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Ben Folds Five Biography

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Birth Place: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Years Active: 1993 – 2000, 2008
Genres: Alternative Rock

Ben Folds Five is an alternative rock trio formed in 1993 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The group comprises Ben Folds (vocals, piano, and principal songwriting), Robert Sledge (bass guitar, synthesizers, and backing vocals) and Darren Jessee (drums, backing vocals and co-writer for some songs). Much of Ben Folds Five's work is influenced by jazz, evident in frequent improv-styled passages. Ben Folds Five disbanded in October 2000, apparently under amicable circumstances. They reformed in 2012.

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.

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 band's final released recording was a cover of Steely Dan's “Barrytown,” for the 2000, “Me, Myself & Irene,” soundtrack. The band had begun work on a fourth studio album, however 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 would later emerge on subsequent solo projects.

Ben Folds Five made a one-off concert appearance in September 2008 at the UNC Memorial Hall in Chapel Hillas part of the MySpace Front to Back series, in which artists played an entire album live. The band played its final album, “The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner,” and was 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' album, “The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective.” They then played a number of shows in the beginning half of 2012. Later that year Ben Folds Five issued their fourth studio album and first since 1999, “The Sound of the Life of the Mind.” Without a label, the band launched at PledgeMusic campaign to help fund the record’s distribution. It was produced by Joe Pisapia, a multi-instrumentalist and former member of the band Guster currently touring in the Siss Bang Boom, the backing band for k.d. lang.