In a storied rock ‘n’ roll career of multi-platinum albums and timeless, ubiquitous radio smashes, Candlebox’s sixth studio album, Disappearing In Airports, finds the renowned lineup infused with a new energy and openness. “I want to take Candlebox into a new world, and this record is very different, very diverse for us,” says band founder and frontman Kevin Martin. “It’s about growth and pushing the band in the direction for a new audience.” With songs ranging from the pissed and urgent “God’s Gift” to the edgy unease of “I’ve Got a Gun” to the amorous romp of “Supernova,” Disappearing In Airports is a bold musical statement from a revitalized band.
The amicable departure of original members Scott Mercado and Peter Klett allowed Candlebox the opportunity to shake things up, and that newfound energy and impetus is evident in the dozen tracks on Disappearing In Airports. Guitarists Mike Leslie and Brian Quinn bring freshness to the band’s mega hits like “Far Behind” and “You,” as well as different angles to the new material. “They have a ‘Wow, I’m playing this song that I grew up on and I love this tune!’ kind of puppy dog love to it,” laughs Martin. “Mike’s got so much B.B. King in his style, of blues it’s insane, and spontaneity to his playing and songwriting that’s enriching to me.” While Brian has a metal and classic rock side, he also boasts a big blues influence “and is an incredible slide player. Mike and Brian play entirely differently but it fits so well.”
The band formed in 1991, went quadruple platinum with their 1993 self-titled debut on Madonna’s Maverick Records, and released two more acclaimed and top-selling albums (1995’s Lucy and 1998’s Happy Pills) before going on a hiatus in 2000. Candlebox regrouped with a 2006 tour, then put out Into the Sun in 2008, followed by 2012’s Love Stories & Other Musings. For Disappearing in Airports, the band worked with producers Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (August Burns Red, Everclear, Rivers of Nihl), cutting the record at Think Loud Studios in York, Pennsylvania.
Post-Love Stories, Martin worked up about seven songs, but a split with their record label postponed recording. So with a new deal with Pavement Entertainment in place and renewed creativity, Candlebox completed and finished four songs in a day, wrote a couple more in the studio, then revisited and reworked previously unfinished songs that fit into the direction Disappearing in Airports was heading. “The great thing is that they all really became songs when we were a band in the studio, because it’s a very collaborative record, which I’m very happy about,” Martin says. “It was very together and creative, and again that’s what Mike and Brian were able to bring to the record–that spontaneity and that young, excited energy.”
For Martin, the songs flowed easily: “I don’t labor at all, it’s not in me; not that there aren’t great bands that work intensively over brilliant songs, but I find for me that initially what pops out is what I’m looking for. If it’s not opening itself up to me and allowing it to be seen by me, I just won’t bother to beat it up.”
Songs like the first track to radio, the left-of-center “Vexatious” (a Martin-created word) hooks you in immediate with the drums and irresistible chorus. It is Martin at his editorial best – poignant, lyrical driving the message of the perils of a digitally-connected yet emotionally disconnected world in a powerful rock song.
“Vexatious” is about this emotionally destitute, social networking-obsessed society we live in. People come off as insecure, yet still so entitled with unlimited bragging rights,” says Martin. “Whether it’s a pop star feuding senselessly with another pop star, or the girls and boys who can’t help but to take 50 different selfies in under a minute and miss everything that’s happening around them, we can’t escape it. It’s everywhere and it’s destroying us. Dating apps, bitching apps, secret sharing apps, apps apps apps—they all operate outside of any real or authentic human connection. No one cares what anyone else thinks or feels. It’s all me, me, me and, if you ask me, it’s fucking sad.”
Speaking celebrity feuding, there is one song where Martin takes a public figure to task. “God’s Gift” was inspired by Kanye West. “It’s a total slap at him. When does someone say ‘You actually aren’t that good?’ Somehow the world just seems to keep blowing smoke up his ass.” Another controversial subject is “I’ve Got A Gun,” “inspired by the constant small mindedness of people who think you’re trying to take their guns away from them. If you know anything about me as a person, you know that I’m highly political; you know that I’m a firm believer in people’s rights 100% and I don’t believe that anyone should take your guns from you. I’m saying is gun control is an issue and these mass shootings need to stop and that’s the approach of the song.”
Musically, Disappearing in Airports is as heady as it is lyrically. And visually: the album cover is by an artist-friend of Martin’s, Scott Fisher, who passed away during the album process. “I had asked him paint the artwork for the album, and the painting he did for us is titled “Disappearing In Airports,” hence the album title. The painting represented the songs that he’d hear from our album, so it’s really about what his emotions were how the songs had affected him, so that’s how it represents the record.”
“Supernova” is a love (sex!) song for Martin’s wife and it’s contrasted with “Alive at Last,” which “is about that last breath, about the people who are struggling, whether it’s with terminal cancer or something that’s destroying them. It’s a little bit existential.”
Martin found the creative process very therapeutic this go-round; without two original members, he says, “there was more freedom for me to express myself.” That said, it wasn’t always easy, but that’s what gives Disappearing in Airportsso much of its power. “I’m saying a lot of things that I’ve never said before, and that’s little bit of a challenge for me. I remember telling Carson that I wasn’t comfortable singing some things, but he said, ‘That’s good, be uncomfortable.’”
Ultimately, while Disappearing In Airports is clearly Candlebox, Martin observes that the record, compared to its predecessor is “banked right turn; I don’t think it’s 90 degrees but we are taking chances. You’ve got to push yourself outside of that comfort zone. You have to do that as a musician, or in any creative element of your life,” Martin believes. “That’s what we did with this record, and I knew these guys would go with me and would take me where I wanted to go musically. We can reach as far as we want.”
Kevin Martin – vocals
Dave Krusen – drums
Mike Leslie – lead/rhythm guitar
Brian Quinn – lead/rhythm guitar
Adam Kury – bass
Candlebox – 1993
Lucy – 1995
Happy Pills – 1998
Into the sun – 2008
Love Stories & Other Musings – 2012
Disappearing in Airports – 2016