Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...
NO ORDINARY TUX-AND-TAILS PIANIST, Ben Folds has been known to pound his instrument's keys with his head, his feet and even his piano stool. The 31-year-old Chapel Hill, N.C.-based singer-songwriter fronts Ben Folds Five, a trio, with bassist Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee on drums. Since releasing their CD Whatever and Ever Amen (550 Music) last March, the group has found an enthusiastic following for its 1970s-style pop tunes and was recently featured on public television's Sessions at West 54th.
Why has the band become successful?
Well, a piano trio in the world of rock is novel. And there's no real obvious musical movement right now. You can't say it's the grunge scene now. There's this anything-goes mind-set.
What do you think of comparisons to Elton John and Billy Joel?
Those are both melodic writers. I'm in a similar school. I would like to twist it around a bit with my writing. Not as a political movement but just as freedom for myself. 'Cause I'm not interested in making Elton John records.
Has your life changed lately?
Yes, mainly because I'm just working all the time. But also because I'm not always in the position to have to explain myself. Like saying, "Well yes, I am a musician but I do have a job and I can pay rent."