Known for his highly melodic, folk- and psychedelia-inflected indie pop, Alex Ebert kept himself busy during the early 21st century, fronting the punkier Ima Robot for several years before adding his more famous second group, the nearly dozen-member Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, to his schedule in 2007. With both bands still active, Ebert released his first solo album, the self-recorded Alexander, in 2011. He went on to also find work in film and TV scoring, composing a blend of instrumental chamber pop and symphonic music for projects including the 2013 film All Is Lost. In 2018, Ebert added bedroom indie electronica to his résumé with a series of releases called In Support of 5ame Dude.
The son of psychotherapist Michael Ebert and actress Lisa Richards, Los Angeles native Alex Ebert grew up with a variety of musical influences, including classic country, '60s soul, hip-hop, and classical music. He co-founded the eclectic indie outfit Ima Robot in the late '90s with Timmy Anderson. Eventually, electronics expert Oligee joined the fold, and the trio created some buzz in the L.A. area with its fiery, updated spin on punk and new wave. Session musicians Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck, Tori Amos) and Joey Waronker (R.E.M., Beck) rounded out the lineup on bass and drums before Ima Robot signed with Virgin. The Public Access EP followed in mid-2003. Their full-length debut, Ima Robot, arrived that September. With a rejiggered lineup consisting of Ebert, Anderson, Andy Marlow (guitar/keys), Filip Nikolic (bass), and Scott Devours (drums), Ima Robot issued their second album, Monument to the Masses, in September 2006. The following year the band parted ways with Virgin, and Ebert formed Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
Named after a messianic figure that Ebert had dreamt up during a period of post-rehab soul-searching, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros grew into an 11-member ensemble whose appearance (bushy beards, Eastern mystic clothing) and sound (folksy pop fused with neo-psychedelia) recalled the free-loving Laurel Canyon sound of the 1960s. Both of his bands remained active, with the Magnetic Zeros releasing their critically acclaimed debut, Up from Below, in 2009 and Ima Robot issuing their third album, Another Man's Treasure, the following year. Meanwhile, Ebert collected material for a solo album, Alexander, which he recorded during breaks in the Magnetic Zeros' touring schedule. In contrast to the collaborative approach of Edward Sharpe (but keeping aspects of that band's exuberant, retro sound), he played every instrument on the album, which was released in March 2011.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros followed up their debut in 2012 with the full-length Here. It climbed to number five on the Billboard 200, also charting in France and Australia. The group's self-titled third album followed in mid-2013 and hit the U.S. Top 15. Later the same year, Ebert's soundtrack for the Robert Redford film All Is Lost saw release; it won a Golden Globe for Best Score in 2014. His music for the crime drama A Most Violent Year followed on Community Projects that December. Gathering all of the Magnetic Zeros, by then a ten-piece, into a single room to write and record as a group, the PersonA LP was released in the spring of 2016. Ebert then joined the crew of the Showtime comedy-drama I'm Dying Up Here, writing music for the series' first season in 2017 alongside Edward Sharpe bandmate Mark Noseworthy.
In 2018, Ebert released a series of trippy, D.I.Y. indie electronica EPs under the project heading In Support of 5ame Dude. Vols. 1 and 2 appeared online that September, with Vol. 3 closing out the trilogy in October. That year he also launched an app called TUNERS, with a goal to create a thread-based music-sharing space he compared to an audio version of Reddit. ~ Marcy Donelson & Andrew Leahey, Rovi