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INTERVIEW – Kevin Martin, May 2013

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Who knew when Madonna took the leap into record label management with Maverick Records that her first signing would produce a disc that would thrive twenty years later?  Well, anyone that picked up the debut disc from Candlebox knew.  I was lucky enough to be given some time with lead signer Kevin Martin on the phone to talk about that release and other related news.

ToddStar: First off, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for us.  Let’s jump into the celebration of 20 years since your big debut on Maverick Records.  Is this the reason for this summer’s tour dates, or can we expect some other big things from Candlebox this year.

Kevin: That’s really what this year is all about, it’s about playing that album.  Again, in the set we’re kind of re-acquainting our fans with that album other than the fact that they probably listen to it a hell of a lot more than we do. We can’t believe it’s been 20 years since that record came out, so this tour is kind of celebrating that and embracing those songs and kind of re-configuring them in the set and mixing with a lot of the new stuff. We released Love Stories and Other Musings last year and we’re still playing a lot of that in the set. So just kind of out there having fun with the songs and really trying to enjoy ourselves, before we get back in the studio this fall and start working on other records.

ToddStar: And you mentioned the 20th anniversary, I mean that album went four times platinum for you guys and it was really kind of a breakthrough. You guys were one of the first big ones on Maverick. I mean to be handpicked by Madonna and write that out, how did it feel and how does it still feel to know that’s kind of where it started?

Kevin: You know it is interesting, it’s a kind of a strange world we live in as a band signing to Maverick back in 1992 and releasing this record in 1993 and being the first band on the label, being a band that kind of allow them the opportunity to sign bands like Deftones and Alanis Morissette because of the success of the band it feels pretty great.  The only thing is you know what I mean by a strange world, it was just so, everything was so super great when it started and then the label got so big with the success of Alanis and lot of the other projects that they signed, that they really outgrew themselves and the label ended up folding not too long ago, so the fact that they didn’t make it 20 years, but we did is just odd. I thought it was such a great opportunity for her with that label and everything that she had envisioned for it and I guess it’s been unfortunate that it didn’t last.

ToddStar: You said 20 years later, you guys are still kicking it and you mentioned you dropped Love Stories and Other Musings last year and it’s, I don’t want to say rare, but especially in this day and age to find a band that can still put out a CD that charts, first of all what do you think of the changing landscape of music?  I mean I am a CD guy, I like to hold the physical CD, where do you fall on that whole fence?

Kevin: I used to be that way, I am a lot more impatient now.  I just got in The National downloaded in my phone, The National’s new record. One of my favorite bands and I have been impatiently waiting for this record for months. So I’ve become the instant gratification jackass that I’ve always complained about. And that’s all I can say about it, is that’s’ what I’ve become. I’ve just become that person that years ago I would have despised. But I think unfortunately that’s just where we’re all headed. I don’t even know if CDs are going to be around in the next five years to be honest, everything’s going to be digital. You know, we live on our phones incessantly. People, on a daily basis, I just don’t think will have time… you know, unfortunately if places like [inaudible] are going to go away, pretty much because people don’t have time and they cant fit time in their schedule to go and enjoy the process of picking albums. I remember when I was 15 or 16 years old and I would go to Tower Records in downtown Seattle and spend hours there just going through the vinyl, back when you could buy an EP for $5 and you could buy singles for $1.99 and it was the actual 45 or the 12” and everybody says how much vinyl sounds better. My brother still has a turntable set up and I still, when I’m up at his house visiting him in Seattle I put those records on, and my other band The Gracious Few released our record on vinyl a couple years back and it just sounds so much better than the CDs.  I loved that process. I really do enjoy going and looking through it.  I just unfortunately feel that the world is becoming so desensitized by the environment that they just don’t find or take time to go out there and do it. Like I said, I’ve become that person, that I’ve always despised and it’s unfortunate because I really love holding a CD and I really love holding the vinyl and looking through the lyrics.  Now I got to get online and type in The National Sea of Love lyrics and it’ll come up on the computer and most of the time they’re wrong and encoding them which really I feel kind of pisses me off which we’d asked our label to deal with Love Stories. With Radiohead when you play The Bends on your iPhone or your iPod Touch whatever, the lyrics come up with the songs and we had requested that for Love Stories as well as Into the Sun and they never coded it that way.  I really wish that the bands knew that was an option when releasing the digital, because you know I love the lyrics, I love reading the lyrics and I love being a lyricist. I miss actually holding that album and reading and then going through those, but what’s the lesser of two evils, do I get to listen to my National this morning when I wake up? Yes, that’s what I’m happy about.

ToddStar: Sure, well again going back to Love Stories and Other Musings, and I started to get onto this,  I mean that album charted for you, charted on the US label and on the indie label.  How good does it feel to know that 20 years later, you are still kicking stuff out that people really care about?

Kevin: I wish they cared a hell of a lot more, I’ll tell you that much.  You know it feels great, it feels good to know that you have an opportunity as a band 20 years later to release that record and have people sell 15-20,000 copies the first week and you’re on the Billboard Charts and you know people are still playing attention and K Rock here in Los Angeles mentioned, you know, Candlebox is releasing Love Stories and Other Musings today.  That’s feels good, it means that somewhere along the line we did something right. I don’t know what it is and it has a lot more to do with… but we’re as a band just one song far behind, but I can’t pinpoint what it is, Candlebox exactly stands for career wise and musically, somewhere along the lines we made a connection with people other than just an album and I hope I never figure out what that is. I hope I’m constantly looking for it because it’s the one thing that keeps me doing what I am doing. I keep trying to figure out well was it this song and was it this show or was it this t-shirt I wore on stage, you know, whatever.  It’s just constantly searching for that magic moment that established Candlebox, and I hope I never find that because it means that I will stop doing what I enjoy doing.


ToddStar: We ‘d hate to see you stop doing what you enjoy doing because we love it.  And speaking of that you know, on the 29th May we’re super excited to see you coming back to Michigan. You’re playing The Machine Shop up in Flint, Michigan.

Kevin: Right.

ToddStar: This is your seventh time back to shop in about five or six years.  I mean we love you here and is there something that just stands in your mind, you guys love this shop, is there a memory you have of The Machine Shop ( in Flint, Michigan?

Kevin: We do love it, but you know Kevin and his brother, the Zane brothers are just such lovely people man. You know, they take care of you in the band, the fans in Michigan, in Flint and in the surrounding areas are the best in the country. You know they never let you forget who they are and they never let you forget who you are as a band and I think that’s what makes us continue to come back there and not to mention it’s a great routing spot, you know it is a super cool place to go to.  It’s always fun to play at that venue, even as small as it is, its loud, its intimate, it’s got everything that every venue in the United States should have and it’s in one of the weirdest little places in Michigan. And to have that city be struggling as much as it has over the past 15-20 years financially that it’s still there and it still holds a place in the history of Flint and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon, is one of the reasons that we continue to go back there is because of that.

ToddStar: That’s awesome, and again Flint loves you and The Machine Shop loves you guys, so it’s a marriage made in rock and roll heaven, as far as I’m concerned. So, moving forward, are you guys truly working on material, are you putting together ideas and thoughts?

Kevin: We have a ton of stuff.  What we’re talking about doing is an acoustic record that may end up being the death of us though. You know, we’ve always wanted to do one, but do people even care about acoustic music anymore, unless you’re Mumford & Sons or Bob Dylan or something, I don’t know. It may be the stupidest thing we ever do but that’s what our concept for our next album is; a fully acoustic album with an acoustic tour to follow. We write pretty much everything on acoustic guitars so it only seems logical that that’s what we should do, but I don’t know if it’s the right thing, but that’s what our plan is and you know, I don’t know if it’s going to be full length simply because there is no reason to do a full length album anymore for Candlebox. The climate for those types of records don’t really exist for us, even with Love Stories and Other Musings, we only wanted it to have eight songs and the label forced us to put those re-records on it which you know, none of us were happy about. So yeah, I really don’t know. It will probably be like a five or six song EP and then we’ll release another five or six songs in the spring time afterwards. But the nice thing about that is we can put that album out now. We’re independent so we don’t have to go through the process of finding a distribution company. We can pop that right out on iTunes and put it on our webpage and we’re basically going to be giving music away for free from now on anyways, we’re not going to charge for our albums. We’d rather have people come see us live than try and rape you for $10.

ToddStar: Sure, and again I can’t wait to see it. Did you ever think 20 years ago that you’d still be the guy in front of a crowd with a microphone in your hand doing what you wanted to do?

Kevin: No, I’m still the reluctant lead singer, man. I was a drummer prior to this. I only became the singer because a friend of mine called me and said I’ve got these songs, will you come sing on them and I said I’m not a singer, I’m a drummer, and he said no I know you’re a singer because I’ve heard you sing. But I was playing drums in another band so… I still am the guy that does not enjoy being behind a microphone.

ToddStar: Well for someone who doesn’t enjoy it you’re quite good at being the front man, you hold the stage well.

Kevin: Thanks man, well it’s easy to become a different person when you step out on the stage.

ToddStar: I’m sure. I’m totally different when I’m behind a calculator as an accountant too. Well listen man, I’ve got one more for you before we let you go. I just want to know, to Kevin Martin in 2013 what’s the meaning of life?

Kevin: Wow, family really that’s what I would say.  I have an incredibly perfect world, I’ve got a five year old that adores the absolute shit out of me and I’ve got a gorgeous wife that does as well. I’m very lucky to have those and I would say that that’s really what the meaning of life is. Having people close to you that are part of you that love you and you can love them back and I really think that’s the meaning. I’m feeling for all these families in Oklahoma City right now for what they are having to deal with these kids and what happened last year in Connecticut, you know there’s just nothing like having a child in your life that comes and wakes you up in the morning and puts their arms around you and tells you how much they love you and then you’re lying next to your wife who feels the same way or your significant other whatever that partner may be.

ToddStar: I couldn’t have put it better, nor ended an interview any better than that. I can’t wait to hear what comes next but I especially can’t wait to see how you guys take command of The Machine Shop stage one more time, next Wednesday night.

Kevin: Thanks man.

ToddStar: Thanks Kevin.

Kevin: See you bud.

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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