Jason Finn talks all things Presidents

Drummer Jason Finn talks about the trials and tribulations the band has faced, plus big butts and their wild on-tour antics.

Jovial pop-rockers The Presidents of the United States of America are making a comeback with a new tour and some funky new tunes. After a short hiatus and some collaborative work with hip-hop artist Sir Mix-A-Lot, the trio is rocking their way back into the music biz.

yourGigs: How has your musical success and fame affected your lives?
Jason Finn: It's hard to say, because we're not really famous. There's no J-Lo factor.

yG: You guys broke up for a while - what was that about?
JF: We were really tired, and Chris just quit, so we broke up for about four years and started up again around about 2001-2003.

yG: How did you reconcile?
JF: Well, there wasn't much to reconcile; we didn't break up because we didn't like each other, it was more because of the schedule. So there wasn't really any crying and shaking hands. We just got back together for the purpose of doing one show and it was really fun so it turned into two shows, then that turned into four shows, and that turned into some shows out of town, and before we knew it we were making a record, and then we were going to Europe and finally to Australia.

yG: When you released your first album, you guys were huge. Do you think you still have a fan base as strong as it was back then?
JF: Not really. It's not really mathematically possible. There were a lot of people that were into us, then there were a lot of people that loved whatever they heard 20 times a day on the radio. It was great being huge and everything, but it wasn't really organic deal. It was a long time ago.

yG: How do you feel about your fans now?
JF: We don't like 'em. [Laughs] We really don't like them; they're bad, bad people and they make us nervous. They've got those shifty eyes. That's right. We sleep with one eye open because of them.

yG: How did it feel to get back in to writing and then producing a new album?
JF: It beats sitting on your hands. Right now we're looking forward to working on the next record, which we haven't had any time to do in the last two years. So probably in November we're gong to start rehearsing and working on record number... whatever it is, number five or six.

yG: Where do you guys find your inspiration for lyrics and new songs?
JF: It's next door to me. My neighbour keeps it, and I go over there and borrow a cup, and when I'm done with that I borrow another. I do have to mow his lawn though, which is a bummer.

yG: Members of the band have collaborated with a lot of artists; one interesting figure is Sir-Mix-A-Lot. How did that happen?
JF: He's a Seattle guy too, so we would see him at all the secret rock'n'roll/ hip-hop star meetings. I actually don't know why it started, but it was a live-only collaboration and we had a really good time doing it. We may pull it out again. If we did, it would be exactly like last time; it would rear its head and be gone again so fast that people would barely have time to react.

yG: So he's not going to be a surprise guest at your Aussie shows?
JF: Well, not at the Aussie ones because he doesn't travel in aeroplanes, which is difficult for him. So he really just stays in the States and he drives everywhere. He'll be the first one to tell you he will not get on a plane, so the Australian option, not so much. I don't know how long it would take to get a cruise ship to get over there, but probably a while.

yG: Did he want to make more tracks about big butts? Did he describe everything as juicy and round?
JF: Not really - although the butts did come up once in a while, there were no songs entirely about butts.

yG: Do you have a favourite venue to gig at?
JF: Some of the ones in London; the Astoria we had a lot of fun at back in the day and we played [there] recently and it's amazing. The Paradiso in Amsterdam is amazing. A lot of venues of different sizes in Seattle, like the Crocodile, where we used to play before we had a record, and the Showbox, where we play regularly now. There's a lot of places. The Metro and the HIFI were really fun on the last Australian trip, and also the The Tivoli, in Brisbane, was great too.

yG: What crazy antics do you guys get up to on tour?
JF: We short-sheet each others' beds of a morning, then we unscrew the lid on the salt shakers and that's really funny when the tour manager goes to put some salt on his eggs and a whole pile of salt lands there. We're really not that crazy, we're older than others - Wolfmother, for instance. We're all about being ridiculously punctual. If the lobby calls and wants us there by 9.00am, we're all there at 8.55. It's not like we won't have a couple of beers after the gig, but our rock'n'roll antics aren't really up to par.

yG: How do you prepare for a show? What gets you pumped?
JF: It's not really the pumping, it's about getting stretched. The pumping takes care of itself, nothing really does that except the crowd. There's no reason, at least for us, to run around and yell at each other before the gig. We just get stretched so out muscles act right and let the interaction work its magic.

yG: How does the band feel about the word association with President Bush?
JF: It's unfortunate. But we're The Presidents and he is the president, so we understand that it has to happen some time. We started our band when Bubba Clinton was in office; we definitely would not have probably chosen the name if Bush was in regime.

yG: What do you think has been the band's greatest accomplishment, or is that yet to come?
JF: It's probably gonna be when we sweep the ARIA Awards next year, and that's going to be our greatest achievement ever! [Laughs]

Shelley Jones
3 Nov 2006

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