Candlebox fights the Seattle backlash

March 11, 1994|By Scott Timberg | Scott Timberg,Contributing Writer

According to Candlebox, who should know, there's more to Seattle than flannel, grunge and cafe latte.

Guitarist Peter Klett says the band's origins in the rainy, trendy city have been the biggest boon and the biggest hindrance Candlebox could have had. The group's four members have gotten attention because of their Seattle connection, and they've gotten unfairly dragged into an anti-Seattle backlash.

"I think it's hindered us," Klett says. "We don't push the fact that we're from there. There's a vibe right now that's like, oh God, not another Seattle band."

Even worse, people expect Candlebox to sound like Pearl Jam or Soundgarden. But Candlebox's roots run deeper than '90s grunge, says Klett. "It's definitely not heavy metal, and I don't find it to be that grungy," he says. "It's just good rock and roll. An honest rock and roll band is what we are."

What Candlebox does have in common with other Seattle bands is an affinity for '70s hard rock. Klett says he likes the blues base of groups like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, the Doors and Pink Floyd. These groups, he says, played "music with an edge -- it wasn't hype, it wasn't formulated. That kind of feel, that style, it's never gonna die. It's real raw, and it hits home every time."

Klett says the band's appeal comes from its emotional directness. "With the music being so emotional and the lyrics being about real life and not just cliches, people have taken it to heart instead of just saying, 'This band is cool.' I think they like the honesty and the emotion of it."

Though the band's rise may look like overnight success to some, its path has been unlikely. Unable get themselves booked into Seattle's best clubs, Candlebox's members instead recorded an eight-song demo which sold its first pressing of 600 copies in less than two months. Still without a record label, they piqued the attention of a talent scout from Maverick Records, Madonna's label.

Being signed to Maverick allows the band the creative control of a small label and, since Maverick is owned by Warner Bros., "a big corporation with a lot of muscle." The record which resulted, "Candlebox," has received play on alternative, metal and album rock formats, as well as MTV. "We were real fortunate that the band was noticed and picked up rather quickly. We're definitely not rich. It's been a lot of work, and a lot of waiting."

Though the band has played on the East Coast before, their current shows opening for Rush are the band's first national tour. "At first it's really exciting and everything's brand new. And then you get used to it, you get tired, you get sick. We try not to take it for granted because there are a million people who would die to do what we're doing."

Baltimore has been one of the band's breakthrough markets, and Klett says the following has been enthusiastic. Even songs that weren't released as singles, like "He Calls Home," have garnered play on local radio stations, Klett says.

"Baltimore is a good place for us so it's gonna be a crazy one. If the crowd is into it, it becomes that much more intense for us."

Seattle sounds

What is Candlebox's "good rock and roll" all about? To find out, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone telephone, punch in the four-digit code 6162 after you hear the greeting.

Candlebox with Eleven

Where: Camden Yards Concert Hall (formerly Hammerjacks Concert Hall) 1102 S. Howard St.

When: 8 p.m. March 14. (Doors open at 7 p.m.)

Call: 481-SEAT or 659-ROCK

Tickets: $8 available at Ticketmaster

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