No respectable ‘90s rock playlist is complete without Kevin Martin belting out at least a few verses. With an MTV video airing every hour, the singer for Seattle post-grunge band Candlebox was in living rooms around the nation during the mid-‘90s, explaining that he really didn’t mean to hurt you, but he did it anyway — and you left him far behind.
Candlebox is the headlining band at the Ohio Springfest on the grounds of the Stranahan Theater on Saturday, May 20.
The band, which sold more than four million copies of its 1993 self-titled debut album, has played Toledo several times and returns with a new batch of songs from its 2016 release, Disappearing in Airports. Still, fans can expect plenty of the songs that put Candlebox on the rock charts in the mid-1990s.
Recalling glory days
“There was an honesty and a sincerity to that era or that generation of musicians,” he said. “When you look at Billy Corgan (of Smashing Pumpkins) now, like him or not, he still honestly says how he feels and he’s not ashamed of it. I think that’s what is missing in today’s music. Candlebox has never apologized for the music we make. We’ve never apologized for the things we’ve said or done, and we never will. If you don’t like us, we don’t care. We have plenty of fans who do like us. That’s always been our thing. I think that’s what people are attracted to about the ‘90s music.”
It’s apparent listening to Martin that he appreciates the success he had in the early years of the band, of which he is currently the sole original member. He also knows he’s persevered in a music environment that is worlds away from 1993.
“The depressing part about what’s happened to rock ‘n roll music is that the independence is gone,” he said. “Artists used to want to stand out and be something different. I think a lot of these young bands have lost sight of that or maybe didn’t know that it existed, that it was something they needed.
When I started with Candlebox, I wanted to be something different out of Seattle. I didn’t want to sound like Pearl Jam. I didn’t want to sound like Soundgarden. I didn’t want to sound like Alice in Chains. Luckily, the band that we were, the influences that we had, allowed us to be that kind of different band.”
Unapologetic and proud
With six albums under his belt, Martin is comfortable in his own skin. Perhaps stemming from his upbringing in the punk scene, the frontman doesn’t worry about what others say about him or his band. He rolls his eyes when he sees other bands apologizing for unseemly behavior.
“Everybody’s so afraid to piss somebody off or upset their fans. What’s the point?” he asks. “The point of rock and roll and hip-hop is to piss people off. If you’re not pissing somebody off, you’re wasting your time.”
Fresh off a European tour and some acoustic shows, Candlebox is doing fairs and festivals this summer before settling down to record a new album next year. Despite the band’s debut album release the passing of nearly a quarter-century since the crowds aren’t full of too many gray hairs, Martin noted.
“We’re seeing a lot of kids with their parents, because their parents grew up with us, maybe they had seen us once or twice back in the 90s,” he said.
Candlebox will play from 10:15-11:30pm on Saturday, May 20. VIP tickets are available for $25 and include free festival admission, closer general admission seating and access to a private bar and restroom.
Ohio Spring Fest
May 18-21. 4-10pm, Thursday (free admission).
4-11pm, Friday & Noon-11pm, Saturday ($3 admission before 6pm, $5 after 6pm).
Noon-10pm, Sunday ($3 admission). Kids age 5 and under free.
4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. | 419-381-8851