Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Q&A: Candlebox

Hailing from the iconic Seattle music scene, early 1990s alt-rock band Candlebox still rocks an eclectic collection of songs that sets them apart from many of their grunge peers.

Donna Leahey
February 28, 2020

When you think of bands coming out of Seattle, you probably think of grunge or alternative rock. Seattle-based Candlebox isn’t into that scene at all. They’re into rock ‘n’ roll. And they don’t want you to forget it.

Their self-titled first album, Candlebox, was released in 1993 with hits “Far Behind” and “You.” It’s been certified platinum four times. The success of their debut effort put them on the main stage at Woodstock ‘94, and earned them a Metal Edge Readers’ Choice Award for Best New Band.

Follow up albums — Lucy (1995) and Happy Pills (1998) — did well, but in 2000 the band ran into disagreements with their label, and the members of Candlebox went separate ways while contract disputes ran their course.

Lead vocalist Kevin Martin performed with The Gracious Few and Hiwatts during the break.

With legal entanglements cleared up by 2006, Candlebox reunited and began touring and releasing new music. Into the Sun, Candlebox’s fourth effort, was released in 2008, Love Stories & Other Musings in 2012, and Disappearing in Airports in 2016. Looking at those dates, you might think another album was due any day, and you’d be right. Candlebox’s as-yet-unnamed seventh album will be released this spring.

The lineup has changed over the years, with Martin remaining as the only original member, but the band’s commitment to rock ‘n’ roll remains. Martin is looking forward to a return to Tulsa, as he shared when he spoke to Preview 918 ahead of Candlebox’s March 26 visit to River Spirit Casino Resort’s Paradise Cove.

Q. Tell us about the upcoming seventh album.
A. I had to go to Houston to finish vocals for it. Now, I’m in practice mode to make sure we can play the album live. It comes out in late March or early April. It’s our seventh record, so we’re not the most prolific of bands, as it takes us 25 years to make seven records. It’s a different record for Candlebox. There’s no real direction to the album; it’s just songs that we loved and wanted to record. I’m pretty stoked that it is so different for us. It has 11 songs, and none of them is anything like the song before.

Q. Does the album have a title?
A. Still working on a name. I wait until the eleventh hour to name the albums. I have done that since the beginning, and that’s why the debut album is just named Candlebox. I’m always kind of waiting and waiting and waiting for the title to come to me by listening to the songs and finding out what they’re trying to say to me as an album.

Q. There’s a quote associated with you: “It’s called rock ‘n’ roll; look it up.”
A. Musically, even from the 2000s on, there has been a somewhat lackluster effort in the production of great songs. Not to say there haven’t been any great songs, but it’s not like it was in the ‘60s or the ‘70s. The ‘80s? That’s always an argument. In the ‘90s, there was some brilliant music produced that has continued to mold an entire world of musicians.

So, I just started saying the quote onstage.

Years ago, I had this side project [The Gracious Few] with the guys from [alternative rock band] Live — Patrick [Dahlheimer, bass], Chad [Taylor, guitar], and Chad [Gracey, drums] — along with fellow Candlebox member Sean Hennesy [guitar]. We were playing rock ‘n’ roll, with basic blues chords, strong song structure, and complexities and stuff like that. We were a blisteringly rock ‘n’ roll band. We weren’t spoon-feeding people that crap that radio stations were playing.

Q. What impact did coming out of Seattle have on the Candlebox sound?
A. I don’t think it had any substantial effect on us. We were about five years younger than most of the guys who were playing that style, like Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Mother Love Bone, and Mudhoney. I think the city’s influence affected them, and that’s why those songs sound the way they sound.

I moved there from Texas when I was 15, so it wasn’t my scene. It wasn’t anything I was attracted to musically. I grew up on punk rock, but not the acid rock thing that was going on in Seattle. So, it took me a little while to get acclimated to the taste of that music. It wasn’t something I gravitated toward as an artist.

So, how did it affect me personally or Candlebox? I’d say zero. The only member of the band who would have been listening to it and learning from it would have been Bardi [Martin], our bass player. He spent some time in Ireland on an exchange program for school. And he had been growing up listening to bands like The Pogues and some of that great Irish rock ‘n’ roll, like Thin Lizzy and stuff.

Q. Who are some of your musical influences?
A. My main influences are late-’60s rock ‘n’ roll and mid-to-late-’70s punk rock. I love the Clash; they’re my favorite band. I grew up listening to Iggy and the Stooges, Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. When I moved to Seattle, I started realizing there was a lot of different music out there. I got into a lot of new wave. My father is a jazz musician, so I started listening to a lot of jazz. I think my tastes in music were changing and growing.

Q. What can your fans expect from this show?
A. There will be a lot of the new album in the set. This year is the 25th anniversary of Lucy, so we’ll probably be playing more songs from that album. We have a lot of really cool bands opening up for us. We love to introduce people to the music we’re listening to, the bands we love. That’s what happened with us when we toured with Living Colour and Rush back in 1994. They told us always to take bands that you want to listen to, and don’t take bands you think are going to sell tickets. So, come early, because you’re going to see a great group before we come out.

Q. Are you looking forward to being back in Tulsa?
A. We love Tulsa. I remember when we first came to Tulsa in 1993. I knew that I was going to have a relationship with the city. I have a lot of friends there. It’s kind of weird to think we’re playing casinos now, but I guess everyone is doing it now.

Paradise Cove | River Spirit Casino Resort
8330 Riverside Parkway | Tulsa
March 26: 8 p.m.
Must be 21 or older to attend