Let’s be honest, Candlebox could’ve jumped ship a long time ago.
Besides being pinned by association with the no-longer fashionably unfashionable era of plaid flannels and Doc Martens, the members of the Seattle grunge-lumped rock quartet went their separate ways even before the music industry had been ripped inside by the Internet.
Players in a ’90s rock ’n’ roll band from Seattle should know better than anybody about the odds of staying afloat in saturated waters.
And yet here they are, touring relentlessly in support of their first album in more than a decade.
“I made a decision when I was young to fulfill this rock star dream, and I’m going at it as hard as I can,” Candlebox guitarist Peter Klett said during a telephone interview.
Candlebox fizzled out in the late ’90s, just as boy bands and pop princesses were taking over the airwaves.
The members of Candlebox — Klett, lead singer and guitarist Kevin Martin, drummer Scott Mercadi, bassist Adam Kury, and rhythm guitarist Robbie Allen (who was later replaced by Sean Hennesey) — were burnt on a sour relationship with their label and veered in different directions.
Martin was recording and performing as the leader of The Hiwatts, Klett was singing lead and playing guitar in Redlightmusic, and Mercadi was working with Corby Lenker.
But they reunited in 2006 to capitalize on the release of the “Best Of” record that same year.
The tour went so well that the members of Candlebox decided to hit the studio and record a new album, resulting in last year’s “Into the Sun.”
“It took a while for us to figure out where everyone was musically,” Klett said. “There was some pressure to come back strong, but the music world had been turned upside down. The labels weren’t spending any money, but we felt like we had strong enough material to make this album.”
Klett thinks the time apart is what ultimately helped the band grow together.
“It was good for us to do other projects because it enabled us to branch out musically without any expectations,” Klett said. “When it came time to make an album we had more to give.”
“Into the Sun,” the first new studio release from Candlebox since 1998’s “Happy Pills,” was met with fair critical and commercial success. The first single, “Stand,” peaked at No. 12 on Billboard rock charts and Candlebox played to record-breaking attendance at festivals this summer.
Of course, this doesn’t compare with Candlebox’s success in their heyday. They were the first artists to be signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records (Alanis Morissette, Deftones, Prosigy) and released two of the most requested videos on MTV in 1993, launching their self-titled debut to sell four times platinum.
But Klett recognizes that the game has changed and success can’t be measured by outdated standards.
“Labels aren’t signing a band without a clear hit. And in this digital age bands can put out music without labels. A band can sell 100,000 copies online but in today’s world, if you sell 100,000 copies, except for pop, urban or hip-hop, that’s the equivalent of going gold or even platinum back in the day,” Klett said.
The goal now is to simply make a living playing music.
“Listen, I’d love for lightning to strike twice and be a huge rock star again. We were a part of that Seattle movement, and I’m proud of that,” Klett said. “But as long as we have gigs and we’re making music, I’m happy with that.”