From searing leads to soft, melodic phrasing, Allen Christopher- A.K.A. “Chris”- is a veteran guitarist/songwriter whose influence draws from a wide range of musicians and styles but undoubtedly leads with his own, distinctive brand of 80’s-influenced rock overdrive.
Christopher's fascination with music started early, just 5 years old and counting out pennies and nickels to buy his first vinyl 45 (Billy Joel, “My life”); getting up early to watch the Bay City Rollers every Saturday morning became a ritual. Shows like this as well as The Monkees and the Partridge Family were preferred over cartoons.
When the opportunity arose to study an instrument, he quickly chose violin. Not long after, he began to study violin and viola under local Luthier and master craftsman, George Winstead. Under George’s instruction, Chris established a solid classical foundation, studied music theory, and was introduced to country fiddle.
The summer of 1981 was a pivotal point, ushering in the release of J. Giles Band’s “Freeze Frame”, Foreigner 4, Styx’ “Paradise Theatre”, Rush’s “Moving Pictures”, Billy Squier's “Don’t Say No” - a small sampling of the year’s releases- and most notably, Van Halen’s “Fair Warning”. Edward Van Halen’s searing leads and syncopated rhythms in “Unchained” captivated him instantly; he knew he had to learn to play guitar like that.
Primarily self-taught, he studied briefly with a local jazz guitar instructor which ended after about a month’s worth of lessons (and not moving from first-position). He would later continue to study theory with friend/guitarist/Reel World Studios Owner, Ernie Melendez.
Chris played with several bands in high school, most notably Vision and Valhalla. With record company interest at a high-point for New Jersey rock bands, Rockland and Bergen counties were a hot-bed for local bands to showcase their material; his bands littered ads throughout local music paper, the “East Coast Rocker”, which later revered back to their original “Aquarian” name. Local veteran rockers such as Violet Foxx, Allied Forces, and Split Sydney served as his rock ’n’ roll-models.
Leaving fellow band mates and the local music scene, he continued his education at Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, Ca. MI housed some of the most brilliant talent available at the time, and he recalls being humbled on the first day of class: “First, you have these teachers: Steve Travato, Paul Gilbert, Russ Parish, Joe Diorio, Keith Wyatt- just to name a few- who were insane musicians. You walk into class on the first day, probably thinking you’re something special, and you’re seated between two Swedish guys who not only have the look, but are just absolutely tearing up their Fender Strats… The holy-shit moment hits you right there and then: what the hell am I doing here?”
Though humbling, MI and Los Angeles proved to be a great learning experience- both musical, business, and survival. Famous clubs marked the Strip, from the Whiskey A-Go-Go to Gazzari’s. This was his first experience and lesson with the “pay-to-play” policy of the Strip. Still living in L.A, he was approached by Hollywood Records. Without steady band mates and difficulty negotiating, the deal eventually fell through. Hollywood Records would come back with two additional offers to pick up a single, but he ultimately rejected both. With over 300,000 bands in L.A. competing for A&R showcases (and having a front row seat during the 1991 Rodney King Riot), he decided that a return to New York was best.
He returned to New York in late 1992, immediately began teaching, writing, and recording. Jingles and teaching left little room for a band search, which became increasingly difficult as the music industry shifted gears to embrace the Seattle grunge scene.
Chris’ knowledge and passion for computer sciences eventually led to moonlighting as a graphic designer at Gannett. During that time Chris also worked to create a business managing technical services, digital video editing, 3D modeling/design, as well as audio production. Chris’ design and multimedia reputation grew, landing him customers such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, DreamWorks Interactive, and American Express.
The demand for graphic design and system support eventually eclipsed his music related paychecks. His work attracted Mac-Temps in Boston, MA. In 1996 Chris formed a company called Mutant Grey Matter, which tended to the IT needs of some of the largest Creative Agencies in the country. Frustrated with the scene and attention focused on business, Chris walked away from music altogether in 1999.
On a beautiful day in September 2001 he wed his high school sweetheart, Deanna, in Cape May, NJ. The couple recalls a picture-esque day; beautiful beach photos with family and friends.
In 2003, he founded Allen Christopher Software, which specializes in event photography software. His world-wide client base spans from cruise ships, resorts, and theme parks to the independent photo booth operator. In 2008, he eventually closed Mutant Grey Matter to focus his effort on Allen Christopher Software.
Inspired by the soon-to-be birth of his first child, in 2004 Chris picked up a guitar again wrote her tribute, “Madeleine”. Slowly but surely, he began to play regularly and published his first independent iTunes single, “Journey Within” under the pseudonym, “Stobiemas”.
Chris and Deanna are actively involved in their community, from providing photo services for school events and Santa photos in conjunction with the local Knights of Columbus, arranging music for their daughter’s school talent show, to coaching youth soccer.
He currently composes, arranges, and produces for his daughter, Madeleine.