The Presidents of the United States of America (occasionally referred to as PUSA, The Presidents or Pot USA) were an American alternative rock power trio band. The band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1993, and disbanded in 2016. The three-piece group consisted of vocalist and "basitarist" Chris Ballew, drummer and vocalist Jason Finn with "guitbassist" and vocalist Andrew McKeag. "Guitbassist" and vocalist Dave Dederer was a member of the band for eleven years before leaving in 2004. The band released six studio albums during its twenty-three-year existence.
The Presidents of the United States of America
|Origin||Seattle, Washington, United States|
|Genres||Post-grunge, grunge, punk rock, pop punk, alternative rock|
The band was formed in late 1993 by Chris Ballew (bass guitar and lead vocals) and Dave Dederer (guitar and backup vocals), who met while attending The Bush School in Seattle. Ballew had previously been in a punk band called Egg, who wrote many songs that would later be turned into PUSA songs. Initially a drummerless duo, Ballew and Dederer performed a half-dozen or so shows in 1993 as "The Lo-Fis", "The Dynamic Duo", and "Pure Frosting." Ballew eventually came upon the name "The Presidents of the United States of America." Shortly after settling on their name, Ballew and Dederer added drummer Jason Finn; the band played their first show as a trio at Seattle's Romper Room in early December 1993. At the time, Finn was also the drummer in the band Love Battery, who had recently changed record labels from Sub Pop to Atlas Records, an A&M subsidiary.
The Presidents recorded a ten-song cassette, Froggystyle, in early 1994 in one day at Laundry Room Studios. The band sold the cassette at shows in 1994. Finn also sold the cassette from behind the bar of Seattle's Comet Tavern, where he tended bar.
In 1994, the band signed with the tiny Seattle label PopLlama Records and released their self-titled debut in the following year. The band also released a limited edition blue vinyl 7" single, "Fuck California", on C/Z Records. Columbia Records signed the band shortly thereafter and re-released the album in late July 1995. Driven by the singles "Lump", "Peaches", and "Kitty", their debut album has been certified triple Platinum by the RIAA.
Throughout 1995, 1996 and 1997, the band made worldwide tours to support their first two albums. In 1996, MTV aired a previously recorded live concert of the band from Mount Rushmore for Presidents Day. They were introduced with: "Ladies and gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States." In addition to relentless touring in the U.S. and Canada, PUSA made multiple tours of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. They also made many appearances in major print media and on radio and TV, including multiple appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and the Late Show with David Letterman in the U.S. The Presidents turned down an offer to perform on Saturday Night Live in the fall of 1995 because the date conflicted with Ballew's wedding, but later made an appearance on the eleventh episode of Mad TV in January 1996. The band began the program with a skit called "Public Domain", performed "Lump" later in the show and "When the Saints Go Marching In" during the end credits.
The band broke up in January 1998 as Ballew quit to spend more time with his young family and explore other musical terrain. Pure Frosting, a final album composed of new songs, covers, and demos, was released in 1998. The CD also contained videos for "Lump," "Peaches," "Mach 5," and "Dune Buggy."
Pure Frosting featured two songs that had previously been used in a movie and as a television show theme. "Video Killed the Radio Star" was included on the soundtrack for The Wedding Singer, while "Cleveland Rocks," originally recorded by Ian Hunter, was chosen as the theme song for The Drew Carey Show. Another song on the album, "Man (Opposable Thumb)", appeared in the Nickelodeon-produced motion picture Good Burger but was not directly written or performed for the film.
The Presidents also wrote the theme song for the 1998 TV movie My Date with the President's Daughter. They also performed a cover of the George of the Jungle theme song for the 1997 movie of the same name. This performance is not available on any of their albums.
The Presidents also collaborated with Sir Mix-A-Lot as Subset, a short-lived rock and hip-hop band. They had a brief tour and recorded several songs, but never released an album. The band broke up because Sir Mix-A-Lot wanted to take the band in a harder, more electronic direction, but Finn and Dederer were not interested.
The Presidents reunited in 2000 to release a new single, "Jupiter", on MUSICBLITZ Records. Because of the single's popularity, the label convinced the band to release a new album. Freaked Out & Small was released that year to critical praise. The band did not tour on or promote the album, which quietly sold 25,000 copies as MUSICBLITZ, an early digital music player, quickly went bankrupt.
Afterward, the band members once again went their own ways. Ballew continued to produce and record his own work, and collaborated with Tad Hutchison of The Young Fresh Fellows as The Chris and Tad Show. Also during this time, The Young Fresh Fellows recorded a song, "Good Times Rock 'N' Roll", about The Presidents, which appeared on the 2001 album Because We Hate You.
In 2003, the band once again reformed. In August 2004, the band released Love Everybody on their newly formed indie label PUSA Inc. As with their previous albums, it received praise from many critics. Two singles from the album have been released through the Apple iTunes Store. In late 2004, the rights to the debut album were returned to the band, who have since reissued the album through PUSA Inc. twice: once as a tenth-anniversary edition with extra tracks, and again in the spring of 2006 in a low-price edition.
Andrew McKeag, Seattle guitarist (formerly of Uncle Joe's Big Ol' Driver, Shuggie, The Black Panties and others), joined the band on guitbass in late 2004, as an occasional live-performance stand-in for Dave Dederer, who had expressed an interest in spending more time with his family. Since late 2007, McKeag started touring full-time with the band, and later replaced Dederer. Dederer has played live with the band in concerts in Seattle on occasion.
In November 2007, the band's next album, These Are the Good Times People, was announced; it was released on March 11, 2008. They performed a live webcast celebrating the album's release by Easy Street Records. In December 2007 KEXP played the new song "Bad Times." On February 1, 2008, 107.7-The End, a Seattle radio station, played "Mixed Up S.O.B.", the first single from the Presidents' new album. The music video for the song was directed by "Weird Al" Yankovic. On June 15, 2008, they played for Pet-Aid 2008 in Oregon.
In October 2008, "Lump" was released on the video game Rock Band 2. "Ladybug", "Feather Pluck'n," and "Dune Buggy" were released as downloadable content for the game on November 4, 2008. In the summer of 2009, The Presidents performed in San Diego at the North Park Music Thing Music & Media Festival which only showcases local bands.
In September 2010, The Presidents performed during halftime of the UW-Syracuse game at Husky Stadium.
In November 2013, the band started a PledgeMusic project in order to release a new studio album. The band met their goal in just over a week, and the album, titled Kudos to You!, was released on February 14, 2014. The band also released their first full live album, Thanks for the Feedback, at the same time. Since the beginning of the project, fans were able to pledge for various items in addition to the digital and physical copies of the two albums, such as posters, lyric sheets and instruments signed by the band. A limited edition burgundy and yellow vinyl was also available to backers.
On November 16, 2016, Chris Ballew stated that the band had dissolved sometime in the summer of 2015 due to the members being "old people now".
The band performed for President Bill Clinton at a 1994 Democratic Party fundraiser in Seattle. The band also supported John Kerry in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. On January 17, 2009, The Presidents released a single on the National Public Radio show Weekend America called "Moving In," detailing the journey of Barack Obama in celebration of his inauguration as president. The former Governor of Washington, Gary Locke, is featured on the backing vocals of "Volcano" (Live) [Ten Year Super Bonus Special Anniversary Edition]. The band endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election.
Following the breakup, each band member devoted time to his own solo projects. Ballew was the most prolific of the three, releasing albums with The Giraffes and The Tycoons, two of his side projects. Dederer collaborated with former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan as The Gentlemen and in McKagan's perennial hard rock band, Loaded, including contributing to the album Dark Days. Dederer also played bass in the Seattle band Juke and produced songs for singer/songwriter Gerald Collier. Finn played drums for several bands, including Nevada Bachelors, The Fastbacks and Love Battery, his original band.
Around 2006, Chris Ballew began collaborating with Seattle-based rapper Outtasite as The Feelings Hijackers. They have done local shows and have released two albums.
In 2009, in addition to his continued work with The Presidents, Ballew began recording and performing as children's artist Caspar Babypants.
Ballew and Dederer/McKeag play a basitar and guitbass, which are regular, six-string guitars with special modifications: Ballew's instrument has two bass strings (with which he plays bass parts), and Dederer/McKeag's instrument has three guitar strings (used to play guitar parts). The original idea came from Morphine frontman Mark Sandman, with whom Ballew had previously worked.
Guitars modified in this way use heavy-gauge strings for a heavier sound and are normally tuned in Drop D, though the Presidents play half a step lower in C#. For a basitar, the strings are placed in the D and B positions. Ballew uses a .60 gauge string tuned to C# and a .36 tuned to G#. On a guitbass, the strings are placed in the A, D, and G positions. .54 gauge tuned to C#, .42 to G#, and a .32 gauge tuned to C#.
Christopher "Chris" Ballew (born May 28, 1965) is an American musician best known as the former lead singer and 'basitarist' of the alternative rock group The Presidents of the United States of America. He also performs as a children's artist under the pseudonym Caspar Babypants.Dave Dederer
Dave Dederer (born October 5, 1964) is an American guitarist and singer best known as a member of the 2x GRAMMY-nominated, multi-platinum-selling musical group The Presidents of the United States of America,. An alumnus of Seattle, Washington's The Bush School and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, he founded The Presidents with fellow Bush School alumnus Chris Ballew. He has also been a member of The Gentlemen and Loaded with Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan, also a Seattle native, and Subset, a collaboration between The Presidents and Sir Mix-a-lot.
Dederer currently heads programming and editorial at Amazon Music and manages The Presidents' ongoing business interests.
Dederer worked for Seattle web/mobile media company Melodeo from 2007 to 2010 as Vice President, Business Development. Melodeo was acquired by Hewlett Packard in June, 2010. He previously worked for four years as a public affairs consultant at Seattle firm Pyramid Communications.
Prior to The Presidents' success, Dederer taught high school English at Kent Denver School and The Bush School, did public relations work on environmental issues, and attended graduate school in urban planning at the University of Washington. He has 2 daughters who play in the critically acclaimed Jazz Ensemble 1 at Bellevue High School.
On October 22, 2009, Dederer responded to questions made by users of the website reddit.Dune Buggy (song)
"Dune Buggy" is the name of the seventh single by the post-grunge band The Presidents of the United States of America, and the fourth and last single released from their highly successful debut album.
On 4 November 2008, "Dune Buggy" was released as downloadable content for the video game Rock Band.II (The Presidents of the United States of America album)
II is the second studio album by The Presidents of the United States of America. It was released via Columbia Records on November 5, 1996, which was Election Day in the United States, which included voting for the President.Jason Finn
Jason Finn (born October 27, 1967) is the former drummer and singer for The Presidents of the United States of America. He was previously the drummer of Love Battery until 1995 (and also played drums for the Seattle-based band Skin Yard as well as The Fastbacks), when he joined Chris Ballew and Dave Dederer to form The Presidents of the United States of America, who were together for 23 years, until their split in 2016. He plays with an open-handed technique on a right-handed drum kit. He and Dave Dederer collaborated with Sir Mix-a-Lot, to form Subset in 1998, but later disbanded. He is also a close personal friend of Paul and Storm, and regularly performs with them at W00tstock.Kitty (song)
"Kitty" is the name of the third single by the post-grunge/alternative rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. The song, along with "Lump", and "Peaches", helped propel Presidents of the United States of America to a platinum level.
"Kitty" had originally appeared on the demo tape Froggystyle. This version was entitled "Kitty at My Foot". According to Dave Dederer, the song was based "as far as I know" on a true story about "a bad little cat that lived in some apt. Chris shared with some folks in Boston".Ladybug (The Presidents of the United States of America song)
"Ladybug" is the second single from The Presidents of the United States of America's album These Are the Good Times People. On November 4, 2008 the song was released as downloadable content for the video game Rock Band along with the songs "Dune Buggy" and "Feather Pluckn" as the Presidents of the United States of America Pack 01.Love Everybody
Love Everybody is the fourth studio album by The Presidents of the United States of America. It was released on August 17, 2004 on the band's own label, PUSA Inc.
When the album was released in the UK in 2005, it featured four bonus tracks. They included live versions of songs from their debut album, The Presidents of the United States of America, the previously unreleased song "Useless Crushes", and a cover of the Sex Pistols' "Problems".Lump (album)
Lump is a 2000 greatest hits compilation album by The Presidents of the United States of America.
The album includes three covers: "Video Killed the Radio Star", originally by The Buggles, "Kick Out the Jams", originally by MC5 and "Cleveland Rocks", originally by Ian Hunter.
Unusual for a "Greatest Hits" album, Lump features only ten tracks totalling less than 30 minutes in length. Also, one of the band's biggest hits that also gave them a Grammy Nomination, "Peaches", is missing completely, along with minor hit "Kitty".Mach 5 (song)
"Mach 5" is the name of the eighth single by the post-grunge band The Presidents of the United States of America. The single was released from their album II.Mixed Up S.O.B.
"Mixed Up S.O.B." is the first single from The Presidents of the United States of America's album These Are the Good Times People. The single includes the song "Ballad of the Unstoppable Female (The Anna Nicole Smith Story)" as a B-side track.The song dates to 1987; a version was recorded that year for the Egg album Feel Better as "Son of a Bitch".Naked and Famous
"Naked and Famous" is the name of the second single by the alternative rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. This single was the follow-up to their debut recording, "Fuck California". "Naked and Famous" was later released on the Presidents' debut album and features Soundgarden's Kim Thayil on guitar. A version of Puffy Little Shoes appeared on their second album II.
There were two different versions of the cover. Both were limited to only 1000, numbered by hand. The first was pulled from shelves due to possible legal action. Both variants were made by Che Orrie under special license from PopLlama Records. The original cover featured Vanna White's upper body (front cover) and C-3PO's legs (back cover). Numbers for the first versions are unknown. One thousand were made, but due to the recall, the total number sold remains a mystery. Due to this, the single tends to be highly sought after by collectors.
Even though it was first released in 1994, the song itself dates back to at least 1987: a version was recorded in New York by Chris Ballew in that year and another version was recorded with Egg, Ballew's band at the time, in 1989. Both versions appear on the expanded 10th anniversary issue of their debut album.Pure Frosting
Pure Frosting is a compilation album by The Presidents of the United States of America. It was released on March 10, 1998.
It was, at the time, the band's last album, as they had broken up in 1998. They have since reunited and released new albums.
"Video Killed the Radio Star" originally appeared on The Wedding Singer soundtrack, and it is a cover of the song originally by The Buggles. This is the third version of the song The Presidents has released, as they originally released a live version as a b-side, and released a different studio version on Rarities. "Man (Opposable Thumb)" originally appeared on the 1997 soundtrack of Good Burger. "Cleveland Rocks" is also a cover, originally by Ian Hunter, and was used as the theme song to The Drew Carey Show.
The album takes its title from an early name for the band.Rot in the Sun (song)
Rot in the Sun is a song by American alternative rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. It was released as a single on December 23, 2008 on Fugitive Records. It is the third single from the album These Are the Good Times People.Some Postman
"Some Postman" is a song by the band The Presidents of the United States of America, from their fourth album Love Everybody, which was released in 2004. A single version of the song was also released through Apple's online iTunes Store.Supersonics (song)
"Supersonics" is a song by the alternative rock band The Presidents of the United States of America. The song was released as a promotional CD in order to coincide with the Seattle SuperSonics' appearance in the 1996 NBA Finals. The music for the song was the same as their earlier song "Supermodel," but with new lyrics to reflect the then-current stars of the team.Thanks for the Feedback
Thanks for the Feedback is a live album by The Presidents of the United States of America, the first and only full live album released by the band. It was released on February 14, 2014, alongside their sixth studio album, Kudos to You!.Originally, the plan was for the tracks on this album to be "culled from various performances over the last 3 years or so", but the band ultimately decided to release an entire show (minus the encores, as they wouldn't fit on the CD) from their 2011 PUSAFEST.The album was available as a digital download for anyone that pledged for their Kudos to You! album, with the added option to pledge for a physical copy of it as well. Back and front covers will be available for download through presidentsrock.com for those who chose not to get the actual CD. With the Pledge Music project having come to an end, this album is now only available as a digital download through the band's website.These Are the Good Times People
These Are the Good Times People is the fifth studio album by The Presidents of the United States of America. It was released on March 11, 2008. This is their first album to feature Andrew McKeag instead of Dave Dederer on guitbass.Tiny Explosions
"Tiny Explosions" is a single by the post-grunge band The Presidents of the United States of America. It was the lead off-single for the Presidents' reunion album Freaked Out and Small.