Chevelle guitarist talks about the group’s “not easy” new album
By Gary Graff
July 8, 2016
Chevelle frontman Pete Loeffler had no doubt about where he wanted to take the band’s new album, The North Corridor, once he started writing songs during February of 2016. And it wasn’t hard to get the buy-in of older brother and drummer Sam Loeffler and bassist/brother-in-law Dean Bernardini.
“I had a really good grasp on what I wanted it to sound like,” Loeffler tells Billboard about The North Corridor, which comes out July 8 and includes the track “Rivers,” which is debuted below. “I talked with the guys and said, ‘I really want to make a really heavy record this time around, go back to our [2002’s] Wonder What’s Next roots a little bit. And it’s what we like to play live, so it just made sense. Sam and Dean love heavy music as well; Sam likes a lot of hardcore, screamo stuff, so he was happy with that. They basically let me go and agreed that heavy was a good way to go.”
That said, it took a bit of arm-twisting for Loeffler to get his brother up to his home studio to demo tracks for Chevelle’s eighth studio set.
“A couple months before we start up, I’m like: ‘Hey bud, what do you think? You wanna play some drums today?’” Loeffler says with a laugh. “And then you’ve got to get him over. He’s so interested in his Cafe Racer motorcycles and his German and his Italian motorcycles that it’s hard to nail him down. It’s almost all-consuming with him, and it’s fun and it’s his passion. So when it comes to: ‘Hey, it’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you come over and let’s hang out in my dark basement,’ he’s not always excited to do that. But eventually he gets down there and we get stuff done.”
Chevelle recorded The North Corridor primarily in Los Angeles with producer Joe Barresi, who’s on his third consecutive album with the Chicagoland-based trio. But some of it, most notably the track “Last Days,” was subsequently finished in Pete Loeffler’s home studio back in Illinois, where he grappled with some lingering dissatisfaction with the album.
“This record was not easy. This record was tough,” Loeffler acknowledges. “I basically didn’t know if we were ever gonna finish it. It was almost like I wasn’t happy with anything. There were a few songs that I knew were great ideas, and yet I couldn’t put them out the way they were, so we actually had a point of crisis in the studio. We had some depressing moments there. I literally left L.A. without (‘Last Days’) done, and I came home and worked on it at my house and added all these new parts and emailed them off to Joe Barresi. I think I was over-complicating the whole thing, but I’m happy that it worked out.”
The dynamic, ebb-and-flowing “Rivers,” on the other hand, came much easier for Chevelle.
“That’s one of the songs that Sam really grabbed onto and likes a lot,” says Loeffler, whose photo of his two-year-old son graces the cover of the Deluxe Edition of The North Corridor. “It’s got that sort of Spanish-style guitar in the beginning and sort of an Italian vibe in the middle. And it’s got this heavy aspect to it, so it’s got the light and it’s got the heavy, and then it’s got an epic ending. You finish an album and you don’t even want to look at it, but it’s been a couple of months now and I was driving the other day and I put it on and I had to pull over and text my brother and say: ‘Dude, I have to say good job on [‘Rivers’]. It’s hard to have a clear perspective when you’re in the thick of it. And that’s one I can’t wait to play live.”
Chevelle will be doing just that throughout the summer, mixing its own shows with a tour with Bush that begins July 23. The group currently has shows announced into October, and dates for a fall run with fellow Chicagoans Disturbed is set to be announced soon.
“It’s been years since we toured with those guys,” Loeffler notes, “and they’re from Chicago as well, so we’ve known them for years. We see eye to eye on a lot of different things and David Draiman has been a friend over the years that I could call and ask about various tough questions, and he’s actually done the same with me, called and asked my advice on things. You find friends where you find them and they’ve been a good band for us to tour with before, so we’re gonna give it another shot and see how it goes.”