He became interested in piano at age nine. His father, a carpenter, brought one home through a barter trade with a customer who was unable to pay. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, Folds played in several bands as the pianist, bassist, or drummer. In the late s, Folds as a bassist and longtime friend Millard Powers formed the band Majosha. The group released several locally produced records. They played their first gig at Duke University 's Battle of the Bands in , and won.
Five Songs About Jesus , which they sold locally. The EP has four songs, none of which are about Jesus. They recorded Shut Up and Listen to Majosha in After Majosha broke up, Folds played drums in a band called Pots and Pans with Evan Olson bass and Britt "Snuzz" Uzzell guitar and vocals , but the newly formed band lasted only about a month. Power Bill was later renamed The Semantics. Folds did not take a creative role in the band. He attracted interest from major labels. He ended up playing drums there as a session musician.
I was never frustrated — even though I wasn't fulfilling my contract obligations. If you are failing in Nashville, at least your standard of living is nice.
Nashville is a nice way to fail. He devoted a lot of time to working on piano technique. He enjoyed it in to the point where he did not want to keep pursuing a musical career. Soon after, Folds moved back to North Carolina.
The debut was followed by Whatever and Ever Amen in , and the odds-and-ends compilation Naked Baby Photos was released in early In , the band released what was to be their final album for over a decade The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner , which included the hit " Army ".
Folds has described this band as " punk rock for sissies",  and his oddball lyrics often contain nuances of melancholy, self conflict, and humorous sarcasm, often punctuated by profanity. The group's first chart breakthrough came in the UK, when "Underground" made the lower reaches of the Top 40, peaking at no. In Australia "Underground" likewise broke the band locally and while it did not make the ARIA chart, it came in at no.
The single "Brick" became the group's only major chart placing in Australia, reaching no. Folds and his bandmates have moved many albums since He said, "The songs have been getting a great reaction, it makes me look forward to having a new album out there because it's been a while.
This feels like a really free period in my life and I'm really enjoying it. The concert aired during October and can be viewed at Nowwhat. Folds performing in Knoxville, Tennessee , As of , Folds had released six solo LPs , including an experimental side project called Fear of Pop , which was released while Ben Folds Five was still together. Folds's first solo release after the breakup of the band was Rockin' the Suburbs in He played nearly all the instruments, notably guitar an instrument seldom used during the Ben Folds Five days.
The Luckiest was written for the Amy Heckerling movie Loser , but the scene it was meant for was deleted. In , Folds was an inaugural member of the Independent Music Awards' judging panel to support independent artists.
The last EP, Super D , was released in mid Songs for Silverman was released in the United States on April 26, The album returned to the trio format, featuring Jared Reynolds on bass and Lindsay Jamieson on drums.
Folds acted as producer, arranger, musician, and backup vocalist to William Shatner 's album, Has Been. Shatner was also involved in Folds' Fear of Pop project, contributing vocals to a number of songs on the album, most notably the song "In Love.
Included with them was a cover of The Clash song "Lost in the Supermarket" and a recording of "Rockin' the Suburbs" featuring new lyrics written to complement the plot of the film.
He announced on his MySpace blog that he planned to work on his next studio album in October although recording did not actually start until On that same day, Folds became the first person to webcast a live-by-request concert over MySpace.
The concert was complete with pranks staged ahead of time by Folds, including a drunk man falling over the balcony during "Jesusland" and a suicide attempt at the end. The concert is also notable for featuring a "guitorchestra", a group of acoustic guitarists from Nashville who accompanied Folds on some songs, as well as an impromptu ringtone orchestra made up of audience members playing their cellphone's ringtones in unison.
In the summer of , he performed as the primary opener for John Mayer during his Continuum day summer tour.
He also performs on the album. He played the first track, "Hiroshima", at the same show in Richmond on April On July 16, , an anonymous user posted what they claimed was a "leak" of Folds' latest album on a fan site eventually called Way to Normal Fake. The file contained nine tracks along with a PDF of supposed cover art, and was a mix of what appeared to be legitimate songs from Way to Normal, pastiches of dry humor and melodramatic pop interwoven with bright, energetic melodies.
Folds explained on Triple J radio a few weeks later that in one overnight session in Dublin he and the band had recorded 'fake' versions of songs from the new album. His sources had then leaked them to the public as a light-hearted joke on his fans. The idea of the collaboration came out of the "fake" leak of the album Way to Normal released in July Starting in December , Folds was featured as a judge on NBC 's a cappella competition The Sing-Off alongside Nicole Scherzinger and Shawn Stockman and offered insightful, constructive comments and criticisms to the contestants.
He again returned for the show's second season in December , the third season in September alongside Stockman and Sara Bareilles and a fourth season with Stockman and Jewel in December In the video, Folds improvises several songs about people that he sees on the popular social networking site Chatroulette , in the style of " Merton " another YouTube phenomenon who many thought was Folds himself.
On June 14, , Folds released the official album art via his Twitter account. Folds also recorded a video song with Nick Hornby and Pomplamoose.
Folds entertained the audience by involving it into accompanying him a capella during the performance of "Not the same" without, as the "Washington Post" put it, "being too annoying". Powers and Bogios later went on to join Counting Crows. On a tour of Australia, Folds joined with solo artists Ben Kweller and Ben Lee to travel the country as The Bens , at the suggestion of a fan on Kweller's official website.
The trio also went on to record a four-track EP together. In the summer of , Folds co-headlined an American tour with fellow singer-songwriters Rufus Wainwright and Guster. Folds again performed with Wainwright and Lee in the summer of as part of the "Odd Men Out" tour. In addition, Folds has performed with many other notable musical names, including Weezer and Tori Amos.
After seeing The Fray perform with Weezer, Folds asked the band to join him for twelve performances in The orchestra's performance was marred when a fight broke out between two audience members in the balcony, though Folds had not yet taken the stage. The synthesizer is a red Nord Lead II synthesizer. During his concerts, Folds performs two of his concert traditions: Folds toured with John Mayer as an opening act though his set typically lasted an hour in the summer of During this tour, Mayer sometimes joined Folds on the song "Narcolepsy", playing synth.
At various concerts throughout the tour, parents of young children going to see Mayer would file complaints about Folds' lyrics. During contract negotiations, he was asked by the administration to not play one of his songs due to its explicit lyrics. Folds refused, citing artistic freedom. In April , Folds collaborated with Amanda Palmer , Neil Gaiman and Damian Kulash as 8in8 to write, record, and produce eight songs in eight hours which were then available online within 24 hours, as well as being performed once on its world tour, as part of the ReThink Music conference.
This was the first time the band had played together since Personal life[ edit ] Folds' personal life has inspired several of his songs; the hit single "Brick", co-written with Darren Jessee, was based on the experience of Folds' girlfriend having an abortion while they were in high school. His telling of the story is included on the "Brick" track on the album. He met his first wife, Anna Goodman , in first grade at Moore Elementary School, Winston-Salem and was married to her from to Folds was then briefly married to Kate Rosen in Folds filed for divorce in November They were based in Nashville,  along with Julia-Rose, Stanbrook's daughter.
Folds and Stanbrook ended their relationship sometime in Folds stated that "As much as I love the idea of being married, it's not for me.
Folds leased RCA Studio A in Nashville, Tennessee beginning in and was pivotal to the preservation of the historic building during its developer controversy in His efforts, along with others, led to the creation of the Music Industry Coalition. He also does not adhere to the teachings of any organized religion.