Interview: Chris Wyse from Upstate NY Roots to Roll ‘n Roll’s World Stage

When you hear Chris Wyse’s story it sounds almost like a movie script. Born in New York City to Irish immigrants, moved to the country in Upstate New York, picked up a guitar with his buddy Dan Dinsmore, went off to California to be a rock star, and is now coming back home to play a show with his old friend in his old stomping grounds. It’s a lot more complicated than that but it does make for a great movie, or perhaps a song. Unfortunately, I think Bad Company beat me to it. Upstate Metal was lucky enough to talk to Chris Wyse last week to find out what the New York native has been up to and what the future holds for the talented bassist.

Back in the mid-80s, Chris and Dan met while attending Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, New York. Both were budding musicians and they quickly became good friends, Chris on bass and Dan on drums. “It was awesome [starting out in Upstate New York] because there was nothing else to do. So music ended up being our everything. We’d play the Koda Theater and do battle of the bands, and that became our learning ground.” There was a lot of support from friends and family. Things were simpler, but getting noticed was still a lot of hard work. They used tape to record demos, and they used to run around the area flyering cars for upcoming shows. (a lost art that has been replaced by the non-personal events calendar on Facebook). At lease less trees are harmed in the process. One of the places they used to flyer was the well-0known club, Saratoga Winners. Chris and Dan would play there when they were seniors in high school and their first couple years after graduation, to adults packing the place with fans many years older.

Chris got national attention for his innovative bass playing and was featured in Guitar Player Magazine when he was only 17. A few years after graduating from Shen, Chris moved to Los Angeles. In the 90’s, Chris played for various bands and projects with notable musicians including Tal Bachman (son of Randy Bachman of The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver), Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Paul D’Amour (original bassist for Tool) and more. It was for Paul D’Amour’s band Lusk that Chris “bought the upright bass, but that project froze due to troubles with the record company.” Chris went on from there and auditioned for Tal Bachman, playing a sort of John Paul Jones style bass. After getting his passport straightened out, he found himself on a plane to Maui to produce the record. It was there that he met Bob Rock, “…a “real stand-up guy. Bob was one of those people that I had a great time working with, and I tried to rock his tracks. That got me into The Cult, the audition with Metallica and more. It is paramount to have someone like that [in your corner].”

The Cult just finished seven years of touring, brought back producer Bob Rock (who also produced their albums Sonic Temple, The Cult, and Beyond Good and Evil), and released their ninth album, Choice of Weapon in 2012. Chris “loves this record, it’s a super strong record. It’s a very ‘now’ kind of record and they did a lot of work promoting it last year.” Later in 2012 The Cult also released a “prequel” album called Weapon of Choice, showing the stretches and energy that the band took in the studio. There is a raw feel to the new songs and it was evident that, as a whole, The Cult went back to their original UK roots. Chris’s unique style is evident throughout the album and it’s worth checking it out, on iTunes [here].

Now that The Cult is taking a break from touring and recording, Wyse can concentrate on his project, Owl. Owl includes his childhood friend, drummer Dan Dinsmore, and Jason Mezilis, who Chris met in Hollywood in the early 2000’s. “I met Jason in a club through a mutual friend. We hit it off and followed each other’s careers. I would join bands, be on the road, and Jason was aware of my old Owl shows. Jason is incredibly talented, competent and hit it off with Dan.” Together they are Owl and they recorded a few of their recent tracks at Overit Studios just outside of Albany.  Dinsmore built the studio in an old Catholic Church. Chris added, “…The feeling and acoustics [in the church] are amazing. It gets you really inspired.”

Chris and Dan will be back in Clifton Park playing with Jason as Owl, on March 30th with other hometown artist, Maria Brink and her band, In This Moment. “Dan and I are excited to be there. It’s not just 2013 and promoting The Right Thing album.  We played at that there as teens, when it was called Tigers. That’s the interesting thing. Playing Manhattan and LA feels like playing at home, but still nothing like playing down the road from where you first started playing music. I was just a teenager and it’s an honor to have the opportunity to play to my roots.”

Well, the honor is Upstate New York’s when local-gone-rock-star, Chris Wyse, comes back home to Upstate Concert Hall on March 30th. Upstate Metal will be there to witness the warm homecoming performance.