The first time I met Ben Folds in Dec 2001 he was just starting out on a brand new chapter of his career. His three piece band Ben Folds Five had achieved significant critical and commercial success from 1995-2000 but now he was going to try it as a solo performer. He had come to WFUV to promote his newly released album Rockin’ the Suburbs. Just the night before he had performed to an enthusiastic sold-out crowd at New York’s Bowery Ballroom for the first time in a long time without a band. “Since maybe I was twelve” he joked with me.
The interview went well and it would be the first of several sessions that I had with Ben on-the-air including a great broadcast from the The Museum of Television and Radio. I wound up introducing him live at venues ranging from Roseland to Radio City Music Hall and appearing as the opening announcer for his Ben Folds Live album.
The last ten plus years have been busy and eventful for Ben. There have been a series of solo albums, tours, assorted musical projects, a few marriages, and a very successful stint as a judge for the NBC TV a-capella competition show The Sing Off. Recently he reunited with the original members of Ben Folds Five to record a brand new album and this summer they will be be out for a full nationwide tour.
I really enjoyed this first meeting and Ben and his piano sounded terrific in live performances of both old and (at the time) new songs. We explored his musical influences ranging from Little Richard to Elton John, the challenges of being a new father, and I tried to be diplomatic in finding out just why the original band had broken up.