Back in Office With 'Good Times'

March 6th 2008 - John D. Luerssen

When Chris Ballew was putting together material for the Presidents of the United States of America's bona fide comeback album, 'These Are the Good Times People,' he unearthed songs from his past and wrote new ones in an unusual way.

Take, for instance, 'Flame of Love,' which recalls the material that helped put his band on the map in 1995, and ultimately sell 4.5 million records. Interestingly enough, he penned it in 1986. And then there's the New Wave vibe of 'Mixed Up S.O.B.,' the lead track and single on the band's 2008 offering. "It was sitting around as a slow, 12-string, acoustic kind of thing since about '89. And I just decided to Cars-ify it," Ballew tells Spinner. "And it came to life. It's a strong representation of the classic 'Presidents sound.'"

While there's plenty here to satisfy fans who remember 'Lump,' 'Peaches' and 'Mach V,' the group's first stab at a funk song was finalized after Ballew and his friend Robyn Hitchcock had an amusing inter-continental email exchange. 'Deleter' was the result.

"For years and years, [drummer] Jason [Finn] has been playing that beat at sound check," Ballew explains. "I thought, 'Why don't I take that beat and use it as a building block?' I played around with a bunch of different lyrics I had but nothing fit. And then I remembered this email I had from Robyn. We've been friends and I've been playing on his records through long distance by computer. He asks, 'Do you still have that horn part you did?' So I wrote back, 'No man. If I know you're not going to use it, I delete it. I'm a deleter.' And he replied, 'She's a deleter.' I pulled up that banter and it became the hook. I wrote the verses and finished it.'"

'These Are the Good Times People' hits shelves on March 11.

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