Whatever happened to novelty songs and people making music more for fun than for business purposes? Within the last 10 years or so, with the exception of perhaps Goldie Lookin’ Chain, everyone is so serious. Back in 1996 Jason Finn, the drummer with The Presidents of The United States Of America stated, “No, I can’t think of a serious song we play. I guess we figure that there are plenty of those out there already, so we do it for fun.”
Despite the name implying that they might be politically minded, the POtUSA are a three piece from Seattle, Washington – the heart of grungeland! They comprise vocalist/guitarist and primary songwriter Chris Ballew, bassist Dave Dederer and drummer Jason Finn and were formed in 1993.
Their debut hit was called Peaches which reached number eight in the UK. At the time there was speculation that the song was about a women’s private parts and cunnilingus – just as Steve Miller implied in The Joker and a similar reference made in the Stranglers song of the same name. There was even a rumour that as the band just did light-hearted pop stuff it could well have been written about a tin of peaches. But no! “It’s about a girl I once had a crush on,” revealed Chris Ballew. “I had a crush on this girl and was too scared to tell her. One day I plucked up the courage and went over to her house to tell her but she wasn’t in. She had a peach tree in her yard and so I decided to sit under it and wrote a song whilst waiting for her to arrive to finally let her know that I liked her.” He also revealed that he ‘borrowed’ riffs from Bad Company’s 1975 song Feel Like Makin’ Love.
When it was released it came in the form of a 7″ picture disc with peaches on one side and detail of a tin of peaches on the other. Just to keep on the food theme, the song was produced at Egg studios, which is owned by the song’s producer Conrad Uno.
Throughout 1995, 1996 and 1997 the band toured the States relentlessly and made many TV appearances to boost their profile, but they had to turn down the offer to appear on Saturday Night Live, America’s biggest TV rated show, because the date conflicted with Ballew’s own wedding. Their debut eponymous album spent just over six months on the UK album chart and peaked at number 14.
They split up in 1998, the same time a compilation album called Pure Frosting was released. It contained their last single, a cover of the Buggles’ Video Killed the Radio Star which was featured in the film The Wedding Singer. It also contained a song called My Date with the President’s Daughter which became the theme for the TV movie of the same name.
There was a brief reunion in 2000 and then a full and long one in 2004 with added member Andrew McKeag. They are still together and released the album Love Everybody in 2004 and These Are the Good Times People four years later.