The Friday 5: Five Important Questions with The Presidents of the USA


PUSA-MAIN-smallWhile many just remember ‘90s rock act The Presidents of the United States of America (PUSA) for their hugely popular debut album that spawned the memorable singles “Lump,” “Peaches,” and “Kitty,” the trio have continued touring and releasing albums.

As discussed in a previous interview with, the group is set to put out their latest full-length offering, Kudos to You!, on February 14.

When we got PUSA frontman Chris Ballew on the line to talk about it, we also asked him these five really important questions:

What is your favourite place to play a guitar?

“In the sunshine, under a tree. My favourite way to play a guitar is to just play one note over and over, and over, until I fall asleep. I’m super into that. For years I’ve been into heavy-droning music like this English band called Loop; Spacemen 3; and after them, Spirtualized – music that puts me out is my ultimate, favourite music. But, that’s not what I want to do on stage or broadcast personally.”

What is your favourite pre-show meal?

“I don’t eat dairy, or wheat, or eggs, so for me it would be peanut butter on gluten-free toast. We have a video shoot today and that’s exactly what I had for breakfast…because I have to perform.”

What album gets you out of a bad mood?

“That’s interesting, but I don’t really use music to get me out of a bad mood. I stop and I breathe deeply for as long as I can deal with it [laughs]. But, I’ll tell you one that does get me out of a bad mood…it’s a weird one that I’m sure nobody’s ever heard of. It’s by a woman named Lauren Archer and she made an album called Music for Meditation. It’s over an hour of a drony note: I need very little. Sometimes I like music that has no cultural reference; is not demanding anything of me…and it’s just tickling my ears and making me feel like I’m looking at a blank canvas. My canvas is so full of stuff all of the time that I need sometimes for it to be blank.”

What band inspires you?

“Spider John Kerner has been the most inspirational musician for me. He was a blues guy in the ‘60s in New York, and then he stopped playing the blues and started digging out old folk music and public domain songs, and giving them a twist. He was the first person that I felt gave me permission to write songs about ridiculous stuff. He was singing these old folk songs that were silly and surreal, and hearing him made me go, ‘oh, there’s a history, a tradition of being surreal and singing about weird little animals. I’m not alone here. I can do it!’”

Who is your biggest fan?

“My wife Kate! Especially with the kids music (Ballew releases children’s albums under the name Caspar Babypants). She does the cover art and her art is the inspiration for doing kids music. So, we are completely each other’s biggest fans.”