Event: Candlebox Acoustic
Location: Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
Date/Time: November 15th, 8pm
It’s impossible to revisit the generation of 90s rock without acknowledging Candlebox and their contributions to the landscape. Singles like ‘Far Behind’, ‘You’, and ‘Cover Me’ left an indelible impression with the right amount of angst and radio-friendly rebellion to carry on some 20 years later. Front man Kevin Martin still feels a connection to the music that put Candlebox on the map, although the personalities of the songs have changed throughout the years.
“‘Far Behind’ is still the same to me. It’s written about Andy Wood from Mother Love Bone, someone I was fortunate enough to get to know and be inspired by, so I’ve never lost that. ‘Cover Me’ has changed over the years with what’s going on with organized religion and people doing things in the name of God. I’m able to connect with it in a different way than when I first wrote it,” says Martin. “‘You’ is a song that has taken on so many different characters in my life and so many different persons that I’ve been affected by. It changes per show as to what it’s in reference to, but the emotion and the idea behind it is still there.”
Candlebox will perform as a duo for a stripped down acoustic show November 15th at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall (www.pvconcerthall.com). For Martin, it’s an intimate way to spend an evening with an audience that appreciates the nakedness of the songs in that way. “When you have a full band, you can hide behind the noise, but when you sit down with a couple of acoustic instruments, that’s not easy. It’s very vulnerable, and I think that’s why I like it so much. I’m not the best guitar player, so my limitations are out there for everyone to see as a guitar player and the voice as well. You have to modify songs and learn to play them differently. You have to learn to use your voice in a different way. It’s not about screaming in front of a drum set or electric guitar. It’s really just so stripped down that all those vulnerabilities of the artist tend to make themselves apparent not only to the audience, but to the performer as well.”
Rock radio is something that has always been there for Candlebox, but for Martin, it’s no longer his main concern. The band has a new album dropping March 11th that Martin says is not written according to a predetermined formula, but allows him to speak in his own voice regarding current events and the political climate. “I just want to write what I’m feeling emotionally and the aggressive nature of what’s happening in the world and the things I want to focus attention on with a song. There’s a song on the new record called ‘I’ve Got a Gun’ which is written from the perspective of someone who’s lost their mind and feels like that’s their only outlet to make a change,” he says. “For me to put myself in that state of mind is something I questioned the whole time, but it was something I was feeling. It’s saying this is a problem and we have to figure out how we’re going to stop it.”
Martin scoffs at the notion of Candlebox as a “post-grunge” band, a label that has shadowed the band throughout their career. Every band that followed the grunge ambassadors of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden could be considered post-grunge, but coming up as a new band in Seattle alongside the holy trinity was a constant battle to prove themselves worthy. It was never an attempt to jump on the grunge train, but rather a term coined by rock journalists who refused to see them as anything but where they came from and who they were going up against.
“I think we were an easy target, being the red-headed stepchild from Seattle and starting the band in ’91 when Pearl Jam is releasing Ten, Soundgarden just released Badmotorfinger, and Nirvana is already full-steam ahead. I think it was like, ‘Who do these kids from Seattle think they are?’ We were five or six years younger than most of those guys. But we have never considered ourselves post-grunge. We’ve always considered ourselves to be a blues-based rock band. All of our songwriting was founded on those blues-based chords of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, so for us, it’s always been an odd term to be labeled with. Obviously, we’re not trying to change the world and we can’t change the chords. They are what they are but how we write is written around those chord progressions. You try and separate yourself from it as much as you can. There is only so much you can say, so you’ve just got to roll with it.”
Martin was 14 when his family moved to Seattle, and he started playing music as a drummer. He remembers going to see Soundgarden play when Chris Cornell was 21. “That was something I was excited about, but at the same time, there was an enormous amount of differences in age there. For a young fan of music to see someone like Cornell playing that kind of music, it was something pretty incredible. I didn’t really become a singer in a band until Candlebox,” he says.
“From our first record until now, it’s a lifetime of experience. I still get nervous before I go on stage and I still get nervous before I make a record. But the urgency is different now. I know where I come from, and I know what I draw from when I write a song. It’s more about me pleasing myself with the songs now than writing an album full of singles. I don’t really care about that anymore. We did what we did and we sold records and we still have a career, so I can’t really complain. I’m still here and I’m happy about that.” See this evolution for yourselves at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall.