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Interview with Chris Ballew. (02/2000)

Questions asked by Tom Yoda, collected from various fans. Thanks to Chris for taking out the time to answer all of the questions and good luck to him on all of his projects including the new Giraffes album, "The Days Are Filled With Years" available on Orange Recordings 2/18/00. Interview property of www.chris.ballew.net, www.orangerecordings.com, yoda1128.tripod.com/pusa.html.

 

1. Do you plan to tour the UK any time soon with any of his current projects?
I would have to say no because Mix A Lot wont fly because of a phobia and the Chris and Tad show is stalled out at the moment because the Dust Brothers are in jeopardy of loosing their label and The Quitters don't exactly "exist" yet and The Giraffes are not real!!!

2. What is your favorite Presidents of the USA B-Side/non album track?
That would be "Fuck California". That was always a rip roaring fun song to play but the repetition of the word FUCK over and over in the song didn't really earn it a place on the major label release...

3. Can you please clear things up once and for all about the Quitters? When you said, "We'll see what happens" does that mean you will be touring?
No that doesn't mean we will tour...I am already in enough bands at the moment. We had a great time playing "PUSA"-style material together again and if the conditions are right in the future we will do more...I just don't know.

4. Can you explain to us a bit about the whole decision to record "Jupiter" and a bit about the recording process? Was it an old song from what was to be the 3rd album, or was it brand new?
It was a song that I had forgotten about that was kicking around when we broke up. I had demoed it after we broke up and I thought it would be a hard song to pull off in a loose band situation because the verse and chorus didn't seem to flow all that well. It seemed like it might actually be 2 separate songs...But when we played it together and with regular 4 string and 6 string instruments it just flowed along and worked immediately. I think that is the 2nd take that we used.

5. For the new Giraffes album, there was a rumor that you were going to redo "Here", from the Caspar self-titled album. Though it doesn't look like that song made the final cut, what are some of your old songs that You'd like to put under the musical scalpel again? Here's my wish list; what would you think about revisiting these songs? - Dead End Lies, Sperm Factory, Here, Xylophone in the Sky, and Ribby Rib (I know you redid it with Subset, but I like the old version better). Are there any that you're particularly anxious to rework?
Well I always consider songs to be unfinished until they get mass produced and then I call them done...so anything that hasn't been released on a proper album is fair game to be reworked. Dead End Lies is one of those thorns in my side that I love and after 5 or 6 tries at recording it I still haven't hit upon that "final" version...so I am still working on that one. Here (or Drool (at you from here)) is another one that has dodged being finished but not for lack of trying. I have tried several different styles for that song and it did almost make the cut on this new giraffes album...but some little voice said "wait until the next one..." Sperm Factory is over and done...I cant improve on that and subject matterwise is from a very specific time...

6. What's the status on the proposed Creepy Stick album with Dave Thiele?
Dave is on his way over here now to work on it...We are listening to hours of improvisations and picking out parts to keep and work on. It has to go on the back burner a bit now with Subset and the Chris and Tad Show heating up.

7. For that matter, what's up with that Chris & Tad Show boxed set?
Boxed set? I don't know about that.

8. Did you play anything on the posthumous Morphine that's going to be released tomorrow, "The Night"? Is "Gone Again Gone" going to be on it?
No I wasn't on that album and no Gone again Gone will only be on the Giraffes album. It is a great album though...go buy it!

9. This is a random question, but I can find live performances of damn near every song and b-side you ever wrote, with only a couple exceptions; namely, Fuck California and Novocaine Hurricane. Did you ever play these songs live? Oh, and what about Love Delicatessen and Teenage Girl?
We played Fuck California a whole lot at the beginning then it fell off. Novocaine was just a 8-Track home studio thing that Dave brought over and never got played live. And neither Love Delicatessen or Teenage girl was played by the Presidents live. Love Delicatessen was a staple of a band I has in college called Asleep Standing back in 1986-1987 and we did it a lot live then.

10. If you did petition Sony to get your old name back, what's the likelihood that they'll give it to you? Is there a point at which control of the PUSA name and the songs written under that name revert to your care automatically?
We get our first record back in 2002 but the name thing was part of the deal when they released us...don't know why and we probably shouldn't have signed it but....

11. Have you heard any of Dave's new "Uptights" stuff? Is it swanky?
I saw the Uptights and it was a good ol bar band live show. Good band to drink to. and yes "swanky"

12. What are you listening to right now?
Macy Gray

13. What are you drinkin' and smokin'?
Knob Creek wiskey and cuban cigars when they float my way.

14. How's the family?
Excellent....potty issues but otherwise cool.

15. Will there be a Quitters album?
who knows???

16. Who are your biggest influences?
sitting on the beach falling asleep in the sand in the shade....that is the most influential thing I can think of...that and the Beatles and Kinks and Grieg

17. What are your thoughts on concert bootlegging and trading?
That is fine with me. If people are into it that much they should get the reward of listening to the show over and over. I am flattered.

18. If the Quitters gets enough demand for touring, album, the works, will you guys continue?
who knows??????????????????????????????? I can see it happening but our plates would have to be cleared of something else to make room first!

19. How do you feel about signing onto a big record label?
I think right now is a BAD time to try to do the traditional deal. The industry is downsizing and taking very few risks. Musicians should look elsewhere...the net or indie deals....Subset is.

20. Some fans have always thought the Beatles' "Back in the USSR" would be an amazing cover by The Presidents. Is it possible The Quitters will do one?
well you planted the bug in my brain so who knows?????
 

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