It is no secret that in the world of the music industry creating a unique signature sound is generally first on the list of goals for fledgling bands. Few bands have a sound that is as instantly recognizable as the music of Pete and Sam Loeffler, otherwise known as Chevelle. The long-awaited ninth studio album, NIRATIAS(Epic Records) dropped this week, and good golly miss molly, the brothers Loeffler do not disappoint.
Chevelle has shared a brand new song, in unplugged form dubbed “Endlessly”. In addition to a music video with the track “shot with a cell phone”. Brothers Pete Loeffler and Sam Loeffler shared a video with Pete interviewing Sam and discussing the new album, and that a release date would be shared soon, and that they are filming a new music video this week. No word yet as to who the new bass player will be after longtime member Dan Bernandini stepped down from the band recently. The band’s last studio album was 2016’s The North Corridor (Epic Records), but they released their rarities album, 12 Bloody Spies, two years ago.
Chevelle has released a new single, ‘Young Wicked’, from the their upcoming release, The North Corridor, scheduled for a release date of July 8th by way of Sony Music/Epic. You can hear Young Wicked at this link or below:
The North Corridorwas led by Joe Barresi, the American record engineer and producer who has worked with bands like Kyuss, Tool, Melvins and Queens Of The Stone Age.
Drummer Sam Loeffler commented about the songwriting undertaking for the new release: “We just wanna write a bunch of songs that we like and we wanna play every day on stage. Pete’s [Loeffler, guitar/vocals] our writer. He works tirelessly at it. We work on everything together, but Pete writes the songs and he brings them to us and then we compose them as a band, as most bands do. And it’s been a really good process. We’re super excited to play these songs. ‘Cause you play songs for so long, you just wanna play new stuff.”
When asked in an interview if they are involved in picking singles from the albums or if they just leave it to the label to make that decision, Pete said: “We actually battle everyone all the time. We have a good feeling when we get close — ten [or] fifteen songs that we’re gonna do. But, ultimately, it comes down to just hashing it out and picking one, which is tough. It’s not easy.”
The North Corridortrack listing:
01. Door To Door Cannibals 02. Enemies 03. Joyride (Omen) 04. Rivers 05. Last Days 06. Young Wicked 07. Warhol’s Showbiz 08. Punchline 09. Got Burned 10. Shot From A Cannon
Reaching seven albums in 15 years is quite the success story for Chicago hard rockers Chevelle, as they continue to put out strong records and winning over new fans everywhere they perform.
During their recent stop at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles, CA, the band was on a West Coast tour behind their latest release, La Gargola (Spanish for ‘The Gargoyle’), in front of a packed house.
“It’s been selling out a lot,” said drummer Sam Loeffler, talking about their US tours. “The US is so big. We’re still opening up markets, especially if you haven’t been somewhere for four, five or six years. So in that case, we played a couple markets that we haven’t played before. We’re trying to go to Canada as we can. There are a lot of markets we’ve never been to or been to in a long time. North America is very big.”
They have been playing various songs off of La Gargola (Sony), which has been met with anticipation from their fans. While the public has grown familiar with their melodic hard rock sound, the band was up for the challenges of creating newer songs that kept their sound growing without being repetitive.
“This is album number seven. I don’t know if there’s necessarily a different mindset,” he said, talking about the making of La Gargola. “It’s just at this point we’ve published over 90 songs, so you’re only interested in writing songs that don’t sound like your other songs. So I think the songwriting process might be a little bit longer because you want to do something different. We’re a hard rock melodic band and still write songs like that because that’s what’s appealing to us.”
They worked with veteran producer Joe Baressi (Bad Religion, Tool, Coheed and Cambria) once again on La Gargola. Being familiar with his working style, the members of Chevelle got to experiment a bit more on this one and throw around different ideas this time around.
“We did Hats Off To The Bull with Joe as well. This was our second record with him. Joe is really an experimental producer. It makes things go fast because he knows what all of his gear sounds like. He’s got like 30 to 40 amplifiers, a bunch of weird instruments in his studio. The place is packed with instruments. So being with him, I don’t know how we would do it with somebody else at this point. The more we used Joe, the more experiments we have. It’s a perfect set up because that’s how we are. As a band, we don’t want everything to sound the same.”
“With Hats Off To The Bull, when we got sounds, for the most part we would mix up the sounds. It’s real consistent in tone – the guitars, bass and drums. Whereas this one, we really changed the tone on every single song. That was a lot more work. But we wanted to make each song sound completely different from the last one. I think they do.”
With Chevelle entering album number seven, they encountered the challenge of keeping ideas fresh and not repeating ideas from past material. Many bands who reach this point in their careers often face similar dilemmas, but Loeffler and the band were up to the challenge of dodging this obstacle.
“I think it definitely is a challenge. Pete [Loeffler, singer/guitarist] is our principle songwriter. He writes all the lyrics. I think a big part of it is he gets influences from all different kinds of places, just from what’s going on in the world. That helps makes a different thing for each song. He’s not just writing about high school relationships or relationships at all, for that matter. He writes about zombies and something he saw on television that is an accounting error. It’s all different topics that encompass anyone’s life rather than one simple thing. That adds to where the song’s going. “
La Gargola also marks the fourth album with bassist Dean Bernardini, who replaced their biological brother and former bassist Joe Loeffler, in 2005. With each record, Bernardini has grown with the band and continues to evolve within their sound.
“He’s always been important to us and am important person in our lives. When he joined the band, we were able to grow the way we needed to grow. Sometimes things don’t work between people, but in our case, we really work well together.”
“In that case, it improved the chemistry. I think most bands have leaving members – people coming and going. That’s just the reality of a business, not to mention a family. It went the way it was supposed to go.”
“Dean’s our brother in law. He does have a different last name but we are definitely like family. We are family in marriage. We’ve known each other for 22 years. We were friends and played in bands way before he played in this band,” said Loeffler.
Loeffler briefly looked back at the band’s career until today. “We played our first show as Chevelle, probably in 1993 or 1994. But our first record came out in 1999. So 15 years of recording and touring ‘professionally.’ “
“Seven records in 15 years is an amazing career for anybody in this day and age in rock music. I tell people all the time – your chances of having a successful rock band…you’re more likely to win $10 million in the lottery. People win that every week across the US, but two or three rock bands a year have some success. That’s a very defeating fact, but we need rock music. We need to good rock bands. Not to say there aren’t some now…there are, but we always need new ones. We’re interested to see who the next crop is.”
As for future touring, Chevelle will continue to move forward with writing new material and more touring in the near future. But in between this time, family life has been squeezed into their schedules, keeping their lives exciting in another way.
“Pete is about to have his first. My wife and I had our first ten weeks ago. Dean has a two year old and a six year old. Like anyone else, we’re at that age where you want to have a family.
You have to balance it all but this is our passion. We’re here because we’ve always been in love with music.”
Chevelle released their seventh overall album titled La Gargola this year, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200 album charts. Singles such as ‘Take Out the Gunman’ and ‘Hunter Eats Hunter’ have been strong singles off this album and continuing to attract new fans along the way.
One aspect of the band that they have not been able to shake off is the constant comparisons to such bands as Tool and Helmet, which they have regularly drawn similarities to. This has been a thorn in their side, but drummer Sam Loeffler does not take it personally when this tag comes up.
He shared his thoughts on this subject. “Eventually you kinda go ‘seriously?’,” he said, about the comparison. “We write essentially almost what you would call it radio-ish rock songs. It’s completely different from either band. Once you get a bit of a comparison in a singer, when they are super diehard fans, they can’t see past it.”
“I think a really good example of that is Muse and Radiohead. ‘Let it go. That’s what that guy sounds like.’ He’s not copying anyone. It’s his natural voice. Muse is an amazing band. Radiohead is an amazing band. Those guys go on.”
“Eventually you’ve gotta go ‘come on guys…what do you want us to do?’ When was the last Tool record? Seven or eight years ago, right? At least. We’ve written at least another three records in that time. We’re just writing songs. That’s it. I don’t know what people think we’re doing. Listening to an eight year old Tool record and trying to copy it? It doesn’t make any sense. I know the Tool guys never came up. They don’t think twice about it. They don’t think about us whatsoever.”
“When you’re a rock band, it doesn’t matter what you do. When someone hears you, they’re going to compare you to something. ‘Oh the Strokes! Oh yeah it sounds a lot like the Doors or Led Zeppelin.’ It doesn’t matter. They’re going to compare you to something. That’s the only reason people listen to it and it’s because they recognize something in it that they like.”
“The reality is, that kind of stuff comes up, fine. If you have a problem with the comparison, don’t listen to it. It’s ok. We all learned in kindergarten, if you don’t have anything nice to say….it doesn’t bother me. We have our influences. If you really go back and listen to what our music’s like, I can listen to Helmet Aftertaste, Meantime and Betty and go back to Alice In Chains and even listen to stuff like the Minutemen – stuff that’s really influential to us – Faith No More. These are the records we grew up on and pushed us to write music. If you go back and listen to those records and compare, sure.”
While Loeffler has his influences that helped shape Chevelle’s sound, the music he listens to on his spare time isn’t quite what most may imagine: “I listen to way less music than I used to now, because you start to think about it in terms of your own interests. That being said, a lot of music I listen to is not like our genre, like Every Time I Die and The Bronx are two of my favorite bands right now. Believe it or not, I listen to Duke Ellington and stuff like that because it’s entirely different and you don’t necessarily know where things will go with it. It’s unpredictable which is really nice. Then certain bands come out like Middle Class Rut. They’re amazing records and so fun to listen to. Makes you want to sing along. That’ll be more of a modern rock kinda thing that I’m interested in.”
“Pete [Loeffler, singer/guitarist]’s gone back to a lot of older stuff like the Ministry records have come back up for us – Land of Rape and Honey and Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste. These records that were so influential to us 22 to 24 years ago that helped shape us then. You go back and those records are still great. Recently we got back into Ministry a lot and that’s been fun.”
The latest full length release by Chevelle features many of the familiar aspects of the band fans have grown to love – driving guitars, strong melodies and a familiar groove that listeners have grown familiar with. La Gargola (Epic/Sony) does not stray too far from their trademark dark, guitar driven sound but slowly keeps maturing its sound over time.
‘Ouija Board’ and ‘An Island’ open up with a familiar barrage of guitars immediately upon first listen, with Pete Loeffler’s familiar vocal stylings that keeps it interesting. Other tunes like ‘Take Out the Gunman’ borrow from past Tool comparisons, but also making it their own sound at the same time.
Many of the songs lean towards a variety of darker themes and a heavier guitar rock sound that helps them stand out musically. Songs like ‘Twinge’ and ‘An Ocean’ experiment with a slower tempo sounds, falling somewhere between Radiohead and The Cure, which helps diversify their sound.
The wall of guitar on ‘Jawbreaker’ becomes one of their highlights, borrowing somewhat from Helmet and Foo Fighters in parts, and letting the angst loose in the process. ‘Hunter Eats Hunter’ and ‘Under The Knife’ also goes heavier on the guitars on each respective tune, showing a darker side of the band.
While the band clearly wears its influences on its sleeves with pride, Chevelle still shines through with strong songwriting and driving guitars that attracted fans over the years. La Gargola is the next chapter and should help attract a new batch of fans who may have missed out on them the first time around.