Chevelle Bucks 'New Metal' On Epic Debut

After Chevelle's successful second-stage outing on Ozzfest 2002, the Loeffler brotherly trio -- Pete (singer/guitarist), Sam (drums), and Joe (bass) -- received a pleasant surprise when its Epic debut

After Chevelle's successful second-stage outing on Ozzfest 2002, the Loeffler brotherly trio -- Pete (singer/guitarist), Sam (drums), and Joe (bass) -- received a pleasant surprise when its Epic debut, "Wonder What's Next," debuted three weeks ago at No. 14 on The Billboard 200. When lined up next to its first album, 1999's "Point #1," Sam Loeffler tells Billboard.com the differences are obvious and intentional.

"The production of 'Point #1' was a lot different," says Loeffler. "It was real free-flowing. I actually consider our first album to be more indie rock than anything. And with this record, the production was better. We really wanted to have a heavy sound that wasn't very metal. And we wanted to keep the melody in the songs." First single "The Red" is No. 10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and No. 12 on the Modern Rock Tracks tally this week.

That dynamic of heavy and melodic material combined with Pete's propensity for singing rather than screaming, has created many favorable comparisons to the sound and mindset of Tool. That's a change from the debut disc, which Sam admits is heavily influenced by Helmet.

Oddly enough, despite Chevelle's new metal tendencies, they've unknowingly been lumped into the Christian rock movement. The band's former label, Squint Entertainment, was home to a few Christian rock acts so by association, Chevelle was considered to be in the same vein.

"I think there are certain people out there that need that confidence that what they are listening to is not motivated by something evil," Sam says. "And in order to listen to music, they have to be assured of that. It's not like it bothers us either. It's certainly not a bad thing to be called. It's better than being a satanic band, I suppose."

Nevertheless, Chevelle -- named after the trio's car-crazy father's favorite muscle ride -- is currently on the road opening for Slipknot singer Corey Taylor's band Stone Sour. The new year will find Chevelle headlining clubs, to be followed by an opening slot on a bigger tour and even perhaps a return to Ozzfest 2003 if the invitation was extended. In the meantime, the Loefflers are hoping to attract one fan at a time.

"I've been told by a lot of people that it was the best rock show they had ever seen," says Sam. "And what would make the difference is if you really dig the music. I hope people are getting it. I think they are."