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Candlebox Acoustic- Show Review & Interview

Candlebox Acoustic- Show Review & Interview

March 23rd & 24th- Tupelo Music Hall, Derry NH

                         By Dominique Wheelock- Staff PhotojournalistIMG_4864-2.jpg

Candlebox members L-R : Brian Quinn (guitar) and Kevin Martin (lead singer)

Currently touring in support of their sixth studio album, Candlebox is the band that could have risen to the status of bands such as Pearl Jam had there not been some hiccups along the way (issues with their record label).  I must admit, however, that  I am pretty partial to being able to see them in smaller, more intimate, venues.  Candlebox formed in 1990 and released their first self-titled album in 1993 spinning off hit songs such as “You,” “Far Behind” and, “Cover Me.”  The band released two more studio albums before breaking up in 2000.  This was not the end of Candlebox as you can see it’s hard to keep that much talent on hiatus.  Candlebox reformed in 2006 and released “Into The Sun” soon after that.  

Lead singer, Kevin Martin, has also been a part of several side project bands such as The Gracious Few (featuring members from the band Live), The HiWatts, and Le Project (which features current guitarist, Philly native, Brian Quinn and bassist Adam Kury).  All of these bands had the potential to rise to stardom but for one reason or another didn’t receive much airplay.  I definitely recommend that you check out those album releases, however.  It wasn’t until 2015 when Candlebox re-formed and signed a record deal with Pavement Entertainment.  Soon after launched a “crowd-funding” effort to help get their new album created and released Disappearing in Airports in early 2016.   IMG_4876-2.jpg

Originally slated to play one night at The Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH, Candlebox sold out in a near record breaking 8 hours, soon after announcing a second show.  My friend and I quickly snapped up second row tickets to both shows, excited to see music from the new album playing acoustically along with some of the older hits.  The Tupelo Music Hall was in the works to create a brand new venue and replace their old location.  Shortly later it was announced that both of these shows would be moved to the new location, twice the size.  Kevin Martin admitted he was a little nervous to move to the new venue, but both shows ended up being sold out.  I must admit I was very impressed with the new Tupelo or as Kevin calls it “the new “Lo.”  It was designed wonderfully, with plenty of seating, a much bigger stage, and a nice area in the lobby to hang out and grab a drink at their nicely designed bar.  

Night one was a Thursday night, and started off with hit song “Change” and stayed in the earlier era (90’s) of the bands releases with songs such as ‘Blossom,” “Blinders,” “Cover Me” and, “Sometimes.”  If you’ve ever been to a Candlebox acoustic show then you know that you will get treated to the history of the story behind the song similar to the MTV show “Unplugged.”  While not everyone is a fan of this, I certainly am.  I feel that Kevin talking about where he was emotionally with himself when he wrote songs such as “Miss You” is a something fans don’t often get to hear, but should.  “Miss You” is a song he wrote about his father, a WWII vet, who was one of the first ones to storm the beach in Omaha.  Kevin always speaks highly of his father, one of his greatest inspirations (sadly Kevin’s father passed away in 2004).  He told the story of how he gave him a wallet with the words “Bad motherfucker” written on it and would laugh when his father would take it out to give money at church.  

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Nearing the end of the night, there was a mother in the crowd who shouted out to Kevin that it was her daughter Jade’s first concert ever and that she knew how to play guitar. Kevin and Brian invited the 12 year old up onto the stage to help play during their last song of the night, their biggest hit, “Far Behind.”  Kevin and Brian coached her on which chords to play while Kevin sang just like he did almost 25 years ago.  It’s things like this that truly make me love this band-they are so kind to their fans.  

 

 

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The guys switched up most of the songs for night two but kept a couple of the fan favorites from the night before such as “Cover Me” and “Far Behind.”  Kevin talked about his mother, Donna, who is one of his biggest fans and joked how half of the people in the room are probably friends with his mom on Facebook.  I’ll admit, I am. She’s a very talented artist who often shares her paintings through social media.  The song he wrote about her that they played is called “Only Because of You.”  Kevin spoke of how she “raised four amazing children” and how he and his siblings all live happy, successful lives.  The lyrics in this special song include the lyrics “we made it through, we know who we are, only because of you.”  After they played this song they went into a cover of Pink Floyd’s song “Mother.”  Kevin also spoke of how the band is planning on taking a break for a couple of years so they can spend time with family, work on side projects, etc.  He is planning on moving to Australia where his wife is from so they can work on her clothing business. He assured the crowd that they will be back! I’m guessing with a vengeance!

 

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Much like the night before we were treated to an onstage guest appearance for the final song of the night-“Far Behind.”  This time it was Adam Fithian, from Massachusetts based band “Prospect Hill”- someone who has been not only a fan, but also a close friend of Kevin’s for years.  They did an amazing job singing together and the crowd was really showing them some love.  

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Make sure to check out Candlebox’s music, merchandise (they have a ton of awesome new merch), and tour dates up on their website:  www.candleboxrocks.com  There is also a release coming out on April 22nd titled Disappearing Live and includes some live tracks off of their most current album.  This is a limited edition release with only 500 made, so don’t miss out!

I got to meet Kevin and Brian prior to Thursday’s show and sit down with Kevin for a brief interview.  Read below.

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Dominique:          So I work for Boston Rock Radio and we support local, up and coming musicians, so basically anybody who doesn't have a million followers on Facebook.  If someone's never heard of Candlebox they might question some of these certain things that you've probably been asked a 100 times.

Kevin:     Sure, ask away.

D:               All right, so how excited are you for two sold-out shows at the Tupelo?

K:               Very excited. Yeah, the new T, the Tup.  The new Lo. The new Tupe-Lo. Yeah, it was funny I had heard that the first two shows or that the first show sold out. I was like, "Oh, that's great, okay." Then a buddy called me or emailed me and he's like, "Listen, there's tickets available again." I was like, "What are you talking, they're sold out?" He goes, "No, he moved it to the new room." Which we didn't know. I called my agent and I said, "Hey, dude I ain't about this." He's like, "No, let me find out." I got a little concerned. I think “God that's a lot of tickets.”

D:               Yup, twice the size.

K:               It was an additional 800 tickets I had to sell.   So I was a little freaked out, but then the guy who runs the place called me and said dude don't sweat it. We're going to sell them. It's not a problem. We did.

D:               Yeah, I mean just up until today. I think that it officially sold out today anyway, tomorrow has been sold out at least for a while now yeah, Friday night.

K:               Yeah, so I'm very excited and very happy.

D:               Yeah, you should be. That's a great! It's great after 20, almost 25 years that you're still selling out back-to-back shows at multiple venues.

K:               It's ridiculous.

D:               It's incredible, right? I think it's pretty awesome.   Alright so how do you keep your voice so in tune after almost 25 years?  You still have great range and everything.  

K:               I treat it like it owes me money which is not very nice of me.

D:               You're lucky.

K:               I guess. The interesting thing for me is it's I never wanted to be a singer so I just don't care. But then I get out there and I care. Before the show and all the other bullshit, like I used to smoke like a chimney and I drink way too much, and then I get on stage and there would be like one moment where I'd feel something and like I need to be careful tomorrow and then I'd do the same thing. I guess I just I've done it for so long that whatever has been or could happen to it has happened.  I've had the hemorrhages. I don't have polyps and nodules because I've got so many calluses on my vocal chords that it's not possible for them to form.

D:               Wow, I didn't even know that was a thing.

K:               Yeah, like most rock singers, like Cornell I think had surgery and Steven Tyler had surgery to get the callus removed. It's like a what you get on your finger or your hand. When your vocal chords are doing this they hit really hard when you sing rock and roll. Certain singers will form that thing which causes the whiskey sound that I have going on. But you know, I been singing since I was like in first grade. I did that all the way through my senior year of school.

D:               Did you always want to sing?

K:               No, I was a drummer. I got stuck with this job, I'll tell the story tonight, literally 27 years ago. Yeah, I was a drummer. I just did choir because there were cute girls in there. I needed an elective and I knew that we would be traveling because the choir that I was in we would go to Louisiana and do these things. I was like I'm having an opportunity to find some foxy mama. That was my thing. It was all about girls. It wasn't really about wanting to be a singer in a rock band.  So I guess maybe it's just because of I've treated it like shit for so long that it just goes okay. I mean there's points where it doesn't work, but I'm not trying to be Pavarotti or Adele or Beyonce. By the way Beyonce doesn't even sing anymore. I'm not trying to be them.

D:               Definitely. How do you choose what songs you want to sing on stage, like the difference between acoustic shows and the rock shows?

K:               Well the rock shows is easy. The rock show is easy. The acoustic show is really ... Obviously I've got to play the standard Far Behind,  Change, all the bullshit.

D:               Does that piss you off too when people scream “Far Behind” during the show?

K:               No, God, no.  I mean there's the set list there tonight. Tomorrow night's what I did was I had to make sure that it's not the same. I had to bring songs in that we didn't play last time we were here which was just last year.

D:               Yeah, we were there.

K:               Or if they were in the set then I put them in different position or I played it a little bit differently. I make notes on my charts as to ... Tonight I'll do this song this way so it's not ... and I'll tell a little bit different story than I told last time because I'm finding that the songs are ... The more I talk about them the more I remember shit. Obviously I can't go very far with this story because this song was founded the way it was founded, but It allows me to expand upon it. That's really what I do when it comes to creating the set list is how do I want the story to flow.

D:               Okay, so you started talking about how you come about creating the set list. How do you come up with creating the song? Is the music first or is it the lyrics first or do you all get down together and ...?

K:               I used to write lyrics all the time. I found that I never used them or I'd use five lines from a song. I'd pick the five lines that I'd like. Like the song Them Eyes on Love Stories, that was a song that I had for, or lyrics I had for another song. I didn't like the song and I threw them away. Then we'd start working on Them Eyes and I was like, "Oh, I got those lyrics. I need to find them.” So I went through my computer and I actually ... Thank God I had them on this one because I had thrown them out on my other laptop. Yeah, really now it's let the music affect the words and they'll dictate the story to me because I don't write the way I used to. I don't sit around and write songs for hours and hours and hours and rehearse for a year to write a record.

K:               Yeah, I know what I'm going to do when I get into the studio now so I'm like, "I know that those words will come to me as fast as I need them to." When I write music it's entirely from my heart. My head doesn't dictate it.

D:               I definitely sense that for sure.

K:               I let the music dictate the lyric of the song like Only Because of You. It's about my mom. That song just felt like those were the lyrics I needed to write. Yeah, so that's about my mom.

D:               It's a great song. I love the whole album.

K:               It came to me like that. (snaps fingers). I literally wrote that song in 30 minutes.

D:               Yeah, wow, that's quick. You don't do any writing like when you're on the road. What do you do in your spare time?

K:               I'm lazy.

D:               You just create?

K:               I do a lot of art. I run, I'm the CEO for my wife's company, so I handle all the operations for her. That takes up a lot of my day. I should be playing guitar right now in here but I don't because I'm lazy. Honestly I've got to say I've pretty much taken my career for granted. I hate admitting that because I just don't put in what I should be putting in, but at the same time I think I had put it in long enough to where I don't have to put it in anymore.

D:               Right, you're kind of a veteran I'd like to say. You’re like Steven Tyler, but better looking.

K:               Well Steven's always working.

K:               Steven's a bad motherfucker.

D:               I know. We saw him over the summer in Boston, just him solo and  he was doing that country

K:               Did it work for him?

D:               Not really, no. Yeah, it didn't really work.  He did play Dream On on the piano though which was cool.  

K:               The country record is good. The songs are good. It's just why are you doing a country record?

D:          All right, so biggest influences, and who are you listening to now also?

K:               My biggest influences are Otis Redding,  Robert Plant, the Clash, Jeff Strummer, Henry Rollins, when it comes to singers.  What am I listening to? I love Lana Del Rey, Teens of Denial (album), they’re a band called Car Seat Headrest which I love, The Sheepdogs.  Oh, I just came across this band Venus In Furs. I am fucking obsessed.          A band called Aeges, A-E-G-E-S.

D:               Yes, I love them. We saw them open for Fuel over the summer.  

K:               Fucking great.

D:               Yeah, killer.  

K:               Yeah, they're fucking stellar.  White Miles, that was a great band I'm really into. I don't listen to a lot of rock and roll like I just don't listen to it. I don't find modern rock and roll to be worth shit.       Yeah, I mean Iron Maiden, AC/DC, that's what I'm listening to. This is all the stuff that I've recently ... Adam and the Ants, George Michael, Daryl Hall and John Oates, Ghost Line is another one of my favorites, Elliot Smith, Jason Isbell which he's got this fucking song that is just--

D:               What is it?

K:               Elephant.   Beautiful, it's heartbreaking. Of course Staticland, it was a band that just toured with us in Europe. But yeah,  I don't listen to any of the rock and roll that's on the radio right now.

D:               Right, what do you think about Highly Suspect?

K:               I haven't listened to them. Everybody's telling me you've got to listen to them.

D:               Oh, man, I saw them live. I shot one of their shows six or seven months ago. They're pretty good.

K:               They're kind of a Twenty One Pilots meets Jane's Addiction or something somebody said to me, something interesting like that.

D:               That sounds about right.

K:               They're a three-piece right?

D:               Yes, three-piece. They're from New England. They're from Cape Cod.

K:               Cape Cod? (Boston accent)

D:               Yeah, I'm actually going down to see them in New York City in May.

K:               Fucking wicked, wicked.

D:               Oh, Jasper, how did you come up with that name? He seems like a pretty cool kid.

K:               He is thank you. My wife came up with it.

D:               He's probably taller than me too I'd imagine.

K:               We're both really, really big fans of Jasper Johns, the painter. I initially wanted to name him Declan because it's ... I'm a 100% Irish.  My mother and father are mostly Irish. They're both the Irish pedigree.  I wanted an Irish name. I was supposed to be Sheamus Colin. My mother said no to Sheamus because she didn’t like it. So I could have been Sheamus Colin which sounds a lot better than Kevin Colin. I wanted an Irish name. My wife was no because if we call him Declan, being that she's Australian, in Australia they would have shortened his name to Deckie. Of course we go there now and they call him Jazz.

D:               It still gets shortened somehow.

K:               Yeah, regardless and she's Nat,  I'm Kev or Big Kev. So you don’t even use your own name ... Her father's name is Peter but everybody calls him Max because he looks like the painter Peter Max. Australians they have this thing where they're like hit the frog and toad which means hit the fucking road. They slang everything. She's like we can't call him Declan because they'll call him Deckie.

D:               Now he's Jazz.

K:               Now he's Jazz, the Jazzman.

D:               Do you want him to follow him in your footsteps in music?

K:               God no.

D:               Who would you tour with if you could, past, present?

K:               Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Candlebox, Mudhoney and, Sweetwater...the whole Seattle scene .. Yeah, that would be like my dream tour.

D:               Are you going on the road with Fuel this summer? They kind of announced it.  

K:           No, we only have one-offs. They were under the assumption but I called Brett , and I said, "Hey, dude. We can't do tour with you- we're only available for like five or six of the weekend gigs because I need to take a break.  I mean personally, and my wife and my family, like I need a break. I'm not touring, so ... I would love to. I would love to tour with Brett and I love Fuel, and he's one of my best friends, but I am not, I can't. I think we have five shows left.

D:               Okay.  Yeah, I know they're back here in July for ... Here at the Tupelo and was hoping you’d join them full band.  

D:          Well, Kevin, thank you so much for agreeing to this.

K:            My pleasure.  I wish you nothing but great success with your future.

D:               Thank you.

 

 

 

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