Chris Lester (guitar/vocals) grew up in Dover New Hampshire after leaving Illinois at the age of two. Chris’ home had a piano as well as guitars to play but he was drawn to the racket of the drums. He played in his first “band”, at the ripe old age of five, covering songs by The Rolling Stones and The Beatles with his mother’s college age friends. Nap time put a wedge between Chris and the rest of the band as he couldn’t understand why they needed to sleep so much. Drums continued to be his focus in Junior High School but he was becoming frustrated with his progress on the instrument. That same year Chris attended his first concert which was the band Van Halen. In his own words “I went to that concert a drummer and left a guitar player”. He started to play guitar in a High School band with brothers Tim and Jack Rossi in the band Rowl. The boys could not find a suitable bass player so Chris chose to make the move to bass guitar as Tim was a much better guitar player than him. “Tim was just too good so I made the move over”.
After High School Chris joined the band First Strike after filling the bands’ truck up with gas. “I worked at a gas station and one of the guys jokingly asked if I played bass and I said “As a matter of fact I do”. They sent me some tapes of their songs and I was in”. He gained much needed live experience and learned about stage presence from lead singer Kevin Hinchey. “Kevin is one of the most entertaining front men I’ve ever worked with. He just knows how to get people to have a great time and he’s a great guy”. First Strike released a 6 song EP titled “Only For You” which showcased some of Chris’ first songwriting attempts.
Chris left First Strike to join Tizzy in 1987 where he would have the opportunity to develop his songwriting skills. Tizzy played shows with Skid Row at The Channel in Boston as well as with Foghat at Classics in Manchester. Tizzy drummer Matt Luneau was playing in a band called The Classics Show Band and suggested Chris to replace their departing bass player. The Show Band featured Lisa Guyer and Gardner Berry who would later go on to form Mama Kicks. The band played songs from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s which kept Chris on his toes. “That was singularly the best experience for my bass playing growth. We would go from Patsy Cline to Peter Gabriel to Whitesnake in the blink of an eye. We had two keyboard players and a horn section which was very cool!”
In 1989 Chris was offered an audition for the Atlantic Recording artists Wild Horses with ex-Kingdom Come members James Kottack (drums) and Rick Steier (guitar). The Wild Horses album was produced by Keith Olson of Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac and Rick Springfield fame so it seemed like a good move at the time. Chris moved to Los Angeles where he went on a short tour in support of the “Bareback” album. After a year he decided he’d had enough and left the band to reform Tizzy with Matt Luneau (drums), Erich Vaas (guitar) and Leon Miller (vocals). The band generated interest from Metal Edge magazine as well as publicist Debra Rosner (Guns n’ Roses, Poison). Unfortunately the group never achieved it’s full potential and the members went their separate ways.
1994 saw Chris join up with longtime Eddie Van Halen guitar tech Matt Bruck in the band ZenBoy. They garnered some label interest but received no bites. ZenBoy played with Van Halen, Skid Row and Brother Cane at The Block Buster Pavillion which had been the site of the US Festival. The members of AC/DC came to see the band at The Coconut Teaser which was a highlight for Chris as well as Eddie Van Halen coming to a band rehearsal. Growing frustrated with the direction ZenBoy had taken, Chris and Matt decided to start a new project with Chris on lead vocals.
The three piece UltraSonicCrush was formed and had more drummers than Spinal Tap. Fortunately none ever spontaneously combusted. Their form of power pop (think Cheap Trick meets The Sex Pistols) predated the success of The Foo Fighters, STP and Green Day. Chris and Matt decided to change the name to Custom 500 and recorded a three song demo with drummer Abe Laboriel Jr (Paul McCartney). They managed to attract the attention of virtually ever major label and played showcases at The Dragonfly and The Viper Room in Hollywood switching between Eric Singer (KISS) and James Kottack (The Scorpions) on drums. Custom 500 was unable to secure the ever elusive record deal and Matt and Chris took a break to re-evaluate their game plan.
In the interim Chris recorded the CD “In A Forward Motion” with drummer Matt Luneau. This gave him an opportunity to play guitar, keyboards and bass as well as sing on the CD.
Chris became disillusioned with the LA music scene and moved back to New Hampshire in 2001 where he quickly reconnected with Lisa Guyer and Gardner Berry.
The duo were now playing in their band Mama Kicks with David Stephanelli on drums and Chris started joining them on Wednesday nights at The Black Brimmer in Manchester. After a few years playing with Kevin Hinchey in The Lounge Flies, as well as other local bands, Mama Kicks offered Chris a permanent position on guitar as a full fledged member. “I was really happy to get a chance to play with a band that has this much talent. We do four part vocal harmonies and cover a lot of musical ground which really has been a dream of mine. It’s a great opportunity for musical growth which is something that I always find attractive.”
Chris will soon be performing his own songs again with his band The Royal Pains as well as solo acoustic shows. 2008 will bring a new CD with all new material. He says “I’m very excited to get out and play the new songs as well as some of the older ones. I’ll have a lot to pick from which should make it a well rounded set.”