by Alan Sculley and Mike Corrigan

After Chevelle wrapped up work on its second album, the 2002 release Wonder What's Next, the band's singer, Pete Loeffler was left thinking the album wasn't everything it could have been. This, of course, is a feeling that's common among recording artists, who often look back after the fact and find flaws and missed opportunities to improve on the songs they had previously declared as finished.

"I can listen to that CD and think, 'Wow, the tones are there, everything's great, but I wish I would have done this or taken this a little bit further,'" Loeffler says. "It's hard to say if that's me thinking it's not done yet or just never being happy."

Chevelle is headlining the Winterfresh Sno-Core tour, which is making a stopover in our hood this Friday night at the Big Easy Concert House.

While hindsight may be 20-20, the reality in Chevelle's case is that Loeffler and his bandmates -- brothers Joe (bass) and Sam (drums) -- were so eager to finish Wonder What's Next that it was easy to stop short of going the extra mile in the studio.

"It wasn't a great experience," Loeffler says of the recording sessions. "We were in a different country [Canada] for a couple of months. It was around 9/11, and we couldn't be home with the people we cared about. So it was really stressful and really hard. And I think at one point, we did -- we just wanted to finish and move forward instead of being stuck in one area. That played into the record."

The band's doubts about Wonder What's Next didn't seem to factor when it came to the public response to the album, which became the Chicago-based group's breakthrough, topping one million in sales and producing hit singles with "The Red" and "Send the Pain Below."

But the nagging doubts about Wonder What's Next could have been played into the band's thinking when it came time to record its recently released third outing, This Type of Thinking (Could Do Us In). With the new album, Loeffler and his brothers were determined to make sure they didn't let anything slide by before declaring it a finished product. And fortunately, this time, the recording sessions were anything but a drag.

"We had a great time recording it. It was very enjoyable," says Loeffler. "We went to L.A. It was warm and sunny, which is something we don't get a lot in Chicago. So it was a totally different vibe. We got along great with everyone we worked with, and it turned out to be a more complete record. So I think there's definitely something to be said for being comfortable when you work, because if you're not, you may not come out with something you're happy with."

The good vibes in the studio and the added attention to detail seem to be paying off. This Type of Thinking has gotten off to a strong start, producing a single, "Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)." The song, which Loeffler didn't finish until pre-production for the CD, topped Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart and remained in the Top 10 both there and in Modern Rock for nearly six months.

The band has a second single, "The Clincher," waiting in the wings. Although Chevelle is trying to cut an acoustic version of the song for Top 40 radio, Loeffler is pleased that it appears the album version will at least be released to rock stations.

That's because "The Clincher" is one of several songs on This Type of Thinking displaying the kind of heaviness in Chevelle's music that was at times overlooked on Wonder What's Next and the band's 1999 debut, Point #1.

That's not to say the melodic side of the band's music is missing on This Type of Thinking, but the surging riffs, the rumbling low end on songs like "The Clincher," "Get Some," "Tug-O-War" and "Another Know It All" show an affinity for metal and heavy rock that wasn't always associated with Chevelle.

"We've always been into hard rock music," explains Loeffler. "The bands that we've toured with, a lot of them are very heavy, and I think it kind of -- it's just a style that we're into. It's a style that is the most intense to play live, for me anyway."

Chevelle will be showcasing its muscular sound for the next two months as the band heads up this year's edition of the Winterfresh Sno-Core tour, a multi-act tour that has become a popular annual part of the winter tour season. This year's bill also features the fast-rising hard rock band Crossfade, as well as Helmet, Future Leaders of the World and Strata.

Although Chevelle could have done a headlining tour of its own, Loeffler says he's excited that the group landed the slot on this established package tour.

"Definitely headlining's where it's at, and Sno-Core is a big thing to be involved in," he says. "It's a lot of promotion. That was pretty much what was appealing."

Lessons in Jazz -- Brubeck. The name itself packs a wallop. It's a name nearly synonymous with postmodern jazz. So it is no wonder that we invoke it here as we let you know about the 2005 SFCC Jazz Festival this weekend on the SFCC campus.

The SFCC Jazz Festival has a long tradition of bringing world-class contemporary jazz musicians to Spokane for an entire weekend's worth of instruction and performance, thus making it one of the high holidays for anyone with a hankering for this sophisticated yet emotional American popular music style. The festival performances for 2005 kick off this Friday night with featured guest artist and Grammy nominated trombonist Conrad Herwig and continue on Saturday with (yep, you got it) the Brubeck Brothers Quartet.

Friday evening's headliner, Conrad Herwig is quite simply one of the most accomplished trombonists on the planet. His 2004 album, Another Kind of Blue: The Latin Side of Miles Davis, has received a Grammy nomination this year for "Best Latin Jazz Album." Performing with Herwig on Friday night will be regional notables Danny McCollim, Rick Westrick and Eugene Jablonsky, along with the SFCC Jazz Ensemble directed by Brian Ploeger.

As the sons of the incomparable jazz pianist and bandleader Dave Brubeck, Chris and Dan Brubeck -- who headline the Festival's Saturday night romp -- had the unique privilege of growing up listening to, studying with and eventually playing alongside some of the undisputed jazz legends of our time. Yet their own tastes were forged during the 1960s, a musical era that placed a high value on innovation, if not revolution. This melding of styles, influences and attitudes produced a rhythm section (with Chris on bass and bass trombone and Dan on drums) and a band (with the addition of Mike DeMicco on guitar and Chuck Lamb on piano) able to combine straight-ahead jazz and funk with the odd time signatures for which the elder Brubeck was known to create a stylistically unique and thematically exciting musical bridge that lands listeners squarely in the modern age.

Dan Brubeck is a recent transplant to the Inland Northwest. He and his family live in Nelson, British Columbia. He made his first professional recordings when he was only 11, and he has since matured into a drummer respected by his peers and music critics and loved by audiences. His brother Chris has received similar accolades for his bass and bass trombone work. During performances, Chris often switches from one to the other (with Chuck Lamb covering the bass lines on keyboard), lending additional color to the group's sonic tapestry. This versatility within the Brubeck Brothers Quartet is well documented on the group's debut recording, Second Nature, on Blue Forest Records. -- Mike Corrigan

Publication date: 2/03/05

Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 16
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