The road goes on forever, wrote Gregg Allman in “Midnight Rider,” and for some rock ‘n’ roll bands this appears to be true.
Not, however, for Candlebox, the Seattle rock outfit that arrived on the grunge wave of the early 1990s and proceeded to rack up two multi-platinum albums, including the self-titled debut and Lucy, and a gold one (Happy Pills) before breaking up for a few years in the early ‘00s.
For founder, singer and songwriter Kevin Martin, the lure of making records and hearing thousands of fans sing along to his songs proved to be too much, and he re-formed Candlebox in 2006.
Ah, but time changes everything.
The band shares Friday’s bill with 3 Doors Down at the Mid-Florida Credit Union Amphitheater, touring behind The Long Goodbye, the 8th studio album in its discography, released just two weeks ago.
The Catalyst spoke with Kevin Martin this week about his decision to end Candlebox, once and for all, as soon as these tour dates are behind him.
St. Pete Catalyst: The band is still relevant. The band is still successful. Why quit?
Kevin Martin: It’s mainly because I had so much to learn about myself when I was home during Covid – my family, my relationship with my son and my wife, and how I realized I’d missed too much of his growing up. I’d missed so much of our relationship together, my wife and I. And I really loved being home. I think I just realized that music was no longer the love of my life. It wasn’t giving me everything that I needed any more.
I knew that I wanted to put this away at a time in my life where I felt best about where I was as a human, I felt best about where I was as a dad, a father and a husband … and also when I felt best about my life as the singer for Candlebox.
Honestly, I didn’t this was going to be this big of a deal. And it’s becoming something, emotionally, every night when we perform these songs. I’m realizing ‘This is the last time I’m gonna sing this in this town.’ And that’s an odd feeling for me, because I didn’t expect that, so it’s very bittersweet, I’ll tell you that much.
But the decision has been made, and to be honest with you, I made it back in 20/21.
After 30 years, everyone’s priorities have changed. Thirty years ago, music and Candlebox – that was it for you. Life intervenes!
Exactly. And it finds a way to intervene rapidly.
You’ve referred to The Long Goodbye as a “legacy album.” What do you mean?
This is the album that people don’t expect. It comes out and I think it shocks people. It gives them an idea of who you are as an artist and what really inspires you. This record is everything that I’ve learned in the 54 years that I’ve been on this planet, and the 33 years that Candlebox has been around. “This is what I’ve learned, and this is what I’ve experienced. This is who I am. These are the bands that I love, and this is the music that’s moved me” – and that’s what I put in this record.
There’s three other songs that will be on the vinyl when it comes out in November; there’s one on there called “Washed Up” which is really f—ing cool. The lyric is “Let’s see what washes up.” It’s not really the term of being a washed-up musician, it’s “Where is this coming from? Why is this moving the way it’s moving? Why is my career doing this?”
I’ve experienced a ton of shit. And a lot of my peers who were better than us didn’t make it. So every single day to me is “How did I get here?” and “Why am I still here?” and “Is Candlebox a special band?” All those things cross your mind on a daily basis. Sometimes they’re enlightening, and sometimes they’re depressing.
I wanted to explore every ounce of information that I had, and I think that’s what makes some of those records that we’ve had from some of our favorite artists so special. When Foo Fighters did Sonic Highways, it was a record I think people did not expect to be as good as it was, because it was done in such a strenuous way. But that pressure is what creates greatness. I think that’s why it’s such a cool album, and I think that’s why records like that become the legacy album – because it’s the one you just didn’t expect.
You can see the arc of what you’re talking about in the tracks on your album. You start off with “Punks,” which is very sort of a catchy, and riffy electric guitar song, and you end with “Hourglass,” with the piano, and introspective lyrics about slowing down, and how the clock is running. So is this album a roadmap to what you’ve been feeling?
One hundred percent. That’s exactly what it is. I mean, it’s sad that we couldn’t put the other three on the digital, because in this day and age labels have their rules and regulations, and how they want to do things. But exactly, this is a roadmap. I’m just giving you: This is the life that I led, and thank you for giving me this life. And this is what I have to offer you for my goodbye.
The song called “I Should Be Happy” was a real indicator, too. You’re saying ‘I should be getting more out of this life than I am.’
Exactly, and I think people have to ask themselves that – are you? And are you getting more out of life than you deserve?
Has rock ‘n’ roll lost its luster for you? Does it have to be one life or the other? Any way you could still do both?
No. I don’t love it any more. I mean, I love playing the shows, and I’m loving the tour. I love making this record. Everything that’s going along with where I’m at right now in my life, I’m so blessed and happy and pleased. It’s funny, “I Should Be Happy” … I am right now. And that’s a good thing for me. But I know that when I’m done with this, that’s the direction I need to go.
It’s been a long time coming for me, and that’s why it’s called The Long Goodbye.
Click here for Sept. 15 tickets.