Chris Ballew

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chris Ballew
Ballew in 2005
Ballew in 2005
Background information
Birth nameChristopher Ballew
Born (1965-05-28) May 28, 1965 (age 56)
OriginSeattle, Washington, U.S.
GenresAlternative rock, post-grunge, power pop, grunge, pop punk
Instrumentsvocals, bass, basitar, guitar, keyboards
Years active1986–present
Associated actsThe Presidents of the United States of America, the Minus 5, Chris and Tad, Caspar Babypants

Christopher Ballew (born May 28, 1965) is an American musician and was lead singer of the alternative rock group the Presidents of the United States of America. He also performs as a children's artist under the pseudonym Caspar Babypants.

Biography[edit]

Ballew grew up in Seattle and attended middle and high school at Bush School where he met Dave Dederer, with whom he would later form the Presidents of the United States of America. In the late 1980s and early ‘90s Ballew lived in Boston, where he performed as a street musician in a duo called Egg with Phil Franklin (later of Caroliner Rainbow and Sunburned Hand of the Man).[1] Many of Ballew's songs with Egg would become well-known Presidents songs, most notably “Naked and Famous”, which is performed by Egg as a bonus track on a 2005 reissue of the Presidents' eponymous debut album. The two members of Egg were also part of the experimental triple-bass guitar ensemble Balls, which released a 12" EP in 1991. While in Boston, Ballew also played briefly with Mary Lou Lord, and with Mark Sandman of Treat Her Right and Morphine in a duo called Supergroup, in which they developed the oddly stringed instruments that would become a staple of both the Presidents' and Morphine's sound.

Ballew moved to Los Angeles in the early ‘90s where he shared an apartment with alternative artist Beck and played in his live band. Ballew told Seattle Weekly that playing with Beck "was the beginning of my professional career as a guy getting paid to make music."[2] He returned to his native Washington in 1993 and started the Presidents of the United States of America. The band released six studio albums, then split up in July 2015.

In 1998, Ballew released a solo album credited to the Giraffes. The recording project turned into a band between 1999 and 2000. The live version of the Giraffes was Jason Staczek (organ, clarinet) and Mike Musburger (drums).[3]

In 2009, Ballew launched a project targeted toward toddlers called Caspar Babypants.[4] Ballew uses a three-string acoustic guitar when performing Caspar Babypants songs. To date, Caspar Babypants has released seventeen full-length albums, all with exclamatory titles such as Here I Am!, More Please!, This Is Fun!, Sing Along!, Hot Dog!, I Found You!, Baby Beatles!, Rise And Shine!, Night Night!, Beatles Baby!, "Away We Go!", "Winter Party!", "Jump For Joy!", "Keep It Real!", "Flying High!", "Bug Out!" and "Happy Heart!". Ballew will be releasing the 19th and final Caspar Babypants album sometime in 2022.

In 2015, 15 years after the last official release, Chris Ballew put together We Hear Music, a 33-track double album consisting of previously unreleased Giraffes material. The album was shared privately with a few fans through the internet, with a note allowing the recipients to redistribute the music freely.[5]

Equipment[edit]

During his time with the Presidents, Ballew was endorsed by Epiphone Guitars and Orange amplifiers, utilising an Epiphone SG-400 guitar (converted into a two-string "basitar") as well as an AD200B MK 3 200-Watt Bass Head from Orange. No distortion pedals are used live, just the natural distortion of the amp is heard. Regarding his two-string "basitar", Ballew admits: "I'm technically not really a bass player, although, I play as if I'm playing bass lines, a lot of times I strum like (on a) guitar and make chords.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Ballew is married to collage artist Kate Endle.[7]

Discography[edit]

With the Presidents of the United States of America:

With Balls:

  • We Will Grow On You (1990, Elaterium Records) – only 300 LPs printed

With EGG:

  • "Emotional Cowboy" on the compilation EP A Kinder, Gentler Genocide (Wasted Effort Records, 1990)

As Caspar:

  • Lint Cake (1991, Raw Poo Music)
  • Sonic Uke (1993, Raw Poo Music)
  • Caspar (1996, Raw Poo Music)

With Caspar and Mollusk (aka Chris & Beck):

  • Caspar and Mollusk (1995, Cosmic Records)

With Supergroup (aka Chris & Mark Sandman):

  • Supergroup (1995, Cosmic Records, 45 rpm single)

With the Minus 5:

With the Giraffes:

With the Tycoons:

  • Is It Christmas Yet? (1998, Collective Fruit)

With Chris and Tad:

With SUbSET (aka PUSA & Sir Mix-A-Lot):

  • Addicted to the Fame (2000, MusicBlitz.com)

With Chris Ballew and Friends:

  • Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS): Sing with a Child (2002)

With Creepy Stick:

  • Creepy Stick (2005)

With the Feelings Hijackers:

  • T.F.H. (2005)
  • Skeletal Remains (2007)

As Caspar Babypants:

  • Here I Am! (2009)
  • More Please! (2009)
  • PEPS Sing A Long! (2010) (Download only)
  • This Is Fun! (2010)
  • Sing Along! (2011)
  • Hot Dog! (2012)
  • I Found You! (2012)
  • Baby Beatles (2013)
  • Rise and Shine! (2014)
  • Night Night! (2015)
  • Beatles Baby! (2015)
  • Away We Go! (2016)
  • Winter Party! (2016)
  • Jump For Joy! (2017)
  • Sleep Tight! (2018)
  • Fun Favorites! (2018)
  • Keep It Real! (2018)
  • Flying High! (2019)
  • Bug out! (2020)
  • Happy Heart! (2020)
  • Easy Breezy! (2021)

Solo work:

  • My First Computer (2003)
  • Like to Boogie (2004)
  • Run world, run. (2005) (A soundtrack to a short Flash advertisement for Brooks Running.)
  • I Am Not Me (2021)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chris Ballew Bandography, accessed August 19, 2010.
  2. ^ Marco Collins picks up the pieces, 28 December 2010, retrieved 2014-04-13
  3. ^ "Songography - the Giraffes (Chris Ballew from the Presidents of the USA / PUSA) Hurley) - is It Christmas Yet?".
  4. ^ Chris Ballew's Back With Caspar Babypants, archived from the original on 2009-05-05, retrieved 2009-04-30
  5. ^ "Giraffes - We Hear Music - 2CD Unreleased Studio Album |".
  6. ^ Singing Bassist interview with Chris Ballew', 9 June 2009, retrieved 2010-08-06
  7. ^ Two New Children's Books from Kate and Caspar, archived from the original on 2011-12-14, retrieved 2011-12-21

External links[edit]