Ex-President Discusses Subset
Dave Dederer says that there's an aspect to his new band, Subset, that's more grown-up than the Presidents of the United States of America, his former band. "We're using big-boy instruments," he says. "We've got all our strings this time, and on maybe a third of the songs, I play bass while Chris [Ballew] plays electric piano and organ."
Subset is made up of all three former Presidents Dederer, Ballew, and drummer Jason Finn and Seattle's nod to hip-hop, Sir Mix-A-Lot. And though the pairing may seem unlikely, Dederer says it's been in the mix (no pun intended) for a while.
"Mix called us about three years ago to do a one-off, but we were too busy," he says. "Then he called us a year and a half ago to do the same thing. This time we weren't too busy, since we'd broken up. So we recorded a couple of songs, handed them to him, and he turned them into serious grooves.
"On December 16, 1998, we played those two songs at a show of his in Seattle. The audience went crazy, and after his set was over, we all looked at each other and went, 'Hmmm. Maybe this should be a band.'"
Dederer says he isn't sure how to explain the Subset sound, which features him and Ballew singing along with Mix-A-Lot's rhymes, but he knows it's quite different from what Presidents fans are used to. "It's car-chase music from a really bad-ass episode of Scooby Doo," he says jokingly. "I don't know. Maybe Memphis soul meets Led Zeppelin meets Sir Mix-A-Lot."
The group, whose first tour kicks off in Seattle March 15, has recorded an album's worth of songs already, and Dederer says they're trying to come up with a deal that would see an album released by the end of the summer. No contracts have been signed, and none of the parties are really keen on going back to a major label. "Likely not, but it's still open," Dederer says. "The whole landscape has changed so much."
Dederer also says that he and his former mates have another project in the works. "Chris and Jason and I are going to make a record sometime this spring," he says. The three have already recorded a new track, titled "Jupiter." The track can be downloaded for free at MusicBlitz (www.musicblitz.com), and fans who were disappointed over the band's 1997 break-up will be happy to hear that the trio's new round of music uses a mere five strings and sounds remarkably like, well, the Presidents. Anders Wright