Ballew in 2005
|Birth name||Christopher Ballew|
|Born||May 28, 1965|
|Origin||Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
|Genres||Alternative rock, post-grunge, power pop, grunge, pop punk|
|Instruments||vocals, bass, basitar, guitar, keyboards|
|Associated acts||The Presidents of the United States of America, Balls, EGG, Caspar and Mollusk, Supergroup, The Minus 5, The Giraffes, The Tycoons, Chris and Tad, The Feelings Hijackers, Subset, Caspar Babypants|
Christopher "Chris" Ballew (born May 28, 1965) is an American musician best known as the former lead singer and 'basitarist' 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.
Ballew grew up in Seattle and attended middle and high school at The 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). 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." He returned to his native Washington in 1993 and started the Presidents of the United States of America. The band released six studio albums before splitting up in 2016.
In 1998, Ballew released a solo album credited to The Giraffes. The band has been performing live since 2000 with the help of Jason Staczek (organ, clarinet) and Mike Musburger (drums).
In 2009, Ballew launched a project targeted toward toddlers called Caspar Babypants. Ballew uses a three-string acoustic guitar when performing Caspar Babypants songs. To date, Caspar Babypants has released eleven full-length albums; Here I Am!, More Please!, This Is Fun!, Sing Along!, Hot Dog!, I Found You!, Baby Beatles!, Rise And Shine!, Night Night!, Beatles Baby!, and Away We Go!.
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.
Ballew is 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.
Ballew is married to collage artist Kate Endle.
- The Presidents of the United States of America (1995, Sony)
- II (1996, Sony)
- Rarities (1997, Import)
- Pure Frosting (1998, Sony)
- Lump (2000, Sony Special Product)
- Freaked Out and Small (2000, Music Blitz)
- Love Everybody (2004, PUSA Inc)
- These Are the Good Times People (2008, PUSA Inc)
- Kudos to You! (2014, PUSA Inc)
- 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
- Supergroup (1995, Cosmic Records, 45 rpm single)
- With The Minus 5
- With The Giraffes
- 13 Other Dimensions (1998, My Own Planet)
- The Days Are Filled with Years (2000, Orange Recordings)
- Zero Friction (2000)
- We Hear Music (2015)
- With The Tycoons
- With Chris and Tad
- With SUbSET (aka PUSA & Sir Mix-A-Lot)
- Addicted To The Fame (2000, MusicBlitz.com)
- With Chris Ballew and Friends
- With Creepy Stick
- Creepy Stick (2005)
- T.F.H. (2005)
- Skeletal Remains (2007)
- 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)
- Solo work
- My First Computer (2003)
- Like to Boogie (2004)
- Run world, run. (2005) (A soundtrack to a short Flash advertisement for Brooks Running.)
- Chris Ballew Bandography, accessed August 19, 2010.
- Marco Collins picks up the pieces, retrieved 2014-04-13
- Chris Ballew's Back With Caspar Babypants, retrieved 2009-04-30
- Singing Bassist interview with Chris Ballew', retrieved 2010-08-06
- Two New Children's Books from Kate and Caspar, archived from the original on 2011-12-14, retrieved 2011-12-21
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chris Ballew.|