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Ask Chris:

an exclusive interview Chris Ballew is doing for Chris.Ballew.net!  (Compiled by Webmaster Q)

Here it is, the long-awaited, much pondered interview!


Here’s the interview. I’m on a PUSA mailing list that has about 40-50 die-hard fans as members worldwide. I asked them to contribute questions for this interview, and boy did they contribute! I’ve prefaced each question with the name or nickname of the person who asked the question. I’m sure you will recognize some of the names. My questions are prefaced by (Q). Wow, this thing has gotten huge! You’ve been away for a while, and sooo much has happened. Everyone had lots of questions. I’ve attempted to organize them somewhat, but things are a bit disjointed. Take your time with this thing, I know you are busy. 


The Internet:

1. (Q) You seemed to fall off the edge of cyberspace last spring, What happened to you?

Chris:  I cancelled my aol account because there was a problem with an audio recorder I tried to download and my computer crashed. Then I got lazy and spent more time outside in the sunshine.

2. (Q) You used to be active on the Giraffes BBS I think your fans thought that was really cool. You have not posted anything there in a long time. Do you still read that stuff and do you see yourself becoming active there again?

I do read it and I would love to post there and I have tried several times but the stupid thing will not accept my name and password combo. Twice I have written long messages only to get booted off and when I return my long arduous typing job is gone....frustrated, I get out. I will try again soon!

3. (Q) Did you know there is a BBS on Chris.Ballew.net?

No! I will check it out!

4. (Q) Are you still planning to build a website? Until you do, would you want us to put something on Chris.Ballew.net listing whatever you are selling (Giraffes, Tycoons, Subset T-Shirts etc.) and your POBox? I’m sure you’d make a few of those aforementioned die-hard fans happy if they could be sporting one of those t-shirts.

Sure that would be cool...I have a bunch of Giraffes CDs and some Tycoons Christmas EPs and I could get my hands on some Subset Ts...CDs would be <Giraffes> 10 and <Tycoons> 5 dollars respectively and <Subset> Ts would be 10.  Add on postage to that when you send in your order and we are in business.

5. (Mike P. aka Kayrock29) Would like you to join the list, or at least come hang out on it for a little.... “doubt there are any bigger fans of PUSA and Chris out there than us. I'm on a Reel Big Fish list, and their drummer joined, it's been cool as hell.”

I am not sure I understand "join the list". I am glad they are fans but I don't get the question!


Musical Projects:

1. (Q) Any progress on the recording and label hunt for SUbSET?

Not anything solid yet but there are some jigglings going on.

2. (Q, Mike Lyon – who will be referenced as ML in all subsequent questions) Any progress on the recording and label hunt for The Chris and Tad Show?

Well just today I spoke with one of the Dust Brothers and we made a verbal agreement to work together both on releasing and recording the Chris and Tad Show album! We still need a real name before the Chris and Tad Show becomes it.

3. (Q) Are you still planning to start your own label?

No. I eventually realized from talking to friends who have their own labels and asking them about the level of commitment required to make it work and realized that making up music and recording and performing it is enough of a challenge for me and I was getting unnecessarily stressed out just thinking about it...so I let that idea go.....for now!

4. (Q, ML) If no one picks up The Chris and Tad Show or SUbSET, will you release them yourself?

No. I think we will look for a smaller label than we are now then if no one wants them we may just shelve them OR possibly put out a limited run ourselves.

5. (Q) Any plans to hit the road with either?

YES!...I am actually quite excited to tour on a limited basis...The C+T show will do some west coast stuff and Subset will go all over the place I hope!

6. (Walter Simpson) Are you going to play the U.K. or more importantly Scotland?

I am not sure....Mix a Lot won't get on a plane so we are limited and I don't know if the C+T Show will be large enough to warrant going over there....we will have to leave that one up in the air for now...

7. (ML) Do you think you're back at a point where you can be comfortable with touring and still find the time to be with your wife and son?

Yes because I would probably bring them on more parts of the tour if we were out for longer that a month. I won't really know until I get out there and do it and it does make me a little nervous because I tend to get really depressed on tour if I am missing them....I will just have to hold on loosely and dive in.

8. (Q) You’ve got SUbSET, and The Chris and Tad Show. Jason’s in SUbSET and the Nevada Bachelors. Not sure if Dave and Mix have other things going. The question is, does SUbSET take priority if it takes off?

Wow, I wonder that myself....There will hopefully be an obvious choice or some very busy times.

9. (Mike P. aka Kayrock29) Who is Mike Singleton, and how did you hook up with him?

Mike is a friend of Mix a lots and helps out live and with some extra rhymes.

10. (Q) Are you sticking with the mixed case letters SUbSET? Or is it now SUBSET or Subset or what?

Who knows!?!?! As of now it is SUbSET but the second S is supposed to be backwards....that was mix and my idea!

11. (Q) Have you guys secured that name? When I was adding links for Chris.Ballew.net to http://www.ubl.com, I saw an entry for a band named SubSet, but it had a dead link for the homepage. Are we going to have to have another "Name the Band" contest?

I don't know, we are doing a patent search on the name now and hopefully it wont be a problem.....it is a bit scary thinking about picking a different name.

12. (Q) Did you ever come up with a new name for "The Chris and Tad Show"?

Not yet but it liiks like we will be working with the Dust Brothers on the record so that is exciting! How about The Hoob?

13. (Q) Back to SUbSET, Who's idea was it to do "Farmer John"?

Dave came to the recording studio with the chorus and we built it around that...It is an old song that he had been covering in other bands and picking on his guitar for years...That song is dang fun to play.

14. (Q) Do you think that SUbSET is the first to fuse Rap & Country (Rapabilly as coined on the SUbSET site)?

Sure we aren't afraid to do anything at this point so......LETS GET IT ON!

15. (Q) I was very surprised to hear you launch into “Ribby Rib” at the SUbSET show. Are any other Caspar nuggets going to resurface as SUbSET gems?

Cool....Believe me it is very weird to be playing that and Blood from a Stone and What the Hell which are all old songs that didn't have an appropriate band to play them....I love finally hearing them blast out to a live audience...blows my mind. I am going through old songs that didn't make it past the Caspar stage and playing them for the guys so we will see....

16. (Q) How much Déjà vu were you getting on that stage? You must have flashed back to the PUSA Pain in the Grass in 1995 at least a few times.

Well the scene is so different that I was definitely in the moment.

17. (Q) Do you think you’ll ever do an interview without someone asking you about “wacky instruments”, or as the case now is, your return from them to standard instruments?

Probably not but that's ok ...it is interesting for people to know...Yes I am back to the standard tunings AND still playing the one, two, three, four and six string guitars with weird tunings too. But what I am really excited to be doing in playing piano....electric piano and organ...In the Chris and Tad show our live show now is just drums and me playing the bass lines on the organ and the leads on the electric piano....super fun and magical because I can instantly have the bass and the lead lock up because only one brain is controlling both..

18. (ML) I just KNOW that at Subset practice sessions, you guys break out into old PUSA songs for a couple riffs ^_^

Well maybe once we played a moment from Lump because Skinnin' and Grinnin' has a similar chorus...

19. (Stigmata Martyr) What are the odds that the Presidents will do a short reunion get together for the fans?

Probably pretty slim because we have so severely outgrown those songs...It isn't like we are all so MATURE now but the songs had a disposable quality to them as far as live performance goes and we used them up....We are too busy and excited to move foreword and we hope you will move forward with us!

20. (Q) Mix said the shows the 8th & 9th at the Crocodile would be free, do you plan to keep all local SUbSET shows free?

No, but these two are....we will probably not play live for a while after these shows and concentrate on making our record..

21. (ML) Has the reception to Subset in the Seattle area been, for the most part positive? (i.e. good press and such)?

Well we have the Rocket behind us and the Stranger hates us....but they hated the PUSA too...they are full of hate...The other papers are supportive too

22. (ML) Were you aware that Sony has released a new Presidents album, made from all the big hits of your career? Because of the split with them, do you receive any royalties or have any control over the marketing and promotion of those older tunes? (Sorry if that's touchy question).

I just heard about that from Dave D yesterday!!! wild...No they have all the control....but I do think we get some pennies when they sell

23. (ML) Are you working on a 4-track project on the side like Caspar or Smell Me Fist? I think the rawness and energy of 4-track lends itself brilliantly well to your music and your voice as an artist.

YES YES YES YES!!! I am SO excited about the new Caspar album...I don't know whether I will call it Caspar or The Giraffes or Chris Ballew but I think I just finished tracking the other day and I will mix it all up and I am looking for a little label to put it out...so it should happen soon....The music is sort of psychedelic and country mixed in the blender and poured into a pop mold....It will be very enjoyable!

24. (ML) Whatever happened to Dave Thiele? Are you still making music with him?

YES YES YES YES YES YES! We have a band called Creepy Stick and we are making an instrumental album and looking for a little label as well.

25. (ML) Will "Gone Again Gone" be appearing on anything? A Mark Sandman tribute album, perhaps?

Yes it will be on the solo record and I nailed a scary version last week that makes me tremble...

26. (ML) Any truth to the rumor that you'll be guesting on Beck's new album "Midnight Vultures"?

Not that I am aware of but if he is trying to find me to ask then help me find him because I would LOVE to play some piano....

1. (Q) The children's TV show, is that project dead? Do you think it soon will be because of songs like "What Can I Lick?"

No it is in hibernation....That is something I have thought of and I may be overestimating peoples capacities to think for themselves when I say NO I don't think it will be a problem.

2. (Shane Speal) Are you 100% musician now, or are you doing something “on the side” to keep food on the table?

1,000,000,000 % MUSICIAN!

3. (Q) Give us a quick glimpse at a day in the life of Chris Ballew… What does a former and soon to be music star do?

I spend a lot of time in my studio working on jams and polishing ideas and going to the park with my boy and jamming with friends and playin basketball...trying to keep life loose and fun and translate that into music!

4. (ML, Q) What were your college days like? What wuz your major? Where did you go? Did you finish?

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from State University at Purchase in New York...Those where care free music soaked booze swillin days indeed

5. (King Adam) What kind of beer do you drink? (Mike Lyon referred us to his original interview for 30 ft Smurfs, where you responded Grolsch and Rainier, but when I was in Seattle, I heard that Rainier had gone out of business, so the question stands.)

I don't drink beer anymore.. I drink whiskey...I like Knob Creek and Makers Mark at the moment....yum

6. (Jembo Paperback) What do you think of the newly re-mastered Beatles Yellow Submarine movie and songs?

Can they do wrong? I haven't seen the new version but I plan on buying it for Augie!

Personal questions (these were not intended to be included in the interview, mainly Mike Lyon and Q asking about tapes of original songs they had sent to Chris, but he was so enthusiastic, we thought they should be included.):

1. (ML) Have you listened to "Won't He Rise Up" yet? Did you dig?

Yes and Yes I dig...

2. (Q) Did you ever get to those other songs on my tape?

Yes and they are cool I have it in my car....

3. (Q) I’ve got another song I’ve worked up since then, you wanna hear it?


4. (Q) Do you really enjoy hearing this music that we send you, or are you just humoring us?

I REALLY enjoy it and I always want to get tapes from people! That is how I first got the feeling that what I was doing was being heard was by sending people tapes....keep it coming..

Thanks Jack for doing the interview and let me know when it is up and running



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