All Access Magazine Journalist Alison Cohen – Interview with Lit Soul vocalist/rhythm guitarist Rob Chevelle
Lit Soul is definitely a band that has a lot to offer, and if you look into the lyrics, a lot to learn from and to be inspired by. I caught up with the creator of Lit Soul, musician and poet Rob Chevelle, to talk about the band, the concept, the music, and what their future holds.
All Access Magazine: I’ve really enjoyed learning about Lit Soul while preparing for this interview. Can you tell us how you came up with the name Lit Soul, and does it have anything to do with Jim Morrison?
Rob Chevelle: I came up with a concept of what I wanted to do with this music and I wrote out a bunch of names. Lit Soul was probably one of 20 names. I just kept narrowing it down. To me it just means a soul on fire, which could be related to Jim Morrison, or anybody who tries to do something creative.
AAM: How did Lit Soul form, and how long was it just you, writing and recording everything?
RC: Lit Soul has always been my thing. I started it in 2001. It has kind of came and gone. It’s a stamp for my poetry, and music, and photography… even when I dabble in painting.
AAM: You have quite a few creative outlets in addition to music. What’s your favorite outlet and how do they all connect with one another?
RC: The music is definitely my favorite, especially now with the live performances.
I’m always writing. I usually carry a notebook with me. I have some riffs that I’ve recorded on tape, and I think at the right time I’ll bring that out and I’ll write more songs. Right now I’m just concentrating on the live music.
With other things and responsibilities in life, painting always gets the back seat, because I’m more of a dabbler. But I’m always a writer…
AAM: You have recently added a full band, including a 2nd guitarist, a bass player and a drummer. What made you decide to do this at this time?
RC: I just got to the point where I had enough material and songs that I wrote by myself and I wanted to do it live. It took me a while to find the right musicians. I don’t know where it’s gonna go. I just wanna play live and see what happens.
AAM: How did you end up finding the right musicians?
RC: Eliot (Waldhorn) has been around a while. I was looking for a recording studio on the Internet. I called him about prices, and when I went down there, we really hit it off. He’s an amazing musician. He does a lot of Hip Hop stuff, but is really a rock-n-roller. When I got the band together, I said, “hey, do you wanna play (lead guitar) since you’ve done some of the leads on the album?” He said, “absolutely!”
Ty (Dennis) was a hired gun for a band I knew called Your God Rules back in the mid-to-late 90’s. Later I saw him with Peace Frog, The Doors tribute band. Tony, the singer, and I were friends at the time. We’d just hang out, ‘cuz we both loved The Doors. One time Tony’s drummer didn’t show up and he called Ty down at the last second because Ty plays with the remaining Doors.
Time went on, and I interviewed maybe three drummers and it just didn’t work. I asked Ty to come down. I sent him six songs, and said… just get down three.
He was the only one who got his homework done. He came in with all six songs. He even wrote it all out. He just nailed it. I looked at my (former) bass player and we both just knew.
AAM: What happened to your former bass player?
RC: Well… What really happened is that Eliot did not like his playing. He is more of a thrash metal bassist. Good guy. Good look. We still hang sometimes. So we went down a list of bass players, and I was happy with a couple, but Eliot, being a perfectionist, wasn’t. We found Eric (MacPherson) and he just gelled. He is a really good musician, has a great vibe and is a nice guy.
RC: Dark, yet positive… I like the lyrics to be positive and bring people through a whole scale of human emotions.
AAM: It seems that you are often compared to The Cult, The Doors or Danzig. How do you feel about these comparisons?
RC: It’s flattering. I wish I was that big. Even to be put into a category with those people who have obviously made it as icons is nice. But, to me, I think every artist has somebody they might relate to. And I definitely relate to the particular people that you have mentioned. Although, I feel that if you really look at my music, and the words, it may intertwine… maybe… or it may just be a separate body of art.
AAM: How does it feel to be in a full band again, compared to working by yourself?
RC: When you’re younger and in a band, it’s like a gang. You’re friends, and you drink, and party, and really gel… As you get a little older, you have your own vision and you might be tired of certain attitudes and dramatization, so you kinda just do your own thing. I’m a firm believer, that when you find the perfect people, it really does help and it is a good thing.
AAM: On your website you describe Lit Soul as “a rock band that advocates liberty in the modern age.” What is the message you’re trying to get out to your fans?
RC: I could talk for hours about that. I’m pretty political. If you really look at my lyrics, and some of the links I put on my websites, you’ll see that I believe in Liberty, Freedom, and the Truth. I believe in what this Country was really built on.
People really tend to go along with what they’re told in the media and news.
There’s a great website called www.infowars.com which gives a lot of truth you won’t see on CNN. I thought “advocate liberty in a modern age” was a good way of saying somehow, without preaching and overwhelming people, that they wake up, and have a little more awareness of what’s really going on. If the agenda keeps going the way it is, it’s not going to be good.
AAM: It sounds like you are doing your part to spread the word…Can you tell me about your new song “Anger,” and how it compares to what you have done in the past?
RC: “Anger” is done. We did it the first time at the Paladino’s show (2/27/10). I told Eliot we should write a song together as a band, and he came up with the riff. In three weeks he had mini-drums down, bass, the guitar… He had the whole structure of the song. All I had to do was come up with the melody and the lyrics. The next rehearsal, it all just came together. This was the first song that we have written together as a band, and I’m looking forward to doing another one. It was so easy,
Somebody told me that it sounds really commercial and that I should push it. I think it’s a little bit different than Lit Soul, but I think it’s a good thing.
AAM: Lit Soul CD’s “Seven Worlds” and “Libertine Dream” are currently available on CD Baby. How would you compare these two CD’s to one another? (I’ve only heard “Libertine Dream.”)
RC: Pretty much night and day. For “Seven Worlds” I had three or four songs, and contacted some musicians that I knew because I wanted to do a rock album. I got with some friends and said, let’s write a song. Usually they come up with a riff; I come up with the melody and the lyrics. It was recorded really fast… There’s no elaborate recording.
That was very, very different than “Libertine Dream” because “Libertine Dream” took about two years to finish… from the first idea, through the entire writing process, to having it in the can. I still had the same vision, but I think the first one was kind of a stumbling thing, and the later one was at least better.
AAM: Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P plays on “Alliance,” from “Libertine Dream.” How did you connect with Chris and what made you decide to use him on this song?
RC: I was in another band opening for him at the Roxy. We were getting ready to go on stage, and all of a sudden Chris Holmes walks in. That was the first time I saw him… Then a couple years ago I saw him at Club Vodka and we talked. He asked if I wanted a ride home and came in my place. We sat down on the couch, he picked up my guitar and we jammed. I played him some of my stuff, and he liked it. Before he left, I had an idea about him doing a lead on my album, and asked him. Without hesitation, he said “sure!” I’m thinking… ok, that’s cool.
I didn’t even have “Alliance” written yet. I just knew it would happen. When I wrote “Alliance,” there were three pieces of music that I had, and I just kinda put it all together. Then, for the outro, I knew that it would be the perfect thing for Chris. So I went and saw him at his studio, and was probably there for four hours. Of the four hours, we probably only listened to the song and talked about it for like ten minutes!
He said it was great, to let him do it, and come back Friday. I came back Friday and he had two takes done, and I liked one of them. We went down to the studio and he nailed it!
AAM: That’s awesome! You also have a poetry CD available on CD Baby. (Titled “Poetry”) For this CD, you accompanied your poetry with music and various sound effects. How did you come up with this unique idea?
RC: Being a poet and a stumbling humanitarian I just had a bunch of poetry. I literally have a treasure chest full of just volumes of stuff. I didn’t just wanna do a dry poetry thing. I think there’s been too much of that. You know, poetry normally can be so dry and boring, and who wants to listen to more than one or two tracks of someone else’s thing. There are sound effects, and music and stuff, on the CD. I don’t really know of any other artist up to that point that had really done that.
RC: Gosh… Loud, heavy rock-n-roll that you can move your big toe up and down to in your boot, and maybe be inspired by the content of the sound and lyrics. Depends how much beer they have. (laughs)
AAM: Do you have any shows in the works?
RC: I’ve been asked to do the Viper Room and even the House of Blues. I’m still in negotiation with them. I’d like to get a few shows booked in the near future.
AAM: Is there anything I’ve missed or anything you would like to say to our readers?
RC: I just really wanna thank you. I really admire your art that you do, ‘cuz you’re an artist… And for just really having an outlet for musicians and artists.
I think there’s a lot of information out there, and if anyone gets anything from this interview it’s kinda like more on the question about what Lit Soul means. Check out that website www.infowars.com. To me rock-and-roll has always been about going against the establishment and the status-quo. F* the Man… That’s the part of rock-n-roll that I still can relate to.
AAM: Thank you Rob. I appreciate you taking the time out for this interview, and I look forward to seeing my first live Lit Soul performance.
For more information, upcoming tour dates, please see the websites below.
Interview by Alison Cohen