Candlebox’s Kevin Martin Discusses the Band’s Sense of Urgency
“I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”
– Andy Bernard, The Office
That quote gets me every time. It rings true in so many ways. Personally, I feel it whenever I think back to 1990s alt-rock. The music served as the soundtrack to my high school and college years, and still gets considerable airplay in my car to this day via playlists and Lithium on SiriusXM. Candlebox were one of those influential bands who had me at their very first “You.” That standout first single’s follow-up “Far Behind” is, for me, the best song of that golden era of rock. The Seattle band, who never relied on plaid or cut-off jean shorts, went quadruple platinum with their self-titled debut in 1993, and continue to rock today. Speaking of which, you can catch them on tour in support of their recently released – and long-awaited- sixth album Disappearing in Airports. The musicality and energy captured in the decade of grunge and Blossom still remains. I caught up with lead singer Kevin Martin last month to discuss the past, present and future of Candlebox.
How long did it take you to put these songs together for the new album. Are they all brand spankin’ news or did you pull any out of the vault?
A couple of the songs were written in the studio on the spot. We had about five ideas in the various working positions from a year or so before that we were able to rebuild and work into the albums overall feel. We had four that were entirely written out. The record came together really quickly. We did 12 songs in four days: two days to do guitar overdubs and six days for vocals. So, the record feels urgent and excited, just the way we wanted it to.
I got that. Listening to the first singles “Vexatious” and “I’ve Got a Gun,” you really capture your signature sound but expand on it. Can you tell me the approach you guys had going into the studio?
The approach in the studio was very simple we didn’t overthink anything. We focused on allowing the songs to open themselves up to us, to develop in front of us and as soon as that happened with each track, we would run with it. No real struggle which I think gives the album that honesty that people expect from Candlebox.
This seems like such a cliche to ask, but it’s been a bit for you guys to have a new album out. How excited are you guys to perform the new stuff live?
It’s refreshing to play these new songs live. We would love to play the entire album right now but we have to wait till the release of April 22 of course, don’t want the audience to be looking at us like we’re from outer space or something.
You played Woodstock back in the 1990s. A 50th anniversary show is in the works. A) would you be interested in it and B) what was your takeaway from the 1994 show?
[We] would absolutely be interested. That was a really amazing experience for us. There’s nothing like stepping out on stage to 300,000 people having them know who you are and singing your songs back to you, it was unreal.
I learned a lot about the band from that show. I learned a lot about myself and how much an audience means to the music and the songs we created…how important they are to what we do!
We’ve previously discussed this — when Candlebox came out you were almost instantly tossed in with Seattle grunge acts just because you hailed from there. Looking back at the 1990s alt-rock era, do you think we were in sort of a golden age for rock & roll – at least alt-rock? I mean it’s so tough to hear any in the mainstream nowadays.>
I do think it was a golden age. I don’t know if that will ever happen again in any city. I don’t know if there is a city in the world that would be able to support that kind of musical excitement and energy. I just don’t think there’s time for people now to sit back and listen the way they did when the artists from Seattle created those songs, those records and where they were coming from in a time when we all needed something fresh and angry and honest.
Shifting gears, describe in almost embarrassingly long detail your favorite breakfast cereal.
I think it’s the absolute sweetness and texture of the Froot Loop that keeps me constantly coming back for more. There’s something almost erotic about the flavor of the Fruit Loop, I can’t quite put my finger on it so I’ll only put my spoon in it.
Brilliant! Can you impart some words of wisdom for my year-old son?
Don’t listen to your parents…do what you want, eat your greens and your carrots and it’s called rock ‘n’ roll look it up!
A-Sides’ “Delve Into Twelve” Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its top 12 tracks of the week AKA the “Delve Into Twelve” based on the following contributing factors: songs I’m playing out that particular week (no matter when they were released — think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and dug a bunch, song posts and trends I’ve noticed on my friends’ Facebook walls and, most importantly: what my toddler is currently enjoying thoroughly with an assist from my infant.
About A-Sides with Jon Chattman:
Jon Chattman’s music/entertainment series typically features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. Artists featured on the series include Imagine Dragons, Melissa Etheridge, Yoko Ono, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, fun, Bleachers, Charli XCX, Marina and the Diamonds, and Bastille.