'Postman' delivers new fans

Friday, September 24, 2004


It's no surprise The Presidents of the United States of America are headlining Endfest 13, Saturday's KNDD-sponsored alternative-rock festival at the White River Amphitheatre.



WHAT: Alternative-rock festival

WHEN: Saturday at 3 p.m.

WHERE: White River Amphitheatre near Auburn

TICKETS: $10.77, $17 and $37 at Ticketmaster

The Presidents' current single, "Some Postman," has been a big hit since the Seattle station began playing it last year.

"In a way, the listeners have sort of driven this whole thing," guitarist Dave Dederer said in an interview this week. "We gave KNDD that song just over a year ago after doing a show for them and we said, 'Hey, can you spin this once or twice?' We didn't really expect them to do it, but they did. And a month or two later it was in their top five most-requested songs, and it's sort of been up there off and on ever since."

Still, Dederer is amazed the reunited Seattle trio is headlining a festival that features such legendary bands as Echo and the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, Violent Femmes and X, as well as newer bands Muse, Franz Ferdinand and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

"I don't know how you can put us up against X and Echo and the Bunnymen," Dederer said with a chuckle. "It doesn't seem right to me."

In the mid-'90s, The Presidents cut through the gloom of grunge with a hard-riffing sound and incredibly fun, catchy melodies. The group's debut album went to No. 6 on The Billboard 200 chart, produced three hit songs -- "Lump," "Kitty" and "Peaches" -- and earned two Grammy nominations.

But industry pressures led to the band's breakup in 1998. It took several years for the group to get back together and record new songs. The Presidents now have fans too young to remember the trio's earlier songs.

"I've got all these kids in my neighborhood in their early to midteens who are fans of the band and they just know that song, 'Some Postman.' They're starting to learn about our first record a little bit, but they mostly know us as the band that's on 'The End' with the 'Postman' song," Dederer said.

The Presidents headlined the Hometown Throwdown at Bumbershoot, along with Seattle groups Death Cab for Cutie and The United State of Electronica. They played to a crowd of more than 12,000.

The Presidents' new album, "Love Everybody" (recorded with local producer and longtime collaborator Conrad Uno), will sound familiar to older fans who missed the group's quirky output following its 1998 breakup.

"Surf's Down" is sort of an anti-surf instrumental. "We like surf music. Who doesn't? But it's sort of a downer as surf tunes go," Dederer said.

The song came together in the studio almost by accident. "Chris just started playing the bass line and I did the little three-note guitar melody and we added in the keyboard breakdown in the middle. And that was it," he said.

"Vestina," Dederer's favorite new song, came together just as quickly when Dederer, drummer Jason Finn and bassist (and chief songwriter) Chris Ballew traded instruments.

"I sat down at the drum kit and Chris was over at the keyboard and Jason picked up the guitar, and three minutes later we had a song," Dederer said.

"Love Everybody" was released earlier this year on the band's own PUSA Music label through NAIL/Allegro Distribution. It's been selling steadily ever since, but hasn't reached The Billboard 200 chart yet.

"I don't think our reach on radio nationally is enough to make that happen," Dederer said.

The Presidents also got the masters to its earlier albums from Columbia Records and will release its debut album, "The Presidents of the United States of America," as well as the 2000 album "Freaked Out and Small" on Nov. 2, Election Day.

On Wednesday night at Premier nightclub, The Presidents will play a benefit concert to raise money for the John Kerry campaign. Doors open at 7 p.m. and tickets are $100. (For more information, go to www.kerryconcert.com.)

"We're not activists, necessarily, as a band," Dederer said. "But Kerry's our man. He's smart, he's principled and he's walked his talk."

Tickets are still available to Endfest 13, which the station is billing as a "Flashback to the Future," offering a lineup of bands spanning 25 years of alternative music. In addition to Main Stage bands mentioned above, local bands Idiot Pilot, Schoolyard Heroes, Leuko, The Lashes, Super Deluxe and Goodness are playing on the Seattle Stage.

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