STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
When two members of Candlebox opted to concentrate on their solo projects, singer and songwriter Kevin Martin called up Conshohocken-based guitarist Brian Quinn.
“Brian’s an incredible talent. I met him — I wanna say 10 years ago — through mutual friends when he was playing with (the band) Fosterchild. It just kind of happened. I remember thinking: ‘Y’know this is the guy that should be jamming with me.’ His wife and my wife have become good friends,” Martin said in a phone interview.
Quinn, Martin and the rest of the alternative rock band will be playing a rare acoustic show at Sellersville Theater Feb. 9. Martin shared that it will feature three new songs from a forthcoming album titled “Disappearing in Airports.” “It’s two hours long, with stories and commentary. It’s a lot of fun and I love it. I like telling the stories and I like that (people) want to hear them,” he said. “They’re about the small, intimate shows; people are so quiet.”
The concert will, of course, include the songs that drove their 1993 debut album, “Candlebox,” to dizzying multi-platinum heights, such as “Far Behind” and “You.” While it’s true that tracks from that high profile first release, like “Cover Me,” “Change” and “He Calls Home,” were written on acoustic guitars, be advised that “You” is going to sound noticeably different from the recorded version. “(When we first started playing it acoustic) we had to restructure the song. It has a different intensity now,” said Martin. “I don’t think we ever expected the first record to be as successful as it was,” he said, adding that the band’s hope was for it to sell 100,000 to 200,000 copies. He recalled touring as an opening act for Rush in 1994, and being stunned by the news that the album had reached RIAA gold certification. “We took a big step back, and said: ‘What the (expletive) happened?’,” he said.
The second Candlebox album, “Lucy,” sold more than a half-million copies, however Martin said to expect to hear only one track from it at the concert. “I’m not really a fan of that record. That’s not to say it’s not a good record. We made it a point to make ‘Lucy’ a different record,” he said, noting that if he had a chance to do it over again, he’d re-write certain song parts. “I’d re-record the record; I’d remix the record.”
When asked about the band’s name, he said it was inspired by a line in an early ‘80s song by the Australian band Midnight Oil, “Tin Legs and Tin Mines” — “boxed in like candles.” “He was talking about the Aboriginals,” Martin said of Midnight Oil’s activist frontman, Peter Garrett (who eventually got elected to his country’s house of representatives and even served as a cabinet minister).
Speaking of things that can burn brightly, then be extinguished, Martin expressed concern that the singer Lorde and the band Twenty One Pilots could suffer the same fate as Candlebox because of the nature of the music business. Candlebox was once one of the crown jewels of Madonna’s label, Maverick Records. But according to Martin, “enormous debt” forced the band’s hand to break up in order to terminate their contract. “There’s always that kind of hype (certain acts are pressured to live up to). It’s just one of those things. We believed (back in the ‘90s) we had great records with ‘Lucy’ and (1998 album) ‘Happy Pills.’ The climate changed so rapidly,” he said, referring to the rise of rap metal bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn.
During the six-year hiatus, Martin recorded with the members of fellow ‘90s alt rockers Live, under the name The Gracious Few. Even though Candlebox is active again, and Martin and Quinn have a side project band called Le Projet, he replied “I hope so” when asked if there’d be more music from The Gracious Few.
Talking of ‘90s rock stars, Martin was saddened by the recent drug overdose death of Scott Weiland, but “not shocked.” Martin’s wife phoned him in South America with the news. “I had known him a long time. I had spoken to his manager about two months prior. I said: ‘You gotta get him some help because he’s gonna kill himself’,” he said.
With a fresh deal for the band on an independent label, Martin is pleased to be in a position of picking up where he left off. According to the Candlebox Facebook page, a few of their other acoustic tour dates had sold out. “It’s so alien to me when that (sold out shows) happens. It’s funny, man, when I do this, I really don’t know what to expect half the time,” he said.