Charlie Wallace was 12 when he first picked up a guitar and has been in bands ever since.

He left Taradale High School at 15 but soon returned to it as a part-time guitar teacher.

"That was kind of a weird transition, to leave and then the next year be in the staffroom," he said.

He had several jobs, all building towards his rock and roll dream.

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Napier hard rock band Black Smoke Trigger, from left, Josh Coyle-Te Maro on drums, Dan Fulton on bass guitar, Charlie Wallace on guitar, Josh
Napier hard rock band Black Smoke Trigger, from left, Josh Coyle-Te Maro on drums, Dan Fulton on bass guitar, Charlie Wallace on guitar, Josh "Baldrick" Rasmussen vocalist.

"I just did as much as I could. I was working at the Music Machine music store, I was doing promotional work for The Cabana, I started creating websites for people - just freelancing - and obviously doing a lot of teaching at home and out of schools as well. As much as I could."

The band gained traction and in 2012 embarked on a European tour, part of their prize package for winning City Showcase New Zealand.

They were well received but on his return home, Wallace decided his rock star dream needed better financial backing.

"We just had this great opportunity and knowing that we wouldn't be given another one – no one is going to pay for our flights – and we had all these bands saying, 'Come back we will get you gigs'.

"I was $7500 behind in my rent and in a lot of debt."

Napier hard rock band Black Smoke Trigger are on the fast-track to fame. Photo / Warren Buckland
Napier hard rock band Black Smoke Trigger are on the fast-track to fame. Photo / Warren Buckland

Broke and disillusioned, he decided to park the band for a year and make some real money by teaching guitar online. He created the website Guitar Mastery Method and got to work.

"At the time I was sleeping on a broken fold-out couch. I had to fold it up to make room for when my guitar students would come in.

"So it's gone from that now to a multimillion dollar business."

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He has bought himself a hilltop house above Taradale with deer in the paddock, big-boy's toys in the garage and a sound-proofed rehearsal studio for Black Smoke Trigger.

Band members are all on salaries and work regular hours.

"If you work professional hours you get professional results," Wallace said.

If it wasn't for the band he doubts Guitar Mastery Method would have been as successful.

"That is actually why I was able to grow the business so big and so quickly, because it was never about the business. That was my reason why, that was the thing that pushed me through, working till seven in the morning, seven days a week, sleeping only three hours."

He credits his steadily-increasing online business success to overseas mentors such as Ryan Levesque, from whom Wallace bought an online course.

Wallace regularly travels to the United States to glean tips from business mentoring groups.

"Last year I did seven trips – flying has got pretty old.

"You basically sit in a room for a couple of days with some of the smartest people I have ever met – and some of the wealthiest people I've ever met as well.

"We pick apart each other's businesses and come back with new insights.

"There's a price tag to it – one group costs US$25,000 a year – but if you get one key insight that you can leverage in your business, that can pay for itself 10 times over."

Online searchability is the main reason the band changed its name from Horusset to Black Smoke Trigger.

It is currently preparing to record an EP in the United States with legendary producer Michael Wagener, who has mixed or produced songs with 100 million sales, working with artists such as Queen, Metallica, Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne.

Wagener said Black Smoke Trigger took a professional approach and he liked its music.

"I have to like the music. If I don't like the music then I can't contribute to it," he said.

At Wagener's Nashville studio, gold and platinum albums adorn the walls. Wallace wants a platinum album for Black Smoke Trigger.

"If we have a platinum album hanging on the wall, that means we get to perform in stadiums, performing to tens of thousands of people at once.

"For me and the other guys in the band, it's about the connection. It's about the energy that you get when you are on stage and performing. We're playing a show and everyone is just hitting it and the audience is right there with us. That is just the feeling that you cannot describe.

"People go, 'I do it because I love it', but it's not true. Any musician that's doing it wants to do it to the biggest amount of people. And if they are saying otherwise then they are lying to other people or they are lying to themselves, because they want to have a connection with those people."

Band members are Charlie Wallace on guitar, Josh Coyle-Te Maro on drums, Dan Fulton on bass guitar and Josh "Baldrick" Rasmussen on vocals.

Black Smoke Trigger's EP is due in October, before the band tours New Zealand and overseas, where there are already thousands of Guitar Mastery students backing the band.

The band plans to support a top US act on tour. It's what the band needs, says Roy Brown of The Cabana, who has seen Wallace's musical career grow.

He said while the music industry could be fickle, if anyone could make it into the top one per cent of the world's musicians it would be Wallace.

"He's passionate about what he does, Charlie, and he's got a good head on him," Brown said.

"If he can get on this tour in America, he'll fly."

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