"We don't set out to write painful, sad or a downer type of music. It's just that that type of music is the style we've grown up with. We're really influenced by some punk, some early aggressive stuff, and it just kind of stuck with us."
--Chevelle's Pete Loeffler

by Dan MacIntosh for the Music Channel at crosswalk.com


The group {{Chevelle}} consists of three (mostly) law-abiding brothers who share the last name of Loeffler. The word "mostly" is applied, since a copy of singer Pete Loeffler's citation for unapproved skateboarding in his high school parking lot is printed on the inside of the trio's debut CD's jewel box. "It was actually only a notice," clarifies Pete. "I didn't actually get convicted of it or anything."

These three rockers, whose Squint album is called ==Point #1==, may not really be outlaws, but with the high noise level raised by their revved-up take on rock music, they clearly stand out from the pack of today's Christian music scene.

"It's in there to kind of let people know that that I am a skater," continues Pete in his own defense. Although he -- along with about 20 other of his skating friends -- all received these warnings, he never once felt as if he was doing anything wrong. "I never thought skateboarding was a crime," he adds sheepishly.

What would have been a crime, though, is if none of Pete's brothers and sisters ended up making music. There are a total of seven offspring in the Loeffler family, and all were given at least a little musical training. "We all had to play piano for a couple of years," remembers Loeffler. "But the only people who are going anywhere with playing music, are the people in the band."

Pete holds down the guitar and vocal duties for Chevelle, Joe plays the bass and Sam is the group's drummer. "My mom plays the guitar," continues Pete, "and her side of the family was really into bands and all that, and I think that's where we all got it from. She's always sung praise tunes for prayer meetings, and stuff like that."

Their dad's impact, on the other hand, brings on the noise for the group's sound. "He actually builds street rods," explains Pete. "It's a hobby; it's not his full time job."

For their "real" job, the Loefflers turn to something a little more organic to earn their daily bread. "Sam and myself and my father work together. We have a carpentry business."

As carpenters, Sam and Pete do a lot of remodeling work. "We do basements or bathrooms or kitchens. Additions on houses, that kind of thing," says Pete.

Carpentry is not just a job: It's a door to the future. Sam Loeffler realizes that rock & roll fame-if it even comes at all -- is fleeting. "I'm learning things I can use for myself in the future."

And just as they've picked up their dad's day job vocation, they've also adopted his love for working on cars. "Where other kids were into sports, because their dads were into that," says Pete. "We're were into cars, because our dad was into that. And that's kind of where the name Chevelle came from."

Although they've named themselves after a retro '60/'70s motor vehicle, their sound is clearly a shiny new '90s model.

One might call Chevelle's music progressive hard rock, similar to secular bands such as Helmet and Tool. "The aggressiveness of our music," explains Pete "comes from our passion for cars and speed and all that."

The songs themselves express a lot of the pain that can come from modern day living. Nevertheless, Chevelle isn't out to be a Gloomy Gus, per se. "We don't set out to write painful, sad or a downer type of music," clarifies Pete. "It's just that that type of music is the style we've grown up with. We're really influenced by some punk, some early aggressive stuff, and it just kind of stuck with us."

"We're just not really into the happy side of music," he continues. "Sure, we appreciate it, (and) we do have some music like that that we listen to. But for some reason, the way we write it it comes out serious, and sometimes on the darker side."

You'd think that with the combination of carpentry work by day, and the pounding out of rock & roll songs by night, these guys would have ample opportunity to workout each and every ounce of their aggressions. But that's not so.

"For me, playing drums -- especially playing live -- is actually a little bit of a stressful thing," says the still-stressed Sam. "Our music is what some people might call a little bit complicated, and so sometimes I'm not able to enjoy what might be the stress free part of it -- which is just pounding away -- because I have to really keep concentrating."

The story has it that when {{Steve Taylor}} of Squint first sited Chevelle, it was on a night when the band was opening for ska big wigs {{Insyderz}}. The group stuck to its guns, even though the young kids in the audience kept chanting "ska ska ska." "We did have kids skank to our music," recalls bassist Joe in unbelief. "It was kind of funny."

Although Chevelle would never want to limit its music to just any one particular type of listener, it's doubtful that hyper ska fans are the intended primary audience for their chosen demanding genre. "We want reach the person that probably doesn't even go to church, and probably doesn't have Christian music or Christian friends," says Pete "I would like to be in their CD collection, and I would like to meet them at a show, and to influence them in a positive way."

"That's kind of the market we're shooting for," he continues. "We're going to be playing a lot of secular clubs, and rarely any Christian shows. That's where we feel God is leading us."

To some degree, {{Chevelle}} is planning a sneak attack: They want listeners to warm up to their music-even before they know that this is a trio of Christians. "A lot of Christians get a bad rap, even before people know you. We're kind of keeping a low profile, and we're just gonna kind of see where God takes us. Then we'll look for the opportunities to witness."

"Squint is really trying to break down the walls where Christian bands labeled (as Christian bands), so that people will listen to it because it's good music, and not just because the musicians have the same faith as they have."

Much like another famous carpenter from 2000 years ago, {{Chevelle}} is breaking down walls of division. But at the same time, it is also building bridges of reconciliation, which is all the more reason to keep an eye on the path of this vintage vehicle.