Interview: Catching up with guitarist Brian Quinn on the Candlebox 25th Anniversary tour

Hailing from the city of Brotherly Love, Brian Quinn is considered to be one of the most successful guitar players to come from the region. Quinn was named “Best Guitarist” in the Philadelphia region four years in a row by the Philadelphia Music Awards and is consistently praised his peers and fans for his dynamic on stage presence and exceptional guitar technique, especially on slide guitar. Life became a whirlwind for Brian after he joined multi-platinum selling rock band Candlebox. Not only did he take part in the band’s sixth studio release, Disappearing in Airports, there was also the world tour in support of the album which kicked off this time last year in South America. AXS had the chance to catch up with Brian this week to talk about the band’s current tour celebrating the 25th anniversary of Candlebox’s self-titled debut album.

AXS: Candelebox is on the road celebrating its 25th anniversary. The band is playing a variety of show formats from large venue concerts and festivals appearances such as Rocklahoma to intimate acoustic dates that lend themselves to a story-tellers setting. Do you have a favorite type of gig?

Brian Quinn: I guess the big festivals are my favorite, although I do like how Candlebox is able to mix it up as far as the type of venues we do. My favorites are the festivals though and the reason is because we get to see a lot of our friends that we tour with and have known for multiple tours. And that is not just the musicians, it is the tour guys too. They jump from tour to tour. It is always like a big family reunion at the festivals. Everybody parks their buses next to one another and we usually have a get-together after the show if most of the bands don’t have to pull right out. I kind of enjoy being in that atmosphere, guys with like-minded ideas and all.

AXS: Has working with Candlebox expanded you as a musician?

B.Q.: Yes, it definitely has. Being around those guys, a band that has sold so many albums and was a band I listened to growing up, to just see how those guys operate and their writing process it made me aware of so many things. It was jarring to a point, being in the creative process with them. I do come from a heavier background. It is what I am into, it is what I wrote. I also listened to a lot of classic rock. A lot of stuff from the 60s and 70s. The Band, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Sabbath, ok, obviously they were a bit heavier, but it is all that Blues-based rock n’ roll kind of thing. Candlebox was a transition and took me out of my comfort zone, but that was a good thing. I got to explore a different side of my playing in a way on our Disappearing in Airports record. We wrote it and recorded it in 14 days. Everything I learned in music theory, guitar techniques, all of that went out the window. It was like record everything and forget it. Just play from the heart. I didn’t even get to hear cohesive mixes until about 3 or 4 months after we were in the studio. By that time I really had to listen back to hear what I did on the record.

AXS: You are in Philly, Candlebox is based on the West coast…how does that work for writing and rehearsal?

B.Q.: Well most of the guys are based in Los Angeles now and our other guitar player is out of DC. He and I are the only two on the East coast. When we did the record we contacted Chad Taylor and his bandmates from Live who own a beautiful recording facility called Think Loud Studios in York, PA. They spared no expense with this studio. There are six little condos on site so we would wake up and have breakfast and run into the studio. Or is we had an idea at 2:00 in the morning we could walk right in and plug in the guitar. It was certainly an environment for being very creative. Normally for rehearsal, we all meet up in Nashville. It is where all of our gear is stored, sort of a half-way point for the band. Before a bus tour that is where we go to rehearse for a few days and then head out.

AXS: Nashville seems to be a big hub for everyone we talk to lately.

B.Q.: Yes, it is, it is growing by leaps and bounds over the past few years. I know a lot of my friends from Los Angeles have been flocking there. There is plenty of work and some of the best musicians in the world are down there. There isn’t a place you can walk into down there, especially on Broadway, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. that isn’t just music, music, music-every venue, every genre.

AXS: When we spoke to Kevin (click here for the interview) he mentioned he never listened to a Candlebox cd because he never felt that they captured what he heard in his head on the recordings. How is it working with someone that has such high standards for himself and his music?

B.Q.: Yeah, I guess the thing with Kevin is he is always thinking. Like what I said earlier about the songwriting process, seeing how he works. He is such a thoughtful lyricist and really puts time into the melody that is going to counter what the music is. So he really is thoughtful about what the music is supposed to be. He has mentioned that to me as well when we were talking one day, about not listening to the cds. He did say though that Disappearing in Airports he can listen to over and over again because it did capture more what was in his head than any other record prior…and I thought he made some pretty impressive records prior to Disappearing in Airports! I have to say it was encouraging to hear since it was the only one I was on, so far.

AXS: Favorite Candlebox song and favorite Candlebox song to play live?

B.Q.: To listen to, oh man, I do have quite a few I enjoy listening to and they probably go hand in hand with the ones I like to play live. When Kevin and I are out doing an acoustic gig I love doing “He Calls Home,” it is the last song off the first record, the debut album. Playing electric with the band I really enjoy “Stand,” which is off the Into the Sun record. “Far Behind” is always a trip just because people go so crazy over it.

AXS: Is that the song that gets the biggest fan response?

B.Q.: Yes, that and “You.” We do have some hardcore Candlebox fans out there that are into deeper cuts, they will scream them out during a show. From the new record, I love playing “Alive At Last.” The atmosphere always shifts in the room when we play that one live.

Candlebox tickets are available on AXS for select dates.  For the complete list of tour dates visit the Candlebox website.