About Chris Wallace
-Chris Wallace on growing up in Hebron, Indiana
One of the first things you learn about Chris Wallace is that he dreams BIG. His oversized presence practically screams with confidence and a sense of control beyond his years, and he puts it all on full display as he preps for the release of his first solo album due this summer.
As the front man and guitarist for his previous band, White Tie Affair, Chris made a name for himself on the road, honing his performance and writing skills while touring with the likes of Lady Gaga and on sold-out Warped Tours across the country. As Chris embarks on his solo career he says he has a few guidelines for his new material. “The songs I write and release now all have to have three things that make up my ‘musical DNA’,” he states definitively. “They all have to be honest – I have to feel them. Second, they have to have a melody that moves me and third, they need to hit hard!” Chris is definitely true to these convictions from the start to finish of his debut solo album.
The album’s first single, “Remember When (Push Rewind),” is an explosion of raw energy, infectious hooks and an emotional connection he feels was sometimes lacking in his earlier material. Managing to embrace both pop world melancholy and a heavy beat, Chris brings his vocal pyrotechnics to the forefront of what is sure to be his biggest hit to date.
In talking about the track, Chris explains, “I was dating this girl when I was in my band who I really thought was the one. But as my musical career started taking off, it became clear that we were in different places, (“As my future got bright, we started losing light.”), and we eventually broke up. “’Remember When’ talks about that time when all you really want to do is go back, push rewind, and start all over again.”
While Chris may be able to express his feelings in his music today, it wasn’t always easy for him. Growing up a bashful teenager in the small, tight-knit town of Hebron, Indiana, Chris didn’t always have places to channel his emotions. “There was this small town mentality where most of the guys I knew got their girlfriends pregnant at 18, 19, got married, and settled in for the long haul. It was just assumed I would follow right into my family’s cabinet design business. So, when I said I wanted to play music and do something different, it was much easier for people to put me down rather than be encouraging.”
As a teen, Chris had bigger dreams. To channel his frustrations he began playing lead guitar in local bar bands before he eventually put together his own band, Quad Four. After that, there was no turning back. He added the role of lead vocalist soon after, explaining the transition by saying, “Once I got my first taste of being a front man I couldn’t go back to just playing guitar. I mean, it was actually a way to get paid for singing loud!”
That loud and explosive voice worked to Chris’ advantage, yet again, when he posted a song on MySpace. And that one song was all it took. The track, “Allow Me To Introduce Myself…Mr. Right,” caught the ear of a New York record scout and Chris was soon signed to Epic Records, officially getting him out of Hebron and onto that larger, national stage he always wanted forming the band White Tie Affair.
Chris’ band released their hugely successful, debut album, Walk This Way, and, over the next two years, he gained the reputation as one of the most explosive front men on Top 40 radio to back up the Top 20 Hit – Candle (Sick and Tired) that he had written. Within the band’s first year on the road, they were asked to perform with artists from all across the musical spectrum -- from the Warped Tour to Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Tour –- playing alongside some of their childhood idols. However, it was on Lady Gaga’s Fame Ball Tour that Chris learned a valuable lesson that seemed expressed his own, personal philosophy on how he wanted to make it big in the music business. “I was talking to Lady Gaga backstage and we overheard Guns-N-Roses warming up. Now, here I am with Lady Gaga, a woman who’s already had three number one songs at the time, and we run behind a curtain, giggling like school kids, to watch Axl Rose rehearsing. After awhile she looks over and says to me, ‘That’s the secret to being a successful pop star. You have to be bigger than your songs.’ I totally got it!”
Chris certainly lived up to those words when he released the song that really put his band on the map, the ubiquitous Top 15 smash, “Candle (Sick and Tired).” That song made its way into the public consciousness as an MTV, TRL staple and by its ever-present inclusion in the essential teen show of its day, “The Hills.” Add in heavy radio play and sold out shows across the country, and it looked like Chris’ childhood fantasies of hitting it big were finally coming true. But, he soon experienced that oft-told tale of the downsides to success, especially when it comes so fast.
“My whole life totally changed overnight, but not in the way I thought it would. While I was finally getting the recognition I always dreamed of, for doing what I always wanted to do, the record company stepped in. They wanted us to write and record with who they thought were the ‘best’ producers and writers in the business instead of letting us make our own music. My gut has never been wrong and all of it started feeling wrong to me because there was nothing authentic about that. It wasn’t who I was. Right then, I realized that I didn’t want to be part of a big machine; I wanted to BE the machine. I guess I had some blind optimism that told me I could do it on my own terms.”
Doing it on his own terms meant trusting his instincts and now, with his trademarked excitement and optimism. Chris was determined to do things his way through producing some of his own songs as well as working alongside friend and producer/writer Matt Radosevich (All American Rejects, 30 Seconds To Mars, Hot Chelle Rae, Good Charlotte). Together they have created a blend of pop, dance, rock, and electronic influences that “hit hard” and remain true to Chris’ musical convictions.
“When I write a song it usually starts with a feeling and a mood that I wind up humming as a melody or singing some lyrics into my phone while I’m driving in my car.” (There’s that car again!) “Then I usually go into the studio and fool around with it on the guitar or a piano. My true test is whether what I wind up with has that same feeling that sparked the song originally. If not, I just keep working on it until it’s right.”
Chris wrote the majority of his debut album at the legendary Village Studios in Los Angeles, where he seemed to gain more and more inspiration every day. “My studio was on the 3rd floor and I would walk past all these platinum and gold records on the wall on my way upstairs. There was one day where I walked in and I heard Weezer rehearsing in Studio A, Elton John recording piano and singing in Studio D, and then I high-fived John Mayer as he walks past me! There’s something so completely magical in those walls.
Chris drew from all aspects of his life when creating this album and on the song, “I’ll Be There,” he sums it all up. “In the past, I had been so obsessed trying to get my career going that I kinda lost site of what life and love were all about. “I’ll Be There” is my reminder that, when life gets crazy and everything seems to be going wrong, I have to remember to take a look around. At any given time there are so many people surrounding you who are willing to help. You gotta remember that life and all of its amazing treasures are worthless unless you have people to share it with.”
The result of that awareness is a debut album that showcases the best of what Chris Wallace brings to the musical table. From the anthemic choruses of “Remember When (Push Rewind),” and “Keep Me Crazy,” to the Bill Withers’ throwback style of “Don’t Mind If I Do,” to the ‘I’m-taking-back-my-heart-from-that-girl-who-had-me-fucked-up-for-a-week’ defiance of “Hurricane,” Chris’ debut is proof positive that Chris is staying true to his vision as he sees his early dreams meet a superstar’s reality.
Chris sums up his drive and determination to succeed in simple terms. “People may say I’m shooting for the stars, but at least I’m gonna shoot big. In my heart, I’m always going to be that guy in my car, singing my lungs out, trying to be heard over the radio.”