This unusually named US alternative rock band was formed in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1988, by university students Kevin Griffin (1 October 1968, USA; vocals/guitar), Joel Rundell (b. USA, d. 8 August 1990, USA; guitar), Cary Bonnecaze (drums) and Tom Drummond (b. 30 June 1969; bass). They made their debut a year later with a cassette-only release, Surprise, which featured spiky guitar pop in the tradition of the Replacements, a formula they soon perfected during extensive touring of the southern states of America. The suicide of lead guitarist Rundell in 1990 put the future of the band in doubt, but the remaining trio opted to continue Better Than Ezra without replacing their former bandmate. Their first album, Deluxe, was recorded in 1993 and released on the bands own SWELL Records label. Prompted by strong fanzine and live support, it eventually sold over 25, 000 copies. Several major label A&R staff became interested in their activities, with former Kerrang! journalist Derek Oliver finally signing the band to Elektra Records. They repackaged and re-released Deluxe to immediate critical acclaim. The single Good reached number 1 on the Alternative Radio charts, further helping to push the album into the Top 50 of the Billboard album list.
Drummer Bonnecaze departed the line-up in early 1996 and was replaced by Travis McNabb (b. 19 November 1969; ex-Vigilantes Of Love) for the recording of the bands new album, Friction, Baby. The commercial failure of this record and the 1998 follow-up How Does Your Garden Grow? hastened the ending of Better Than Ezras contract with Elektra. The trio signed a new contract with the independent Beyond Music label and reverted to a simpler pop formula with 2001s Closer. Unlike many of their contemporaries from the post-grunge scene of the mid-90s, Better Than Ezra have retained a devoted live following allowing the band to continue to produce new music. They are particularly popular in their native New Orleans as evidenced by the 2004 release of a CD/DVD set recorded at the citys House Of Blues club. A new studio album, Before The Robots, was released in summer 2005 through the Artemis label.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.