Q&A: Kevin Martin of Candlebox
Despite the song's dark subject manner, Candlebox lead singer Kevin Martin laughs every time he hears his '90s hit "Far Behind" on the radio.
"I can hear what's wrong with it and nobody else can, and I just laugh about it," Martin told SoundSpike.
"We were a year old when we wrote that song. We wrote that song for Andy Wood when he passed away. We were just a year old. God, how did it last so long?"
When asked to elaborate on the mistakes, he went silent and then said, "What isn't wrong with it?"
"'Far Behind,' the way I sing it, there's so much wrong with it," he said. "But you know what? There's so much that's right with it. It just was one of those magic moments. That's a two-take song -- drums, guitar, bass, vocals, vocals. That's from the demo. That's how it happened. We didn't spend an hour and a half to two hours retracking guitars: "You gotta do this. You gotta do that and we were done." There's a double guitar track throughout the song and there's a guitar solo and that's it."
Martin recently had the chance to improve the song when he and Candlebox -- Scott Mercado (drums), Peter Klett (guitar), Sean Hennesy (guitar) and Adam Kury (bass) -- re-recorded it for their new album, "Love Stories and Other Musings," which hit stores April 3.
Produced by Ken Andrews (Pete Yorn, A Perfect Circle), "Love Stories and Other Musings" features nine new tracks, including the single "Believe In It," as well as five bonus tracks -- re-records of past hits including "Far Behind" and "Cover Me" (iTunes and Amazon each feature different exclusive tracks).
Martin spoke to SoundSpike about the new album, working with a brutally honest producer and the inspirations for his current spate of creativity.
SoundSpike: What inspired "Love Stories and Other Musings?
Kevin Martin: I've been writing for this record since 2009. We took some breaks in between. I did The Gracious Few record and what not, which at the same time opened me up to a lot of the songs that ended up on the album. The pop-sensibility side of myself that I didn't ever gravitate toward when I was writing songs kind of took over. I learned a lot from writing with other people -- Chris Daughtry, Chad Taylor -- who are great friends and great musicians. I learned about myself as a songwriter, and things that I was always kind of afraid to say or write, or chords I was afraid to put out there musically in fear that people would be like, "Oh you guys have gone soft." At the end of the day, for this record, Candlebox has been trying to find their foot in the future for a little while. It was a conscious effort to make an album that was a little more accessible, and to allow these songs that we all really had in us to come out and embrace them and move through. We're not like an Aerosmith or Metallica where people expect us to kind of deliver the same thing every time. We have a fanbase that allows us to go where we want to go and this time we'd like to go a little bit further.
For the new album, you worked with Ken Andrews of Failure. How was that?
It was a dream come true. When we started pitching the idea for him to do it, I was like, "He's not going to do it, not in a million years." When our manager called and said Ken wants to do the record, I thought, "That is so awesome." I was so thrilled. I was a fan of his for so long. He's made so many great records, not only as himself, Ken Andrews, and Failure, but all the side projects he's done all the bands he's produced, all the artists he worked with. I knew that we would be getting the kind of record that we wanted. He's not easy. He's a hard son of a bitch to work with. He definitely has his style. I think that was something that we as a band needed. We needed somebody to look at us and say, "Why on Earth would you play that? That has no relevance to the song." I thought that was really great that he did that and he felt comfortable enough to produce us that way. Frankly, we needed a little bit of a kick in the butt to make this record.
Wow, it sounds like it was difficult. Was it as hard as it sounds?
It wasn't as hard as it sounds. The first week was difficult, and then it was just like, "We Get It." We were only in the studio for 17 days. We had to cut the basics in the first 12 days, then I had five days' worth of vocals. Then we flew off and started touring again. We knew we had to do something. We had to get it done quickly. The first couple days were difficult because we're looking at this person going, "I don't know you and I'm not really sure how to take you." Then all of a sudden it clicks. What he does is he helps you as an artist find your voice. He helps you find the music. He helps you find the chord. He helps you find the change, the direction you're looking for, just by allowing you to find it. He's really good at helping you to manipulate your mind into getting there. There's no smoke blowing up your ass. He says what he wants to say, how he wants to say it, and he leaves it to you to digest and dissect the way that you can do that. It's just his opinion. But it allows you to go, "Yeah it is his opinion, but it's kind of right." Then all of a sudden you got a song and you're like, "Wow, that's great."
Why did you decide to re-record old material for your new album?
We had an opportunity to do so. After a certain number of years you're allowed to re-record and, with those re-records, you can do licensing and stuff for commercials or friends' movies or a buddy's shop without having to go through the process of applying for the license through your publisher or your label. If a videogame company wants to use a song, we don' have to go to Warner Chappell and say they want to use it and then they have to go through all this red tape. We just say, "Sure." It makes it easier, and we want people to have those songs. We don't want to fight somebody that we're not even in a relationship with anymore for them. Plus, we wanted to challenge ourselves and see if we can do it. It was challenging. I'll tell you what, I don't sing like that anymore and, frankly, I don't think any of us play like that anymore. It was a learning experience for us to re-learn our own music. We don't even own any of the same gear. It's all gone. The only thing we had that was relevant was the same studio, London Bridge.
What did you learn from the recording process?
How to let go. How not to be afraid to be who I am as a songwriter. Allow myself to be vulnerable. And allow myself to experience those things that I've been wanting to experience forever. Having a child has been a huge game changer in my life. It's become such the focus of my songwriting and what kind of legacy am I going to leave to him, what kind of a world am I going to leave to him. It's kind of the main vein throughout the whole song. What am I going through? Where am I headed? Where have I been?
What can we expect from your live show?
Lots of cover songs, lots of music. Lots of friends coming up and jamming. We have fun, and if you don't want to come to the show to have a good time, then don't come. That's what we do. We enjoy what we do. We like the audience to experience the same kind of emotion that we are on stage. We don't make any apologies for the shows that we play. Lots of new music lots of cover songs and hopefully a couple new songs maybe that haven't even made the record yet. We're writing for another record that we're hoping to release in the spring of next year. It'd be nice to try some of those out during the set.
You already started writing?
We waited too long between "Happy Pills" and "Into the Sun" and "Into the Sun" and "Love Stories." I don't want to wait any longer. I want to keep putting music out there. I have a lot to say right now and I've got a lot of music in me. I want to make sure I get it out before I forget it.
What's inspiring you?
Change. What's going on in the world, politics. Music. Music, there's a lot of new music that's really, really inspiring me. I'm loving what's happening right now in music. I think there's some really great creative stuff right now. I'm loving the element of Peter Gabriel's epic songwriting is finding its way back into music from the Genesis days with the Arcade Fire. I think it's a beautiful thing and it makes me feel good to listen to. The next record I don't think will be so structured. It'll be a lot more free-form. But some nice big songs on it, some epic stuff.
3 - New York City, NY - The Gramercy Theatre
4 - Hartford, CT - Webster Theater
5 - Asbury Park, NJ - Stone Pony
6 - Poughkeepsie, NY - The Chance Theatre
9 - Buffalo, NY - The Town Ballroom
10 - Syracuse, NY - The Westcott Theater
11 - Pittsburgh, PA - The Altar Bar
12 - Flint, MI - The Machine Shop
15 - Lexington, KY - Buster's
16 - Cleveland, OH - House of Blues
18 - Fort Wayne, IN - Piere's Entertainment Center
19 - Mount Clemens, MI - Emerald Theatre
22 - Bloomington, IN - Bluebird Nightclub
23 - Cincinnati, OH - Bogart's
12 - Lake Charles, LA - L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort
10 - Three Forks, MY - Rockin' the Rivers Festival Grounds