Interview with Better Than Ezra: Better Than Solo

Following the release of their 2005 album, Before The Robots (Artemis Records), Better Than Ezra’s latest production, Paper Empire (Red Distribution/MRI), marks a melodic, noteworthy release from the Los Angeles outfit. Formed in the late-’80s and influenced by the who’s who in music of that era, Paper Empire continues to hold the band steady in solid, respectable company with today’s pop rock performers and, most importantly, with new and diehard generations of Ezralites.

Recently I spoke with vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Kevin Griffin about everything from Meatloaf to the new album’s reception, to college degrees, and Ezra’s long past and satisfying present.

Paper Empire was out on May 12 through the Red Distribution label, which is different from your previous albums.

Yeah, the label is really just us and MRI which is the label service company distributed through Sony Red. It’s the same thing The Black Crowes did on their last album and The Verve and Third Eye Blind. When you have management and have everything in place and have a name and aren’t trying to break as a new artist, you can really go out and do it on your own using this company to get your record out and hire a radio team. We really do it ourselves and it’s a lot of fun.

It must allow for more creativity, too.

It does and for a band like us it’s the only way to go and make money on a new record.

How do you think reception has been so far?

So far our fans are really digging the album. I’d say you’re always going to have people who will like your earlier stuff or a certain period in your career but the crowds are digging the new tunes so we’re happy with it. The first single, ‘Absolutely Still,’ is doing great, I think it’s at number 40 and hanging in there and people are trying to get it to go even further. The fans love it when we play it, so we’ll see.

I’ve always loved that song and, I think, I wrote it around four years ago when we were working on another album so it’s good to have it out. It gets a great reaction and we’ve been going to every radio station under the sun to play it acoustic. We’ve just started touring on May 29 and we were in Iowa, then Oklahoma and tonight we’re in Fort Worth, then Houston, Dallas, a day off, to Mobile, Miami then up the East Coast. Our last show is at Summerfest in Milwaukee on June 28. It’s a heavy, heavy schedule with not a lot of days off.

Earlier you mentioned you’d just finished sound check for your show in Fort Worth.

Yeah, we’re playing this benefit in Fort Worth Zoo. I guess it’s this annual fundraiser they have and they brought us in. It’s a great production so it’s gonna be cool. We’re the headliner and we’re carrying a band called Tyrone Wells and a girl named Marianne Keith, but tonight it’s just us.