Five re­turns to the fold


AS rock ’ n’ roll splits go, Ben Folds Five’s was hardly Guns N’ Roses.

‘‘ There was an email with ev­ery­one in­clud­ing lawyers copied in,’’ Folds says of their 2000 demise.

Fol­low­ing their un­likely main­stream break­through via 1997 bal­lad Brick, de­tail­ing a teenage abor­tion, by the third al­bum, 1999’ s The Unau­tho­rized Bi­og­ra­phy of Rein­hold Mess­ner, they were burnt out.

‘‘ We’d done record­ings for a new al­bum. It sounded tired and unin­spired,’’ Folds says.

‘‘ We’d de­clined quite a bit in ticket sales. The last record hadn’t sold as well. We were re­cov­er­ing from a hit sin­gle [ Brick].

‘‘ We felt our stocks were go­ing down and we thought what we were do­ing was a lit­tle too sa­cred to leave on a low note.’’

Folds’ solo ca­reer launched with Rockin’ the Sub­urbs in 2001. A decade of ex­ten­sive tour­ing and pro­lific re­leases fol­lowed.

Af­ter a one- off Ben Folds Five re­union in 2008 the trio recorded for Folds’ ca­reer ret­ro­spec­tive The Best Im­i­ta­tion of My­self last year.

As pain­lessly as they split, they re­grouped last De­cem­ber to record a be­lated fourth al­bum, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.

‘‘ It was like rid­ing a bike,’’ Folds says. ‘‘ A bike with new gears. It feels not so much like a re­union but a con­tin­u­a­tion af­ter a break.’’

The al­bum’s record­ing was funded by fans via crowd- fund­ing web­site Pledge­Mu­sic. Ea­ger fans could do­nate for ev­ery­thing from a sim­ple pre­pur­chase of the al­bum to, for $ 2500, a re- record­ing of a song with their name in­serted into the lyrics.

‘‘ The di­nosaur in the room is, for the last eight years or so, bands have been fund­ing them­selves,’’ he said. ‘‘ This isn’t to be seen as The Man has been taken down and the fans have risen on the in­ter­net. This puts the artist back be­ing the artist, not the fi­nancier. The ones left in mu­sic are the good ones for the most part. They’re in it be­cause they love it.’’

Folds has 2014 blocked out for a solo or­ches­tra tour but is com­mit­ted to tour­ing with the Five from now un­til the end of 2013. He’ll play a few solo songs with the band.

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