Ben Folds Five (1994-2000) was a three-member band formed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States, who until their breakup in 2000 were a mainstay of piano rock. Much of their work was influenced by jazz, evident in frequent improv-styled passages through bridge and/or ending.
The members of the band were: Ben Folds, the lead singer and pianist, who also wrote most of the songs; Robert Sledge on bass and Darren Jessee on drums. The group enjoyed the success of the single Brick in 1997, a ballad written by Folds (with a chorus by Jessee) about his high school girlfriend getting an abortion. This song has, to a large degree, misrepresented the band to fans who aren't familiar with their other work; "Brick" is a serious ballad, whereas most of their music is characterised by jazz inflections and witty, humorous lyrics.
After the band's not -so amicable breakup in October 2000 over Ben's over shadowing of Sledge and Jessee, Folds began a solo career. Robert Sledge's subsequent band International Orange has broken up, while Darren Jessee is the frontman for the band Hotel Lights.
Folds once described their music as "punk rock for pussies" - a reaction to the angst prevalent in 90s rock. When asked about his band's name he jokingly responded "you mean a trio isn't five?". In other interviews the band said that the name was simply because Ben Folds Five sounded better than Ben Folds Three.
Ben Folds has continued with producing music on his own, striking a subtler tone than Ben Folds Five's earlier recordings. His personal relationship with William Shatner has opened the doors for a great professional one. Ben Folds produced William Shatner's album Has Been and they have since worked together on The 'Over The Hedge' soundtrack.
Ben Folds Five is scheduled to make its first concert appearance in nearly 10 years on September 18, 2008 at the UNC Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill. The one-off gig is part of the MySpace "Front to Back" series, in which artists play an entire album live. The band will be playing its final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner. The concert will be streamed live online, with a repeat of the performance airing sometime in October. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the charity Operation Smile.