Michelle LaRose talks with Kevin Martin for Garage Radio Magazine
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Candlebox was a powerhouse to be reckoned with in the 90’s. Their self titled debut album produced four monster hits, Far Behind, You, Change and Cover Me which can still be heard in hot rotation on airwaves across the globe.
After a six year hiatus, Candlebox once again took the stage in 2006 to packed houses across the country.
Candlebox is on the verge of releasing their first album in ten years. We were able to sit with vocalist Kevin Martin and find out more about the album, the impending DVD and the reason behind their six year absence.
Kevin: Well we wrote a bunch of songs and Bardi was taking the bar [exam] because he’s an attorney. He passed the bar. So he was studying for that to take the bar in February and all the stuff that we wrote from November to January that we were hoping was going to be on the record we threw away. We really didn’t like it. The longer we spent listening to it we just wanted to trash it and throw it away. So we started writing again and wrote more songs and that’s what we were just playing at sound check a bunch of new stuff. We decided to hold off the release until next year because we wanted to go out and try the stuff on the road. To make sure that we were doing the right thing, making the right record like we did when we made the first Candlebox record. We played the songs for a year and a half before we made the record.
GR: To see what kind of response it gets.
Kevin: Yeah. I think what you get out of it is you work the songs and you find the melodies, you find different progressions to record changes, different drum beats. The song tends to unfold in front of you the more you play it. It’s like people listen to us play the Lucy record live or Happy Pills live. Those records sound entirely different because we’re able to go out and play them for years and years and years after the record was done which is something we probably should have toured on each record before we made it. So I think most bands should do it, take advantage.
GR: What can you tell us about the new album?
Kevin: It’s politically driven. I’m not afraid to say it’s politically driven towards the administration now but not every song’s that way. Every song has a politic of sorts with relationships in regards to life, friends, family, and stuff like that. There’s quite a few really kind of dark, moody album tracks they’re going to be long and very Pink Floyd-ish. It’s very reminiscent of the first record. I guess that would be the best thing to say.
GR: You say it’s driven towards the administration… towards or from the administration?
Kevin: It’s against the administration.
GR: Is there a title for the new album yet?
Kevin: No. Pete had a pretty cool working title, “Play The Movie”, which represents when someone says to you from behind or something and you think of that moment when you first heard the song and what that song represents to you. So that’s just kind of a tentative. We haven’t really decided.
GR: You’re releasing the album independently?
Kevin: Possibly. We’ve had a few offers. We haven’t taken anything yet.
GR: You’re still shopping it around?
Kevin: We’re not really shopping it. People are finding out about it and contacting our management and we’re just kind of waiting for the right… We don’t need a label. We can do it on our own.
Kevin: Pressure? There’s no pressure. That’s the great thing about it we don’t have any pressure whatsoever. Nobody’s telling us what to do and how to do it we can do whatever the fuck we want, however we want to do it.
GR: Why did Candlebox take a six year hiatus?
Kevin: We tried to get out of our contract by breaking up the band and it didn’t work. So it was a bit of a catch twenty-two. When you break up the band there’s always one member who’s considered the key member of the band and with that they’re locked into the contract and they have to deliver that fourth record. I was that guy and I didn’t deliver a fourth record. After two and a half years of battling with them I told them to go fuck themselves and I was terminated. By that point Bardi was in law school, Scott was playing with Brandi Carlisle, Pete was doing redlightmusic and I had started The Hiwatts so it didn’t really seem like there was any real time for Candlebox. And I think as well, it’s probably important for us to kind of go away because music needed to go through whatever kind of shit cycle it’s going through and I think that’s what happened and only the strong survive and here we are.
GR: Were there any repercussions from you trying to get out of your contract like you did?
Kevin: Yeah. I haven’t received a royalty since 2001. I won’t receive one until that fourth record is paid back. Every other band member continues to get their royalties from record sales but I don’t.
GR: That sucks.
Kevin: Yeah it’s shit house.
GR: We are also waiting for the new Candlebox DVD. When are we going to see that?
Kevin: Logistics again! That contract is done, signed, finished and I think the DVD’s going to be out by Christmas.
Kevin: It’s a live album as well as a live show. It’s got a bunch of backstage footage and fans and little extra’s. It’s just a real intimate evening in Seattle at one of my favorite clubs called The ShowBox Theater. It’s got it all. There’s a ton of songs on there.
GR: Is there a title for it?
Kevin: Live in Seattle.
GR: You mentioned your other project called the Hiwatts. Can you tell us about The Hiwatts?
Kevin: They’re on hiatus because of Candlebox. The Hiwatts is kind of like a very fun Mr. Bungle sort of thing like it is for Mike Patton. It’s not something that we take really serious as in we need to make another record and we’re on a label. It’s just kind of like, let’s get together and make an album and put it out and go on the road. We have a record that’s actually in the can we just haven’t released it because we’re focused on the Candlebox thing and half of my band is actually touring with us now. Adam on bass and Sean on guitar. I guess it’s pretty much The Candle Watts.
GR: You are in both bands. How do you juggle both bands?
Kevin: Candlebox is more important.
GR: Do you think Candlebox fans would like The Hiwatts?
GR: The Hiwatts have one album, “The Possibility Of Being”. Do you think you’ll do another album with The Hiwatts?
Kevin: Yeah. Like I said it’s in the can. It’s ready. It’s ready to be released.
GR: As you’ve mentioned, Bardi passed the bar exam. Has his expertise in law helped the band in any way?
Kevin: He’s not with us so I don’t know. I couldn’t tell ya’.
GR: The word is your going to Europe this fall. Is that confirmed yet?
Kevin: It’s not confirmed.
GR: What’s next for Candlebox?
Kevin: We’ll release the record next year and probably wait a couple of months before we hit the road. But next year is the whole grueling eighteen month world wide tour so it’s something that we’re gearing ourselves up for and getting ready for. I’m having a child with my wife in January, my first child so I’ve got that to deal with next year which is the most exciting thing ever and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to go on the road.
Kevin: Thanks. Yeah, so I’ve got a crazy year next year, that’s what’s next for Candlebox. The singer’s got a crazy year. Everybody else has to hold on.
GR: How are you going to deal with home life versus road life? That’s going to be really tough.
Kevin: Well I bring her on the road. Next year what will happen is when I tour the states I’ll get my own bus so I can bring her and the baby out.
GR: That’s great! Well Kevin thank you for speaking with Garage Radio Magazine today.
Kevin: It’s a pleasure. No worries.