Presidents Of The U.S.A. Get Busy In Election Year

Just in time for Election Day, The Presidents Of The United States Of America are resurfacing.

The “Lump”-lovin’ group, which will send its album “Freaked Out And Small” to stores in September, still remains a side project for its three members: guitarists-bassists Chris Ballew and Dave Dederer and drummer Jason Finn.

The off-hours nature of the band will be readily apparent at the North By Northwest music convention in Portland, Ore. The September 21 event, sponsored by Orange Recordings, will include a showcase performance by The Gentlemen, a duo featuring Dederer and former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan, who also appears on a track on the new PUSA CD. Also appearing that night is Ballew with his current project, The Giraffes, which an Orange rep said should be the musician’s main focus in the foreseeable future. Rounding out the bill is Ballew-produced man-about-Seattle Jason Trachtenburg and his Trachtenburg Family Slide Show Players.

The Presidents
Of The United States Of America announced their plans to disband in late 1997 (see “Presidents Of The U.S.A. End Their Term” ) after selling 4 million albums with their self-titled major label debut in 1995, a late 1996 follow-up, “II,” and a postmortem compilation in 1998.

At the time, Ballew cited his need for family time and his interest in other musical ventures. Soon after, he released a solo album under the name The Giraffes, while Dederer formed The Uptights, among other bands. Ballew also hooked up with Tad Hutchinson of Young Fresh Fellows for a project called The Chris And Tad Show, which is releasing a record for the San Diego-based Orange label this fall. Drummer Finn, formerly of Love Battery, went on to play with The Nevada Bachelors, The Pin-Ups, The Congratulators, and more.

In 1999, the three PUSA members hooked up with Seattle rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot for a collaboration called SUbSET. PUSA then surprised fans
by getting back together earlier this year to release a Net-only single, “Jupiter,” under the alias The Quitters, which later became The Presidents. The band only recently won back the right to use the full PUSA moniker from its former label.

In late April, the band started recording a full-length album, which became “Freaked Out And Small.” A special “fan edition” of the LP was shipped in July to those who pre-ordered it through indie label MusicBlitz, and the disc is now slated for wide release on September 12.

The album, which uses more straightforward instrumentation in place of previous PUSA trademarks such as “basitar” and “guitbass,” includes a dozen songs, half from Dederer and half from Ballew. A video for the song “Tiny Explosions” has already been shot in Seattle. The band is not expected to tour, especially in light of the July 31 birth of Ballew’s second child.

The Giraffes, meanwhile, have become a full-time band with Ballew, drummer Mike Musburger
(Fastbacks, Posies, Uptights), and multi-instrumentalist Jason Staczek. A third Giraffes album should be out in late October on Orange, and the band is already well into recording a fourth, which should be out early next year and might just entice the home-loving Ballew to go out on the road, albeit briefly.

As for The Gentlemen, the pair will be getting their collective feet wet at the Orange showcase, the duo’s first “official” performance. A CD release is expected in the future, although the sessions have yet to be recorded.

Meanwhile, the track list for The Presidents Of The United States Of America’s “Freaked Out And Small” is as follows:

  • “Tiny Explosions”
  • “Nuthin’ But Love”
  • “Tiger Bomb”
  • “Last Girl On Earth”
  • “Jazz Guy”
  • “Jupiter”
  • “Superstar”
  • “Death Star”
  • “Blank Baby”
  • “Meanwhile Back In The City”
  • “I’m Mad”
  • “Headin’ Out”