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Better Than Ezra

Along with such similarly styled outfits as the Goo Goo Dolls, the New Orleans-based trio Better Than Ezra helped open the floodgates for countless alt-pop acts of the late '90s (including Semisonic, Matchbox Twenty, and Third Eye Blind) by merging college rock influences with mainstream aspirations. Originally formed in 1988 as a roots rock outfit with slight elements of country and punk, the group's first incarnation consisted of four college students from Louisiana State University: Kevin Griffin (vocals, guitar), Joel Rundell (guitar), Tom Drummond (bass), and Cary Bonnecaze (drums). The band's early performances were expectedly held at college bars and fraternity houses, and their debut cassette-tape recording, 1990's Surprise, received positive press and comparisons to such alt-punk stalwarts as the Replacements and Dinosaur Jr. Despite these accolades, Better Than Ezra's future was thrust into doubt when Rundell committed suicide on August 8, 1990.

The remaining bandmates initially opted to go their separate ways after Rundell's passing, but they reunited as a trio before the end of the year. Deciding that a change of scenery would be helpful, Better Than Ezra relocated to Los Angeles shortly thereafter, where they laid down tracks at a friend's home studio to create their 1993 independent release, Deluxe. The album continued to raise the band's profile and eventually drew the attention of several major labels. The trio signed with Elektra Records, and Better Than Ezra's new label reissued Deluxe two years after its original release. The album spawned a sizeable radio hit with "Good," which helped push the album to platinum status by the end of 1995. But despite enjoying a hit right off the bat, Bonnecaze opted to leave the group in early 1996 and was replaced by a fellow New Orleans native (who, at the time, was living in San Francisco), Travis McNabb.

Shortly after welcoming their new member into the fold, the revised Better Than Ezra entered the recording studio to record their second major-label release, 1996's Friction, Baby. Although the album was musically similar to its predecessor, it failed to match the commercial success of Deluxe and departed rather quickly from the charts, with the singles "Desperately Wanting" and "King of New Orleans" only achieving modest rotation on modern rock radio. The group proceeded to create their own recording studio in New Orleans (dubbed Fudge Studios), where they recorded 1998's How Does Your Garden Grow? The album failed to reestablish the group as a commercially viable rock act, and Better Than Ezra parted ways with Elektra before issuing a compilation of rare tracks, Artifakt, through their official website.

Undeterred, the trio then signed with the independent Beyond Music label and issued their next release, Closer, in 2001. "Extra Ordinary" fared well on several charts, but Beyond Music declared bankruptcy before the band could issue a second single. Understandably, Better Than Ezra took a break before resurfacing in 2004 with a live album documenting a hometown show at the House of Blues. A greatest-hits collection was issued the following year, but to the delight of the group's devoted fan base (the "Ezralites"), Better Than Ezra were not finished. After signing with the New York-based Artemis Records, the band released Before the Robots in May 2005 and departed for a summer-long tour. Drumer Travis McNabb left the lineup four years later, having been recruited to join the country duo Sugarland instead, and Better than Ezra tapped Michael Jerome as his replacement before unveiling their seventh album, Plays Paper Empire. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

The album art for Closer is wrong. It bugs the crap out of me. Can someone maybe fix this?
This reminds me of my good ole' teenage years... love to reminisce about the past.
Pretty decent band, lots of feeling in the vocals as well as a melodic undertones. Not all of their music is worth listening to but they have more than a few listen worthy songs from several albums.
The band Ezra was never as good as these guys.
I was raised a BTE fan since I was born in '98, because my parents love the music. When I finally got ahold of an iPod, I bought all the albums and scanned the ones I had already. I love the music and I hope they can get back into it with my generation so my friends can hear some quality music on the radio.
coolmusiczon e _ 3 3
Awesome band
brad12172002
Very underrated band!
I bought Deluxe for two dollars and I was pleasantly surprised with the independent feel of it
kristen43458
Love BTE! Looking forward to seeing Kevin Griffin at City Winery in December!
Best Band EVER!! Have seen them in concert Multiple times and they are amazing EVERY TIME !
how about you come down to nola more often.. they play 3 or 4 different tiems a year down here.. i'm at 2 or more
These guys just flat-out produce great music. One of my all-time favorite bands. Great to see live-wish they'd come to the northeast more often
1 of my fav bands 8D
mommawearsco m b a t b o o t s
I agree with with Greg....Best band to experience live!! Great band overall...wa y ahead of their time!
The best band to experience Live!!
what was the green day song that bte used the bass line for 'good'?
I'm really disappointed that there are no songs off of "friction baby" That is one of my all time favorite albums.
I love these guys. McNabb is a phenomenal drummer. I was sad to see him go.
Ezra must really suck, because these guys are terrible. Whiny bunch of biatches!!
ncacp
Gonna see them in late August, for the third time!!! I am stoked!!!
bryson.clark
I just saw them live on Friday night here in Kansas City, and it was a killer show.

I was very impressed. Hearing my favorite BTE songs took me back to highschool/e a r l y college. It was great.
laurastead
i don't know why 'how does your garden grow' didn't do better. it's hands down my favorite album from them. i can listen to it and visualize a whole movie written around that album as the soundtrack! bte is the only band i own all the cds of, and i hope to see them in concert for the first time this year maybe!
deluxe is the best!!
yay 90s!!
I'm surprised to learn that "Friction, Baby" didn't do very well. It's the only album of theirs I own and I absolutely love it!!
hands down favorite!
ninjapenguin
So much fun live in concert. I saw them at a small venue where I was able to get right up against the stage. Nothing like singing along to all the favorites and screaming like a twelve year old girl when Kevin would shimmy to "Juicy".
i have been following this band through the years and i have never beeen disappointed . the music is and always will be wonderful, but to see them live is a different experience. i have been to a number of concerts and have loved everyone. i love BTE!!!
Truely successful rock-band in the artistic sense, gotta love em! One of my all time favorites.
isnt it all the better that these guys never made it to "spoiled, superstar"st a t u s ? I remember running through the wet grass...
My #1 Guilty Pleasure, Not the most musically gifted, not the most complex lyrics but DAMN their live shows are awesome and you just cant teach tow tapping good jams.
laurieannefo x
I've loved BTE since I saw them perform in BHam in 1996. I was COMEPETELY engulfed in their sound. I couldn't believe such amazing sound was coming from only 3 musicians.
BTE is awesome! Saw them live at a small club in Killington Vermont in '98 and went out and bought every cd they had the next day. Why they never made it big is a complete mystery to me. Each cd has it's own unique flavor. Speaking of that, why is 'Friction Baby' not here? 'Rewind' from that cd is my favorite.
Gotta Love these Guys...
Better Than Ezra is my favorite band!!! Seeing them live last summer was a dream come true. They have a great stage charisma that somehow made their music even better. :)
These guys are amazing! I like the easy sound, although it also has a rock quality to it. A great combonation if you ask me!
I have loved this band as far back as I can remember. I've been on board since 1995 and still going. Have seen about a dozen shows in 8 different cities. It saddens me that they aren't performing outside the Big Easy these days. Need to plan a road trip.
AHH AHH AHHH AH JUCIY!
kayle_7
there are robots? AAHHH!
The BEST band I've ever heard. They write great songs and give one heck of a live concert (seen them 8 times so far). If you ever get a chance to see them live...do it...you won't be disappointed ! LOVE THIS BAND!!!!

con fuego baby
BTE is one of my top 5 fav artists and I actually got to see them live here in Anchorage, AK. 2 of the top 5 are down, 3 to go! ;D
nice music, nice song ! i love your voice kevin:)

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