Having formed back in 1991, Candlebox has been making music together for 25 years now. Their self-titled album spawned such memorable hits as Far Behind and You. After releasing a total of three albums (Candlebox, Lucy, Happy Pills) on Madonna’s Maverick Records, the band went on an indefinite break around the year 2000 but reunited in 2006. Since that time they have released three more albums, including 2016’s Disappearing in Airports along with 2008’s Into the Sun and 2012’s Love Stories and Other Musings. While on tour in Ocean City, Maryland, vocalist Kevin Martin made some time in his schedule to speak with Screamer Magazine.
Just last year, two of the band’s original members- Scott Mercado and Peter Klett- made the decision to leave Candlebox. However, their departure was amicable and when asked if he foresees playing with them again in the future, Martin responded without hesitation, “Oh sure, yeah. I think that, you know, we’ve been doing this so long, and when I started the band, none of us really knew one another. Through a circle of friends is how we met. So I think over that 25-year period we’ve obviously grown very close, but when someone feels as though it’s not something they want to do, you can’t force them to do it. And that’s really the biggest thing, is when you get to a point in your career as a musician that you’re not happy stepping out on the stage, you’ve got to make a decision that’s beneficial not only to yourself, but to the well-being of the band. And I think that’s where Scott and Pete were at in their careers with Candlebox.”
Thankfully the band was able to add some fresh blood to the lineup with guitarists Mike Leslie and Brian Quinn. Martin shared how me came to meet both Mike and Brian. “Well, I’d met them both, years apart,” he said. “Mike I met a couple years back in Detroit- just a stellar player and I always said to him, ‘We need to do some music together someday.’ And then Brian I’d known from a band called Fosterchild, so I’ve known him for about ten years. So they just seemed like obvious picks for me- obvious choices for the band.”
Hailing from Seattle originally, and debuting in the early 1990’s, Candlebox is clearly a part of that iconic Seattle music legacy and Martin does not take that for granted. As he shared, “Well, I mean obviously it was great to be there when all that was happening and watch it grow and to be able to say that we’re a band from that generation is an amazing feeling. And there’s very few bands nowadays from Seattle, from that scene, that can say that- that are still out touring and having great careers. So to be able to use that as a launching point for a conversation about the band is always beneficial. You know, we were quite a bit younger in age than those guys, so we didn’t get to play the clubs in the ‘80s that they did, but coming out in 1991 and playing a lot of the great venues- the Off Ramp, the Rock Candy, the OK Hotel and stuff like that- was great. It’s really been kind of the foundation of who Candlebox is.”
Perhaps there are some out there who haven’t kept up to date on Candlebox and have only heard their massively successful first album. What would Martin say to someone in that situation to convince them to give Disappearing in Airports a shot? “That it’s better than the first record,” he said with a laugh. “You know, really, it’s an evolution of a band over twenty plus years of playing music and I think it’s a really great representation of who we are today and where we are as a society and people.” Of course, there are many loyal fans who have been there since the beginning, but Martin says their crowds these days are perhaps 50% longtime fans and 50% newcomers. “We’ve seen a lot of kids of the parents that grew up with us at our shows, which is always amazing… I think with this new record we’ve reached a lot of people that didn’t necessarily know who Candlebox were and found the record on Spotify or something like that.”
Dealing with a delay due to a split with a previous record label, Martin had several songs in process but was unable to do anything with them. Now with Pavement Entertainment, the band was able to incorporate some of these into the new album, and quickly put together other songs in the studio- Think Loud Studios, that is, working with producers Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland. An interesting bit of information is how the the album got it’s name. Martin asked a friend of his, named Scott Fisher to paint the artwork. He had named the piece Disappearing in Airports, representing Fisher’s interpretation of the songs he had heard from the album. According to Martin, it couldn’t have been named anything more perfect: “Yeah, I mean, I think it was interesting that that was the name that Scott had given to the painting because it’s kind of how we live our lives, you know? I think everybody- probably 90% of the public- has been on a plane and gotten lost in airports before. And that painting kind of represents that feeling, so it just seemed obvious, for the album title, not to change it.” Sadly, Fisher passed away during the making of the album.
Several of the songs on Disappearing in Airports have received a lot of talk, as they deal with slightly ‘controversial’ topics. One of these songs, Vexatious was the first track released from the album, and speaks of the perils and problems of a world that is more focused on their phones and social media accounts than real relationships. Then there is God’s Gift which is a complete ( and hilarious) slap in the face to Kanye West. And of course there is I’ve Got a Gun, dealing with the issue of gun rights. Much has been said about these songs, but there are other great songs on the album as well, and Martin spoke about a few of these. “I Want it Back is a song that was inspired by relationships. Everyone gets at a point in their career or in their life where they make a decision that may be harmful to someone that they’re very close to.You know, we only hurt the people we love. And that’s what that song is about- it’s about getting back to that feeling of who you were when you first started in that relationship, whatever it may be. And the joy and love that comes with that, and searching for it… Spotlights is about Detroit. The city that I’ve always been in love with- not only architecturally but musically and artistically- how it continues to inspire. And you know, the musical side of it is the prophets that have come out of there, whether it’s Bob Seger or Iggy and the Stooges- and I mean prophets as in, you know, lyrical prophets. So that’s what that song is about. It’s about that growing up in a tough life and experiencing the darker side of life. The not having, maybe, money for Christmas presents…or seeing the negative side of what society has to do to get by.” The latest single, Supernova is a song about Martin’s wife and “Crazy is just about obsession. It’s about, I think, the position that a lot of people get in in their lives, where they want something physical with something they maybe necessarily couldn’t have something physical with.”
When asked if he has heard anything from Kanye West about God’s Gift, Martin says with a laugh, “No, and I doubt I ever will. But, you know, I can’t stand that guy. He’s just a waste of fucking air. So if he ever does respond to me, that’ll be the greatest day of life.”
Candlebox has been touring in support of Disappearing in Airports off and on since April and are currently on the road with Buckcherry. November will see them on the West Coast and will head to the UK in January. Though they have barely had time to take a breath, Martin said that fans may be able to expect another album next fall. “You know, went into the studio for this album with only three or four ideas solidified,” he said. “We worked really well in the studio at writing the songs and finishing up what we didn’t have finished… So I think we will probably go with the same approach for the next record. It just seemed to work really well for us.”
It seems that everything Candlebox does works well for them. Although the album is called Disappearing in Airports, this band won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Catch them on the road and share the album with your friends.