08 February 2013

Better Than Ezra

Better Than Ezra is an American alternative rock band based in New Orleans, Louisiana that was formed in 1988.

The four original members are vocalist and guitarist Kevin Griffin, Joel Rundell, lead guitarist, bassist Tom Drummond and drummer, Cary Bonnecaze. They were all attending Louisiana State University at the time and their first public performance was at Murphy's in Baton Rouge.

Their name is certainly odd and there is no definitive origin story. The one I like best is that it comes from a line in Ernest Hemingway's novel A Moveable Feast. Hemingway is describing a very annoying sound as "...no worse than other noises, certainly better than Ezra learning to play the bassoon."

Fans of the group (Ezralites) know that the band had a "Chimes Street Demo" cassette tape in 1988 and it is something fans pride themselves in owning. The band released a cassette-only album, Surprise, in 1990.

Joel Rundell, the band's lead guitarist, committed suicide on August 8, 1990. After a break, Griffin, Drummond and Bonnecaze reunited Better Than Ezra as a trio in late 1990 playing house parties and fraternity shows across the southern U.S. into the early 90s.

Their first nationally-distributed album was Deluxe in 1993 on the indie Swell Records. The album got them noticed and got airplay and they signed with Elektra Records in 1995. Elektra rereleased Deluxe and "Good" reached #1 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album went platinum by the end of 1995. Drummond said in a 1998 interview with CNN, "It took us seven years to get signed, and then seven weeks to get to No. 1." when describing the overnight success of Deluxe and its single "Good".

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