After the band’s formation in Seattle in 1991, Candlebox soon exploded onto the national stage with their 1993 self-titled debut. The album skyrocketed to the top of the charts and ultimately went quadruple platinum. They released two more acclaimed and top-selling albums, 1995’s “Lucy” and 1998’s “Happy Pills,’ before going on a hiatus in 2000. It wouldn’t be long before the band regrouped with a 2006 tour, then put out “Into the Sun” in 2008, followed by 2012’s “Love Stories & Other Musings.” To this day, Candlebox remains one of the most highly requested and played groups on radio, including the band’s mega hits “Far Behind” and “You.” Along the way, the band continues to amass legions of dedicated fans, both young and old.
The secret to Candlebox’s success lies in their eagerness to seek out and explore new musical territory with each new release. Their latest album is no exception to the rule. “Disappearing in Airports,” set to be released on April 22nd through Pavement Entertainment, showcases the group’s introspective and poetically candid songwriting with its signature musical immediacy. For the album, Candlebox worked with producers Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (August Burns Red, Everclear, Rivers of Nihil) and cut the record at Think Loud Studios in York, Penn. With Kevin Martin, Dave Krusen on drums, Adam Kury on bass and the addition of guitarists Mike Leslie and Brian Quinn, the re-commitment to creating music is pissed and urgent as well as bringing a new energy to the live show is at this record’s core. “Disappearing in Airports” will be available on all digital platforms (iTunes, Amazon, YouTube Red, Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music) and distributed by MRI/Sony RED. iTunes pre-orders are live now with Instant Gratification downloads of “Vexatious” and “Supernova.”
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Candlebox frontman Kevin Martin to discuss his musical inspirations, the creation of the band’s powerful new album, ‘Disappearing In Airports,’ and what the future holds for him and the one-of-a-kind band.
Let’s go all the way back to your early years. What are some of your first memories of music and how did they lead to your pursuit of a career in music?
I started singing in choir when I was in first grade. My first memories are my mother listening to classical music, gospel music and pop music of the ‘70s. My father was a jazz musician, so we heard lots of jazz music at the house. Both of my parents are musicians, so I think it is just kind of in the blood! I really think that my main inspiration for wanting to be in a band came from my sister. She was into new wave and punk rock when I was young. She is about 10 years older than me, so I heard The Cars and The Clash, when I was 6 or 7 years old. That is kind of what inspired me to think music was something I was supposed to do. I just always felt as if I wanted to be in one of those bands. I was always putting KISS makeup on or making guitars out of the sticks that were in the pull-down blinds in the house. I was always really enamored with what music did to my heart when I listened to it. When I was 18, I went to see Midnight Oil. I had been playing in bands from about the age of 14 on but when I went to see Midnight Oil and saw Peter Garrett on stage, I said, “I think I want to be a singer.” That is where it really started for me.
Did you ever have reservations about taking the plunge and pursuing that dream?
No, not at all. At that age, you don’t really know what the lifestyle of a rockstar is and how exhausting, heartbreaking and rewarding it is all at the same time. I don’t think I realized that until halfway through our first record and the success we were experiencing on the Metallica tour and touring with Rush. I think that is when I realized what a monster I had created! [laughs]
It isn’t easy to make a living in music. What has keep you inspired through the years and to what do you attribute your longevity?
I think what has kept me inspired is the fans. Also, creating music is such a rewarding thing. It is so emotional and visceral. That is kind of the person I am. I think the longevity comes from writing really great songs and being a band who somehow touched on something that people feel on a daily basis. Lyrically, a lot of my songs speak to the audience about how they are feeling or who they are. I have always felt as though I wanted to write songs that people could attach themselves to, maybe from something I have experienced or an emotion that, on a day-to-day basis, we all go through.
Candlebox is back with a brand new album. Going into making this record, did you have creative goals?
I wanted to push the envelope of Candlebox a little further. I didn’t want to release another “Love Stories,” “Into The Sun,” “Happy Pills,” “Lucy” or the first album. I wanted to go in a direction that was going to make us available to a new audience and to a younger generation that may not know who we are. I wanted to write songs that were a little bit more simplified and not so much of the meandering we have been known to do on records. This album, from start to finish, is kind of relentless. It doesn’t let up or let you take a breath and, before you know it, an hour has passed and the record is over.
You worked with Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland as producers on this album. How did you initially cross paths with them and what did they bring out in you and the band?
I met Carson years ago when I was doing the The Gracious Few project with Chad [Taylor] and Patrick [Dahlheimer] of Live. Carson had a band called Century. It was kind of a screamcore band or a hardcore band, if you will. He asked me to sing on a track that he had produced. It was some of the easiest singing I had ever done on a project where I had no idea what to expect or how it would go. We became best friends. When the time came to pick a producer for this record, I had listened to a few of the records he had produced over the past year, along with Grant. I felt that would bring us to the contemporary of music. I love what they did with the album and I love them as producers. They are very easy to work with and really, really creative, in addition to being super intelligent dudes. They were a real pleasure to be around.
Let’s talk about your songwriting process. How do you bring a song to life these days and has it changed much from what you were doing early on?
I don’t think so much anymore. I let the song kind of open itself up to me. I don’t search for parts or beat a dead horse when it comes to trying to get a part right. I let it breathe and tell me where it wants to go, rather than me telling it where it wants to go. It is a simplified process. I went into the studio with only five songs in relative working order and the rest of the stuff was created in the studio. We wrote three songs on the record in the studio, which is great and it is a really fun process. We limited the amount of time we wanted to be in there. We only wanted to spend 10 to 12 days in the studio, so we cut 12 tracks in four days, drum and bass. We did two days for guitars and then six days for vocals. That keeps the energy up but it also keeps the pressure on to force that creative nature. Sometimes you can spend six months in the studio and not get anything done. I didn’t want to do that! I really wanted to put the pressure on and that is how we got the record!
Each project has its own set of challenges. What did you run into with the making of this album?
I think the main challenge was making sure everybody was on the same page and really making sure all six cylinders were firing at the same time. That is what we got! It is something I have found is important when you are recording. If one person is not in the headspace, it makes it difficult to get things done that you need to get done. We talked a lot as a band, before we went into the studio, about how we were going to do this, where we were going to do it, how the writing process was going to go and the collaborative efforts that I wanted on the album. I think that is definitely something I will definitely be using when I go in to do the next record next year.
Crowdfunding also played a part in the making of this album. What was the experience like with PledgeMusic and getting the fans involved?
It was great! It is such a different world now where you can include the fans in what you are doing and truly make them a part of it. It really made us a lot closer to the people that have given us this career. To be around for 25 years is a gift in itself but it is important to let the fans know how much they mean to you. Of course, when they put some skin in the game, they want to make sure that they get that payback. That is what crowdfunding is all about! It is really sharing in those responsibilities and the wins and losses that come with it.
Having followed this campaign from the start, it is easy to tell your heart is in it. That is something often missing in crowdfunding campaigns.
I agree with you. I think there are a lot of crowdfunding campaigns out that there that I looked at that just don’t connect at all. We wanted to make sure we did!
The title of the album is “Disappearing In Airports.” How did you come up with that one?
It is actually the title of the painting that is on the cover of the album. I had asked a good friend of mine, Scott Rivers Fisher, to do a painting for the cover. I wanted something that was different and represented the music. In the process, he had a massive heart attack and died at only 42 years old. He was just on the cusp of his creativity and talent. I think he was really going to make a name for himself in the abstract world. After he passed away, his sister contacted me and said, “Hey, we have this painting that he has done. We think it kind of represents the music, so we would like to send it to you.” Instantly, when I saw it, I thought it was a beautiful piece that really tells the story of the album. The title of the painting was “Disappearing In Airports,” so the title is really in honor of Scott, his talent and his craft.
What became of the painting? Is it displayed somewhere special?
We are actually going to auction it off to kind of get his career going and so that people know who he is. You can see a lot of his artwork at www.scottfishergallery.com.
You lived with these songs for quite awhile now. Which of these new tracks resonates with you the most at this point in time?
That is a tough question. I have listened to this album, start to finish, every day. That is something I have never done with an album Candlebox has made. I think every song has something special on it. The opening track, “Already Because of You,” is a song about my mom. She grew up in Chicago and her mother died of cancer when she was 12 years old. She was raised by her grandmother. She met my father when she was 18 and he was 37 and they were married for 42 years. That song really resonates with me. “I’ve Got A Gun” is another track. I am a staunch believer in everyone’s Second Amendment rights. I personally don’t own a gun and I never will but I don’t believe that people should not have that right. I do believe the people who choose not to own a gun have the right to voice their opinions and be protected as well, from that lethal weapon. That is a song that really resonates with me. The song “The Bridge” is written about the movie of the same name, which is about the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It is a documentary that is pretty incredible. I know, on a daily basis, people make that difficult and sad choice, so that is what that song is about. All the songs on this record have something really, really special to me and it is difficult to pick just one.
You are kicking off a new tour in support of this album. What excites you about it and what can fans expect from Candlebox this time around?
I am really excited to play the new songs. Fans can expect to hear four to five in the set. Even though the record does not come out until April 22, we want to get people ready for it and used to it! I am excited to play live with this new lineup. We have been having a lot of great shows so far and we just played South America. We played Lollapalooza in Chile and Lima, Peru. It is just fun, man! It is a long set! There are a lot of songs in there that people love and songs they haven’t heard in a long time. There are also some cover songs in the middle of some songs that I think will excite people. It is an evening of great rock ‘n’ roll!
You have seen the music industry change exponentially over the years. As a guy who makes his living as an artist, what excites you the most about what today’s industry offers for artists?
I think the accessibility of new talent is amazing. I am really inspired by music blogs. I love finding new bands from a blogger in Cincinnati, New York or Atlanta. I am listening to a lot of great music right now and that is what inspires me — finding a new band, absorbing it, picking it apart and really listening to what people are doing. That is where I come from. It is what I use when I write and when I sing. I am constantly thinking about the talent that is out there and what it is doing for the industry. I think that is what I love about the business now, it is so accessible. Yeah, it’s hard because you aren’t selling millions of records anymore but the great thing about it is that there is just so much music out there. Whether it is watered down pop, hip-hop, great industrial, great hardcore or whatever, I listen to everything and I find inspiration in all of it.
You strike me as a guy who is always looking ahead to the next project. What does the future hold for you musically?
I don’t know, man! I like looking at it from the perspective of the 1,000 foot view of, “Where am I going?” I really don’t know. I think when we get in the studio next year to do the next record, it is going to be just as different as this one is. It will still be rock ‘n’ roll but I am sure there will be a lot more experimentation on the next record!
That is cool to hear and leads me to my next question. When you look back on your body of work, how have you most evolved as an artist?
I think the songwriting has been our biggest growth as musicians. It comes down to understanding who we are, what we are capable of and working with those talents between the five of us. I think that is what we have learned the most and how we have grown the most. We respect each other’s talents and musicianship and use it in our songs during the writing process. Understanding that everyone has got a voice has been very important when you are trying to write a record that people want to listen to!
You experienced highs, lows and everything in between as an artist but keep moving forward. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?
[laughs] Question everything! [laughs] I don’t question everything, that is just not true. I think it is really being who you are and not trying to fit into the mold of what people think you should be or what’s out there. Doing what you love the way you love doing and not being sorry for it is very important. No regrets! You just have to keep moving forward constantly and continue to challenge yourself!
Awesome! Thanks again for your time today, Kevin! I can’t wait to catch up with you again soon and wish you all the best! You are a true inspiration!
Thank you, Jason! I appreciate that! Thank you very much.
For all the latest news and tour dates for Candlebox, visit their official website at www.candleboxrocks.com. Catch the band on tour on the following dates! Connect with Kevin Martin of social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
“Disappearing in Airports Tour 2016” dates w/ Lullwater & Pete RG:
4/01 – Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom
4/02 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s
4/03 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Vogue
4/05 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
4/07 – Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
4/08 – San Antonio, TX @ Fitzgerald’s
4/09 – Tyler, TX @ Click’s
4/10 – Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s Backroom
4/12 – El Paso, TX @ Speaking Rock Entertainment Center
4/13 – Tucson, AZ @ Rialto Theatre
4/15 – San Luis Obispo, CA @ Fremont Theater
4/16 – San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s
4/19 – Butte, MT @ Butte Depot
4/20 – Billings, MT @ Pub Station
4/22 – Denver, CO @ Marquis Theater
4/23 – Pueblo, CO @ Pueblo Memorial Hall
4/26 – Little Rock, AR @ Metroplex
4/27 – Monroe, LA @ Live Oaks
4/28 – Baton Rouge, LA @ Varsity Theatre
4/29 – Panama City Beach, FL @ Club La Vela
4/30 – Jacksonville, FL @ Welcome to Rockville
5/03 – Annapolis, MD @ Rams Head Tavern
5/05 – Nashville, TN @ 12th and Porter
5/06 – Charlotte, NC @ Carolina Rebellion
5/07 – Marietta, OH @ The Adelphia Music Hall
5/19 – Bethlehem, PA @ Sands Bethlehem Center (w/ 3 Doors Down)
5/21 – Warrendale, PA @ Jergel’s Rhythm Grill
5/28 – Uncasville, CT @ Wolf Den, Mohegan Sun Casino
6/12 – South Bend, IN @ St. Joseph County Fairgrounds
Kevin Martin – vocals
Dave Krusen – drums
Mike Leslie – lead/rhythm guitar
Brian Quinn – lead/rhythm guitar
Adam Kury – bass