Chevelle: Exclusive Premiere of New Song ‘Young Wicked’ + Interview With Pete Loeffler
Turn it up! Chevelle are on their way back with one of their heaviest albums to date, the high energy release The North Corridor. We recently had a chance to speak with singer-guitarist Pete Loeffler about the band's latest effort, and he also opened up about the single "Joyride," the special edition cover for The North Corridor that features another Loeffler family member and his thoughts on being a more interactive rock band with fans, among other topics.
But wait, there's more! We've got the exclusive premiere of the band's brand-new song "Young Wicked" from The North Corridor album. Listen to the track in the player above, and be sure to pre-order The North Corridor via Amazon or iTunes or in a variety of merch options here. And check out our interview with Pete Loeffler below:
It sounds like you took The North Corridor into a heavier direction. Did you have an idea of what you wanted to do going in?
Definitely going heavier was the idea. I had all these riffs that were knocking around inside my head and I really just started there. You know, the guys were on board with that, as well. I think that over the years we just really enjoyed playing the heavy stuff off our albums rather than the lighter side. So that's really where we went with it. I started writing back in February of 2015 and we did sporadic shows, things like that throughout the year, but essentially I just came home and kept writing, went down to the basement and avoided the cold winter months in sometimes what we call in the Chicagoland area the North Corridor where we live. It can be f--king brutal so we ended up writing this music that's on the heavier side.
I just really like playing heavy music live so like I said it was kind of just the way we were going to go so. If Sam had his way it would all be blast beats and maybe a little more aggro hard rock. Not hard rock, almost like punk rock. He called me up the other day and was like, "Let's go see the Dead Kennedys, they are coming through Chicago." So we're going to go see the Dead Kennedys play and revisit some of our teen years which is going to be unbelievable. I've literally got to go online and listen to my albums. I gotta get my albums out and just listen, so I can rekindle that flame. Sam was always really into punk growing up. So it's actually really surprising we didn't start a punk band, but I didn't really write in that style so we always liked heavy music as well, so it kind of went that way.
You mentioned being inspired by the live shows and the last two or three albums have really thrived on that heavier energy ...
Yeah, I am definitely putting off doing anything acoustic anymore for a while. I have a whole sort of sidebar of acoustic songs that will eventually come out. But I am not sure if it is going to be a Chevelle thing or a personal thing, you know like a side project.
I just feel like Chevelle is going to continue down that heavy road and there is one lighter sided song on this album but as you can tell it is not acoustic in any way. I think it is just the live experience, when you talk to some fans, I have just had a lot of people bring up a lot of old music they wanted to hear. So we're trying to bring in some of that stuff. Whether it's literally playing "Point #1," the song or songs like "Grab My Hand," "Know It All" which are heavier - they are fun for us and I guess they're fun for some of our fans too. It's kind of a good melding, I think. We like to play the heavier stuff too.
We spoke years ago, probably over a decade now, about you starting to get away from doing as much screaming within music, but with the heavier side coming back in, it was great to hear that primal scream in the midst of "Joyride." I know it can't be easy on the voice. Where do you stand on finding that balance of screaming these days?
Yeah, it's not easy. In fact, I'm getting over a sinus infection right now if I sound really, like, nasally it's because I'm still stuffed up. But we've been playing every weekend in the past couple of months and when we do our headline set you are reminded that this is a full-time job. You can't skip a week here and there and then expect to go scream eighteen, twenty songs a night, you know. But, you know, it's kind of what I do so I love it, and there's sort of that, you know, that addicting feeling you get from, from playing a long, hot headline show. It's just where you want to be, you know. It's weird. It's almost like, it just will keep you coming back. Once you play, if you're just playing before someone all the time you're, you're just warming up.
But some of these songs are gonna be tricky for me to sing. It's not always easy but it makes it better in a way too because ... I was actually kind of nervous about playing "Joyride" out. I was really ... it's got some technical fingering on the guitar and I gotta really concentrate on this bridge. It's a three-piece just stripped down and I'm playing through a lot of these new songs and trying to get them ready to play out and there is definitely a point where I'm limited and we're considering having someone else come into play some parts here and there, which we've done a little bit in the past. We have a buddy that plays with us but it's always in the background. He's never [onstage], he doesn't want to be seen, which is kind of funny because then we can call him up and have a good laugh about it but it's, like I said at the end of the day though, even if it's a little different than the album that's ok isn't it? If it's stripped down, as long as the energy's there right?
Right. Getting into some of these songs -- "Joyride" -- tell me where that one comes from and where it came in the process of putting the album together?
Yeah, it's a little reminder to quit chasing the past or wishing for the future type situation. Maybe someone has come into your life like that where they're always just saying how great it used to be or how it's going to be good when this happens or they're actually missing what's going on in the here and now. And I guess it kind of comes from my teens and my youth and just from having a kid. We have a son. He's almost two now. So now, you know I was being a dad and these things are coming up. They're resurfacing and these memories from the past and it's me just wondering what the world's gonna be like when he's older. I guess I was thinking about my younger days when I was writing this song and how I was. I had a lot of really good friends but I had a lot of people who were always, you know, they were searching a lot and everything was intense all the time, you know what I mean? And instead of enjoying life, they were constantly beating themselves down and I think I got pulled into that a little bit when I was in my teens and I guess it came out in song form in this song, so it's just something that no one can control. You might as well just live in the moment and enjoy it because you never know.
It's interesting you mention that, having a little one and growing up and wondering what the world is going to be like. I'm looking at the album cover here in front of me and it's such a striking photo of the kid looking down the hall. Is that also where the album art came from?
Yeah it's also a little horror film-ish. It's kind of a scary movie cover, to me. It was actually shot in my house and that's my son and he just one day was running around and stopped and started looking down the hallway like that. He stood over there for a while, long enough for me to grab my phone and walk over and just snap some photos. I snapped about ten photos of him doing that and said, "What are you looking at?" It kinda creeped me out. So that's where the idea came from and when we went to use my photo from my iPhone, it was a little low-res so when we did a photoshoot here recently in my garage we had the photographer come in and shoot the hallway. Then we could get a little more of a cleaner photo for it. But yeah, the original shot, where it came from was on my iPhone. It kinda gave us an idea for us for a special edition cover.
That's a striking photo. Very cool story too. Thanks for that.
Appreciate that. It's almost classic. I was saying to the guys the other day, had he been wearing anything else, other than that onesie thing it probably wouldn't have worked. I guess there's no way you can be a father and have it not affect you when you're doing something creative like writing music or whatever it is. I guess it does, it comes out in different ways.
You've worked with Joe Barresi on a few albums now and there have been some great headphone moments, including the very first thing we hear in the channels at the beginning of "Door to Door Cannibals" to start the album. Can you talk about what it's meant to have him involved in your music and the discussions you've had regarding what to do with the sound?
This is the third time we've used him so we're really comfortable with that. You can't know how things are going to go before you try, and we kind of like to stick with someone that we have good vibes with. So we did a third one with him, which is cool. I think for some reason we vibe really well. Sadly on this album, some things came up so we didn't get to work as closely as we had hoped. It was real life that came into play and things came up. I was nervous going into the studio because we hadn't seen him and we didn't do a normal pre production. He had the demos and all that, but we dove in the studio and it was good. I'm not going to say that this was an easy album, because it wasn't. This was probably the hardest one that I've done in a long time, probably since our second album, Wonder What's Next, and this one were probably the two hardest I've ever done.
For some reason we had a hard time getting it done. I would work constantly and then we'd get together before constantly and nothing -- things weren't just right until they were right. I was literally finishing the album in my basement. I was literally recording parts and sending / emailing them out to California for him to put on the album. I re-sang one song called "Last Days" - we probably rewrote it three times and then I re-sang it, rewrote the lyrics probably five times which, I don’t know if people know the difficulty of that. You have to completely change your mindset if it's just not working. At the end of it all, you finish an album and you just cannot believe it's over. The only reason it's over is because you've run out of time. When people listen to "Last Days," hopefully they like it. I love it now but there is about three other finished demos of that song that may or may not surface. You never know, but it has a whole different vibe.
So many great songs on this record. "Rivers" because it's a different sounding guitar sound. "Door to Door Cannibals" is a great start to kick off the album with. "Punchline" is the change of pace track. Do you have favorite songs of this disc, and can you talk about why those songs stand out to you?
I guess I have some favorites. They change a lot. When I was finishing up with the song "Enemies," we were having some Internet problems -- some trolls online and everybody's got em, so why should we be any different? But the whole Wikipedia thing is set up like s--t, if you ask me. That song, I talk about it a lot. The sound changed a little bit. There was one [time] where I found some things out about [Wikipedia] and how you can't control your own Wikipedia page and it angered me intensely. There's just so many misquotes and lies online and it's a bummer, I'll just say that. When I found out some things about Wikipedia it was a hard day, so it came out in that song "Enemies," and once people read along with the lyrics I'm sure they will get that and get that anger in my voice.
There's a lot of great things about the Internet and this isn't one of them. The fact that you can't control what people ... Wikipedia is supposed to be this sort of place to get facts or information and most of it's wrong on my site and I apparently can't do much about it. It's bizarre and when people use it as a tool you just cannot trust what you read on there. You just can't.
Starting with the La Gargola album, your social media presence started to get more fan interactive. The website in particular is more social media savvy in terms of the way the band deals with their fans. How has that experience been for you in general? I guess there's more feedback coming back from the fans than ever at this point.
For the most part it's been really good. I don't see Facebook but I'm involved in Twitter. It's a good balance, I guess. I've had people tell me that I don't use Twitter the way anyone else does. Twitter is set up so that you can communicate with your friends or fans if you're an actor or whatever like, every hour and I was like - I can't do that. So I use it the way I like to use it but hopefully that's enough for people, [laughs]. I actually really enjoy Twitter. The people I follow on it that have new and interesting things to say like Anthony Bourdain or Joe Rogan, comedians or people that I find interesting. So I'm constantly learning things from Twitter. For me, it works. I don't interact as much as most but hopefully when I do, it's interesting at the end of the day.
But I think Social Media is here to stay, everybody would agree with that unless there's a big change in the matrix. We're trying to get people to come to our website. We're trying to build that up. At the end of the day, the future is uncertain and you really want -- it's why we were so interactive with our -- when we put out an album, we're trying to sign for everyone. If you're actually coming to our site, you are going to get a little something extra because we do care and spend a lot of time.
We care about what we do and I have to say, I actually enjoy Loudwire's site, too. I check it all the time. Sometimes, believe it or not, I won't even know I'm playing on a certain show until I hear it on Loudwire, [laughs]. It just happens that way. There are so many things and decisions being made all the time and I don't make them all myself. My brother is involved a lot with that aspect, so I'll always know where I'm going to be three months from now.
I saw on your website your support of the Double Door venue in Chicago as they go through issues with their lease. I know that venue has been a Chicago staple for some time and was big for your band coming up through the ranks. What did playing the Double Door mean to you as a band coming up through Chicago?
We were always the band that plays on a Tuesday or Thursday night. We'd play with whoever, but that's what you did when you're trying to start out. I think we played pretty much everything we could. It was all about our friends just pushing us and saying hey, they were excited so it got us excited. So one thing led to another. Backyard BBQs turned into meeting other people and they going out into the city. It was a lot of, kind of a crazy time because I don't think any of us were 21 when we started. You're playing at 10pm, during the week and you had to hangout outside after doors opened so you had to, [laughs] either wait until your turn to get on stage. We started fairly young but really didn't start touring until I think I was about 21. The Chicago scene is cool, I have a lot of friends and I don't speak to them as much as I would like to but a lot of friends that we've played a lot of shows with. Some of them are here and some of them are not, like everyone else we have lives. We were a Double Door band for many, many years. For some reason it took a while before we went over to The Metro which was a sister club owned by the same people at the time, I believe. But that was OK. It was good times. It was crazy. So many stories, so many crazy things happened. Then when you hit the road, more things happen. Crazy. Long time.
Anything else on the horizon?
A lot of touring. [Fans] can go to getmorechevelle.com to get more of that. Or they can find it wherever they normally do. A lot of touring and it starts in July. We're going to be doing some dates with our old friends Bush again and some dates with old friends Disturbed again. All of those dates will be getting posted and a lot of them are posted right now, but I think a lot of them are still getting finalized. We're trying to get back to Mexico for our first show, and get back to Europe. Those are all things that are in the works right now. I hope people dig it. These songs are going to be insane to play live and they're not going to be easy for me, but that's what it's [pulling me to anyway, just that challenge. So I hope people dig it and dig the heavy road we're going down.
Our thanks to Chevelle's Pete Loeffler for the interview. The band's new album, The North Corridor, is due July 8 via Epic Records. You can pre-order the disc via Amazon and iTunes or with a variety of merch options here. Look for Chevelle tour dates here and keep up with all band happenings at their website.
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