Ben talks about ‘the most important thing’
No more leather pants
June 23, 2023
Photography: Alise Gafiken
nevertheless most important It is his first studio album since so there, Ben Folds, who collaborated with string ensemble yMusic in 2015, has been busy. Apart from his day job as artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, he has written his memoirs (dream of lightning), started a podcast, exhibited his photography in galleries in the US and Europe, and appeared in film and television (including the hit Amazon Prime series). The Wild. ).He was also nominated for an Emmy Award for composing and performing the theme song for the Apple TV special. it’s a small thing. So why did Mr. Foles go back to the studio and try to make something outdated like a pop record?
Folds, aka Ben Folds Five in the mid-to-late 1990s, talks about their new album (recently released on New West) and whether it’s better to retire or turn to traditional artists. I heard a story about how good it is.
Ian Rashberry (in secret): you said so most important There is a certain sequence leading up to the finale. Was it always a concept or did it come naturally?
Ben Folds: I remember talking to Scott Litt, who produced REM. He said at the beginning of the session it was a mess but towards the end he didn’t think the goal would be scored. He kicks the ball through 36 pairs of legs and the hands of the goalkeeper to score a goal. They repeated it over and over in their music. I feel like this album has a bit of that.
I felt like life was like that, so I wanted to make an album that would take you on a journey. I believe the best way to make a record is to keep the LP as a template. You need to focus on something: formatting, time limits, breaks. Because at a time when everyone forgot about records, I was one of those forgotten people. All my records were pressed on vinyl, so I was always concerned about how long the program would be on each side and where the most dynamic would be. I always keep those things in mind. I wanted it to be a journey. Sometimes I got a little lost. When I thought I was in the park, I was actually on the highway, but that’s okay. I fumbled my way through.
The record has a cinematic feel to it, culminating in ‘Moments’. Was it always in the back of your mind that the ending was going to be an uplifting one?
I gladly admit that I am not very good at [writing] A thoroughly positive song. And that’s my problem! I eventually turned to my friends in Tall Heights, Tim Harrington and Paul Wright, for help. I had the first line of the song, and I said, ‘This is how it should be, but I can’t,’ and they wrote the song for me. It became a matter of “age”. I’m not very good at “everything will be fine” songs in my time. In the 90s, we thought everything would be fine, but now that we know everything is wrong, kids love fantasy. They say it’s cool. Kids can write positive songs now and I admire that.
1 track on most important—“Exhausting Lover”—is a candid tale of his relationship with an aggressive groupie, ending with a strange flogging involving a long Hot Wheels track. Please tell me this is derived from experience.
I hate to say this, but this is a fusion of hyperbole and straight-up fiction. I wanted to write a song like “The Girl Tryed to Kill Me” by Ice-T. It’s very good. What he really nailed with his song was its absurdity. How do artists have inflated ideas about who they are? The men tell stories, and it gets crazier and crazier. I’m okay with people thinking it’s true. Most of them are made by me. sorry! Let’s say the guy in this song is a middle-class American kid who’s gone crazy. That’s when I started thinking, “Maybe this girl isn’t the woman of my dreams!” She turned around with a Hot Wheels truck in her hand!
Another song that I found really interesting is “Kristine From the 7th Grade.” It has a European atmosphere. It’s pretty rare for an American artist to write like that.
Oh yeah, I hear Nino Rota and Jacques Brel. Definitely a European influence. Nor can Leonard Cohen be eliminated from the equation. The song is definitely in the rock’n’roll realm, but it’s also influenced by Neil Hannon as much. [of The Divine Comedy] As is the case with any American artist. It’s funny, I don’t know why the song turned out the way it did, given the content of the lyrics.
You are in the midst of a very fulfilling world tour, including a return visit to London’s Royal Albert Hall in November. Have you forgotten all the stress and strain of tour bus life?
The original plan was for this to be their last album. I mean, I’m 56, so why do I have to wear leather pants and shake my ass on stage after this? I’m not saying I’ll never tour again, but I felt the need to record my feelings about the changing world in a musical time capsule. I feel like a man with a long beard who went home on a hill looking down from a cave saying “Oh, you’d better come down from the cave and scare the kids” Became.
Do you still have legs to wear leather pants?
I still have the usual stick-like pin, so I’ll shake my butt again. But the day after Albert Hall, I’ll be stuffing my face with cake.
Do you think that older artists should leave the stage more instead of continuing to act without a care?
We all have feelings for sure. Some artists are built to do what they are supposed to do. It’s a working-class job—I don’t care how much you make. This is physical labor. You show up and receive your money. It’s an honest day’s work. Some have been doing it since they were 15. Who are we to tell them that they can no longer go out and live a decent life? When I first heard the term “heritage artist,” I thought, “Are you serious?” I’m not going to be a traditional artist! I’m not saying I’m retiring from work. But I’m not going to do an album cycle of making albums and touring.
I have spent my life learning crafts. In order to capture this, it is necessary to make full use of all techniques. Kids today don’t have that skill. They have a different kind of craft, and that’s fine, but they don’t have the classic songwriting craftsmanship of the ’70s. The art of waving a song from your sleeve. So when this old man comes down from the cave and teaches kids how to cross I dots and T’s and writes great choruses and modulations and cool chords and metaphors and all sorts of proper three-verse songs I think it came Good thing. He then returns to the cave and hangs up his leather pants.
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