The Presidents of the USA - Band Photo

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1975 - 1992 - Concert Dates

Pre-PUSA era - Early Years:

Chris Ballew:  David and The Overtones, Creepy Stick, EGG, Duke's O'Pop, Supergroup, Go!

Jason Finn:

Dave Dederer:

1975 - ? Various locations

Chris Ballew's first "band" Creepy Stick (aka David and The Overtones) was formed in 1975. Featuring Chris Ballew on piano at age 10 and childhood friend Dave Thiele on Sears Drum Kit at age 6. They had one song.... "David and the Overtones". One line up was electrified 3 string acoustic guitar and drums and sax. One line up was 4 string bass and drums. One line up was 2 string guitar and 3 string guitar.

They played loft parties until dawn and on the street for change.

Chris Ballew played an acoustic clip of Creepy Stick song "David and the Overtones" on Modern Rock Live (1996).

Chris Ballew:

I started taping in second grade when my best friend and I began a "radio show" on cassette called The Bear Show. It was a call-in talk show (AM Radio style) we made on a little Sony deck and we even had a little stuffed bear for that authentic feel. Later, I began putting music from my dad's guitar onto one deck and playing that into the mic of another while adding sound with the brother of my "bear" friend on drums. I do mention all of this because the guy I did that first multi-track recording with is still my partner and plays drums in our new band CREEPY STICK. The two of us also back up a hillbilly jazz star named Will Kitchen. (I bet when you asked this question you didn't think you would get a "beginning of time story"!). So, I started just for the thrill of hearing sound I had made come back at me on tape and receiving that sound instead of playing it.

David Thiele, the child drummer, and I started DAVID AND THE OVERTONES when I was 10 and he was 6. We made tapes on drums (Sears Denim) and an upright piano and we even had our own theme song! This was pure fun.

Then there were a couple of punk bands in the 70's in High School with my buddy Dale Peyser (who was later in EGG). Then Ska was in our heads. Then keyboards took me on a new wave odyssey and finally I re-discovered guitar and began a band in New York at school with Dale and two New Yorkers. One was Phil Franklin who would be the drummer in EGG. By this time I was all songs. But they were fantasy songs none written about anything close to me, All from some alien perspective, based in rootsy rock and roll.

1982 Various locations

Dave Dederer plays with Sandino And The Leftists.


Jason Finn forms a band Bad Credit with Mike Wells (from Walkabouts) and few other people.

Bad Credit - Jason Finn (PUSA) - Mike Wells - Poster from 1984

Bad Credit poster from August 28, 1984.

with The Sweats

1985-1987 Various locations

Dave Dederer plays with his college band The Big Heads of Pluturnus.


1986  "SUNY Purchase" State University of New York at Purchase, New York, NY

Aids Research Benefit.

Band raised 800$ to AmFar (The Foundation for AIDS Research)

Unknown band.

Lineup was Chris Ballew (acoustic guitar & vocals), Stephen Duncombe (guitar), Howard Rappaport (vocals & harmonica?), John Klima (guitar), Dale Peyser (bass & vocals), Phil Franklin (drums). 

1986-1987 Various locations

Asleep Standing was Chris Ballew's college band. They used to play "Love Delicatessen" often live. The Presidents later recorded Love Delicatessen for their record "Pure Frosting".

Jason Finn plays drums in Skin Yard

"Skin Yard was a grunge band from Seattle, Washington, who were active from 1985 to 1992. The group never gained any mainstream audience, but were an influence on their contemporaries – most notably Soundgarden, The Melvins, and Green River – alongside whom they are considered the early pioneers of the sound that would later be called grunge." Wikipedia

Jason Finn's first show with Skin Yard:

Poster - Skin Yard - 1986 - Jason Finn's first show drumming with Skin Yard

Skin Yard poster from 1986

1986-10-18 - The Central, Napalm Beach
1987 - Various locations

Duke's O'Pop plays in different line-ups.

Duke's O'Pop 1987 Tour:

Seattle, WA
Portland, OR
San Francisco, CA
KXLU (air play!), Los Angeles, CA
Las Vegas, Nevada
Denver, CO
Kansas, KS
Graceland Wall Tribute, Memphis, TN
Nashville, TN
Ohio, OH
1987 - Boston area

EGG Started as a street band by Chris Ballew, and Phil Franklin (later Sunburned Hand of a Man). Later Lloyd Dyson (1988), and Dale Peyser (1989) joined in.

EGG lived in Charlestown and played around Boston in the late 80s. Songs they've used to play live: Joe, Love Delicatessen, Pavlov's Dog, You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet (Bachman-Turner Overdrive cover), Emotional Cowboy, Naked & Famous, Red Heads (Useless Crushes?), Toy Surprise, Tiki God...

Some of the EGG songs later turned into classic PUSA songs. See EGG Songography

Taken from this setlist:

 EGG - Poster - Setlist - (Presidents Of The United States Of America)

Setlist date & location is unknown.

Chris Ballew:

Phil and I moved to Boston and began EGG as a street act. I had a little Sears guitar (we like Sears) and a mouse amp and he played the suitcase. He carried his little trap set in as a bass drum. We had traveled across the country after college, living in a small, brown hatchback and playing on the street. We really flourished on the sidewalk. We got the feeling right away for what would make people listen and what wouldn't. I would recommend a street gig at least once a month for anyone. It's free, no cover charge (unless people wish), grannies to babies can dig it and it's free publicity.

While on the street we were seen by Billy Ruane, who was the ringmaster at the Middle East, a showcase type restaurant and bar with a club in the back. They put on the best shows I ever saw in Boston. So we played there when we weren't in the Subway, adding Dale on bass.

The name EGG came from Mike Dwyer, an artist we worked with. We were all artists' assistants for the same artist and we had access to a wood shop so we started our own collective called EGG. We had a one page double-sided 'zine called EGG so the natural thing to do was to call the band EGG as well.

The guiding theme was definitely FUN. For a long time, songs were pouring out of me that were fun to play over and over. I judged a song by how many laughs it got. We were like a musical stand-up comedy troupe. We would do the same act in clubs and on the street, testing out new material on the street. Unfortunately, we didn't do a lot of experimentation. I wrote the songs and showed them to Phil and Dale, and in retrospect, I was too dictatorial about how I wanted them to be played. Our favorite way to release tension was late night mid-Summer on-the-street drum-jams. We would haul out all kinds of noise makers including Mike's car and huge cardboard tubes and go bananas.

We played on for two years, and, as the street gigs became less spontaneous and my ability to write songs began to dry up, we started to stagnate. But we didn't take notice of it at first. We kept getting gigs and playing out, doing the same songs over and over. It was like making the same sculpture over and over and over. We never saw the obvious solution of making the band a democratic scene and giving up gigs so we could relax and approach it a new way. The fun is in creation, not repetition, of the product. But having not realized this yet we continued to play and after frustration became boredom, we broke up.

1988-1989 EGG Performing at Middle East Club, Boston, MA

Photos by Stacey Egan

Notice the suitcase kickdrum, and Chris Ballew has an EGG sticker on his guitar.

"I miss that crazy amp I had in the backround there...all flourescent...I took a 4 speaker Fender and cut it in half on a table saw to make that monster!" - Chris Ballew

Only confirmed song from this show is You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
1989- Various locations

Jason Finn joins the Love Battery.

Lineup: Ron Nine (vocals), Kevin Whitworth (guitar), Tommy "Bonehead" Simpson (bass) and Jason Finn (drums)

Early 1990's Boston area

Chris Ballew got together with Mark Sandman to form Supergroup which started Sandman and Chris doing all that wacky alt-string methodology.

Photos: Supergroup (Mark Sandman and Chris Ballew) in concert - Billy's Bash. Early 1990s at the Green Street Grill in Cambridge, MA - Photos by Steven Lee

Chris Ballew: I do have that basitar...the ORIGINAL! Mark sent it to me a few years before he passed away and just said "you be the keeper". Those are the original babypants on my head too!!

"Once upon a time in a beantown called Boston, Chris Ballew was a street busker/musician who was befriended by a tall guy named Mark Sandman. They became friends and were roommates for six months. They played once a week at the Plough and Stars. They named their weekly gig Supergroup. The whole idea behind Supergroup was that they would come up with the song names while having a beer before the gig. Then they would make up the songs onstage during their show. Occasionally Mark or Chris would call out a Super Challenge- i.e. shout out words on stage and the other one had to make up a song on the spot using those words. Sometime during my show I am going to squeeze in some Supergroup." Cecily

Supergroup plays in Boston area. Many of the live shows were recorded. Shamefully only live recording circulating is a b-side "Telepathic Cathy" from Supergroup's 7", Telepathic Cathy was recorded live upstairs at the Middle East, Cambridge, MA.

Easy Street Records Interview with Chris Ballew:

Matt Vaughan: You worked with Mark Sandman and the Morphine camp before setting off on your own. How did you get involved with them? A new Morphine collection, At Your Service, just came out and it is certainly apparent in listening to this that Morphine was very unique and could go far deeper than maybe we heard in their studio records. This is a very inspiring collection, however, most of it was unfinished work. You contributed to some of the songs. I'd imagine he was a great inspiration to you?

Chris Ballew: Mark was my musical father. He showed me how to be the freak I became by being the rock on stage. I have no idea how we met and he never could remember either. We just seemed to always know each other. We lived together for a few years and had an improvisational band called Supergroup that played around Boston in the '91-'92 era. A bunch of PUSA tracks were born on stage in that band as well as a bunch of Morphine tracks. Listening to that CD you mentioned is a trip because I am hearing his 8-track studio versions for the first time of songs that we made up together on stage! It’s like seeing part of your life from a new angle when you find a box of forgotten photos. I got the two-string thing (guitar technique) from Mark (although I was already playing a four-string at the time) and a great deal of insight and guidance about songwriting. I really miss him all the time.

1990-11-03 Boston, MA
Bring Me The Froreskin Of George Lincoln Rockwell / Shaky Moyuls

Jam session that was released on BALLS - We Will Grow On You 12" LP

Balls (Chris Ballew, Mark Brooks, Greg Wildes, Phil Franklin)

Chris Ballew:

We played out as DOWN and LOUD SUE and Mark B released two jams on a record called BALLS. This jamming was a very freeing experience for me. No expectations meant concentrating on the doing of music and drew attention away from the results.

1991 Various Locations

Chris Ballew
, Dave Dederer and Dave Thiele form a band Go!. Dave Thiele played a stand up kit of two coctail drums plus hi hat and crash and snare (no kick drum). They play in legendary Seattle venues like the Crocodile Cafe, Off Ramp, and OK Hotel.

Songs they've performed included Bold Little Bird (which later turned on Caspar Babypants (Chris Ballew) album "More Please!), and Tiki God (Presidents of the USA later recorded it to their second album "II") + many other songs.

Jason Finn met the band first time when they played in Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, WA.

1992-03-05 The Crocodile Cafe, Seattle, WA

Go Poster 1992

Correct year, 1991 or 1992? Dave Thiele left the band in fall 1992, so this can't be 1993? Poster from PledgeMusic site. It's from Jason Finn's archives.

"I have no doubt this is the only surviving copy of this. On the advice of Dave Dederer, who I barely knew, I went down to Seattle’s Crocodile Cafe to see his band GO. There might have been 40 people there. Dave and Chris were playing with a drummer on a cocktail kit, playing some of the tunes that would later be PUSA tunes. At one point between songs, Dave walked over to his shitty Fender Twin reissue and grabbed a softball mitt off the top. Back at the mic he asked “hey, does anyone have a softball?” at which point a softball came flying from somewhere in the dark back of the room. Fielding it deftly, Dave said thanks and away they went into the next song. I WAS SOLD. The next day I started what was to be a monthlong campaign to be their drummer. Groveling was involved. HISTOREEZ, PEOPLEZ." - Jason Finn


Go! (Chris Ballew, Dave Dederer, and Dave Thiele)

with The Young Turks, Highwire, Chez
Fall 1992 Various locations

Dave Thiele went to graduate school in Boston in fall 1992. Chris Ballew and Dave Deverer continue to play as a duo.

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