you might hit something absolutely f---ing insane on the second take. And you know there's issues with it, but you decide not to fix them because it will change the story. So it was crazy, crazy, crazy and then careful consideration. There are background vocals on some things that took all day. They don't sound like it, and we don't want it to sound like it. But if you know anything about voices and how stuff is put together and what everything is doing, it's pretty f---ing full on. So, you have a fairly reckless record that is skillfully reckless. It's not something I hear people doing too much.

How is the new material working in a live setting?

It sounds huge, for just three people. There's a lot of sound that comes out of that band. I'd actually forgot how much. And I think we might actually sound bigger and more considerable than we did back in the day. Maybe it's my memory. But I think we're suddenly sounding twice as big.

Was playing together again like getting back up on the bike, or were you rusty?

Nah, we just did it. We all cut our teeth together musically. Going from

amateurs to professionals all happened together. So we have a sound. And

the cool thing is that bands with a sound are rare. They always have been, but they're even more rare now. It's actually kind of frowned upon in a way, because having a sound means you're different and people don't work toward that anymore. But we're old-school. It's kind of like they thawed us out up at the North Pole. We're like heirloom tomatoes.

Is this a victory lap or a new beginning or what?

I'm thinking pretty pragmatically about it. We've done this very carefully one step at a time, without committing to the next step until we know it's something that we want to do and enjoy. We plan to play until the end of 2013, because I have orchestral work that starts in 2014 and goes for the whole year. That's our understanding right now.

darryl.sterdan@sunmedia.ca

@darryl_sterdan

blogs.canoe.ca/turntable

facebook.com/darryl.sterdan

 




HOT MUSIC HEADLINES
Q & A with the Arctic Monkeys
Selena Gomez swears, storms off stage at Jingle Ball
R. Kelly: 'I met my match in Lady Gaga'
Rebecca Black debuts 'Friday' follow-up
Jay Z, Drake earn top Grammy nominations
Ed Sheeran paid his dues for singer-songwriter success
CD reviews: Bad Religion, Erasure and Nick Lowe top Christmas albums
Drake pulls out of Grammy's concert
How Christina Aguilera got her groove back
The most iconic '90s videos
More Headlines
Britney Spears ponders retirement after Las Vegas residency
Kanye West plays to half-empty arena in Kansas City
Our top Grammy nomination picks
Hilary Duff preparing for pop comeback
Gucci Mane faces gun charges
Lady Gaga announces Canadian tour
Katy Perry, John Mayer pose together in 'Who You Love' cover art
A semi ‘Orange is the New Black’ holiday special
Reggae legend Junior Murvin dies at 67
Rza pays tribute to Paul Walker through song

Latest Blog Posts
Stranglers on The Met's Punk exhibit: "Cringey, creepy."¯
Don’t expect British punk vets The Stranglers to be running to see the The Metropolitan Museum in New York’s new exhibit Punk: Chaos To Couture, on til mid-August. “That’s a bit cringey really, it’s a bit creepy,” said ... Read more
Arctic Monkeys announce new album
Sheffield rockers Arctic Monkeys are jumping back into the rock ‘n roll fray with a brand new album. The disc, simply titled AM, will be released on September 10, and includes 11 new tracks. James Ford, who produced their last three records, including ... Read more
Beyonce books two more Canadian dates
We may need to refer to her as the hardest working mom in showbiz. Pop superstar Beyonce has added an additional 14 dates to her already jam-packed Mrs. Carter Show World Tour itinerary, and it includes two Canadian stops. The new leg kicks off on November ... Read more
More blog postings

Latest videos
See more videos


Who's coming and when
Want to know when your favourite band is coming to town? Check out Clive, JAM Music's extensive Canadian concert listings.

TV Listings
Wondering what's on tonight? Check out our TV listings for the complete schedule in your area.
Movie Listings
Find out what's playing at a theatre near you.








Do you think Kanye West should have the book thrown at him for fighting with a photographer?
Yes
No


Results | Story