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Candlebox were formed in Seattle in December 1991 by singer/guitarist Kevin Martin, a native of Elgin, Illinois who'd grown up partly in San Antonio, and drummer Scott Mercado. Initially calling the band Uncle Duke, they added lead guitarist Peter Klett and bassist Bardi Martin (no relation to Kevin) and changed the group's name to Candlebox, after a line in a Midnight Oil song. Their demo tape found its way to Madonna's Maverick label, which quickly resulted in a record deal in 1992. Candlebox's self-titled debut was released in 1993, and while the first single, "Change," began to build them a following, it wasn't until 1994, when the follow-up, "You," appeared, that Candlebox really started to take off. "You" gave them a breakthrough hit on mainstream rock radio, which set the stage for the success of "Far Behind," essentially a power ballad for the grunge era. "Far Behind" was a major hit on both mainstream and alternative radio, and also made the pop Top 20; its exposure helped Candlebox climb into the Top Ten on the LP chart and eventually sell over three-million copies.
By the time Candlebox returned with their second album, 1995's Lucy, the backlash was already in full swing. Partly because of the group's previous momentum, the lead single, "Simple Lessons," earned some rock radio airplay, and the album itself went gold and barely missed the Top Ten. However, it was largely ignored or dismissed by much of the mainstream media, and was ultimately hurt by a relative lack of memorable songs. In 1997, founding member Mercado left the band and was replaced by original Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen. Candlebox's third album, Happy Pills, appeared in 1998 and marked a return to the more basic sound of their debut. "It's Alright," "10,000 Horses," and the title cut all landed some airplay, but the album sold poorly; by this time, countless bands were working in a similar style, and Candlebox's early momentum had long since dissipated. Krusen departed in 1999, as did Bardi Martin; they were replaced by Shannon Larkin (ex-Ugly Kid Joe) and Rob Redick, respectively, but the group disbanded the following year. The original lineup of Martin, Klett, and Mercado re-formed for a handful of shows in 2006 to support the release of Rhino's Best of Candlebox compilation. The overall positive reunion stirred rumors of a new studio album, culminating in 2008's Into the Sun. In 2012, the band inked a deal with AudiNext/Fontana, which released their fifth studio album, Love Stories and Other Musings. In 2015, Peter Klett and Scott Mercado announced they were leaving Candlebox to devote more time to their other project, Lotus Crush. A few months later, Kevin Martin and Dave Krusen unveiled a new edition of the band, featuring new guitarists Mike Leslie and Brian Quinn, and bassist Adam Kury. Disappearing in Airports, the band's first outing for Pavement Music, was released the following year. In 2018 the original lineup reconvened for a pair of shows celebrating the 25th anniversary of their debut album, and in 2021 the band unveiled their seventh full-length effort, Wolves. ~ Steve Huey & James Christopher Monger
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