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Presidents of U.S.A. on comeback trail

During the mid-1990s, Seattle's Presidents of the United States of America were a fixture on rock radio. A rare grunge-less Seattle export during the hey-day of flannel-clad angst, the Presidents' “Lump” and “Peaches” were virtually inescapable. The witty pop-rock trio cranked out memorable covers – its version of “Cleveland Rocks” was adopted as the theme to “The Drew Carey Show,” and its cover of the Buggles' “Video Killed the Radio Star” was featured in “The Wedding Singer.” Yet by 1998, the band had called it quits. “The travel was getting to be too much. Kids were starting to get born,” explains drummer Jason Finn, 40. “(Frontman) Chris (Ballew) didn't think it was an option to take a year or two. He felt backed into a corner to the extent where he had to break the band up. That certainly accomplished what we needed – to reset the barometers.” After a brief reformation from 2000 to 2002, the band regrouped in 2004 and released new (yet equally snappy and smart) material on its own label, PUSA. On Friday, the Presidents will play Tremont Music Hall, their first show in Charlotte since playing the uptown Food Lion Speed Street racing festival in 2003 opposite a legend of sorts. “On the stage facing ours, playing at the same time, was David Lee Roth,” recalls Finn. “It was amazing.” Though Finn says the Presidents are now “a full-time part-time band,” the Presidents increased their activity in March, releasing the new album “These Are the Good Times People” on Fugitive Recordings and embarking on an extensive tour. Maybe laying low for a decade wasn't such a bad idea considering the recent spate of 1990s-era bands that have resurfaced and found success. In addition to the Presidents, Australian teen-grunge trio Silverchair, which played The End's Not So Acoustic Xmas in December, has grown into a formidable theatrical pop outfit; Blind Melon has played here twice in the past six months; Filter plays Amos' Wednesday; and the reunited Stone Temple Pilots headline Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in August. “There is a '90s revival, as The End has done many ‘Nothing But '90s Weekends,'” says Jack Daniel, program director at WEND-FM 106.5. “We also air the '90s lunch with Chris Rozak every weekday at (noon).” “But just being a '90s band and releasing a new record though is not enough. Listeners demand that the music be quality,” says Daniel. “Not all '90s bands have come back successfully.” Finn, for one, recognizes that the Presidents won't be getting the same radio support that they used to, although stations like 106.5 are still playing the band's old songs. “I love that ‘Peaches' (still) gets played. But we're realistic,” Finn says. “We know it's not going to be like it was.”

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