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Chevelle Is Family That Plays Together

Of the Oakland Press

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The family that plays together doesn’t always stay together — and sometimes that’s a good thing.

Pete and Sam Loeffler of Chicago hard rockers Chevelle certainly feel that way. In 2005, after three albums, they parted ways with their younger brother, bassist Joe Loeffler, after a long and stormy decade together.

And after recording their latest album, this week’s “Vena Sera,” with brother-in-law Dean Bernardini, neither of the remaining Loefflers is bemoaning the loss.

“The only thing that’s different right now about my relationship with Joe is that he’s not in the band,” says singer-guitarist Pete, 30. “We didn’t talk before, we don’t talk now. He never acted like we were all a part of a family. He did his thing, we did ours. He wouldn’t let certain people into that world of his.”

Sam, 32, concurs that “Joe kinda did his own thing, which is fine.” But the drummer isn’t about to completely dismiss his sibling’s role in Chevelle’s success, which includes 2002’s platinum “Wonder What’s Next” and its gold-certified follow-up, “This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In),” in 2004, as well as stints on the OZZFest and Music as a Weapon tours.

“Y’know, everything we went through as a band we went through together,” he says. “It wasn’t like we had tons of bad times all the time. But when things were bad, they were really bad.

“Now it’s a different band because we have a different dynamic. Pete and Dean and I are so close. We hang out all the time, all three of us, go to bars together, events and stuff. It’s great to be close to the people you work so close with.”

Bernardini was in the Chevelle orbit as part of the Chicago rock scene even before he started dating the Loefflers’ sister, Natalie, who’s now pregnant. The Loefflers acknowledge the relationship was “weird” when it began.

“I remember when Dean said to me, ‘I’m dating your sister,’ ” Sam says, “and we were like, ‘Oh, it’s OK.’ Then we turned to her and said, ‘You’re crazy!’ ”

But, they say now, he’s a perfect fit for the group.

“He’s an incredible musician,” Pete notes. “He’s a drummer. He had played other instruments for many years but never focused on bass before. He picked it up and went to town. He showed us what we could do and blew us away.”

The invigorated trio made “Vena Sera” in Las Vegas with producer Michael “Elvis” Baskette. They know all about the “What Happens in Vegas ...” credo, but the group had such a good time the Loefflers can’t help but talk about it.

“It’s funny,” Sam says, “because people ask ‘Why Vegas?’ kind of knowing why — they just want to hear us say it. So, yeah, we said, ‘Where should we do a record that would be crazy fun?’ And then we said, ‘Vegas!’ And it was a riot.”

Working at a studio in the Palms hotel and casino, Chevelle enjoyed VIP rooms and luxury cars provided by owner Gavin Maloof. They’d wake up in the late morning, hit the studio by 1 p.m. for about 10 hours, then party into the night.

“Whenever we’d blow out of (the studio) we’d blow out,” notes Pete, who celebrated his 30th birthday during the sessions. “We did a lot of parties and all that, a lot of hanging out. It was probably the best record-making experience I’ve had to date.”

“I don’t think we stayed in even one night,” Sam adds. “It was like a vacation — but we were able to charge it back to the band. It so worked.”

Chevelle, Finger Eleven and Strata perform Saturday (April 7th) at the Emerald Theatre, 31 N. Walnut St., Mount Clemens. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $23 in advance, $25 day of show. Call (586) 913-1920 or visit www. emeraldtheatre.com

Web Site: www.emeraldtheatre.com

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