Artist Spotlight: Chevelle

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It’s amazing what one family can accomplish. In the early 90’s, three brothers started teaching themselves how to play instruments in their parents’ garage. Twenty years later, the band that those brothers formed has released seven records, and sold over four million albums in the U.S. One of those albums went platinum, another gold. The three brothers named their band after one of their father’s favorite cars: Chevelle. Chevelle officially formed in 1995 in the suburbs of Chicago by Pete (guitar, vocals), Sam (drums), and Joe Loeffler (bass). For the first couple years of its existence, the band only played outdoor shows and clubs in their area.

In 1999 the band released their debut album Point #1, which was produced by Steve Albini. The album featured singles “Mia” and “Point #1”, both of which received GMA Dove Awards. The band got their big break in 2002 with their album Wonder What’s Next. The record reached No. 14 on the Billboard 200 chart and went platinum. Two singles were successful: “The Red” reached No. 3 on the mainstream rock charts, and “Send the Pain Below” peaked at No. 1 on the modern and mainstream rock charts. After the album was released, Chevelle played Ozzfest and toured with Audiosoave and Disturbed.

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In 2004 Chevelle released its third album, This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In). This record gained similar levels of success as the band’s previous effort, with singles “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)” and “The Clincher” reaching No. 1 and No. 3 on the mainstream rock chart, respectively. After the record hit stores, Joe left Chevelle. There is still some debate over the circumstances of the departure. Joe claims he was fired, while Pete and Sam say that he quit. Geno Lenardo of Filter temporarily took over bass duties, but in 2006 Chevelle found a new permanent bassist: the Loeffler brothers’ brother-in-law: Dean Bernardini. Bernardini joined the band just in time for a nation-wide arena tour supporting Nickelback. Since 2006, Chevelle has released four more well-received albums and continued an ambitious touring cycle.

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Chevelle has been called alternative metal, hard rock, and post-grunge by fans and critics. This is a fairly accurate assessment, but it does not do the band’s music justice. The Daily Texan described Chevelle’s sound as “a kind of controlled chaos, a beautiful darkness, a gentle rampage of aural velocity,” and this is more accurate than any genre-label the group could be given. Chevelle is driven by Pete’s hard-hitting, down-tuned guitar, Bernardini’s percussive bass playing, and Sam’s steady rhythmic drumming. The group started off as a typical hard rock band, but as their career developed, they became increasingly experimental. Their 2009 release Sci-fi Crimes is a great example of Chevelle trying – and succeeding at – something different. The record veers in a different direction than previous albums, especially in the lyrics. Before, Pete mainly wrote about personal issues. But Sci-fi Crimes deals with everything, from apparitions to conspiracy theories to erratic sleeping conditions. Chevelle’s newest album took a sharp turn as well; it is by far the group’s darkest album. La Gárgola was released in 2014 and showed that after twenty years, the band still has much to offer, and they won’t be quitting any time soon.

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Chevelle is a band that is not afraid to take risks and change their sound. The three-piece from Chicago continues to impact the lives of thousands of fans, and they will continue to for years to come.

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Image via Wikimedia.