Chris Wallace of The White Tie Affair
Currently trekking coast to coast on tour with Kill Hannah, The Medic Droid and InnerParty System, The White Tie Affair are enjoying every step of the way. The band (Chris Wallace on vocals, Sean-P on guitar and programming, Ryan Cook on bass, Ryan Hollywood on keys and vocals and Tim McLaughlin on drums) released their album “Walk this Way” in April of this year and have been introducing themselves to willing crowds ever since, building a fanbase that can’t seem to get enough. With a sound described as Maroon 5 on crack, their catchy songs and energy level are infectious, one song is the start of a full on additiction.
Self diagnosed as having musical A.D.D., it’s this affliction that adds to the band’s dynamic. With sounds ranging from pop to dance to rock their album encompasses it all and offers up a little bit for even the most finicky music fan. With each member having their own collection of influences and favorites, the album is a recipe for a full on down home dance party. The programming mixed with the melodic flair and harmonies of the band offers up something very unique to the senses, so put on your dancing shoes and a smile, and check these guys out.
Interviewed by: Ellen Leonard | August 2008
Let’s start at the beginning. How did the band name come about? I’m sure you get asked this a lot but I swear I’m genuinely curious!
You really want to know? It’s kind of messed up, actually. I was listening to a lot of pop music, like Prince and Panic at the Disco type stuff, and I was thinking I wanted a band name that was going to stand out, but something that’s real formal sounding and something that would give me an excuse to wear dress clothes and stuff like that. Basically, I typed in a bunch of key words on Google, and eventually came up with The White Tie Affair a couple of pages in. It actually only took like twenty minutes. The headline was like “White Tie Affair, the most formal of all events” and I liked that, it has a nice ring to it. You know what’s weird? A lot of kids actually don’t realize that it’s a formal event, and they think it’s like an affair, adultery or something.
Well I instantly thought of a formal event, if it makes you feel any better! I figured you’d be sharp dressed and all!
Then you’re like nah they don’t dress up at all! We do dress up a little bit every once in a while, but we try not to go too over the top with it, because that just gets expensive.
That’s actually a good segue into my next question! My friend just saw you in Connecticut, and I am a huge Justin Timberlake fan, you guys do a cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Lovestoned” live, which I might recall you not wearing a shirt during, I saw this on Youtube. Where did the idea to cover this song come from?
A lot of people make fun of us and call us a pop band, calling us Justin Timberlake rip offs. So we’re like “oh yeah? We can do Justin Timberlake probably better than he can!” We used to cover a Michael Jackson song, “Billie Jean”. We just like to do upbeat and dancing songs, stuff that people know and they can get into. We like to cover songs that we like, I guess. I’d actually like to flip the script and cover a metal song next or something, one that everybody knows so they can all sing along. And also, with “Lovestoned”, I can beatbox, and so can our guitar player Sean, so we incorporate a lot of beat boxing into that song, so it’s like we’re trying to showcase a different talent that we have I guess. I don’t know how my shirt got off! I don’t know what happened with that! You know what? I think someone before the show dared me to wear no shirt underneath my hoodie! Then eventually, I was so close to the crowd, everybody kind of unzipped it. Then eventually it just came off.
Blame it on the crowd! *laughter*
*laughter* That led to a lot of fondling and things like that, it was really weird for me but whatever.
You mean you don’t get fondled often on stage?
You know what, usually my shirts on, and people don’t want to stick their hands down my pants.
That’s a bit much!
That’s what I’m sayin! It’s like “alright, I’m not a ho!”
But you’re pimpin’ your music!
That’s true. Very true. I am. I am shameless in promoting us. Even if people didn’t like my music, I try to make them like me. After shows I ask people what they thought of our band and they’ll be like “eh it was alright!”, I’ll start a conversation with them, and usually by the end of it they’ll buy a CD or take a sticker and say thanks for talking to me. I think it could go both ways, I don’t know. I think it’s fun!
Your debut album, “Walk This Way” was released a few months back and the cover has a picture of a woman’s legs wearing classic high top Chucks. Who’s idea was it to make the cover this way, and what inspired the name?
That was Sean and I. We wanted an iconic picture for our cover. We wanted something sexy, but not too sexy. We also really like shoes. So basically the idea for the cover was, we wanted any guy to look at it and go “Wow those are some sexy legs, I’d like to see the rest of that picture” then for the girls it was like “Look at those cool shoes!” I think it works both ways. You know that Rolling Stones cover where it’s like the zipper? We wanted something like that. The name of the CD is a lyric in one of our songs called “Scene Change”. The song says “Wear these clothes, walk this way, do what they say”, kind of like following everyone. I feel like our music is something a little bit different and more of an adventure. We’re kind of saying walk this way instead of following what everybody else is doing. It’s also a great song by Aerosmith! It’s a catchy name. When you see us live, I do have scarves on my microphone too, so…
You’re like well I have nothing more to say about that!
Nah! Hinder has bras all over their mic stand!
You know what?! For the first time the other day, there were three pairs of panties thrown on stage in New York! I was like holy shit is that really panties being thrown on stage? And it was! I felt like Tom Jones for a second!
What was the recording process like?
We recorded it in LA with Matt Mahaffey, he did the Hellogoodbye record and Forever The Sickest Kid’s record. We had like a month to do it, so it was nice to have a lot of time. We actually stayed out there. Sean and I wrote “Candle” and “The Way Down” while we were recording. It was very inspirational, the recording process. We thought we had the album done, and then we started working on new stuff that we felt so better and decided to go with those. Sean and I write all the songs. We were there recording the majority of the time, it wasn’t the whole band, it was mostly just us. The rest of the band came in for the last couple of weeks. The first two weeks was just us doing preproduction and getting things squared away.
Your music is like a cross between Panic at the Disco and Metro Station. Do either of those bands influence your music at all? Who are some of your other musical influences?
I listen to a lot of Prince, Stevie Wonder, Queen, Guns N Roses, which is the curveball for that one I guess. But those are like my biggest influences. If you put all those up in one, I’d honestly say that is more of a realistic persona of The White Tie Affair.
If you had to describe your music to someone who has never heard it before, what would you say?
Maroon 5 on crack! Or maybe cocaine. Or any other drug that really hops you up. Or even a case of Red Bull!
The White Tie Affair – Walk This Way
You’re wrapping up a tour soon with Kill Hannah. What has it been like touring with them? Who would be your dream band to play with?
Dream band would be Guns N Roses reunited. The tour has been great! It’s actually the longest tour we’ve ever been on. It’s six weeks long total, and it’s been trying I guess because we now know that we can tour together for
six weeks and not kill each other, which is a big task I think! Especially with a lot of males on tour together. We really get along well, it’s cool. Kill Hannah’s really nice. They’re like veterans, they’ve been in it for a long time! Any question you’ve got, or any experience you think you’ve gone through, they’ve been through it twenty times over. The Medic Droid guys are really good friends of ours, we’ve been on tour with them before. Actually, last night, they tarred and feathered our van! They put honey all over it, then I think it’s powdered sugar, and then threw feathers all over it! It’s literally tarred and feathered! That shit is not coming off any time soon! It’s even on the door handles and shit, when I open them there’s still honey on them.
Tell me about some crazy experiences you’ve had on tour?
For me personally, we were playing two shows with Cyndi Lauper and the B-52s, as part of the True Colors tour. It’s a big gay rights tour. At the second show, I look over to my right while we’re playing on stage, and there’s Cyndi Lauper and Rosie O’Donnell watching our set! I thought that was cool! How often do you look to the right and Rosie O’Donnell is watching you and bobbing her head to your music! They watched our entire set! It made me feel weird and uncomfortable, but it was awesome. That was probably the coolest moment.
How about your fans, have they done anything to wow you? How about freak you out?
A couple of fans have made signs, it’s like a dose of what bands like The Backstreet Boys get. They’ve made us things like cakes before, which was really cool. I love it when the fans are just singing along and
are really into it, and they’re trying to get the rest of the crowd into it. As far as weird, like I said earlier, when the fans grabbed me in several areas of my body… But I don’t know, in the heat of the moment, you might do the same thing, so, I don’t know!
Heyyy! What’s your favorite thing about being on tour other then the obvious reasons? Tell me something below the surface.
Being on tour is like a free vacation, really! We stop at all the scenic outlooks. Everything that we have time to stop and see, we do like the space needle, we saw that the other day in Seattle. I’d say doing a lot of the touristy type things is probably my favorite thing so far. The obvious reasons are playing in front of people and thousands of fans, but right now it’s like all these places are new to me. I love hearing people’s accents! Especially when you go to like, New Jersey. I love how they say coffee! “You guys want some cawffeeee?” *laughter*
The video for “Mr. Right” has some pretty bizarre party going on! Can you tell me a little bit about the video and the concept?
What we did is we actually had a party. Most of those people are friends, and friends of friends. I have a friend who works for MTV so he rounded up a bunch of women and had a party. We filmed us playing the song a hundred times! That’s pretty much what it was, us having a good time with everybody. We just wanted something crazy and risqué, and it ended up being even more risqué then I thought it would be. A lot of people say
it’s like Fiona Apple’s “Criminal” mixed with Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle” Video.
It reminds me of Panic at the Disco, with the masquerade masks.
Oh yeah! I’ll go with that! The reason we had the masks was because the girls weren’t that pretty. *laughter* we had the girls and we were like “oh this isn’t going to work out, put a mask on her!” *laughter* I’m just joking!
Completely joking! We don’t discriminate at all! The video just ended up being how it was. The budget was really small, it was barely anything, we just kind of had good people to help put it together. It was definitely fun.
Now let’s talk about your latest video, “Candle”. Tell me a little bit about the concept for that one?
It was actually the next morning! It was supposed to be a continuation after the party. Basically, the sun was coming up, and we just kept filming for the next video. I got in the car and drove down the hill. It
was really weird to drive and sing at the same time! I managed, I didn’t run into anything. I’m a really good driver. The girl in the car with me was a friend of my friend Sean’s. She’s actually a backup dancer for Beyonce! She was on the Grammy’s and I was like “Oh my god that’s Heather!” We’re all friends. It’s really cool going through large experiences. A lot of these experiences are new for the other people so it’s good to make friends and go through these things together. The video was the first time I ever shot a video and lip-synched or anything like that. It was really awesome.
The videos on your YouTube channel are hilarious! Who’s idea what it to start those? What has been the response to them?
I think it’s been good! We like to have fun no matter what. We’ve been on some shitty tours, where there’s like two people there. Instead of being all depressed about it, we just have fun. Most of the time we’re fucking off and have nothing to do. We’re just bored, so we figured we might as well film it! Especially Sean, our guitar player, he’s a big prankster! He’s got A.D.D. worse than all of us. Most of the videos are him just doing crazy shit. I think there’s a couple of videos where he pulls his pants down and tries to hitchhike on the side of the highway, which is pretty amazing. The idea behind it was to just show the fans a different side of us. And sometimes our back side!
What are your thoughts on the current music industry?
It’s better than it’s ever been. The internet allows people like us to get discovered and not have to play a million shows to do it. Someone like Soulja Boy can put out a song on MySpace, and become world famous because of it. I think those are like the highlights, but it also creates a melting pot of music, kind of make things fast in shorter amounts of time. It’s so great. I’m for downloading music, even though I’m in the music industry, but I love the fact that if you have an iPod, you can listen to George Michael one second, then listen to Panic at the Disco another second. I love how technology has totally thrown a curve ball at the music industry that they have to recover from. It keeps everyone on their toes.
What is your ultimate goal as a band?
Just to have longevity, to keep producing albums that evolve with the fans. I’d like to say that ten years from now I’m still touring and playing music. It’s like right now I’m kind of living the dream. I could not have imagined how it would be two years ago, how it is now. I’d just love to keep doing what I’m doing.
What can we expect from The White Tie Affair in the near future?
You can expect us to be touring for the next year probably, to be a guest on a popular MTV reality show; I think it’s like the number one show on cable right now. Audrina from The Hills works at Epic Records, so she actually threw a party for us. You might expect to see us on that channel sometime soon. It should be cool, if not, that’s cool too. Actually, you know what’s fucked up? We were watching The Hills the other day, not that we all sit around and watch The Hills, and Audrina was asked what her favorite music is, and she goes “oh I listen to Alkaline Trio, Hyper
Crush, and this new band The White Tie Affair, they’re really good!” and I was like “whatttttt?! I totally name dropped that!” It felt good deep inside.
Any last words for the fans?
Don’t be afraid to come say hi to me at shows! I wonder around most of the time looking for people to talk to! Please entertain me!