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Better Than Ezra Biography

Home > Music > B > Better Than Ezra > Biography

Birth Place: Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
Years Active: 1988–present
Genres: Alternative Rock, Post-grunge

Better Than Ezra is an American alternative rock trio based in New Orleans, Louisiana. In addition to vocalist, chief songwriter and guitarist Kevin Griffin, the other current members of Better Than Ezra as of February 2009 are bassist and backing vocalist Tom Drummond and drummer Michael Jerome, who joined the band in 2009. In addition, James Arthur Payne accompanies the band on tour, singing background vocals and playing supplemental guitar and keyboard accompaniment. Though many theories abound, the band refuses to disclose the origin of its name. Fans of the group often refer to themselves as Ezralites.

Better Than Ezra was formed in 1988 by its four original members, vocalist and guitarist Kevin Griffin, lead guitarist Joel Rundell, bassist Tom Drummond and drummer Cary Bonnecaze. All four members were attending Louisiana State University at the time of Better Than Ezra's formation. Better Than Ezra circulated a demo cassette tape later in 1988, the “Chimes Street Demo.” While not an official release, this demo is sought-after by the band's fans, and traded by collectors. In 1990 the band released a cassette-only album, “Surprise.”

Rundell committed suicide on August 8, 1990. The remaining three members of the band took some time off to reassess its future following Rundell's death. Griffin, Drummond and Bonnecaze reunited Better Than Ezra as a trio by the end of 1990. The trio continued playing house parties and fraternity shows across southern United States during the early 1990s.

The band released its first nationally-distributed album “Deluxe” in 1993 on its own independent label, Swell Records, which caught the attention of major record labels and radio. The band then signed with Elektra Records in 1995. Elektra Records re-released “Deluxe” in 1995 and the single, “Good,” reached the #1 position on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart which helped push the album to platinum record status by the end of 1995.

After “Deluxe,” original drummer Cary Bonnecaze left the band in 1996. He was replaced by drummer Travis McNabb, formerly of the band Vigilantes of Love, who was tapped to play on the band's upcoming album, “Friction Baby.” Better Than Ezra released their second major label album, “Friction, Baby,” in 1996 through Elektra Records. “Friction, Baby” produced the hits “Desperately Wanting” and “King of New Orleans.”

The trio began work on their third major release, “How Does Your Garden Grow?,” soon after the end of touring for “Friction, Baby.” The album was produced by Malcolm Burn and released in August 1998. The album was described as experimental and a significant departure from their previous two albums. The single “At the Stars” debuted, and peaked, at #78 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band was dropped by Elektra Records following the release of “How Does Your Garden Grow?”

Subsequent album releases from Better Than Ezra include “Closer” via Beyond Records in 2001, “Before the Robots” via Artemis Records in 2005 and “Paper Empire” via Megaforce Records in 2009.