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| 8 December 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Seattle-based, multi-platinum rock band Candlebox has announced the release of the acoustic version of their hit song “Riptide.” The original version is featured on their latest album Wolves, which is available on streaming platforms everywhere via Pavement Entertainment. The emotional, stripped-down version of “Riptide” was produced by Peter Cornell, brother of the late Chris Cornell, at the legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville, TN. “‘Riptide’ might be my favorite Candlebox song of all time,” said Kevin Martin, Candlebox lead vocalist. “There’s so much in this song that breathes life into me. I love the nakedness of this track and the baring of its soul to anyone that will listen. I love this version and I think Candlebox fans, old and new, will as well. Peter did a great job getting this version out of us, and that’s what we look for in producers––to take us where we don’t know we can go and show us the beauty of our songs! Enjoy.” To celebrate its release, Candlebox has also unveiled an exclusive, behind-the-scenes video of the recording of the unplugged version at Blackbird Studios. Directed by Michael Sarna, the video showcases the band like never before, with raw, sometimes emotional, footage of the group unearthing the power of the song’s emotional message to just hold on.” We were able to get Kevin on the phone to discuss new music, touring, and much more…

Toddstar: Kevin, thank you so much for taking time out. I really appreciate getting the opportunity to speak with you once again.

Kevin: Oh, happy to do it, man.

Toddstar: There’s always so much going on in the world of Candlebox. Wolves just dropped a little over two months ago, but you guys just released a killer acoustic version of my favorite song off the album, “Riptide.” There’s something about that song that it screamed to me when I heard it in its original version. What did that song in of itself make you and the band decide we need to strip this down and really just own it?

Kevin: Well, I think it’s probably from rehearsals. When we decided to start playing it live, I was playing acoustic on it with the piano, and it started to tell us that it needed to be stripped down. I mean, the songs do that sometimes, they just kind of open themselves up to you and say, “Listen, you need to revisit something about me.” And as an artist, a lot of times I tend to ignore that stuff, but I couldn’t with this song. I love this song so much. I love singing it, I love playing it, love watching people listen to it. It’s just one of those special tracks that I think if given the right amount of love, could be a great career song for us. But when we started talking about it in rehearsals, it was like, we need to get to a studio and track this acoustically and make a video that kind of represents that loneliness of the song. And that’s where it came from. Really those rehearsals in Nashville.

Toddstar: When you guys recorded this at Blackbird Studios. You guys have been around a long time, to go into legendary studios where there’s so much that came before you. And not that there’s an expectation, but there’s a bar. What’s it like for you guys to go in there and know that you’ve got to hit that bar?

Kevin: Oh, I mean, that to me would be like an Abby Road. I don’t get intimidated going into a studio because I know what I’m capable of as a musician. But so Blackbird, the history of that studio for me, it’s really just about the beauty of that, who’s recorded there. And what records that I own that have been recorded there. If I were to go into Abby Road, that would be like a totally different thing. That would be something where… that’s like visiting the Pope. There’s no finer cathedral than Abby Road. But you know, there is a sense of excitement when you go into a place like Blackbird because of the history of it, because of the number of records that have been recorded there, the great successes, and then the unknowns that have been recorded there that are just as important as maybe a Kings of Leon record that’s been recorded there. That’s what I think when you get in there as an artist, you start thinking about I guess the sheer brilliance of the room and what it brings to you as an artist, what it gives to you, not what you can give to it. And you need to embrace that. You really need to allow yourself to own that and to be moved by it and use it in your recording. Any, like we recorded at Electric Lady Studios back in the 90’s. It was similar experience. That studio gave us so much energy. There are a lot of studios out there that give nothing, they offer nothing to you, which is very strange because they, great success out of them, good records have been made there, but they just maybe aren’t in tune with you as a musician or as an artist and Blackbird is I think one of those studios that is just perfect for anybody that records there.

Toddstar: Well, and you brought up a good point about the room and what you bring to a room or a room brings to you. And I want to come back to that, but I’d like to circle back to something. And it just struck me that you said in the first response, talking about “Riptide” being a catalog moment. Is this one of those songs that you find from here on out is going to be one of those moments in a set where not only are the fans excited, but you guys, as a collective – band, fans, everybody – together is just going to be excited about the moment when “Riptide” is going to enter the scene, so to speak on that, on any given evening.

Kevin: Yeah. I do think that, I think it’s exactly that type of song and I, as Candlebox’s fan base grows yet again, which is awesome. Those people that are finding this newer music, I think are going to be excited to hear songs like “Riptide” in a set and where we place it, you down by “Cover Me” or “Change” in one of these… It’s a really nice bookend song in a set. And those are important if you don’t have bookends, you really don’t have much of a show. And, you know, we are very conscious about set list that we create every single night. It’s important to us that the audience feels that energy that we’re feeling when we produce those tracks and get ready to play them during the set. So, yeah, it’s kind of, it’s very important that you have those types of songs. And I do think that Riptide is going to be one of those tracks, for people that just can’t wait to hear it.

Toddstar: You mentioned, and I’ve only been fortunate enough to see you guys in one venue and I’ll touch on that a second, but when it comes to the set list are you guys one of those bands that just goes out and you set your set list based on rehearsals and that’s it, or do you guys play it to a certain show, a certain venue, a certain area. Do you guys customize your set list as you move through different tours and different legs of tours to where you know on certain area, a certain city or a certain venue, just this song has always worked or, well that one doesn’t work, but it worked last night.

Kevin: We do do that. Yeah. We actually modify the set every single day. What happens is in rehearsals, we pick those songs that we know we want to work with. So there’ll be about 30 songs that we work on in rehearsals. And then each night we dwindle that those 30 songs down to 15 and we move them around. We move them around every single show, every single town. We know that there are certain cities, like you’re mentioning where we have to play songs off of Lucy where the record did really well. And I’m not a big fan of that Lucy record. So like we just played it in Seattle for the 25th anniversary. And it was interesting because we, I hadn’t sung a lot of those songs in so long, but I found myself really enjoying the set. And if you find that one song, maybe like in Pittsburgh, I know that the audience we did really well there with the Happy Pills record. So in Pittsburgh, we try to include at least three or four songs from Happy Pills. And that’s, a lot of times that’s the only city that gets those four songs. But yeah, I have learned over the years what works in what city and what doesn’t, and I find myself going back, because I have all our set lists saved from 2006 up to now in my Dropbox folder. And I will go back and see what we did in that city. And I want to make sure that we maybe skip over some of the stuff we may have played before and include new tracks. And certainly if we would’ve been there within two years, I’m going to switch things up a bit. But yeah it’s important to me that I keep that fresh, not only for myself, but for our fans.

Toddstar: It’s always good from a fan perspective. I mean, once the first three are done and I’ve got to put my camera down and, and I ease back into the crowd a little bit, I love that freshness and the fact that you can tell a band isn’t necessarily going through the motions, it’s just as good for us as it is for you guys.

Kevin: Oh, that’s awesome.

Toddstar: But the venue that I love doing this in and it’s venue that I know is near and dear to your heart, The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. What is it about The Machine Shop and Candlebox that just has always worked from day one?

Kevin: It’s working class man, it’s salt of the earth and I think that… I find that with most of Michigan in general, not to take away from your question because certainly The Machine Shop is one of those special venues that every single rock and roll band has played and will play and wants to play. You just don’t want to miss it because it’s just so much fun. And Kevin and the staff are just amazing and the venue sounds brilliant. The audience is always great, but I think that Michigan in general as a state is salt of the earth. These, they’re people that work really, really hard and they play hard and they love hard. And I think that that’s why those types of why those types of venues work in Michigan and they may not, there’s not a Machine Shop anywhere else in the United States. There’s nothing nearly that cool for that size of a venue. So Kevin [Zink], he created something that from the beginning of Shinedown when they first started touring to Theory of a Deadman… Seether… all of those rock bands all played there and started their careers in that venue. And it’s a special place, man. It has a… Kevin’s just a lovely guy and he’s given us musicians a venue to call our own, I think is I guess what I’m trying to say about it. So it’s an amazing room and we love it. I haven’t played there in years. I’m looking forward to getting back there.

Toddstar: We’d love to get you back out there. With the album out and it’s a whole new world for everybody, especially for touring musicians like yourself. What’s next for you? I mean, how do you take Wolves to the crowds? How do you take it out there and build it to be a monumental album in your catalog? How do you now take that to the next level? Have you changed up what you guys are doing as far as tours and what have not, or are you guys still going to plug away like you always have?

Kevin: Yeah. We’re still plugging away. Unfortunately being an independent artist is a real challenge. Social networking and all that sort of stuff is the bane of my existence as a 42 year old man, but I have to do it. My manager’s like, “Hey, we need a TikTok today. I’m like fuck TikTok.” But I like it when I do it, but the thought of having to sit down and play something on there or sing something on there or do something on there just is I find it incredibly discouraging. I guess we’re going to be marketing our next tour on TikTok, which is a super interesting way to reach an audience. It’s, there’s 21,000 plus followers on there now. I’d like to get that up to like, 50 or 60,000, but yeah, it’s really just about kind of, making yourself available to that audience, which is something I never had to do back in the day. I had the success of the first record, and I had the support of a major label, Warner Brothers Records. And that’s kind of one of the things that we just don’t have nowadays. I don’t have any of that money that backs me. It’s entirely independent and it’s difficult. So that entails me getting on these socials and letting people know that we’re still a band and we’re still alive and we’re still breathing. And we have new records out. But there are a million people out there that don’t even know we exist anymore from that debut album, which is kind of strange to me that they’ll still listen to it, they’ll hear it on radio stations and lithium, but they won’t bother to go and see what the band’s doing. And that’s a weird thing.

Toddstar: You mentioned, how long you have been doing this and the debut – July 1993 is a long time ago. This isn’t your guys’ first rodeo by any means even with the hiatus in the middle of the career, looking back, if you could talk to Kevin Martin in 1992, when you’re readying the self-titled debut, you’re putting these songs together, and driving forward, what piece of advice would you give yourself then that you had no idea about?

Kevin: Listen to your manager, trust your gut. Invest differently. You know, it’s like you make a lot of money when you have successful records, but you forget that it’s not going to be forever. And I was lucky enough to have invested in some things early on that afforded me the luxury of just being a touring musician right now. But there’s so many things that I would’ve done differently financially just because Candlebox split up in 2000 and struggled with the lawsuit with Maverick Records and getting out of my contract with them, that that financial burden for six years was tough to survive. And that’s something that I think I would’ve been more conscious of if I were able to talk to myself is just trust your gut more and listen to your manager and don’t trust your band mates. They never have your best intentions in mind.

Toddstar: I say, I’ll leave that one right there, because I know that going through the rigors of bands who have been around as long as if not longer than you, that tale is all too common. Kevin, you mentioned Abby Road and a lot of monumental albums were created there. If you could go back through the history of recorded music and be in the presence, whether it’s there for the recording, it’s contributing, or just absorbing, what’s one album you personally would’ve liked to have a part of?

Kevin: Oh God, that’s a good question. Probably Led Zeppelin IV. It’s such a monumental record for me. That, or The Clash, London Calling, those two records are two albums that are constantly in rotation and either on the tour bus or in my car, I just love them both… I mean two entirely different records, but-

Toddstar: I would say those are ying and yang when you put them side by side.

Kevin: Yeah. I mean, but The Clash was so formative to me as a young man. I loved them when I was growing up when I was nine, 10 years old, that record was everything that, that I believed in and wanted as a young rock kid skateboarding through San Antonio. And then Zeppelin when I was 16, that record, I’d moved to Seattle at point and I experienced this great musical movement in the city, but that record, Led Zeppelin IV just spoke to me on so many levels of singer and I was playing drums in bands at the time. And in the backyard mind, you always think, “God, if I could sing in a rock band, it’d be the greatest thing ever.” And that record just influenced me so much and still continues to influence me as a singer even now trying to understand where this passion Robert Plant had for music and how he incorporated that into his singing, I hear it every time I listen to it. It’s, I won’t even turn steroid of heaven off if it comes on, I turn it up. It’s just, it’s such a magical album. And John Bonham was my biggest inspiration as a drummer. So I have to say that that’s the record would be Led Zeppelin IV.

Toddstar: Well, I mean, if you’re going to pick an album go big, right? Well, listen man, again, I appreciate the time. It’s always a pleasure to do anything with you or with Candlebox. And I can’t get enough of the acoustic version of “Riptide” as much as I love the original.

Kevin: Oh thanks, dude.

Toddstar: This acoustic version, just knocks it out of the park as far as I’m concerned. So hopefully we’ll get to hear that live up at The Machine Shop  sometime soon. I know everybody there would dig it. So here’s to happy holidays, a safe new year and getting you guys on the road back up to Flint, Michigan.

Kevin: Thanks buddy. Look forward to it.







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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