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  • Interview: The White Tie Affair

    Wed, 15 Apr 2009 11:54:55

    Interview: The White Tie Affair - The White Tie Affair frontman talks working with Wired All Wrong, Lady GaGa's legs and rockin' <i>The</i> Mansion, yes that one...

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    For some bands, just playing Playboy's pajama party would be enough. However, The White Tie Affair have that to their credit and much more, mainly because of their delectable, danceable fusion of pop rock and electronica. Their debut album, Walk this Way, is an explosive concoction of all things musically tasty, and it's bound to get any crowd bouncin' and shakin'. Vocalist Chris Wallace (no, not Biggie) spoke to ARTISTdirect.com about touring with Lady GaGa, rockin' The Mansion and much more in this exclusive interview.

    Would you say your sound is universal enough that you can fit in on a bill with Lady GaGa or on Warped Tour?

    Yeah, exactly, it's kind of weird how it works. The whole Lady GaGa tour was sold out before it even started. It's crazy to be on a sold out tour, with her especially. A lot of people were wondering how we'd work with Lady GaGa, and it seems like it's worked so far. There are between one and two-thousand people there every night, and they're just dancing, having a good time and getting drunk.

    There are a lot of girls there too.

    Definitely! There are a lot of girls and guys.

    How do your songs typically come together?

    We went with our gut sonically on this album. We did what we wanted to do. I've always been a fan of pop music. Everyone's guilty pleasure is pop, whether they like to admit it or not. We're into a lot of local bands from Chicago and Warped Tour-type bands. I think all of those influences are there if you listen for them.

    What was it like working with Wired All Wrong's Matt Mahaffey [Self] and Jeff Turzo [God Lives Underwater]?

    It was actually really cool. We heard what they did with the Hellogoodbye record. I was a fan of Hellogoodbye before we even started this band. They showed us it was okay to go with our guts and just play pop music. They don't fit in with any scene. Matt and Jeff did the Hellogoodbye record. It was crazy working with them because they're geniuses in their own right.

    Were you into either Self or God Lives Underwater?

    I'd heard of God Lives Underwater. I'd seen their crazy videos on MTV back in the day, but I actually hadn't heard of Self. Once I heard it though, I heard why Hellogoodbye went with Matt and Jeff, and it all made sense as to why these guys were the right guys. Their Wired All Wrong stuff is really cool. We'd listen to that all the time.

    Did you like recording in Los Angeles?

    Yeah, we actually did some of the record at Mahaffey's house. We did some of the vocals at his house. Then we did a lot of the tracking at a studio in Burbank. L.A. was definitely a great place to record. We wrote two of the songs on the album while we were recording "Candle (Sick and Tired)" and "On the Way Down." Those were the last two songs written for the record. "Candle" is our single, and it was the last song that was even tracked for the album.

    Since it was recorded last, would you say that "Candle" is indicative of the band's future direction?

    I'd say no actually because we started writing "Candle" probably a year before we recorded Walk this Way. I'd say elements of the song are indicative of where we're going. The electronic elements were definitely the product of a later influence. I think we have ADD musically. We'll say, "We want to write a song like this" or " We want to write a hip hop song." We haven't gotten there yet.

    What's the story behind "If I Fall?"

    That one was our anthemic rock song. It questions fans, asking, "Will you still be there through it all?" It's definitely got some dark elements to it. I think the root of anything is darkness, if you really look behind the glossy surface. That goes for all of our songs in some way. Every one of our songs has a dance beat. Even in "If I Fall," there's a dance kick drum in there. It's almost subconsciously; it's just what we like. The album title resonated with us. It's a lyric from our song "Scene Change." A lot of people think it's an Aerosmith reference, but it's not. It just sounded good, and it felt right. Coincidentally, we are Aerosmith fans. It made sense and came together. It's like, "Walk this way; don't follow everybody else. Open your eyes and maybe look at something new."

    I think the root of anything is darkness, if you really look behind the glossy surface.

    How did the concept for the cover art come about?

    We were just throwing around ideas. We wanted something different that could appeal to guys and girls. What better than a pair of shoes that everybody wears? When people ask me about the cover, I usually tell them it's a picture of Lady GaGa's legs [Laughs]. She said that wasn't her, but she was there in spirit at the photo shoot, and she would've loved to have taken those pictures.

    What's up with your Warped Tour stint this summer?

    Kevin Liman's daughter is a fan of ours, so that's what helped us get on Warped Tour [Laughs]. It's a hard thing to do—especially not being a scene band. Kevin invited us to his house a couple weeks ago. He had a barbecue, and it was really cool. He kind of took us in. That tour opens doors for bands because there are so many great opportunities. There's nothing wrong with all of that eclectic music blending together in one festival.

    You guys have done a lot with Playboy. How has that been?

    [Laughs] That was one of the first major companies to look at us and really take us in. One of Hef's girlfriends at the time, I don't remember which one [Lauhgs], was actually a fan of ours. We pitched it to them like a year and a half ago. One of the girls really liked us. She was like, "Hey, you've got to play the mansion!" So we did. We played the pajama party, and it was amazing. I don't think there are any words that you can use to describe it really. There were four hot 19-26 year-old women for every one guy. We played on stage there, and it was like everyone wanted a piece of us afterwards, literally [Laughs]. We were in the November issue of Playboy. We designed a t-shirt for the "Rock the Rabbits" campaign. There's a lot of love, and we love them back. We always have [Laughs].

    —Rick Florino

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