Candlebox was always a bit of an enigma. As a band that formed in the early ‘90s in Seattle, one might assume that they rode the grunge wave to success. But Candlebox wasn’t a grunge band, so if anything, being a pop-rock band from Seattle in the early ‘90s probably worked against them more than it worked for them. Yet, with such unmistakable hits as “Far Behind,” “Cover Me,” “Change” and “You,” this non-grunge Seattle band went four-times platinum, proving to everyone both in and out of the Pacific Northwest that good music is good music, no matter where your band is based.
“I think that what I experienced there from a young age was an enormous amount of competition, almost on a high school level, between a lot of the bands towards Candlebox and what it was that we had accomplished with our first record, which I found strange and still do to this day,” says Candlebox singer and founding member, Kevin Martin. “That being said, I think what we experienced there was incredible excitement and I’m very thankful that Candlebox had that opportunity in a city that had such great attention directed towards it. Watching Seattle explode in the late ‘80s (and) early ‘90s was a bit of a mindfuck because you couldn’t go anywhere without music being played, bands playing, people from labels being flown into town, bands being flown out of town, it was like the Wild West. A gold rush, if you will.”
Now, 30 years later, Candlebox is proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Meaning, good music is good music, no matter where — or when — that music comes from. Martin and company have released their newest full-length album, “Wolves,” featuring the single “All Down Hill from Here,” which is featured on the latest edition of StripJointsMusic.com (courtesy of Bob Chiappardi and Concrete Marketing). ExoticDancer.com had the chance to speak with Martin about this new album, the state of rock music in 2021, and how Candlebox fans have evolved with the band over the past three decades.
ED: A few singles were already released, prior to the first “official” single, “All Down Hill from Here.” This includes tracks like “Let Me Down Easy” and “My Weakness.” Is there a specific reason why two tracks came out well ahead of the official release of “Wolves”?
MARTIN: The main reason that the two tracks were released prior to the release of album was really to satisfy that desire of our fans wanting to hear new music, the music that they had been waiting so long for. When we recorded it in August of 2019 of course we had no idea that this was going to be put on hold for so long, so we wanted to make sure that we were able to give the fans something that they had been waiting for, something they had paid for, and we felt we owed it to them.
My opinion on the current state of rock and roll is simple: I find its lack of danger is what’s making it so mediocre. Bands are so afraid of losing an audience or offending their audience that they will formulaically dumb down their music to adhere to the industry rather than do what it is that makes them happy. – Martin
ED: You mention that “Wolves,” by intention, does not follow a specific blueprint, that you didn’t try to “stay in your lane.” What inspired this approach? How did this approach make writing and recording “Wolves” different from previous albums?
MARTIN: I’ve always found that when recording an album or writing a record, the best thing to do is not question yourself. This is the first time, I think, that we ever really allowed ourselves to do this, to go in whatever direction we wanted. I guess maybe it’s the concept that this might be the last record we will ever make sort of thing, so let’s just do what we want to do rather than worrying about what an audience or a label is expecting of us. The nice thing about that is the freedom to create whatever type of record you want or to record what kind of songs you want without feeling external pressure from a label or management. Staying in our lane was never an option, it was about going following the direction our hearts were leading us. A lot of times I find my brain will outthink my heart and keep me from doing these things so I wanted to make sure that I didn’t do that this time.
ED: You also state that you intentionally went for a “looser” vibe on “Wolves.” It’s one thing to say you want to cultivate that vibe, but that also seems like something that needs to be as organic as possible. How were you able to sustain that “loose” vibe throughout, without “over-thinking” the songs?
MARTIN: I think the way that we did that was we let our producer (Dean Dichoso) direct us. He kept us focused on the fact that what we wanted to do was not overthink these songs. We wanted to record them as organically, without the arguments of lengths of songs etc. and as rocking as we possibly could. We recorded this record live and I think that has every5thing to do with the vibe of wolves, it takes enormous dedication to record an album live, I’m pretty certain that’s what makes wolves so special.
ED: From what I’ve heard so far, “Wolves” is certainly eclectic. Is that the word that best describes “Wolves”? And if not, what word or words would you use instead?
MARTIN: I think eclectic is the perfect word for “Wolves.”
ED: Candlebox has existed now for 30 years, which is an amazing accomplishment! Over that time, you’ve surely seen a lot of the changes and twists and turns of rock music. What’s your opinion of where rock music is today, right now, and how did the current state of rock music influence your approach to the songs on “Wolves” if at all?
MARTIN: My opinion on the current state of rock and roll is simple: I find its lack of danger is what’s making it so mediocre. Bands are so afraid of losing an audience or offending their audience that they will formulaically dumb down their music to adhere to the industry rather than do what it is that makes them happy. It’s not their fault, really, it’s the industry that’s made this drastic change for them BUT, they’re guilty of falling in that line. It’s sad, certainly, and I think that what we are seeing, of course, is the fact that rock stations are no longer allowed to play deep cuts or anything like that, the watering down of an entire genre of music and it’s unfortunate. It’s your job as a musician is to piss people off, to make people think, to challenge the status quo, to not conform but that is not what rock’n’roll is, it’s become one giant cliche.
30 years of making music is nothing to sneeze at, can you imagine trying to rewrite ‘Far Behind’ or ‘You’ or ‘Cover Me’ for your entire career? That would have made me absolutely mental. – Martin
ED: Dave Krusen played on this album, and some people may recognize him as the original drummer of Pearl Jam. How long have you worked with Dave, and what led to him playing on “Wolves”?
MARTIN: Dave’s actually been in Candlebox since 1997. He joined the band shortly after Scott Mercado left in 96’ and had played with me ever since. Dave’s played on every record from “Happy Pills to “Wolves.” He’s been my go-to drummer for over 20 years. Lovely guy, met him in 1995 in Seattle. Brilliant drummer and a perfect asset musically to any band and honestly the perfect asset to an album like “Wolves” because of his freestyle of drumming.
ED: Anytime a band writes an album as successful as your self-titled debut album, it can become both a blessing and a curse in a sense. I’m sure at a certain point, after nearly 30 years since it came out, you don’t feel the need to write any music that follows in its footsteps. Over the years, how do you feel the fans have grown with your music? And what should longtime fans be looking forward to about “Wolves”?
MARTIN: I think the fans have allowed us to experiment musically. They’ve allowed us to grow as artists, allowing us to give them a change, new music that’s not what they expect, and that is a rarity these days. I’m so grateful that we have those types of fans. 30 years of making music is nothing to sneeze at, can you imagine trying to rewrite “Far Behind” or “You” or “Cover Me” for your entire career? That would have made me absolutely mental. I think that what longtime fans can be looking for from “Wolves” is that expression, the growth of the band another album of great songs that aren’t necessarily directed in any one way, not following a formula and doing what it is that we’ve always done.
ED: Our company will be helping to promote “All Down Hill from Here” to thousands of adult nightclub (strip club) DJs across the country. Over the years, did the band have a chance to visit any strip clubs while on the road? If so, do any stand out as being more fun than the others?
MARTIN: We would certainly visit them ages ago but now we’re all family guys that aren’t allowed within 100 feet of them LOL!