Ben Folds Five Debuts In The Billboard Top 10
ImaVeePee Records/Sony Music Entertainment is excited to announce that Ben Folds Five's new record, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind, has debuted at #10 in the Billboard Top 200 chart, making it the highest debut of the band's career. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind is the groundbreaking pop trio's fourth record and first in 13 years. On September 17th, Ben Folds Five released the music video for single "Do It Anyway," a collaboration with The Fraggles and Chris Hardwick's Nerdist Industries. After only 10 days, the video is already approaching a million views, and can be seen on YouTube. Ben Folds Five will be performing on The Colbert Report on Monday, October 1.
The press on the new record has been stellar. Rolling Stone said "Though they're getting older, their attitude from their early days still shines through," while Spin claimed, "Folds sounds invigorated to have a rock band behind him again...there is a weight and a whomp to the songs." The Onion AV Club hailed "Mind sounds exactly what a mature Ben Folds Five record should sound like: hard-won wisdom and withering observations with an unabashedly sentimental core," and American Songwriter said the new record brings out "the muscle and mischief of Folds' best music...it's perfect, quintessential Ben Folds Five."
Ben Folds Five (Ben Folds - piano, Darren Jessee - drums, Robert Sledge - bass) were among the most distinctive and inventive bands of the alternative era, beloved for their kinetic live shows and piano-powered popcraft. Now, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind makes it plain that the years apart have only served to amplify the band's already estimable gifts. Songs like the ebullient first single, "Do It Anyway," or drummer Darren Jessee's elegiac "Sky High" illustrate an increased subtlety as well as a soulfulness born of a truly inimitable group dynamic.
Folds, Jessee, and Robert Sledge first united in 1994, drawing immediate notice for their sardonic smarts, high-energy harmonies and unstoppable melodies. In 1995, the band's self-titled debut was rightfully hailed as a guitar-free pop oasis amidst the grungy industrial wasteland that was mid-90s rock. 1997's Whatever And Ever Amen proved the trio's popular breakthrough, with the landmark single, "Brick," fueling worldwide sales in excess of 2 million. Where many bands would've happily stuck to the formula, in 1999 BFF returned with The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, an audacious and inventive collection that yielded still another milestone with the timeless "Army."
Ben Folds Five amicably parted ways shortly after the 20th Century's end, eager to explore fresh terrain after seven years of intense concentration on the band. Folds, of course, embarked on a storied solo career, replete with countless veers and variations spanning smash albums, experimental collaborations, production, philanthropy, and even a role as judge on the NBC a cappella singing competition, The Sing Off. An exceptional singer/songwriter in his own right, Jessee earned widespread acclaim and a fervent fan following with his eclectic pop combo, Hotel Lights. Sledge fronted the band International Orange and furthered his mastery of the bass guitar, while producing, teaching, and undertaking session work. In 2008, MySpace reached out to Folds, wondering whether the Five might consider reuniting for their "Front To Back" concert series.
"Nobody had ever asked us if we'd do anything, because they'd made the assumption that we wouldn't," Folds says. "I called Robert and Darren and they said, 'Yeah, why not?' It went really well and it opened our minds to the possibility of recording."
The hometown performance - which saw the band playing Reinhold Messner in its entirety - reopened lines of communication and it wasn't long before they reassembled to record a trio of tracks for Ben's 2011 career-spanning anthology, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.
A full-on new album was approached with no little caution - "just to make sure this was something we all wanted to do," says Folds - but the creative lure proved irresistible. In January 2012, Ben Folds Five assembled at Folds' own Ben's Studio (built in 1964 by Chet Atkins as the historic RCA Victor Nashville Sound Studios). They adopted a simple and classic method of recording, with piano, bass, and drums all within 10 feet of each other in the legendary studio's big room. To allow for complete focus on the music, the band enlisted co-producer Joe Pisapia (Guster, k.d. Lang), who teamed with Folds' longtime studio collaborator, engineer/mixer Joe Costa, behind the board.
Certainly among the most accomplished and enthusiastic records of their brilliant career, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind makes it crystal clear: the return of Ben Folds Five is most assuredly not an exercise in Nineties nostalgia. Rather, this dazzling collection stands as testament to a classic band's revived - and enduring - creative partnership.
"It's kind of demystified," Jessee says. "We had all that stuff happen when we were younger and now it's more about making ourselves happy with what we're doing. Hopefully that carries over to our fans who have been waiting for this record."
"For all of us, the only way it could work is if we dropped the egos," Folds says. "I believe really strongly that the record we made is not a record we could've made had we just continued as a band."
Ben Folds Five On Tour:
September 27 Council Bluffs, IA Harrah's Council Bluffs
September 28 Kansas City, MO Starlight
September 29 Minneapolis, MN Orpheum Theatre
September 30 Chicago, IL Chicago Theatre
October 2 Detroit, MI The Fillmore Detroit
October 3 Indianapolis, MN Murat Theatre
October 5 Buffalo, NY Kleinhans
October 6 Columbia, MD V Fest at Merriweather Post Pavilion
October 7 Upper Darby, PA Tower Theatre
October 9 Port Chester, NY The Capitol Theatre
October 13 Boston, MA House of Blues
November 10 Melbourne, Australia Harvest Festival - Werribee Park
November 17 Sydney, Australia Harvest Festival - Parramatta Park
November 18 Brisbane, Australia Harvest Festival - Botanic Gardens
November 23 Bristol, England O2 Academy
November 24 Nottingham, England Rock City
November 26 Dublin, Ireland Vicar Street
November 29 Manchester, England O2 Apollo
November 30 Glasgow, Scotland O2 Academy
December 1 Leeds, England O2 Academy
December 3 Birmingham, England O2 Academy
December 4 London, England O2 Academy Brixton
December 5 London, England O2 Academy Brixton