Interview – Kevin Martin of Candlebox

Interview – Kevin Martin of Candlebox

Candlebox (20)web During the 1990’s alternative rock was at it’s peak.  From Seattle Washington Candlebox were one of the most popular rock bands of the decade.  They achieved multi-platinum success with their debut self-titled album Candlebox (1993).  With chart topping singles like “Far Behind” and “You” the band have left their stamp on rock. 20 years later Candlebox continue to make statements with some of their best music in years with albums Into The Sun (2008) and Love Stories & Other Musings (2012).  Celebrating the roots of their success the band is currently on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut album.  Recently we caught up with lead singer Kevin Martin for a in depth look at the history of Candlebox, life long friendships, and passion for music.

Crypticrock.com – You started Candlebox in 1990 and had a lot of success between that time and 2000. Then you took a 6 year break to reform Candlebox in 2006. What made you decide to take a break from Candlebox and what ignited you to reunite the band?

Kevin Martin – Well we were trying to get out of our deal with Maverick. The label was in a bit of a downward spiral. We were unhappy, they were unhappy. We couldn’t get what we needed from them for the band. They were making a lot of internal changes and we wanted out. We figured by breaking up the band contractually that would get us out the deal. That was one of the things our attorney mentioned to us that we could do. In the process of doing that he didn’t realize that I was a key man, in most contracts it’s called a key man clause, which locked me and bound me to Maverick for another record. Over the 2 years of 2000-2002 of trying to get us out of that deal and still having to keep me on as a key man didn’t allow us to do anything as Candlebox. We literally shot ourselves in the foot.

In 2003 the label terminated my contract but I had to deliver a 4th attempt at a record, which never happened. So from 2003-2005 I did The Hiwatts as a side project and never turned an album into Maverick, so I was free and clear as of 2005. We got a phone call that the best of record was coming out through Rhino. I called the guys and said listen there is a best of coming out, it’s probably a good time to maybe consider putting this thing back together. We are free and clear from Maverick, we don’t have any obligations to them, we can do what we want to do and that’s kind of how it happened.

Crypticrock.com – That is an interesting story. There was no turmoil or issue with the band, it was basically a contractual issue?

Kevin Martin –That did create an enormous amount of turmoil within the band. I’m not saying we didn’t have problems personally as band members, we absolutely did. What it all boiled down to was our situation with our label was putting so much pressure on us to find a way out, to relieve that pressure valve, and it seemed that was just the only thing to do. Fortunately in a roundabout way it worked. We are better friends now then we’ve ever been and we have more fun touring now than we ever had. Yes there was turmoil in the band but it was all being created by this unhealthy relationship we had with our label.

Crypticrock.com – I can totally understand that and it’s good it all worked out in the end. Your debut self-title album Candlebox was released in 1993. The album was a massive success with songs like “You”, “Far Behind”, “Cover Me” just to name a few. Looking back 20 years later did you ever dream the album would have been as much of a success as it was?

Kevin Martin – No it is something we constantly talk about. A matter a fact we play these songs live being that it’s the 20th anniversary of playing the album in its entirety during the set. We laugh about it because you can dream, you can wish, you can want. As a kid when you start making music you cross your fingers, tap your heals, and you say maybe this is going to be the one that is going to happen. The fact that it did work so well we’ve often laugh because it’s probably the happiness accident that has happened for four us ever. The only 2 members that were friends prior to the band starting were Scott and myself. Pete came along later through a friend. Bardi our bass player, I went to high school with, but I didn’t even go to high school with him because his was in Ireland the last 2 years of school doing a foreign exchange program. It’s really kind of a happy ending for all of us (laughs).

20 years later we are still here and it was such a success. I don’t think we could ever have hoped to accomplished that. I think we wanted it, went after it as hard as we could, and timing was a major factor. Being from Seattle was a huge help for the band. Ultimately the record still speaks for itself as you said 20 years later and it is still relevant. That is just the icing on the cake for the band.

Maverick

Maverick

Crypticrock.com – It’s really a great success story. Now you released a series of records after that album including Lucy (1995), and Happy Pills (1998). Both albums have a lot of great tracks as well. Then your next Candlebox album wasn’t until a decade later in 2008 entitled Into The Sun. What was it like writing tunes for Candlebox and going back into the studio after that long break?

Kevin Martin – We took our time. We have always been the kind of band that made sure we made the record we wanted to make. With Into The Sun as far as the band being back together with Bardi, Scott, Pete, and myself. We had to kind of reconnect ourselves with one another musically. For 9 years all we knew was one another’s style. Going off, doing other projects really opened us up to what our creative elements were individually, what we were really good at outside of what we had already grown to know with Candlebox. The nice thing about that was bringing it into the fold and mixing with everyone else’s, if you will, soup to create a record that we would be proud of. It took a while, we started writing in 2006. We took a little bit of a break in the Fall. Bardi had to study for the bar exam to become an attorney that he passed in January. We started writing again from February to July and started the record in January 2008.

We just took our time. We made sure we wrote the songs that we felt would be a great representation for the band to come back with.  I think that album speaks volumes in comparison to Lucy (1995) and Happy Pills (1998) , it’s a much better record. It should have probably been our 2nd Candlebox album. It’s probably the record I’m most proud of as a singer/songwriter because there are so many different song writing styles on the album.

Maverick

Maverick

Maverick

Maverick

Crypticrock.com – That was a great comeback record in 2008. The newest album Love Stories & Other Musing was released last year. What was the writing and recording process like for this record?

Kevin Martin – That one was a little bit easier. We had grown to understand what we were really good at as musicians. Also there was a song on there I wrote with Chris Daughtry that I actually had written for his album. He didn’t use it so I called him and asked him if he minded if I put that song on the new Candlebox album. It was a lot easier, we focused on 9 songs. We didn’t want to release a full length album. The 5 re-records were not our idea. Those were actually done for guitar hero the game. Our manager, I don’t even know why, stupidly said well let’s put them on this record we are releasing. I said well they were meant to be for something else, not really to be sold. You have management and labels that kind of are forcing you to do things you sometimes don’t want to do. So those re-records, we weren’t trying to get the fans to buy the first album again (laughs), we actually did it for a video game. It was a challenge for us.

This last record was very focused for us. We recorded it in 12 days, I did the vocals in 3 days, so 15 days later the record was done. Again, a really strong record for Candlebox. There were those magical moments in the studio where you find those happy accidents. Like a song like “Lifelike Song” or “Them Eyes” where the song just kind of unfolds right in front of you, you grab it, and an hour later the thing is done. Those two songs were written in the studio, happy accidents.

Into_the_sun

Silent Majority Group

 

Audionest

Audionest

Crypticrock.com – That sounds like a really quick and organic process for the new record. It speaks volumes because the record is really solid. Candlebox hit the rock scene around the time grunge was king with bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc. Unfairly, despite all the success the band has had, a lot of people and critics labeled Candlebox as the 2nd wave of grunge rock. How did you feel about that?

Kevin Martin – It was a little disheartening. It’s kind of unfortunate to be a band that plays blues based rock n roll that somebody feels the need to throw that kind of a tag on it because we sounded nothing like any of those bands at all. In my perspective that any bands would be considered grunge in my book it would have been Skin Yard, Gruntruck, The Accused, Soundgarden, and those types of bands. Alice in Chains to me is a metal band. You know it was a bit of a pain in the ass, everything was stacked against us, we were the late comers to the scene. We were a lot younger in age than those guys. When I moved to Seattle at 14 I saw Soundgarden play when Chris Cornell was playing drums and he was 20 years old. You can imagine the difference for a 14 year old to a 20 year old, those 6 years are quite enormous. As a musician growing up you use those influences to kind of inspire.

To us we were kind of a little bit hurt that people were throwing that label on us. We felt like we were just a rock band that had every opportunity in the world and every right in the world to make the music we made being from Seattle. Those labels were really just irrelevant to us, it was kind of unfortunate. We are still here and people still pay attention. We love Seattle very much. We just played our big 20th anniversary show, 20 years to the day of the release of the first record at the Moor Theater. That is historically one of the greatest venues in the city. There is a lot of love from us to that city and we wouldn’t change it for the world. I just wish the label never had been created for those type of bands.

Crypticrock.com – That is very true. It was a completely ridiculous label because Candlebox was more of a blues and jazz influenced rock band. In 2009 you joined forces with Chad Taylor and Patrick Dahlheimer of Live along with Sean of Candlebox and formed the side project The Gracious Few. What got that project going and can we expect to hear some new material from The Gracious Few?

Kevin Martin – I hope so. That whole project was Chad Taylor’s idea. I’ve know Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer, and Ed Kowalczyk since 1992 when they came through Seattle. I had met Chad on a project I was working with where I was playing drums for this band he was producing. We had talked about getting together someday, doing some writing, and doing a record together. That was something we really had forgotten about. When Ed decided to go off and do his solo project and left Live, Chad called me up. He said listen man I want to do something rock n roll, make a record people won’t expect, and you’re the guy I want to do it with. That was the phone call I got. I flew out to Lancaster PA the following week, and we started writing. We wrote 2 songs our first day together, we wrote 3 songs the next 2 days together. We took a little break, flew out to California with those guys and spent another week writing. All in all we wrote 15 songs and put that record out in about 6 months from beginning to end which is pretty great. Again, one of those records that I am really proud of and happy to be part of. I would love to do another record with those guys. I know we have a bunch of songs that are sitting around waiting for us to finish up. It’s just a matter of whether they can get things going with Live this next year. They just toured with the Summerland Festival with Chris Shinn as the singer. I know they are focusing on releasing a record in the spring and touring on that. I think it would be somewhere around 2015 until you would see or hear anything from us. I would welcome that in a heartbeat.

Questionable Entertainment

Questionable Entertainment

Crypticrock.com – Great news and great news for fans to look forward. Yourself, Peter and Scott have remained the nucleus of Candlebox essentially since the beginning. Tell me briefly about the relationship you three share and how has the dynamics changed over the years?

Kevin Martin – I met Scott when I was 16. He came to my 16th birthday party with this guy I couldn’t stand he was playing in a band with. I had seen Scott play several shows as a drummer. I was really inspired by his creative nature, his abilities, and left handed right handed jazz influence. I’d go see him but I still had to go see Josh sing. Years later when my buddy Rick called me up to do some demos I called Scott to say I got this band going. He said well you’re a drummer , I said no I am not playing drums now I am actually singing in this project. That started out as Uncle Duke. We had this guy Rick playing with us and Rick left to go back to the studio world. Scott and I were left without a guitar player and we had all this music. Kelly Gray, which was our producer at the time, which had been in a band with Scott back in the 80’s said hey I have this guy I am painting houses with who is a stellar guitar player. He is a bit of a handful but mad talented. So we brought Pete down to the studio, jammed one afternoon, wrote two songs, and that was about it.

Over the past 26 years we have become like brothers. The fights that we have are sort of family style. The arguments are not about music and what you would expect them to be about (laughs). It’s about who ate the last cookies and who drank the last of the coffee and didn’t replace it. It’s kind of funny, we share one another’s birthdays together, we have dinner together, we really have become the best of the friends over that period of time. That is what has made it so easy for us to live this kind of lifestyle that we lead, live it, and enjoy each others company. If we didn’t have that kind of relationship I don’t think we’d still be doing this at all. I’m thankful everyday that I’m friends with these guys because they have my back and I’ve got their back. That is what you are suppose to do in a band and as friends as well. It’s pretty great relationship.

Candlebox (411)web for article

Crypticrock.com – That is really great to hear. It’s obvious you’ve kept that relationship all this time. In bands sometimes members can’t keep their egos in check and it’s obvious you have found that chemistry. Now you are currently on tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the self-title debut. How is the tour going thus far?

Kevin Martin –It’s going well, it’s been long. We started in January, we’ve had a couple of short 3 week breaks here and there, it’s been long. What we decided to do this year was go back to a lot of those venues that we started at in 1993. We’ve had some shows that had 300 people because the club held 300 people, and those have been a lot of fun. Then we’ve had some big ones with 5,000-20,000, venues like that, it’s been a real treat. It’s just we’re all a bit exhausted, I don’t think we realized embarking on this thing now in our 40’s, we thought it would have been a little bit easier than it is. Spirits are high. The morale, the crew, and team work is working better than it ever has. I think that just comes from knowing what we what, how we want it, and what we want to do on a nightly basis with our fans musically. The response of the audience is definitely something that feeds us.

original-cbox_quarter_page_3a timthumb.php

Crypticrock.com – It’s a great tour and it’s wonderful that you are celebrating the album. I can completely understanding that can be very exhausting. What I want to know is what are some of your musical influences?

Kevin Martin – Ranges from everything from Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, The Who, to The Clash. I was a huge punk rock fan. Black Flag is one of my favorite bands of all time, Minor Threat too. I am a fan of a lot of the new alternative. I am a huge Arcade Fire fan. Huge fan of Manchester Orchestra, International, Dead Confederate, and Alberta Cross. My influences and inspirations are all over the place. A lot of times when I am writing a song I will pull from 4 or 5 of them to just kind of see what I can do musically, to see what inspires me by those bands. I’m all over the map man, I really couldn’t tell you one band that I go to on a consistent basis as my all time favorite.

Crypticrock.com – It’s very good to be dynamic in musical tastes because it leads to interesting music you make yourself. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?

Kevin Martin – I love horror films. I just saw The Conjuring (2013), it scared the shit out of me. I love the first Hostel (2005). Obviously The Exorcist (1973) is my all time favorite. The Omen (1976). I am not really into the gore/ slasher films, the Hostel thing was just one for me. I like a little bit more of the mind thrillers and serial killers stuff. I love the Friday The 13ths, Halloweens. That type of stuff. I love the new zombie flicks. I think The Walking Dead is a great show, I really enjoy it. I am really more into the surreal and the supernatural as well. The Paranormal Activities were really great as well. I like that stuff.

Crypticrock.com – That is cool that you like such a wide range of different eras of horror movies there. You said you like the stuff that is suspenseful. What do you think of all the CGI used in films now a days?

Kevin Martin – It’s a little bit too much. It’s obviously got better (laughs). I mean look it’s the world that we live in. We have cell phones that can do the same damn thing as some of these movies. You have to do what you have to do. I think it gets overused a bit sometimes. I think the Saw series were great when it started, but now it’s kind of rehashing the same old paperwork. The CGI is what it is and I can do without it. I don’t know what this new movie Your Next (2013) is going to be all about, it’s something I will probably go see. I thought the new Evil Dead (2013) was great. I thought that was brilliant. I don’t know man, what do I know about movies, I don’t make movies (laughs).

Catch Candlebox live celebrating the 20th anniversary of Candlebox (1993) album. Dates are as follow:

Sep 20 State Theatre Portland, ME
Sep 21 Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom Hampton Beach, NH
Sep 22 The Chance Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 24 Bergen Performing Arts Center Englewood, NJ
Sep 25 The Webster Main Room Hartford, CT
Sep 26 Irving Plaza powered by Klipsch New York, NY
Sep 28 Ham’s Lakeside Pavilion Greensboro, NC
Sep 29 Penn’s Peak Jim Thorpe, PA
Oct 01 Palladium Downstairs Worcester, MA
Oct 02 Upstate Concert Hall Clifton Park, NY
Oct 04 Bluebird Nightclub Bloomington, IN
Oct 05 Watseka Theatre Watseka, IL
Oct 06 House of Blues Chicago Chicago, IL
Oct 08 House of Blues New Orleans New Orleans, LA
Oct 09 Masquerade Atlanta, GA
Oct 11 Amos’ Southend Charlotte, NC
Oct 12 House of Blues Myrtle Beach North Myrtle Beach, SC
Oct 13 House Of Blues Orlando Orlando, FL
Oct 15 Revolution Live Fort Lauderdale, FL
Oct 16 The Ritz Ybor Tampa, FL
Oct 18 Mavericks at The Landing Jacksonville, FL
Oct 19 Iron City Birmingham, AL
Oct 23 South Side Music Hall Dallas, TX
Oct 24 VooDoo Lounge at Harrah’s Casino North Kansas City Kansas City, MO
Oct 27 Whiskey Roadhouse-Horseshoe Council Bluffs Casino Council Bluffs, IA

Also check out Candlebox at www.candleboxrocks.com, on facebook, & twitter.

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