Just because it was the early '90s, in Seattle and the band played loud didn't automatically mean they were Grunge. Seattle's music intelligentsia didn't feel Candlebox was 'true Grunge', whatever that was. But then neither did Candlebox. They considered themselves a Rock n' Roll band. With that settled, Candlebox sold more than three million copies of their self-titled debut while sophomore album "Lucy" went gold. Their third album, "Happy Pills" pretty much ended their run - at least in the '90s.
That's the down and dirty. Here's the rest of the story.
Candlebox formed in '91 first calling themselves Uncle Duke. They played the Seattle club circuit before getting caught in the early '90s rush to sign every Seattle band. Candlebox became the first successful act signed to Madonna's Maverick label (like she needed more money).
Their '93 debut featured the singles "Change," "You" and "Far Behind." The latter cracked the Billboard Top 20 (peaked at #18) while the videos for "Far Behind" and "You" were lodged in MTV's heavy rotation. Candlebox toured with acts ranging from the Flaming Lips to Godsmack with Rush and Metallica in the middle. They played Woodstock '94 and made several Late Night With David Letterman appearances.
"Lucy" arrived in '95 and had far less impact. While there was some backlash (how could such a popular band be any good?), tracks from the album did manage to get radio airplay.
When drummer Scott Mercado departed he was replaced in '97 by Dave Krusen, formerly of Pearl Jam. Krusen lasted two years before Shannon Larkin stepped in. Bassist Bradi Martin also spilt only to return nearly a decade later - for just a couple years - before taking another hike.
While "Lucy" just missed being a Billboard Top 10 album (it stalled at #11), '98's "Happy Pills" came nowhere near. That failure led to an extended hiatus.
Candlebox released a "Best Of" album in '06. At that time, it looked as though that would be it. Not so.
Produced by Ron Aniello (Lifehouse, Barenaked Ladies) and featuring performances by both Mercado and Krusen, Candlebox issued their comeback album, the 12 track "Into The Sun" in '08.
"Making this record reminded me of the first album," said Peter Klett. "We didn't feel that we needed to find the sound, it was there and the goal was to capture it in the recording." "Stand" was the first single.
Klett and Mercado formed Lotus Crush in '10 but Candlebox released their 5th studio album, "Love Stories & Other Musings" just two years later. However, there was an extensive break before their next album.
First, Candlebox left their label in '15. That news was followed by the announcement that Klett and Mercado were leaving so they could focus on Lotus Crush. Sean Hennesy also bailed a short time later.
On the upside that same year, Candlebox, now anchored by Kevin Martin (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Adam Kury (bass) and the returning Krusen, with guitarists Mike Leslie and Brian Quinn, inked a deal with Pavement Music which led to the release of '16 album, "Disappearing In Airports."
1998 Happy Pills
2008 Into the Sun
2012 Love Stories & Other Musings
2016 Disappearing in Airports
If a group takes any sub-genre of Rock (like Grunge), mainstreams it, the chances are they'll sell millions of CDs or downloads. Of course, by doing so the sub-genre's faithful will disown the band while critics go out of their way to diss them. Not pretty. And because their innovation is popular, the group often gets buried by imitators. That's what happened to Candlebox.
Can three million CD buyers be wrong? That question surrounds Candlebox's self-titled debut. The answer is 'no'. Well out of the Grunge and even post-Grunge '90s, the songs are still powerful, engaging and appealing, definitely not embarrassing. And even if they were, they're part of the '90s experience.
Either get the debut - especially if reliving early '90s memories is imperative - or the "Best Of" set which culls key tracks from the first three albums.
Fifteen years since their debut, it would be logical to expect "Into The Sun" to return to the glory days - or at least make an attempt. At times it does. But more often "Into The Sun" goes back further - to the '70s, as if to prove once again the group is more dedicated to Hard Rock than to Grunge.