Interview: The Chevelles

Duane Smith (The Chevelles)
Interview by Leo Abbs

Things may have appeared to have slowed down in the last few years for local Power Pop band The Chevelles, with it being 12 months since they last played live. However, it’s not necessarily the case with a new worldwide deal being signed with US Label Wicked Cool Records. Their first release through the label being a Chevelles retrospective in 2008 followed by the band’s first album since 2002’s ‘Girl God’, called ‘Accelerator’.

Perth Sounds caught with Duane Smith to find out more about the new deal, and a little about the Chevelles history.

The band has been around for 18 years, and have ventured out to Europe on numerous occasions, also the US and Brazil. Smith said that the biggest success hasn’t actually come in Australia, but in Brazil.

‘Probably Brazil where we sold most records, we had a record deal out there. We sold two thousand copies originally. We sold quite a few records in the mid nineties. Then we got invited back each year to do some shows and play some really big festivals.We went over as part of the Australian surf music festival in Brazil with Yothu Yindi, Gangjagang and Spy Vs Spy and we toured around and played to 30,000 people on the beach, and other big festivals and our own shows with between 2 and 5,000 capacity. That was probably the biggest market we got into. The main areas where we sold records were Spain and Brazil.’

Spain was the first country where The Chevelles travelled to out of Australia in 1991. Smith recalls it was a chance meeting at a gig in Sydney, which opened the door for the band to expand overseas.

‘There’s a funny story about that. We were playing a ‘Rock Against Work’ which is an afternoon gig on a Thursday at the Hopetoun in Sydney and these Spanish guys came up and said ‘Do you want to play (in) Spain? You’re quite big in Majorca, there’s a big festival there do you want to play?’ We built a 42 date European tour around those gigs.’

So what’s it like when a little Perth band, and you get popular on the other side of the world and you come back and play the Amplifier Bar?

‘We are all pretty realists, we’ve been doing it for a long time now. We were the next big thing on triple J in the early 90s and we were getting flogged by Triple J, and doing sizable tours and playing big crowds here. We found other countries to go to, there’s never really been a lull. And there was always somewhere to go. If we are playing to 50 people at a bar somewhere, it’s still rock’n’roll.’

One thing that Smith has noticed, is that after being around for nearly two decades, is that bands have started naming his band as an influence.

‘We’re 18 years old now, and In the past few years, a lot of bands are getting myspaces and putting us and other bands as influences. It’s like we get underground and cult status in pockets all over the places. It feels good and keeps us going again.’

After the Amplifier show, it will be time for an extensive overseas tour for the group, with fellow Perth band Gigantic.

‘Gigantic are going as well. They’re doing the whole leg with us, it’s part of Artswa mentoring grant, where the old blokes take young blokes on tour. (We’re) going to Sweden, London, and Switzerland, then 2 weeks in Spain. New York, South By South West in Austin, Texas, we’re doing 3 shows there and San Francisco and San Diego.’

With the band preparing for a new record deal and (another) world tour, it appears exciting times are ahead for The Chevelles.

The Surfin’ Santa Christmas Show
Amplifier Bar
Friday 21st December 2007
With Jack And The Beanstalk and The Smokin’ Eldorados


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