MTV and Entertainment Weekly are comparing newcomer singer-songwriter Chris Wallace to two of the biggest names in the music industry, Katy Perry and The Wanted. Entertainment Weekly also described Wallace’s album as “the best pop album you probably haven’t discovered yet.” Another magazine called him the male version of Pink. He may be fresh on the music scene as a solo artist, but he has already built up a loyal fan base. One thing’s for sure: he is going to go far.
(photo credit msopr.com)
Earlier this year Wallace announced he was going solo and has since been touring and making appearances everywhere - including on VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz Live” in NYC, college campuses, and radio stations – promoting his first solo album, Push Rewind.
The Indiana-native has come a long way from where he used to be during his days as the lead singer and guitarist for pop/electronica band The White Tie Affair, which broke up a year ago. The band shared the stage with Cyndi Lauper, the B-52′s and toured with Lady Gaga, as well as doing a stint on the Warped Tour. The type of music Wallace sang as the lead singer for the band is a far cry from the kind of music he’s singing now. The White Tie Affair’s “Watching You” is way more rock and “busy” than Wallace’s first solo single, “Remember When (Push Rewind).” A lyrically-sad song paired with upbeat dance melodies, it describes his wish to go back in time and repair a relationship; it was posted to YouTube four and a half months ago and has already been viewed more than 500,000 times.
The single is climbing the iTunes Pop Singles chart, where it currently sits at #82, and making its way into the ears of music lovers everywhere. All 12 songs on Push Rewind are cleverly catchy, making for a very “listenable” album all the way through.
Here Wallace opens up about why he decided to go solo, who inspires him musically, and the surprising female trait he can’t resist.
You were the lead guitarist for The White Tie Affair and have now gone solo. Why did you decide to break away and make a name on your own? Is there anything you miss about being in a group?
I got my record deal… basically I started a band. I was in a band before and I basically wanted to write pop music and the band was more rock. The band wasn’t into the songs I was writing, the pop music, so I kind of started a side project on my own and I wrote this song in my bedroom in my mom’s house and I literally put it on the internet and two weeks later I had every major record label wanting to sign me.
How did it feel when you saw that all the record labels wanted to sign you?
My life pretty much changed overnight. I was in some bands and I’d done some shows. I had been in band and performing since I was 14. I was in college at the time and I took a hard right turn and thought, “Okay, I’m gonna do this.” When I got with the record label they said yeah you should start a band.
The other guys were kind of done touring and traveling. One had a family and one got married. They were kind of done with it. I thought about using the name, but I wanted to start new.
There isn’t really anything I miss. I was kind of a solo artist in the middle of a band. It was cool because you had friends and whatever, but it’s a lot easier not having a democracy.
What venue has been your favorite place to perform at?
The Gorge [Amphitheater] in Washington state, that one was pretty cool. The scenery is really cool. I actually prefer club venues because you’re closer to the people, and, like, the big area stuff is kinda displaced from the fans.
(photo credit facebook.com)
How has it been touring with Andy Grammer?
It was great. I’d definitely done a lot of touring before and I’m not a stranger to touring. This was the first time I got to play my solo stuff. It was the first time I ever got out to play it. The first show or the second show I was like this is my first show as an artist. It was really cool to do that.
I read that you’re a fan of Freddie Mercury of Queen, and Prince. Are there any other musicians you draw inspiration from? Are there any you would like to work with in the future?
I grew up listening to a lot of that stuff – I guess growing up I listen to a lot of older music now. I still find myself listening to the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Current artists, I really like Pink.
I read that you’ve been compared to the male version of Pink… how do you feel about that?
I really like that because she’s really…. there’s a lot of artists that take songs and sings them, and she writes her songs and she’s in them. I write my songs and they’re me and there’s all of me in them. She’s real; she’s the real deal. To be associated with that is like oh, okay. It’s really cool.
So if you had to pick two artists you want to work with in the future, who would it be?
Two artists to work with in the future, I’d like to work with Pink. The other would be a curve ball, it would be Paul McCartney.
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
They’re all like my babies, I guess, you know? One thing I do learn in music is I spend a lot of time writing and rewriting them, so I don’t know. Currently the one with the most sentiment to me is “I’ll Be There.” I got the original idea from once we started touring and traveling, I really lost sight of a lot of the people in my life and, you know, it’s hard when you’re on the road and away from everything to really have a grasp on your life. You’re living in this odd fantasy and so it’s hard to stay connected with “I gotta call my mom twice a week” and “I gotta make sure to keep up with these friends that I normally hang out with.” So I wrote that song kind of saying, like, when this happens again I’m gonna be there for them. And that’s what it’s about – it’s definitely geared more towards a girlfriend situation [laughs], but it’s definitely about friends and family as well.
Some of your songs are obviously more catchy than others - for example Remember When, Keep Me Crazy, Don’t Mind If I Do – what is the secret to writing a song with lyrics that will get stuck in your head so easily?
I don’t know, I think it’s the melody actually. I’ve always loved melody and I’ve always had an inkling of ADD [laughs] and even as a child I would make up songs and it would be similar to some of the songs I’d heard. I always have a song in my head. “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas” song is in my head right now. Maybe that’s just the way I’m wired. I just love melodies. A lot of it is the melody, part of it is the lyrics. I spend a lot of time working on great melodies. “Remember When” – the idea with that is I had this melody in my head and I was driving down the [Interstate] 10 in LA – I just had this rhythm in my head, it was a melody. Then I put the words to it. It was really just the melody. It’s also like I’ll write it and rewrite it until it’s catchy and as good as I want it to be. It’s a lot of work but it’s also like, you gotta kind of.. you gotta be real with yourself. Is this good for yourself? So I’ll write something and be like “Ahh, I think I could make it better.” It’s a lot patience.
If I were to look at your iPod, which artists would I find?
Probably the Beatles.
What is your favorite Beatles song?
A lot of them. It’s easy to just go to the classics. I just got into them a year and half ago. I thought they were old and not that into it, then I listened to them and it clicked, everything changed. I got better as a person. I also like Billy Joel, his greatest hits. And the new Maroon 5 and Pink albums.
(photo credit don411.com)
Outside of music, what is your guilty pleasure? How do you relax?
I moved to California maybe three years ago and I started surfing. I had a place on the beach and I started surfing. I’d surf maybe four or five times a week. Growing up I rode motorcycles, like dirt bikes. I currently own two, but I haven’t recently because everyone is like, “Chris, can you please not ride those motorcycles?” [laughs]
That must be hard for you…
Yeah, I have to discipline myself not to ride. Instead I’ll just write a song. I write music like every day. My job is so fun that it’s not really work.
For the fans wanting to know, are you single or taken? What is your type?
I am single. Actually my favorite type is this girl with red hair. Most of my life I’ve dated brunette girls, but yeah recently, I don’t know why, it’s like oh, I really like girls with red hair. I like strawberry blondes.
So that’s it, you just want her to have red hair, no personality?
[laughs] Personality is huge. She has to be kind of goofy I guess… not goofy, but kind of be willing to do random things. I’m very random, so I’m like hey, let’s go do this and we’ll end up on some odd adventure. I’m very spontaneous.
Would you say there’s anything weird about you?
People tell me I smile a lot. I agree because I’m pretty happy all the time. I’m pretty positive. On the Andy Grammer tour, one of the band members was always like, “Stop smiling, Chris.” I always have a song in my head too. I also love to communicate on social networks.
Yeah, I noticed that when I tweeted you, you actually responded. I was pretty surprised.
Even though I’m doing all these songs all over the radio, I’m still a kid from Indiana who loves music. The fact that anyone wants to comment on me or interview me, that’s cool, but I’m just really happy that I’m doing what I love.
So when can we expect you to tour?
I want to say January or February. I’m gonna do a national tour. I’m excited. I just got off tour and I’m kinda itching to go back out. I finished this tour but I’m still traveling, like in a couple days I’m gonna fly somewhere and do an event. It’s definitely non-stop.
Follow Chris on Twitter, check out his Facebook page, and his website.