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Biografía

The Chevelles are a power pop outfit from Perth, Western Australia. The Chevelles were formed in 1989 and over the last eighteen years have successfully toured Australia, Europe, the United States and South America.

Biography

Pre-Chevelles:

Duane Smith's first band was 'The Freuds' which he formed with school mate Bruce Abbot and Jeff Halley (The Kryptonics) in Perth in 1987. Interestingly enough, current Chevelles drummer, Ian Tubbs, ex The Lincolns, also drummed in the Freuds, after their original drummer left. The band was short-lived breaking up in 1989 despite having a recording contract on Revolution Records. At the same time Richard Lane was looking for a new project following his split with Dom Mariani and the breakup of The Stems. Mariani moved on quickly and teamed up with ex Lime Spiders Darryl Mather to form The Someloves. For a period Lane moved over to Sydney and tried to put together another Stems styled band which never really moved out of first gear. Disillusioned Lane returned to Perth. During The Freuds brief history they had played and toured on numerous occasions with The Stems. At that time Smith and Halley had formed a friendship with Lane and other Stems members such as their first drummer Gary Chambers. So it appeared the right thing to do when Halley and Smith approached Lane in mid 1989 with the idea of forming a new band. Gary Chambers was roped into play drums and jamming began late in 1989. Chambers' time in the band however was short, as he lived over 300 km south of Perth and it became too difficult for him to rehearse with the new group. His replacement was one time ex-Freud and Rackett drummer Guy Douglas.

Early Days:

The Chevelles were named after the late 70's Chevrolet intermediate-sized Muscle Car release. The band's homepage incorrectly states that the Chevelle was a small car aimed at the female market(?!). The confusion is on the part of the author of the webpage and not the person who came up with the name. The band then continued to rehearse right up to their first headline show at the Coronado Hotel on 15 December 1989. Within the first few months of their existence the Chevelles had already caught they eye of independent labels across the country. One of these was the Sydney based Zero Hour (named after the Plimsouls tune of the same name) label being set up by ex Stems roadie George Matzkov.

In mid April the band took an early break from playing live and quickly recorded six demos at Poons Head Studio's in Perth. Zero Hour was suitably impressed with the result promptly chose Lane's punk pop rocker "Be My Friend" and Smiths "She Don't Come Around" for the band's first single. At the time Matzkov thought there were better songs in the six tracks recorded however he felt these captured the energy he was looking from the band. It a perception that proved true as the single released in late 1990 scored critical acclaim in influential pop zines such as Bucketful of Brains (""Be My Friend" is a non stop rocker in prime Hoodoo Gurus/Screaming Tribesman heyday fashion with hooks a plenty and loads of blazing guitars") and this from US pop scribe Steve Gardener at Noise for Heroes's ("Be My Friend is harder and nastier than any Stems song. ."). Whilst the single did relatively well in Australia scoring high rotation on national youth radio Triple J it was the success that the band gained in European countries like Spain, Germany and France that gave an insight into where the future of the band lay. The interest in these countries was seized upon by Matzkov who had many contacts there, having been a long time collector of power pop from all over the world. The connection to The Stems through Lane and the quality of the single proved a godsend for the band, offers for tribute compilations soon followed and the band quickly knocked out "Zero Hour" for a Plimsouls tribute and "Back Of My Car" for an Alex Chilton Tribute on Spanish label Munster Records.

Buoyed on by the success of the single the band moved into Planet Studio's in late 90/early 91 to record a follow-up, the EP "Kids Ain't Hip", which was released in March 1991. A lightning trip to the east coast confirmed that the band's status as being the hottest thing out of Perth since the Stems. High rotation for "Show Me Your Love" ensured the band was now being recognised as a class pop act throughout the country. Upon their return to Perth the band embarked on an extensive gigging schedule. This included supporting eastern states bands such as Ratcat, Falling Joys and The Plunderers.

In the later half of 1991, friction in the band mounted and delays in recording the band's first album followed. Things came to a head in September 1991 during rehearsal when Smith, who had been busily working on a batch on new tunes, presented "Valentine" to the other band members, Lane then made the rash claim that he thought the Chevelles were a vehicle for his music. Things quickly deteriorated from there and it became the last ever rehearsal for the original line-up. Halley and Smith then made the difficult decision to dismiss Lane from the band It was a brave move given Lane had been the most recognisable face in the band to date. However, Smith was ready and willing to take the lead role in the band. The band performed a final show with Lane on Christmas Eve 1991.

Adrian Allen had been playing for another Perth group, The Diehards since May 1990. Allen had known Smith and Halley for sometime having lived in the same area and went to the same school. Allen's band The Diehards often played support for the Chevelles and Allen even filled in for Smith in the Chevelles when Smith holidayed in Europe in September 1991 and for Richard Lane on another occasion. Just a week later on New Year's Eve was the first show with the new line up at Wildwood Winery (with Boom Crash Opera, The Neptunes, The Kryptonics and The Dweebs). Whilst it was a disaster for the promoter, it was a watershed for the Chevelles.

Whilst the band had found new focus at a live level their recording plans were in a mess. The band had just about finished a full albums worth of material with Lane in the group. They salvaged some of Smith's tracks from the sessions which included the bands next single "Girl For Me". Lane went on to used his tracks with his new band The Rosebuds. The other Chevelles band members were disappointed when none of them received any credits for playing on Lane's record.

Even before Lane left the group the relationship between the band and their label Zero Hour had become strained. Royalties from the single and EP had not been seen by the band and the label had begun to some things, such as overseas licensing deals and printing t-shirts without any knowledge of the band. Although the band still owed Zero Hour five tracks a decision had already been made within the group to pursue another record deal. The bands strong reputation overseas and in Australia saw them quickly negotiate a deal with Australian label Survival Records whose acts included Hitmen and The Screaming Tribesmen. Survival also had strong hold connections with Europe having an office in Brussels and distribution through big European distributor Play it Again Sam. This suited that band well as they had already had a strong independent following in Europe. Survival organised a ten song retrospective CD of the bands Zero Hour material titled "The Kids Ain't Hip" for release exclusively through Survival in Europe. At the same time Zero Hour had negotiated a similar release "In The Zero Hour" through Spanish label Munster Records.

By mid 1992 the band returned to the recording studio and released a new single, "Girl For Me" with two b-sides, "Valentine" and Allen's first up effort "On My Mind". For the remainder of 1992 the Chevelles did much of what they did in 1991, performing regular gigs in Perth, supporting the likes of Falling Joys, The Clouds and overseas act like The Smithereens. Later in 1992 the band released a second single "Murder on Her mind" (b/w "Can't Pretend").

Gigantic:

Gigantic the album initially planned for the end of 1991 was finally released in the summer of 1992/1993. The album received solid reviews (without being exceptional) in magazines such as Australian Rolling Stone and street press throughout the country. Radio picked up on tracks like "Murder on her Mind" and "Memories". The later being the third single lifted from the album late in 1993 with three bonus tracks which included a tougher version of Smith's classic "Show Me Your Love" and a version of the Backdoor Men's "Out Of My Mind".

The band followed up the release of Gigantic with three whirlwind tours of the Eastern States. The first included hooking up with US power popper Matthew Sweet on his 'Altered Beast' tour and then performing as a support act for Sweet on their national tour of Australia. After that tour drummer Guy Douglas was sacked through combination of musical and personal differences with other band members. Around this time the Bunbury band the Calhoons had been supporting the Chevelles. The Chevelles become friendly with the band and whilst looking for a drummer of their own enlisted drummer Mario Calhoon to help out. The band quickly played a couple of Perth and Bunbury shows with Mario before the headed over top the Eastern States for a second time in mid 1993.

Upon their return to Perth the band lined up Martin Moon to play drums. Moon had already played with other Perth bands, The Marigolds, The Neptunes and more recently Dom Mariani's band Orange. It was a good move by the Chevelles as Moons gig antics and character was to prove a winner on their third tour to the eastern states in late 1993 and subsequent tour to Europe in 1994.

The European connections of the band's label Survival meant that Gigantic would be the perfect launching pad for a European tour. Late in 1992 the label had released the "Girl For Me" single in Europe to positive response. A European tour was organised for late 1993 where the label lined up around 40 shows over a period of about 6 weeks between December 1993 and January 1994. The tour covered Spain, France, Germany, and Switzerland. The band hooked up with fellow Survival acts The Screaming Tribesmen and Screamfeeder throughout the tour

In Spain the band met many promoters and record labels eager to release and organise more tours to Spain, one of these was Running Circle. Running Circle was one of up and coming record companies in Spain in the early nineties. The manager, Michael Statesmann, already had ties to Australia, with his parents living there and having visited in 1992, where he caught up with a number of Australian record label managers including a brief visit with Zero Hour, where he became familiar with The Chevelles.

During the Spanish tour Running Circle approached the band about the possibility of releasing records with them in the future. As a sweetener the label organised six extra Spanish shows for the band just before the band departed in January 1994 and assisted them on a large support bill for a Summer Festival in the island of Majorca, Spain in July 1994. Between the Spanish Tour and the Mallorca Festival drummer Martin Moon left the band due to personal reasons and was replaced by Julian Buckland for the Mallorca festival. After the festival appearance Smith and Buckland remained in Spain to play 4 more promotional shows. When they arrived back in Australia work began on the follow-up to Gigantic.

Up to this stage due to Survival's promotion of the band the Gigantic album had notched up good sales in a number of European countries and places like Brazil. There was some friction developing between the band and Survival. Sessions for the follow-up album, Rollerball Candy were well underway. The label was however using delay tactics on confirming any release dates for the new album and talk of any promotion. The label were also baulking on payment of royalties owed to the band from sales of Gigantic. Survival having fragmented the bands interests throughout the world by sub licensing Gigantic to a number of different labels and distributors. This included Shock Records in Australia and Play It Again Sam in Europe. It increasingly difficult for the band to keep track of what was happening with Gigantic. Subsequently the band confronted Survival on the situation and a decision was made to dissolve their contract with them.

The band now back in control of its own affairs began negotiations with Running Circle for a distribution deal for Rollerball Candy. The band having remained in contact with Running Circle since their 1993/1994 European tour and having been impressed with the labels growth and strong desire to promote and financially support the band. Whilst the band initially agreed to license the new album direct to Running Circle for Spain and the rest of the EEC they held off for a period on a worldwide distribution deal to shop the album around in Australia and other territories.

Rollerball Candy:

Rollerball Candy was released by Running Circle in early 1995. The album was more varied than Gigantic taking in elements of punk "Delirium" through to melodic ballad "Fall". At 15 tracks in total it was a longish album for a pop group but in essence was tailor-made for Spanish rock n roll fans which perfectly suited Running Circle.

Initial sales of the record in Spain and Portugal were encouraging. Running Circle had a large network of contacts in both countries and therefore could be bought throughout the country. Response from Spanish press and radio was excellent. The record received strong reviews in established Spanish rock zines like Ruta 66, Beaten Generation and La Musica where the band were compared to DM3 and The Dubrovniks.

The sales and promotion of Rollerball Candy was more slower in Australia, with no formal distribution the band relied on sales at shows and a handful of Perth and eastern states record stores. With no one working for the band in the eastern states many fans of the band in places like Sydney and Melbourne were unaware that Rollerball Candy had even been released. It had also become apparent that Running Circles worldwide distribution campaign was floundering. There was no evidence that the disc had was being distributed outside of Spain and no promotion to support any distribution.

Around this time Smith put together another rock outfit Rollercoaster. During the latter half of 1995 he'd penned a number of rock 'n' roll tunes that he felt need a different identity to the one The Chevelles had. Teaming up with Grant Ferstat (ex Month of Sundays), Dave Shaw (The Stems, Boom Babies) and friend Craig Maclean they recorded an 11 track rock 'n' roll album. At the time Smith thought it might be well received in the ever hungry Spanish rock scene. The album finally saw release in mid 1999 on Spanish power pop label Snap Records.

Sometime around mid 1996 word filtered back from Spain that Running Circle had gone bankrupt. This left Chevelles in a real bind. The bankruptcy of Running Circle basically annulled the contract the band had with the label. Rollerball Candy had been released almost 18 months earlier and, through poor distribution and promotion, hadn't really made the impact the band was after. The band decided to pursue other avenues for Rollerball Candy. Smith while holidaying in the United States in 1996 got in touch with Paradoxx Music who distributed Gigantic from Survival and had sold a couple of thousand copies of the record in Brazil. Smith on a hunch went to Brazil to meet them and tee up a Rollerball Candy release. Similar to Running Circle Paradoxx had started off as a small independent when they first distributed Gigantic but had since grown into a huge dance label. The label were very forthcoming and interested in the band. Smith sorted out verbally a deal for the release but as soon as he returned to Australia it started to fall apart as the label split into two different labels, a rock and a dance label. Smith lost his initial contact as and new staff were hired, new management.

Unperturbed by the demise of Running Circle the band continued to have a strong following in Spain. Smith and Allen on a holiday there in January 1997 where, through previous contacts, they played 3 acoustic shows in Madrid. Upon their return and after six months of sporadic playing in Perth, with more continuing frustration with overseas record labels the band looked back to Australia for help.

Perth power pop label Spinning Top manager, David Hughes-Owen, had known various members of the band as far back as 1991 and while The Chevelles were building a reputation for themselves Hughes-Owen had been releasing a number of quality Perth acts on his Spinning Top label. Smith had actually offered Rollerball Candy to Hughes-Owen for Australian release in January 1995, however at the time the label felt it didn't have the money or network to support the album.

In 1996 Spinning Top put together an Australian power pop compilation Pop on Top for highly respected US label Bomp! Records. Appropriately the lead track used on the compilation was The Chevelles "She's' Not Around". The compilation was very well received in the USA, where Spinning Top discovered that the band had a small but strong fanbase.

The Chevelles approached Spinning Top around September 1997 to help out with Rollerball Candy. Spinning Top agreed to use their contacts to see if anything could come of Rollerball Candy.

Spinning Top had a long association with USA label Not lame. Label manager Bruce Brodeen was a fan of Australia pop and regularly stocked records from Australia in his mail order catalogue. He was also a fan of The Chevelles and when Spinning Top offered him the opportunity to release some Chevelles material in the USA he jumped at it. The Chevelles had just negotiated the right for all the back catalogue so Brodeen had a choice of all tracks recorded by the band back till 1992. Since The Chevelles had never had any formal release in the States Brodeen chose to compile a "Best of" from the band.

At Second Glance:

At Second Glance was released in March 1998. The thirteen track CD was released in a unique dual licensing contract on Not Lame in the USA and Spinning Top Records in Australia (it was the band's first bonafide release in Australia since Gigantic in 1993). As soon as the album was in the store The Chevelles' drummer Julian Buckland quit, which set back the album launch for a few month until finally ex Stems and long time friend Dave Shaw took up the drummer position. The album was officially launched in late July 1998.

Not Lame's Brodeen, being a true power pop fan, used tracks that had a more melodic edge to them, therefore the punk pop songs on Rollerball Candy, like the title track and the big rock sounding tracks from Gigantic were omitted from the album. The album received supportive reviews among pop circles in the United States. Pop freelance writer Claudio Sossi stated "The Chevelles excel at - making incredibly catchy guitar-based pure pop songs without compromise". National distribution plus strong hometown reviews in Perth and radio airplay on Triple J, Triple R and a host of community stations ensured the band had gained back a profile in Australia. Not Lame were pleased with sales in the States, with most of the limited pressing of At Second Glance selling within two months of release. The album was picked up on couple of radio stations and at one stage was getting 25 rotations a week on Atlantic (Georgia) college radio.

Spinning Top's strong European networks also ensured the album reached small pockets of Europe. In the six months after the release of At Second Glance the band scored a 4 track vinyl EP release Mezmerised through new French label Hellfire Club Records. The label chose the tougher edged tracks off Rollerball Candy for the release. The band also got onto a couple compilations including Beat Party CD on Japan's One and Two Records and Pop Under the Surface through Swedish label Yesterday Girl Records.

The band then organised a tour of Spain in January 1999, together with a French leg of the tour to support the Mezmerized EP. Most of the 10 Spanish shows were sold out before the band arrived. The seven dates in France were also a great success. The tour proved to the band that they were still had many fans in Europe even though it was their first full tour as a band since 1994.

Sunbleached:

The Chevelles then hit the studios in May 1999 to record 7 new tracks. It was their first full studio session since Rollerball Candy some four years earlier. Three of the seven tracks (including a classic version of Air Supplies "Lost in Love" were completed to demo level and then shopped around by Spinning Top to various labels throughout Australia, Europe and the USA. Some six months earlier Spinning Top had come across newly form San Franciscan label Zip Records started up by Art Herman. Upon hearing the three Chevelles demos Zip entered into negotiations for a US EP and album release. Zip offered the Chevelles a healthy advance to finish up the seven recorded tracks and enough spare for the band to complete a brand new album.

Sunbleached, a brand new 5 track EP has been released on Zip Records in October 2000, five years since the band released any new product. Zip Records' strong promotion network established in the US saw the EP being prompted throughout the US to over 300 college radio stations. Spinning Top also negotiated a deal with Zip which saw the Chevelles and other Spinning Top bands be released under the Zip Records banner in Australia through MGM Distribution.

Delirium:

Offers for the band to tour continued to flow and in early 2001 the band embarked on a 12 date tour of Brazil with the GANGgajang and Yothu Yindi. It proved an astounding success with the highlight being playing to a crowd of over 20,000 attending on the beach in Rio. A 20 track best of CD Delirium was released in Brazil to coincide with the tour. By mid 2001 recording for the bands new album were in full swing.

Sunseekers/Girl God:

Word of the new Chevelles album quickly filtered back to Spain and literally overnight a deal was set up with Spanish label Bittersweet for the release of Sunseekers ( a compilation of the Sunbleached EP plus 6 new tracks - which re-appear on Girl God) . The album released in late 2001 was followed up by another tour of Spain in March 2002. The tour coincided with the UK release of their new Australian/USA album Girl God. Three UK dates were added to the Spanish tour and, by request of a Brazilian radio station, a further two dates in Brazil. The band launched Girl God in Australia in May 2002. Their song "Get It On" from Girl God is featured as a downloadable track in Rock Band 2.

New Album:

The Chevelles have recently signed with Little Steven's Wicked Cool Records which will see a Anthology album and the new album Accelerator released in 2008. The band has recorded 16 new tracks at Forensic Sound Studios and Lounge Studios in Perth, which will form the basis of the new album. Drummer Paul Di Renzo has been replaced with ex-Freud, Ian Tubbs .