French Connection

The Next Big Thing? Two Harmony-loving Harvard Grads

"If you want to meet a girl ... go into a grocery store. And just find somebody's mommy who can squeeze you in between all her chores." - From Chester French's cougar anthem "People." (Photo: Maxwell Drummey, left, and D.A. Wallach. Courtesy of Interscope Records.)
By Cory Ohlendorf of Valet.
Published on June 30, 2008

With their boyish good looks, Ivy-league pedigree and prepster style, it'd be easy to pigeon-hole Chester French as the next Vampire Weekend. Yes, D.A. Wallach and Maxwell Drummey wrote, arranged and recorded their demo in their Harvard dorm. And yes, it eventually landed in the hands of Pharrell Williams, who signed the two to his Star Trak label. But they've got more to offer than their alma mater and crisp button-downs. The power pop duo is getting some big-time buzz thanks to their smart, sardonic lyrics and unconventional sound—a mix of 1960s retro rock and slick hip-hop sound effects. With degrees in hand (African American Studies for D.A. and Social Anthropology for Max), the two traded Cambridge for California to finish up their debut album, due out this fall. But Valet couldn't wait, so we caught up with they guys on the road earlier this month, by shooting them off a few emails. They got back to us, answering our questions in their signature deadpan wit.


"She Loves Everybody," the boys' ode to safe sex. (The promo single comes packaged in an oversized Trojan-esque wrapper).


The best late night eats at Harvard? "The fresh 'roni at Pinocchio's Pizza & Subs." - D.A.


$9.50 for a small, 74 Winthrop St., Cambridge, MA 617.876.4897


We asked for Chester French's top five summertime songs. You get what you ask for.


John Coltrane "Summertime"


Sam Cooke "Summertime"


Nina Simone "Summertime"


Billie Holiday "Summertime"


Ella Fitzgerald "Summertime"


All 99 cents on iTunes.


QuestionWhere are you guys and what are you up today?
AnswerMax: We're back in LA recovering from a show last night. We played at the Viper Room.

You guys moved out to Los Angeles after graduating. Best and worst thing about living in Cali?
Max: LA has a lot of pretty girls and great weed. But it also has a lot of conceited assholes.
D.A.: The best thing is the weather. The worst is the shocking number of people who do nothing out here.

Does anyone give you shit about going to Harvard?
Max: Yes.
D.A.: No.

It pisses some artists off to be compared to bands of the past. Are you cool with the comparisons to the Beatles and Beach Boys?
Max: There are two ways of looking at this I guess. 1) Consider it an honor to be compared to obviously great, groundbreaking artists. Or 2) you can realize that almost every piece of music criticism about white guys singing counterpoint brings up the Beach Boys and that most melodic music is compared to the Beatles. It depends on the context. But really, if comparing us to something makes somebody happy, I'm all for it. Why not?
D.A.: I'm fine with those comparisons, but I don't think they really capture the speed metal influences that dominate our creative process.

And you really recorded the album in the dorms? We barely managed to get laid in our dorms.
D.A.: I would say making an album is probably easier than getting laid. We don't really know though ... since we're virgins.
Max: There was a small studio in the basement of one of the dorms, so we spent a lot of time down there.

Speaking of sex, you were already nominated for an award--LOGO's NewNowNext award. You think it's just cause you're two hot guys?
D.A.: Of course. 100000%
Max: And we also wrote a song that may be new, now, or next.

So how was your first award ceremony experience?
Max: I was stuck on a Peter Pan bus that broke down outside Hartford, so I actually missed it.
D.A.: I went with a beautiful older woman. They had a blue drink that was scary.

Chester French is named after the American sculptor who crafted the statue at the Lincoln Memorial.

Cryptic. Sounds like fun. So what's up next?
D.A.: The album [Love the Future] is coming out in September and you can expect to be devastated by a few live shows and special appearances in the meantime.

We're basically living in our Topsiders this summer. You guys have that easy prepster thing down. Is that a result of hanging with the Harvard crowd?
Max: It's a result of being filthy rich wasps, belonging to yacht clubs, and being neocon. Obviously.

And if I handed you each $5,000 for clothes--not booze or women--what are you gonna spend it on?
Max: Probably booze and women.
D.A.: Women's clothes to seduce women.



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