By Drew Ailes
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By Kyra Scrimgeour
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By Tom Murphy
Brothers Pete and Sam Loeffler, who formed Chevelle while still in high school, have essentially been performing as a band half their lives. They started writing music when Sam was just fourteen and Pete was twelve, and began playing gigs around Chicago just four years later, in 1995. Since then, the band has gradually risen to prominence with the help of 2002's Wonder What's Next, which went platinum, partly on the strength of the single "Send the Pain Below." In 2005, the Loeffler brothers parted ways with their younger brother, Joe, who was replaced by bassist Dean Bernadini, a brother-in-law. Last month, the band released its sixth studio effort, Sci-Fi Crimes, which was mixed and produced by Jane's Addiction producer Brian Virtue. We spoke with Sam, who was resting between tours, about Sci-Fi Crimes and working with Virtue.
Westword: I read that you were really trying to capture the live energy of your shows with Sci-Fi Crimes. Do you think you succeeded in doing that?
Sam Loeffler: I hope so. I mean, within reason, of course. Certainly we played as a band, which is part of the fun. I don't know. I think we got a portion of it. I think more than anything, what we were going for was the actual sound of live. So, like, the drums are all real drums, and it's all one take. It's not like going through and quantizing and adding all these samples over the top of it. It sounds like the real drum kit and sounds like a real song.
What did Brian Virtue bring to the table as far as production goes?
He basically gave us the ability to be able to do that. Without him it would have been much more difficult, because a lot of producers want to be more involved than that. We wanted somebody to encourage us to do our thing and add their thing to it, but not have their thing overtake our thing. That's certainly difficult to do, but he was great. He was awesome.
I heard that Pete was saying that you guys were listening to some Jane's Addiction albums like Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual when you were making Sci-Fi Crimes. Were you using those albums as a reference?
Yeah, I think he was. He was just remembering what those records were like and why he liked them. I think we all pretty much all do that; it's a pretty normal thing.
Was there anything else you were listening to while you were making the album as reference points?
Not really, nothing that was really significant. I think that Pete just remembers stuff, and that's why he was kind of doing that. But it wasn't so much trying to make something sound like something. I honestly don't listen to much music, especially when we're working on a record, because you spend so much time working on those songs, there's no time to even listen to music. All you're doing is listening to your own music and writing your music, and there's no time for anything else.