Presidents bringing good times to Southland

Thursday, March 13, 2008
By VANESSA FRANKO - The Press-Enterprise

When the Presidents of the United States of America regrouped to put together the new album "These Are the Good Times People," the members went back to basics -- and singer Chris Ballew's archives.

"There are thousands of things. They're on everything -- from discs to cassettes to Dictaphone cassettes," drummer Jason Finn said in a telephone interview from his Seattle home.

Of what Finn called Ballew's "ridiculous archives," 14 songs were picked for the new disc and the band will be playing many of the tunes at a trio of shows in Southern California next week.

The quirky rock band rose to fame in the 1990s with the hits "Lump" and "Peaches."

"There's always a parody aspect," Finn said. "We flat-out enjoy it."

Ballew and fellow band member Andrew McKeag play basitar and guitbass, respectively. They are six-string guitars that only use two strings for the basitar and three for the guitbass.
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Special to The Press-Enterprise
The Presidents of the United States of America, known for 1990s hits "Lump" and "Peaches," are back with a new album.

McKeag officially joins the band with the new album, which ranges from the surf-inspired "Ghosts Are Everywhere" to the indie-rock sound of the Shins on "Loose Balloon" to the Police-like punk of "Rot in the Sun."

There's also the country picking of "Truckstop Butterfly," inspired by an insect Ballew saw on tour that was flying around a puddle in a truck-stop parking lot.

"At some point we'll have to bust out the all-country revue," Finn said, referring to the country ditties that have appeared on the band's albums.

Some of the songs off the new album are more than a decade old. Finn said the band would take a crack at a song initially and if it didn't work, sometimes it would percolate for years before materializing.

"That's a huge part of how we've always operated," Finn said. "That doesn't mean you hate a song. There's a lot of different ways to flesh out an idea."

Finn said fans will hear seven or eight tracks off "These Are the Good Times People," with the other two-thirds of the set being the greatest moments of the history of the Presidents of the United States of America.

"If not the best, maybe the second best, at least," Finn cracked.
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