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Ben Folds Still Alive Without Five

Folds records sixteen songs for solo debut

A scant two months after announcing the breakup of the Ben Folds Five, frontman Ben Folds is nearing completion on his first solo album. Working in his adopted homeland of Australia, where he moved several years ago, Folds has recorded sixteen songs so far for the as-yet-untitled album. Folds is handling all musical duties (drums, piano, guitar) himself at Krell Studios in Adelaide with producer Ben Grosse (Fuel, Filter) at the board.

In a post on his official Web site, Folds unveils a host of song titles, all of which point to a the record having a serious proper noun fetish: “Annie Waits,” “Carrying Cathy,” “The Ascent of Stan,” “Hiro’s Song,” “Losing Lisa” and “Fred Jones Pt. 2.” Folds also said at least one collaboration with Ben Folds Five drummer Darren Jesse, a song tentatively called “The Wind Beneath My Sheets,” might make the final cut as well.

As for what to expect musically, Folds is cryptic and characteristically tongue-in-cheek. “There’s some acoustic guitar, some electric guitar (I suck but so do most guitarists), songs that speed up and slow down, words about what I’m thinking about,” he writes. “There are elbows on pianos.”

In the coming months, Folds will be heading back to the U.S. for mixing and mastering of the album, eyeing a late spring release through 550 Music/Epic.

Folds also let it be known that “Lonely Christmas Eve,” his recent contribution to the How the Grinch Stole Christmas soundtrack, was originally conceived as something entirely less wholesome. The singer apparently believed the screen adaptation of a Dr. Seuss novel might somehow garner an NC-17 rating and as such penned an appropriately naughty yuletide number, now destined to become the holy grail for rabid Foldsians.

“I didn’t understand that it was a kids movie,” Folds writes. “And I wrote a song about Santa that went, ‘Ole Santa, he’s a big fat fuck. Went down the chimney and got his fat ass stuck.’ When I realized it was a kids movie, I put that song away and gave ’em a kids song and now I can afford nappies [Aussie slang for diapers] for the next year. Funny how that works. Maybe I’ll send out an MP3 of ‘Santa’s a Big Fat Fuck’ and don’t tell anyone where it came from, or the boss will be pissed.”

There’s at least one posthumous Ben Folds Five track in the can; the band’s cover of Carl Perkins’ “Honey Don’t” is set to appear (alongside covers by Elton John, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan and others) on a Sun Records Tribute album coming sometime in 2001. Elsewhere in the BFF aftermath, Darren Jesse has scheduled a series of New York-area solo gigs in the coming weeks, including shows at Hoboken, N.J.’s Maxwell’s on Dec. 30 and the Living Room on Jan. 6.


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