Tim Minchin and Ben Folds are both songwriters and piano men who have absolutely no time for electric keyboards. In the video above — our latest episode of Two Friends: A Nice Time Hanging Out With People Who Know Each Other Well — Minchin credits Folds for showing him that you can be a front man for an alt-rock band with a piano. “It’s not very inspiring to be playing the ironing board, the plastic keyboard stuff,” Folds said. “So even right there, it doesn’t really occur to you to jump onstage with an ironing board and rock out.” Hence, Folds decided to stick a baby grand piano in the back of a Ryder truck to cart around to rock clubs, and the rest, of course, is history.
There is one other thing besides a gigantic, wooden piano that both Minchin and Folds enjoy, and that’s comedy. It’s the thing Minchin is most known for, even if it’s a little by accident. “I just tilted toward comedy because people started laughing,” Minchin said, going on to lament that in the early days of his career he was considered a novelty act for having humor in his music. Folds then pointed out that while there’s room for music in comedy, it doesn’t always work both ways. “[With] a comedian it’s like, everyone’s laughing, but there’s something serious beneath it most of the time with good comedy,” Folds added. “Songs don’t often get that benefit of the doubt, which I’ve always found kind of irritating.” Minchin agreed, adding, “That’s exactly right, they go, ‘Oh this isn’t meant to be taken seriously,’ and, you know, just sit with it and listen and give it the benefit of the doubt, and you’ll find there’s all sorts of shit in there.” I guess we need to give “Rockin’ the Suburbs” and “Prejudice” a much closer listen.
If you want more from Tim Minchin, his new album Apart Together is due out November 20, and Ben Folds is performing live from his apartment this Saturday September 12. If you want more Two Friends, follow Vulture on Instagram and tune in next week when we’ll have Sam Jay and Alex Edelman catching up at 4pm PT/7pm ET on September 14.