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Presidents Of The USA Get Busy In Election Year

Rock trio's Freaked Out and Small due in September.

MTV News Online

Just in time for Election Day, the Presidents of the United States of America are resurfacing.

The "Lump"-lovin' (RealAudio excerpt) group, who will release Freaked Out and Small 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 apparent at the North by Northwest music convention in Portland, Ore. The Sept. 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 Presidents CD.

Also appearing that night will be Ballew with his current project, the Giraffes, which an Orange spokesperson said would 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. They sold 4 million copies of 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 on the San Diego label Orange this fall. Drummer Finn, formerly of Love Battery, went on to play with the Nevada Bachelors, the Pin-Ups, the Congratulators and others.

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

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 preordered through indie label MusicBlitz. The disc is slated for wide release Sept. 12.

The album, which uses more straightforward instrumentation in place of previous Presidents trademarks such as "basitar" and "guitbass," includes a dozen songs, half from Dederer and half from Ballew. A video for the song "Tiny Explosions" was 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.

As for the Gentlemen, the pair will be getting their feet wet at the Orange showcase, the duo's first "official" performance. A CD release is expected, but the group hasn't done any recording yet.

The full track listing for Freaked Out and Small is: "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" and "Headin' Out."

— Sorelle Saidman