Folds reunited with bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jesse in 2011 to record three new tracks for the Folds anthology "The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective" and decided to keep going to make "The Sound...," which comes out Sept. 18.
"It was really easy, and really inspiring," Folds recalls. "We were cautious about it; we didn't just jump in and say, 'Yeah, we're gonna do it for years.' But it felt really good, and really right." Folds notes that the group tends to "mix everything in one album stylistically," but looking beyond the 10 songs that appear on "The Sound..." he also sees the possibility for a more specialized release. "There's a lot of different albums to make at any given moment, and ('The Sound...') seemed to glow the most. We've got another of these kind of albums in us, but we may also be able to make an EP of fairly jazzy material. When I say 'jazzy,' not like complex jazzy -- more like Ramsey Lewis Trio jazzy. We have that sound, just some really fun, groovy things that we were doing. They had vocals but were more about being instrumental in some ways. So we might do something like that."
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But while making the music isn't hard, finding the time to do it is. Folds expects to have the Five on the road supporting the album well into 2013; it kicks off a U.S. tour on Sept. 13 and heads to Australia in November, followed by the U.K. Then he'll be spending 2014 playing with symphony orchestras. So, Folds predicts, "I don't see any chance of us getting together until 2015" to work on another Ben Folds Five album. "It feels like we're going to have to get together at midnight some time and not sleep for a few weeks and make some new music," Folds cracks.
The other new music he's working on is a classical composition, a piano concerto for symphony orchestra he hopes to work on in earnest in the near future. Folds is currently handling the "business" aspects of the piece, including finalization a contract with a collaborator, but he's looking forward to tucking into it soon. "I'm scared s***less, which is awesome," Folds says. "I've played enough with orchestras, done charts and things like that. I feel like, with a little bit of hand-holding, I can bring my ideas in and make my idiosyncratic piano playing work with an orchestra. I'm very excited about it."