The story of pop singer Chris Wallace is a combination “Cinderella story” and “local boy makes good” story. It's likely to make area fans dash to download music from this regional singer/songwriter to help make him a household name.
Wallace grew up on the shoreline of Lake Eliza, graduated in 2004 from Boone Grove High School, and parlayed his passion for singing Queen songs while driving to a lead vocalist gig with local rock bands Avenue and A Perfect Gentleman.
Wallace has since moved on to pop stardom and a new address in Los Angeles as the writer and voice of the Top 40 hit “Remember When (Push Rewind)” from his debut solo CD “Push Rewind," via indie label ThinkSay Records. Wallace revealed a former girlfriend from the region who was not keen about his desire to make music his profession inspired him to write the song which looks to be his ticket to the big leagues.
“All of this really started when I was about 14. I broke my collarbone playing in a traveling soccer league when I was in high school,” recalled Wallace while chatting as he cruised down to an L.A. studio where he was meeting with a big name pop artist (who Wallace would not identify) to write and produce a song for her new album.
“I had decided that was enough of sports and asked my parents for a guitar.” Wallace studied guitar tabs, copied famous solos, and hoped to one day shred strings like his favorite guitar icons Jimmy Page and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Along the way Wallace discovered a passion for singing and would often duet with Freddie Mercury while jamming to old Queen albums in his car. “I spent a lot of time driving while living in Indiana, and singing along to Freddie was great training,” said Wallace.
“You know how sometimes you have one of those ‘full circle moments’? Well, this is one of those moments for me,” laughed Wallace. “When I heard your name, ‘Tom Lounges,’ it was like, ‘I know you.’ I remember when I was about 17 and singing in the (region) band Avenue. You did an interview with our band for an article. Now, here we are talking again.”
Things have changed in the years since the former Hoosier rocker would read “The Local Scene” in The Times and make trips to Guitar Center or Rubino’s Music in Merrillville to pick up copies of my old monthly publication, “The Midwest BEAT Magazine,” hoping to find mentions of his bands. Wallace has now become a powerful force in pop music as “Remember When (Push Rewind)” continues climbing higher up the Billboard Top 40 chart, putting him in the company of Maroon 5, Rihanna, One Direction, Taylor Swift, Pink, and Bruno Mars. At press time the song was nestled in at #17 on the Billboard "Heatseekers" chart and at #30 on the Billboard Pop Chart.
“I was always in the harder rock bands growing up because that’s the scene in (Northwest) Indiana. The bands who played more rock based stuff, the heavier stuff, are the only ones who ever got booked,” said Wallace. “But I always loved pop music growing up, so when I started going to Purdue, I started a pop (music) side project and wrote songs in the bedroom at my mom’s house.”
Like many of today’s fresh, young stars, including that Bieber boy, Wallace’s run of pop fame began after one of those songs posted on the Internet went viral in 2007. After having the song dismissed as being “too pop” by members of his then harder rocking band, A Perfect Gentleman, Wallace decided to trust his gut and the solid advice of a buddy who liked the song and thought it should be recorded and posted on MySpace.
“After we put it online, it just exploded,” recalled Wallace. “The Web is a very powerful thing. It’s this huge network of people who get to decide if something is good or not. You see it happening more and more every day. Artists are getting careers started on the Internet. That’s what happened to me. Within days of posting that song, I was getting calls from all these major record labels. I was signed about two weeks later. It was just crazy how fast it all happened. My life changed overnight.”
When the song – “Allow Me to Introduce Myself…Mr. Right” – caught fire and landed Wallace a major label contract with Epic Records, he co-founded a new band called The White Tie Affair (TWTA) with Northwest Indiana guitarist/programmer Sean Patwell. TWTA became part of the Chicago “emo” scene spearheaded by the group Fall Out Boy and toured almost incessantly with many top pop artists.
The band performed in 2008 on the Midwest dates of the “Second Annual True Colors Tour” and the following year were pegged as the opening act for the genre’s reigning diva, Lady Gaga, for her “The Fame Ball Tour.”
After about four years and two internationally released albums with The White Tie Affair, Wallace began work on his debut solo album, “Push Rewind,” for which he played most instruments and handled most of the production work. The singer said his move to go solo came about because some of The White Tie Affair members became a bit weary of life on the road and wanted to settle down. Such was not the case with Wallace.
“There has never been anything I’ve wanted to do as much (as music). I moved to San Diego about two years ago and then moved to L.A. about a year ago,” said Wallace about why he stepped out solo and relocated to the West Coast. “I moved here, honestly, just because it’s a real melting pot of people who are trying to do what I do and it gives me the opportunity to meet them, write with them, and network."
As his album’s first single, “Remember When (Push Rewind),” continues to climb up the national charts making Wallace a “VH1 Buzz Artist,” the singer is now speculating which tune he should release as his follow-up single. Psssst, he is currently leaning towards “Keep Me Crazy.”
Since his mid-November national TV debut with “Remember When (Push Rewind) on “VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live,” Wallace was interviewed on the red carpet in Los Angeles at the American Music Awards. For the last several weeks he has been on a whirlwind national radio tour, doing interviews and on some stops live performances. Wallace’s upcoming plans include an extended concert tour doing both headline dates and a series of support dates with a big name act that he says he cannot yet reveal.
“It’ll be fun,” Wallace said. “I really like touring, so I don’t plan on being home too much during the next year or two.” Given that Wallace has been hailed by the pop music media at large as “the male equivalent of Katy Perry,” it seems safe to say this Lake County native son’s star is clearly on the rise. More: www.chriswallacemusic.com