Going to Harvard is usually is a ticket to success. Wall Street, prestigious law firms and corporate America beckons. Of course, there might be a drop-out like Bill Gates III (Microsoft) but he seems to have done all right. Still, Harvard is not known as breeding ground for musicians.
In '03, David-Andrew (D.A.) Wallach, a Harvard student, auditioned for the drummer slot in group that took its name from sculptor Daniel Chester French - the man who designed the statue at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Wallach didn't get the job, so he tried singing. That worked and he was in.
Chester French went from a five-piece lineup to a duo of Wallach and multi-instrumentalist Maxwell Drummey, a fellow Harvard alum. The pair had spent the summer working on songs and didn't feel they were best served having a full band.
After recording an EP the duo showed up in Harvard Square with a unique proposition. White Lies would play a song from the EP live if the audience-of-one promised to buy the CD if they liked it.
Wallach and Drummey also worked at Harvard's Quad Studios where they were assigned a wide variety of projects.
"We were able to learn how to record all kinds of different music and instruments and all that knowledge ends up being a resource when you're working out your own project," said Wallach.
A demo led to signing with producer Pharrell Williams' Star Track label, an Interscope Records imprint.
Following graduation, Wallach and Drummey vaulted to L.A. to record their debut album "Love The Future" featuring the single "She Loves Everybody" - a song promoting safe sex that was initially distributed in a limited edition condom package. Prior to the album's release, Rolling Stone magazine named Chester French one of the "Artists To Watch."
Wanting to perform live to support their full-length debut, Wallach and Drummey built out the band - ironically returning to the quintet line-up.
On "Love The Future" Wallach often sounds like a latter-day Billy Joel (circa "Glass Houses"). The strugling sincerity is there too. It's most pronounced on "Time To Unwind." The ode to L.A. ladies (it seems out-of-towners are obligated to write about the local talent), "Bebe Buell" gets a pop spin that includes a staccato piano. The solid, pumping bass line puts "She Loves Everybody" over.
The album also has an "Introduction" (acoustic drama), "String Interlude" (which is exactly that) and a Country Interlude" (an acoustic guitar buried in electric guitar noise). These tracks don't add much except to illustrate the group's eclectic nature - which is amply evident in the other 10 songs.