Chevelle: 'We Know Exactly Who We Are And What We Do'

Pete Loeffler talked about Chevelle's brand new album, their record label woes and being tagged a Christian band.

Chevelle: 'We Know Exactly Who We Are And What We Do'
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With its Helmet inspired riffing and Tool-esque vocal stylings, Chevelle have managed to combine their influences to forge a unique sound of their own since having first formed back in 1995. Led by guitarist and vocalist Pete Loeffler and augmented by his brother Sam Loeffler on drums and their brother-in-law Dean Bernardini on bass, the Chicago-based outfit has remained a staple on the rock scene and a familiar favorite on the touring circuit. The band's new studio outing their fifth to date - is titled Sci-Fi Crimes and is the follow up to the band's 2007 smash album, Vena Sera. As Pete Loeffler explains, "this record represents a natural progression in the band's maturity and sound. We really wanted to take the time to write about some of our experiences and feelings since our last tour, both during and in the time afterwards." Too often the band has been lumped under the "just another hard rock band" moniker, but with Sci-Fi Crimes, Chevelle emerges as an admittedly heavy-sounding group whose wit and intelligence now stand fully revealed. They have also just completed their "Stimulate This" tour this past summer which saw them team up with Staind, Shinedown and Halestorm as part of a series of shows that offered tickets and concessions at a reduced price. As the band jumped on their tour bus after having performed their last show of the "Stimulate This" tour, Joe Matera phoned Pete Loeffler from his home of Australia to chat about the band's brand new album, their record label woes and being tagged a Christian band. UG: You've just finished performing the last date of the "Stimulate This" summer tour? Pete Loeffler: Yeah, we just finished it tonight. How did it all go? It went really well and I think it achieved the objective we wanted to happen though some of it we didn't like due to things such as some of the retailers not adjusting their pricings for the tour. But we all did it and I think we did well with it all.

"I used lots and lots of stuff and there is so much stuff that it would be hard to name each and every piece of gear I used."

How did the new songs translate live and were received by your audiences on the Stimulate This tour? They went down really, really well. We had been starting the show with a song called Sleep Apnea which is the first track off the new record and even before we started playing that - and this is before people even knew we had new record coming out - people were automatically digging it. It's a very driving and melodic song and people seemed to get it right away and that's been a really good sign. You continue to build a solid and ever expanding audience through much touring. Yeah we've been at this point where we've been at it for a long time now, that when it comes to touring we've maintained a lot of our core fan base especially in the U.S. And as much as we want to build up new fan bases, especially in countries like Australia and the like, it is difficult because you have something that you've done something that you've worked extremely hard for and then you sort of have to start all over again in a new territory. Many bands find that they may be very successful in their country or elsewhere, but going to new territories can be quite a daunting endeavor for some Yes like we found out when we came out to Australia once before. It was a complete disaster because the label that we were with there didn't do anything about it, they didn't promote the record, and they didn't even know we were there! And when we were there, we did like two or three interviews and that was it. We would go do the shows and find out that we had fans in Australia that had no idea we were even there because there wasn't even a poster with our name on it anywhere. They [the label] had three people and they weren't even at work! We saw them maybe once the whole time we were there, it was a total joke. It was very disappointing as nobody knew we were even there. So we weren't able to make any sort of impact. And as you know, it is very expensive to go to a place like Australia. It eventually cost us, my brother and I, almost $10,000 each individually. And after all was said and done, the label didn't even cover any of our expenses. With your new record, the first thing I noticed upon listening to it was that it sounds like a mixture of Point #1, your first record and Wonder What's Next the band's second record. Well that is a great compliment because that was kind of where we were going with the new record. The whole polished and perfect record thing, you know, we are kind of down on it now because it doesn't really show the band and what they're really like. If you are going to perfectly tune everything, or put samples over everything, that is never going to be what the band or any band really sounds like. So we brought in Brian Virtue [co-producer] and did a record that I think sounds definitely like us, because it is us playing our songs. And if we don't know how to play something then we would write something else that we knew we could play. With Sci-Fi Crimes being your fifth studio album, how does it feel to have reached album number five into your career? The best thing is, knowing that we're a career band and to be able to do everything we love for a living is amazing. I appreciate it every single day.

"The best thing is, knowing that we're a career band and to be able to do everything we love for a living is amazing."

As you just mentioned you co-produced Sci-Fi Crimes with Brian Virtue (Jane's Addiction, 30 Seconds to Mars, Deftones) in Nashville, Tennessee. What did Brian bring to the overall process? The biggest thing with Brian was that we both saw eye to eye on all of our ideas. He had the same ideas as we had as far as making a record where the songs are great and the production is great, but really, sounds different to all the overworked music and overproduced music that is out there. We went into the studio knowing that. And he also pushed us to be better players and better musicians. And in turn we also pushed him to push us. He didn't just settle on anything, which was great. The album has song titles such as Roswell's Spell and Highlands Apparition. And I've been informed that many of these songs were inspired by your previous visit to Australia? That is correct. It was one of those things where we don't have the skies here in the U.S like those that are in Australia. I mean outside of the cities there, the skies are so incredibly clear that you can see further and see so many more stars. And it was one of those nights where we were driving along and pulled over and we looked up and realized it. And it stuck with us ever since. We had this experience[sic] like after a show one night thereand it was midnight and it was one of those things. But we never really had an encounter with anything. It was more of a joke concerning those song titles and its all tongue and cheek. It is more about the people who claim to have encounters than their actual encounters. Going back to the album, did you record any other material during the recording sessions for it? Yeah we recorded three extra tracks but we don't know what is happening with them. We expected them to be on a different version of the record but they have not shown up yet. So we're going to ask our label what the hell is going with that. What sort of gear did you use for this album? I used lots and lots of stuff and there is so much stuff that it would be hard to name each and every piece of gear I used. Can you at least run through a general idea of what you used? Well of course there was stuff like Mesa Boogie, Bogners, an Orange, a Diezel VH4, vintage Marshalls, Fenderswe used a bunch of things that we have picked up over the years and some stuff that we also actually bought that was new for the sessions. Guitar wise, there was a combination of many things like Paul Reed Smiths, and lots of baritone guitars everything from Gibson baritones to Fender baritones. I mean there was just so much stuff we used. What about effect pedals? Again there are so many to mention but there was everything from a MXR Phase 90 to a Boss Tremelo to a Boss Equalizer.

"We have made a specific point to keep our religion out of our band and out of our shows."

What about when it came to capturing guitar tones in the studio, was there any specific method you preferred? It was a little bit standard for us as we just hooked up a bunch of heads and then got Brian to mike everything up. And we also tried using a bunch of different mikes with the different heads and different cabinets and kept going through them all song by song until we found something we liked. And as different songs went by, we also tried heaps of different angles as well. So every day was an adventure in tone for us. Have you repaired the relationship you had with your brother, former bassist Joe Loeffler? No. He has got another band and he is working on some other stuff that he likes. I mean we never really had that much of a relationship with him in the first place to be fair, so there is not really any love lost there. Your first album was on a Christian label and ever since then the band has courted controversy over it being a Christian band. To us, it was and is, not that big of a deal. Our first label was owned by a distributorship that distributed to Christian bookstores and things like that. And it doesn't bother us at all to be called a Christian band. Although we have made a specific point to keep our religion out of our band and out of our shows because we believe it is everybody's choice to go and do whatever they want. And though we do have our individual faiths and all those things, it is not something that we'll preach to the people out there. So there were never any misconceptions for us or for our label in that regards. It really was what everybody else was putting out there. We know exactly who we are and what we do. And we love it Interview by Joe Matera Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2009

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    clincher09
    Covin wrote: TremontiShreds wrote: kind of off the subject but anyone notice that they "Miked" the heads. Anyway, chevelle does kick ass and i like the new record. That was bugging me the entire interview. Like most bands, their debut is still the best. Couldn't get into Vena Sera, so I'm skeptical about Sci-Fi Crimes.
    Even as a huge Chevelle fan I was dissapointed with Vena Sera, but Sci-fi Crimes is leaps and bounds above it. Not only is it an evolution in the bands sound but it's an excellent ablum overall. I would listen to a few songs and recommend getting it.
    lern2swim
    NorCalLos wrote: And if we dont know how to play something then we would write something else that we knew we could play. So, what you're saying is, "on our other albums, we had actual musicians play our instruments for us." Cool story, bro!
    Yeah, it's not a matter of other musicians playing for them. It's a matter of coming up with things in one's head and even being able to compose it and possibly play it through a DAW program as opposed to being able to play it on guitar/bass/drums. I can come up with much more complicated shit using Logic than I can in real time. Hell, I can't even play actual drums but I can put together some kick ass drum patterns.
    NorCalLos
    I don't think that's what he's saying at all. He means, like, if a sample had a Japanese flute in it, they wouldn't use it because they don't know how to play it. Same with me, I've got plenty of shred solos in my head that I can't play yet, so I don't. ON a higher note, Pete Loeffler seems pretty down-to-earth. Like to meet him one day.
    Yeah, it's not a matter of other musicians playing for them. It's a matter of coming up with things in one's head and even being able to compose it and possibly play it through a DAW program as opposed to being able to play it on guitar/bass/drums. I can come up with much more complicated shit using Logic than I can in real time. Hell, I can't even play actual drums but I can put together some kick ass drum patterns.
    That's cool. You guys can make up whatever you like to fill in the blanks. The fact is you don't really know. You're just guessing/filling in the blanks with whatever...enjoy.
    Corner9
    Sci-Fi Crimes is great. Vena Sera was a bit of a disappointment compared to This Type of Thinking, but this new one doesn't skip a beat, can't get enough of Sleep Apnea!
    RighteousMagik
    NorCaLlos just because they ruined your attempt at a witty comment doesn't mean you have to get defensive. But besides that this album definitely has their signature style in it. so it makes for a good listen but its not as good as "this type of thinking (could do us in)"
    Mr. Skull
    tell me of this band. do they shred it up or are they just another run of the mill waste?
    Rick540
    Anyone ever notice that their riff in "The Clincher" is the exact same riff from "Army of Me" by Bjork?
    Rick540
    Mr. Skull, their singles are decent, but I've listened to the rest of their albums and they're only so-so in my opinion. Alter Bridge is another band that comes to mind who are like that. But then again, maybe the reason the singles from these bands are good but the rest of the album blows is because in actuality the entire album blows and the the singles sound good only because the modern rock stations play the them into the ground and MAKE you like them...
    Shinsen88
    Cool interview. Haven't picked this up yet. I probably will in the next few days. I actually haven't even heard anything off of it yet... Oh well. lol @ Mr. Skull - They're definitely more than a generic hard rock band. I wouldn't call them incredibly ground-breaking but they're one of my favorite bands. Give at least a few songs a listen if you get the chance.
    Patrijz
    Nice interview! Good ending : Love the album, it's more 'basic' in the way he said in the interview, but captures the core essence Chevelle is about!
    No. He has got another band and he is working on some other stuff that he likes. I mean we never really had that much of a relationship with him in the first place to be fair, so there is not really any love lost there.
    Hard words...
    Rockinguitar
    NorCalLos wrote: And if we dont know how to play something then we would write something else that we knew we could play. So, what you're saying is, "on our other albums, we had actual musicians play our instruments for us." Cool story, bro!
    I don't think that's what he's saying at all. He means, like, if a sample had a Japanese flute in it, they wouldn't use it because they don't know how to play it. Same with me, I've got plenty of shred solos in my head that I can't play yet, so I don't. ON a higher note, Pete Loeffler seems pretty down-to-earth. Like to meet him one day.
    Bluesrocker5150
    BassFishin wrote: I'm sorry, but i just never through this band was very exciting. I would have loved 'Jars', if it wasn't for the annoying lisp he uses when he sings 'into jarssss'
    I'm with you. I don't hate them or anything, I just don't see any versatility. everything I've heard from them was in drop D in the key of D with the same power chords. pretty decent lyrics and vocal phrasing though.
    AdriAn934
    DONT COMPARE HIM TO MAYNARD lol Not EVEN! B He's a good singer.. But I hate that he compares himself to Maynard
    JSmith38
    I just had the opportunity to meet these guys yesterday. They are cool as shit.
    Rebotco
    it sounds like there label really likes them!! anyway, i tried to get into them a few years ago. i have 3 of their cds, most all of it is boring, run of the mil music.
    clincher09
    AdriAn934 wrote: DONT COMPARE HIM TO MAYNARD lol Not EVEN! B He's a good singer.. But I hate that he compares himself to Maynard
    When the hell has he ever compared himself to maynard? Never.
    shift3448
    AdriAn934 wrote: DONT COMPARE HIM TO MAYNARD lol Not EVEN! B He's a good singer.. But I hate that he compares himself to Maynard
    Hes never compared himself to maynard hes said maynard was an inspiration to him as a singer but he hasnt compared
    roundwoundsound
    alot of people think he sounds like maynard..but i can't really see what they are talking about.he doesn't even sound remotly like maynard if you ask me
    NorCalLos
    And if we dont know how to play something then we would write something else that we knew we could play.
    So, what you're saying is, "on our other albums, we had actual musicians play our instruments for us." Cool story, bro!
    Zero_Mike
    Nice interview. They never really caught on with me, but maybe I'll give Sci-Fi Crimes a try...
    BassFishin
    I'm sorry, but i just never through this band was very exciting. I would have loved 'Jars', if it wasn't for the annoying lisp he uses when he sings 'into jarssss'
    BoxCarMothra
    I think their lyrics are one of the main things that makes them stand out from other popular bands. Much better than most bands on the radio.
    ThatWouldBeJon
    its funny that joe is in a new band now since he couldnt stay in chevelle because he hated touring so what does he think hos new bands going to do ? lol
    nobrightskys
    Great album, although I am concerned that the band has hit a platou. Not much more they can do to grown in popularity without totally succumbing to mainstreem pop. Im very happy with who they are as a band.
    metalslayer09
    I really like the new album too and as long as they keep going they way they are it should be alright, I am a little sad there newer stuf isn't as "heavy" as there old tho...
    Covin
    TremontiShreds wrote: kind of off the subject but anyone notice that they "Miked" the heads. Anyway, chevelle does kick ass and i like the new record.
    That was bugging me the entire interview. Like most bands, their debut is still the best. Couldn't get into Vena Sera, so I'm skeptical about Sci-Fi Crimes.
    clincher09
    Great interview. Sci-fi Crimes is an amazing album and I think everyone should give it a listen.
    Firebreather01
    To me, this album is like a mix of Point #1 amd Vena Sera, not Wonder What's Next. But Sci Fi is very good. Took me a couple listens to grasp it though.
    JSmith38
    great band. 5 great albums. saw them on the Stimulate This! tour, it was awesome. Going to see them again with Alice in Chains and Mudvayne on Friday.
    bucssharktooth
    Haha, I bet family holidays are pretty awkward at the Loeffler house. Sam and Pete show up....Joe shows up..."So guys, how is the band we started doing????" Poor Joe. He got his ass kicked out of his own sibling band. You know you are pretty pathetic when that happens. Anyways, chevelle is the shit.
    TremontiShreds
    kind of off the subject but anyone notice that they "Miked" the heads. Anyway, chevelle does kick ass and i like the new record.
    chevllrox10
    Great interview....to me chevelle is what a rock band should be...hard hitting, no frills, true to their roots and fans, excellent live show, and passionate about what they sing about.....but then again I'm biased. Cant wait to see their new album live
    EvilAngel93
    Bluesrocker5150 wrote: BassFishin wrote: I'm sorry, but i just never through this band was very exciting. I would have loved 'Jars', if it wasn't for the annoying lisp he uses when he sings 'into jarssss' I'm with you. I don't hate them or anything, I just don't see any versatility. everything I've heard from them was in drop D in the key of D with the same power chords. pretty decent lyrics and vocal phrasing though.
    Clearly you haven't heard much by them, otherwise you'd know that they mainly play in Drop B, A#, and C# tunings.