The Carnival of Madness Tour and CPR Fest 16 will bring back one of the Coast’s favorite Alternative bands, Chevelle. They have sold over 3 million albums in the United States alone, and are currently enjoying tremendous success again with their most recent release, “Hats Of To The Bull.” Chevelle is a family affair, with brothers Pete and Sam Loeffler, and brother-in-law, Dean Bernardini. They play hard hitting, chest pounding, in your face music, that grabs you and doesn’t let go – these guys are phenomenal. Sam Loeffler, the drummer of Chevelle, is my very special guest.
GTP: Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with me today, I know you are slammed getting ready for the tour.
SL: “Thank you! It is so great to have something you love to do, in order to make a living.”
GTP: Can you take me back to the beginning, how it all started?
SL: “We have always done everything together and have been friends since we were little kids. When we were teenagers, Pete just started writing music one day. We honestly never cared that much about what other people were doing, or about other people’s songs. We just wrote about what felt right to us. We never had formal music lessons but we learned (self taught) from listening to all the great musicians that were out there.”
GTP: Chevelle has such a big distinctive sound. How did you develop it?
SL: “You write what you love, and write what you know – that’s the first thing. We never experimented with different genres. We never said, ‘Oh…let’s do a Reggae song just for the hell of it. We just knew what we liked and what felt right, and what fired us up so that was it.”
GTP: Your music is riveting. It is always very powerful and often hauntingly dark. Where does the angst and the pain come from?
SL: “Each song is inspired by something different. Certainly, sometimes relationships that turned into a lot of grief, heartache and pain, can make people do many different things in response to the suffering they feel. But then we have a song about taking a negative situation and making something positive out of it. Pete doesn’t like to just write about himself and his own life. He likes to write about other people’s experiences that come from so many different places. I think that is what keeps our music interesting because Pete writes about all kinds of things, not the typical I, me, she, he, they, but about real life experiences. Inspiration comes to him from reading a book, watching a documentary or seeing a show, or from meeting someone new.”
GTP: Are there messages in Chevelle’s music?
SL: “Yes. I definitely think there are messages in some of our music, but it is more of a statement. Sometimes a dark alley is just a dark alley! (laughs) That is not my quote but I saw it the other day and I really liked it.”
GTP: You must go through a ton of drum heads with how hard you play. Tell me about the wear and tear of your drums – it must be brutal!
SL: “Actually, surprisingly it’s not an issue. I have a practice kit that I use for rehearsals and stuff, and I keep the same drum heads for years! It’s really about how you play and I only use Kevlar heads.” (Kevlar is 5 times stronger than steel)
GTP: Chevelle will be touring with Evanescence as you did back in 2007. How well do you know them, are you friends?
SL: “We know Amy very well. She is such a genuine person and she is very bright. You can’t help but like her.”
GTP: What was the defining moment in your career with Chevelle when you knew you had made it, when you knew you were true rock stars?
SL: “I don’t think that has ever happened. No matter what you do…you are only as good as your last trick and there are no guarantees. I have never looked at my brother and said, ‘Hey man! We’ve made it!’ And if you made it? Then what are you going to do tomorrow? You are never done, you’ve got to keep working all the time.”
GTP: “Hats Off To The Bull” is so great. What’s next after this tour for you guys?
SL: “Pete is always writing. We have tours through October, then we will work in the studio for a couple months. At Christmas we will take a break and do some traveling with our families, then we go right back into the studio again.”
GTP: CPR Fest 16 is going to be amazing but our August temperatures on the beach will be like walking on the sun. Is Chevelle ready to handle the heat?
SL: “Yeah, oh yeah, and we are happy to do it! Really looking forward to it! We have been having a massive heat wave in Chicago this summer so we have kind of gotten used to the high temperatures, it won’t be too bad and we love it down on the Coast!”