Alternative rock/metal outfit Chevelle may a household name in the US, but they still have a lot of ground to cover here in Europe. Ray from ThisIsNotAScene talked to drummer Sam Loeffler about the band’s latest album, entitled “La Gorgola”, its writing and recording process and winning over the Old Continent…
Congrats on releasing such a strong and convincing album as La Gorgola. Are you happy the way it came out eventually?
Yes, absolutely. The writing process takes a long time and the songs go through a lot of demo versions before we record it.
La Gargola means gargoyle in Spanish. What’s the idea behind the album title and how does it tie in with the themes and subjects touched in the lyrics?
It takes a bit of a think to name a record. There are a few songs about some fun subjects like horror movies and ghosts and things. The title has a little to do with that.
“Hats Off To The Bull” was (and still is) a very strong release in its own right. Did you guys feel any pressure in coming up with a suitable follow-up record while working on “La Gargola”?
Not really. We approach a record like we always do. We write songs that we want to play every day live and on stage. Hopefully the turns into a cohesive record.
Can you take us through the creative and recording process? What were you guys aiming for?
We just work to make a true record. We are able to record to 2″ tape and we just play the songs until they are right. We still have to “punch” a little bit but the songs are basically complete takes. No “auto tune” or quantizing. Knowing that you don’t have those airbags waiting to catch you makes for a much better performance.
You guys are not afraid to include some social commentary in your lyrics, most notably on “Take Out The Gunman”. Would you describe Chevelle is a socially conscious or even a political band to a certain extent?
Not really. Pete just likes to write about things around him that effect other people as well as him. Much more interesting than writing about girls and break ups and all that crap.
Joe Barresi was once again brought in as producer. What makes working with him so great and what did he bring to the table, producer/sound-wise?
He isn’t afraid of anything and keeps working hard to push us. He also knows everything about his gear and has an extensive knowledge about music. This helps to keep us on track and also helps to give us ideas from lots of classic rock songs.
Chevelle is very much a family affair in the most literal sense of the word. What are the pros and cons of this close kind of relationship?
I think that its all we really know so I am not sure what the cons are. But we very much stay professional and treat each other well. That keeps us together as a band.
In the US Chevelle is seen as one of the big names within the alternative rock/metal scene, but over here in Europe the band hasn’t reach that stage yet. Is that a point of concern for you guys?
We haven’t been able spend hardly any time in Europe. In the past we didn’t have support and its expensive to travel all the way. But we are making it a priority now and spending our own money so hopefully we get the word out. We will be doing a 2 week headline later in the year.
Chevelle is signed to Epic, which is subsidiary of Sony Music. Do you think there’s still room for major labels like them now all the crowdfunding stuff going on? What are the perks for a band like Chevelle being signed to a major label?
It’s really hard to tell. Crowd funding seems to work but on a very small level. Money makes the marketing machine go round.
Touring can be quite a tedious business. What do you do to overcome the sheer boredness of travelling for days on a tour bus and how do you keep yourself in shape both mentally and physically?
We work out a little, rehearse and practice, spend some time drinking, communicate with our families and friends and the rest of the time is spent doing press and other show related activities. There honestly is not a lot of extra time.
Finally, what touring do you guys have in support of La Gargola and what is next on any possible side projects you might have?
We have a ton of touring to do. 2 more headline runs in the U.S. and Canada (each 5 weeks) as well as 2 short runs in Europe. That’s all before November. More to come…