It’s a recent weekday afternoon and Sam Loeffler, drummer for alt-metal band Chevelle, is preparing for the band’s quick run of concerts in Europe.
For a rock band, packing for performances can only mean a suitcase full of designer clothes or trendy T-shirts, right?
“Honestly, I just throw a bunch of stuff in [the luggage] out of my closet and that’s about it,” he said in a phone interview with The Blade. “It’s a funny question. We’ve never really been a costume band. Pretty much whatever we’re wearing is what we wear onstage.
“Dean [Bernardini, Loeffler’s brother-in-law and the band’s bassist] and I often have contests to see who can bring less on tour. One time Dean didn't bring anything [but] a T-shirt, a change of underwear, and a magazine. So he won that time. That was just a weekend show.”
As low-maintenance as the three members of Chevelle dress for their stage show — including Loeffler’s brother Pete, the band’s singer, guitarist, and chief creative force — one on-the-road imperative might surprise you: slip-on shoes.
“So you can get up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom without having to step into somebody else’s pee when you’re on the bus,” Loeffler said. “At the end of the day, whatever makes you feel comfortable for your show, but I don’t know. We’re just a rock band. We always say that. We’re not saving lives.”
Loeffler called to promote the band’s upcoming Toledo gig. Chevelle performs at 9 p.m. Friday in an outdoor concert at Hollywood Casino Toledo, 777 Hollywood Blvd. General admission tickets for the 21-and-older show are $30. Doors open at 8 p.m. For more information, call (419) 661-5200 or visit hollywoodcasinotoledo.com.
Toledo is familiar terrain for the band, which has played in and around the area numerous times through the years. Plus, Chevelle is a Midwest band through and through, and has that workmanlike mentality that, stereotype or not, is often a trait of regional rock and roll.
The trio formed nearly 20 years ago in Chicago as an all-brother band, with Joe handling bass duties — he would later be kicked out of the band and hasn’t spoken to his brothers in the decade since — and by 1999 released their first album, Point #1. After heavy touring as a supporting act, Chevelle broke through to audiences with 2002‘’s Wonder What’s Next, which went platinum, followed by 2004‘’s This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In) and 2007’s Vena Sera. While successful, these records were musical warm-ups for what was to come, Loeffler said.
“We were still developing who we were as a band,” he said. “I want to say that people who were involved with us — record label, management, A&R person, whomever — those people were reluctant to let us do what we wanted to do. They would still let us do it, but they would still push in the direction of maybe certain producers or certain sounds. … You really have to have some success in order to do whatever you want.”
It was 2009’s Sci-Fi Crimes, then, that marked the biggest turning point for the band as it finally had the clout to push itself beyond musical limitations from its label. This meant working in the studio and recording one instrument at a time.
“Sci-Fi Crimes is where that part started because we said, ‘You know what, we’ve done it this other way and it’s not interesting to us and doesn’t sound like a band.’ From then on that’s the way we recorded.”
The band‘’s latest album, La Gárgola, released earlier this year, is perhaps the band’s boldest move yet, a mix of prog-rock anthems, hard-charging bashers, and catchy alt-rock, especially Take out the Gunman. La Gárgola debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts and was well-received by critics. Not that Loeffler cares. Opinions don’t matter so much to the band, he said, especially the negative criticism.
“At the end of the day, we keep saying we’re writing music that we want to be able to play all the time. We have to get up there onstage and have to play that music. I keep telling people, they ask me what’s your advice about being in a band, being a musicians and writing and all these things, and I tell them, just don’t write music that you don’t want to play. Sometimes people will write music where they think, ‘this will really connect’ or ‘it sounds like Coldplay.’ But if you hate it, probably everyone else is going to hate it too.”
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.