Musician Ben Folds can pinpoint exactly why his career has been so difficult to define ... and why he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I don’t get the approval of mainstream magazines or radio or television. And at the same time there’s nothing weird about what I do, so I don’t sit in that place like Tom Waits,” the 51-year-old jokes. “No, my music’s normal. It’s totally accessible stuff. I’m just in my own little category, which I enjoy. That’s what I asked for. It’s a lonely spot [laughs], but that’s what I do.”
On the heels of his upcoming team-up at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens with fellow ’90s contemporaries Cake, amNewYork caught up with Folds to discuss how the tour came about, why he hates the idea of nostalgia tours and why he doesn’t feel the need to play “Brick” at every show.
How did this tour with Cake come about?
There isn’t some great story behind it. It just [made] sense. They’re one of my contemporaries that I really respect, like to work with [and] have a beer with. That’s a very short list.
Are you a fan of the ’90s and 2000s co-sponsored tours that have become so popular recently?
In my career, it’s been unthinkable for a band below the level of, like, Lady Gaga at her height [to not team-up]. It’s just what you do. [At the same time], I’m very picky about going out with bands from my era. I don’t want to go out like a heritage act to relive the magic and the good old days. I probably would have toured [by myself] with a bass and drums. But by going out with Cake, I get to do something different.
What songs can fans expect to hear at these shows?
When I go out on tour, I play everything and anything. I never concentrate on one era. Even with the new album I mostly still run the gamut. I’m interested in how my songs age. I never retire them I think they subtly reinvent themselves.
Some artists feel obligated to play the hits, while others resent that idea.
There are some people of an older generation that feel I have to play “Brick.” I don’t really play it that often. [Meanwhile], people who came on board around the “Rockin’ The Suburbs” time, which is now kind of old school, don’t really think about the song “Brick” that much because they’re on another plane. So they’re kind of confused when someone thinks that has to be played. It’s awesome that I feel like I can play anything I want.