Chris Ballew of The Presidents of the United States of America never set out to become Caspar Babypants.
But in the past two years, he’s made three albums of music for children 5 and younger and their parents.
“I want to provide new parents with some quality music they can enjoy with their baby or toddler,” said Ballew, who is playing Saturday in Olympia. “They are tired. They need some audio relief.”
The tiny tunes for tiny tots are playful – some sweet, some sweetly funny. (“Mary and Her Friends” details the pets of each: “Jerry had a porcupine Barry had a chickadee.”)
So how did the Seattle artist find his way from rocking out with the likes of “Lump” to carving tunes from raw ideas?
He didn’t just decide one day to play children’s music. Rather, he was looking for music that fit him and his style.
“I was on a quest to find a palette of sounds and imagery that felt like me, that felt like home,” he said. “I was close with the Presidents but not there. It was a step.”
“It had to be simple and it had to be acoustic and it had to be imaginative and of another world,” he added. “I found that combination, and I listened to it, and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s kids’ music.’”
He began writing and recording the songs in 2008, and he’s moving at quite a pace, with his third album, “This Is Fun,” due out Tuesday.
Of last year’s “More Please,” Stefan Shepherd of NPR’s “All Things Considered” had this to say: “Presidents fans will recognize the goofy sense of humor but may be surprised at how clean and friendly the music is.”
Goofy lyric sample, from “Poor Dust Bunnies,” a cut from the first Babypants album, “Here I Am”: “Next to the heat vent/Stuck there for days/They have a problem/They don’t have any way to move.”
Reached at his home earlier this week, Ballew was already working on album No. 4. “I think I’m going to pop one out every November for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Intentional or not, he sounds like he’s talking about pregnancy. “It is kind of like having a baby,” he said.
He’s also popping out more ways to help children’s causes. The Olympia concert is a benefit for the Child Care Action Council, and next month he’ll offer an exclusive track on his website to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Ballew targets his tunes at the youngest of kids.
“I don’t want to get into being too silly or too boingy,” he said. “I don’t want to sing about things that are cool, or ‘what are you going to be when you grow up?’ or educational songs.
“I’m not interested in singing for older kids, because then it has to be about poop and boogers and fire engines, and I have no interest in that.”
If this audience just found him, so did the moniker that goes with it.
“It was a nickname I had in the early ’90s,” he said. He had taken to calling himself Caspar, and then he found himself in need of a headcovering.
“One winter, I had no hat, and I found a pair of knitted baby pants at a free store, and they fit perfectly on my head,” he said. “I had forgotten about it, but when I started doing this music and was thinking about a name, I remembered, and I realized, ‘That’s it. I’ve already got it.’”