Courtesy of Alysse GafkjenPromoting her new album “Resistor,” Lera Lynn will bring her Indie rock tunes to Rams Head On Stage on April 30.
ProvidedA staple of the alternative rock scene since 1991, Candlebox will perform new songs from “Disappearing In Airports” on May 3 at Rams Head On Stage.
Courtesy of Sean Money and Elizabeth FayPromoting her new album “Resistor,” Lera Lynn will bring her Indie rock tunes to Rams Head On Stage on April 30.
Upcoming Rams Head On Stage Performers Talk Tours, New Albums
At Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, musicians often seem like animals at a petting zoo as much as performers — they’re close enough to touch and they’re likely to become your best friend by the end of the evening. Lera Lynn, Candlebox and Javier Colon — three of the upcoming acts at the intimate venue — wouldn’t have it any other way.
Each of them will bring a unique element to the venue, from Lynn’s moody vocals to Candlebox’s lyrically driven alternative rock to Colon’s self-described “acoustic soul.” In anticipation of their Annapolis concerts, the musicians answered a few questions about their new albums and current tours.
Concert Date: Saturday, April 30
Lera Lynn’s new album “Resistor,” scheduled for release on April 29, is more than a title; it epitomizes her journey as a musician. For the duration of her career, the independent artist has resisted the temptation to sign with a major record label, instead savoring the fruits of musical growth that come with independence.
From her folksy and country-imbued debut “Have You Met Lera Lynn?” in 2011 to her 2014 EP “Lying in the Sun” and her Americana-driven sophomore album “The Avenues,” the multi-instrumentalist has always been a shape shifter, constantly exploring her sound as one might examine the fretboard and grooves of a guitar on first inspection.
“I think it’s natural, and I have no interest in making the same records over and over again,” Lynn said of her progression. “I think it’s important to grow and change as an artist.”
From opening for Sheryl Crow to appearing as a seedy barroom singer on the second season of HBO’s “True Detective,” Lynn has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments. Now, she will showcase her newest sound, indie rock backed by keyboards and baritone guitars, at Rams Head, where she will perform songs old and new with a full band.
Q: How has the reception been for “Resistor?”
A: It’s still a little early to tell. We’re playing a good bit of the old music as well and just kind of lacing in a few new ones. But people have been really digging it.
Q: When you’re sitting down to write a song or album, is there a point where you surrender control and let it come out naturally?
A: I do it different ways every time. Sometimes I write lyrics while I’m having lunch, or riding down the road, or first thing when I wake up in the morning if I have an idea. I will use those later, or sometimes, an entire song will come to me at once. Sometimes I labor over it for months or a year. It’s always different. I am not one of those writers who schedules times daily to write songs. I’ve tried that and haven’t had very much success with it. So far, it seems to be a semi-regular lucky occurrence.
Q: So you’re not one of those people who needs to sit in a certain corner of the room or write exactly at 11:00am?
A: If that were the case, I would never get anything written because we are on the move a good deal.
Q: I read that your influences were pretty diverse growing up, anywhere from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Vince Gill to Joni Mitchell. So how do you draw on all of those influences to find your own sound?
A: I think that every good artist pulls little bits of information from other artists, whether it’s intentional or not – just things that you like, certain aesthetics. With Joni Mitchell, obviously she’s a very gifted lyricist. I don’t know that there are many people who write the way that she does and can put you in the scene she is describing. I think that was her greatest influence on me. And then Vince Gill has a beautiful voice and is a very talented guitar player. I wouldn’t necessarily say those people were top influences, but I do think as a child, your mind is a sponge, too, and everything makes its way in there somehow if your parents are listening to it. But there are so many others as well.
Q: Those were mostly bands that your mom was listening to because she performed?
A: Yes, and my dad too. He didn’t perform, but he loved music.
Q: Who were your other influences, aside from what your parents listened to?
A: I got really into Heart when I was a kid. I think you can hear some of that, maybe in later stuff from “Lying in the Sun,” and maybe some of the newer stuff on “Resistor.” I don’t know, not so much. I got really into Ray Charles. I doubt you’ll ever be able to hear that, or find that influence in there. The way I think Ray Charles influenced me as a singer is that he doesn’t put it all out there on the line every song. You know he can do it, but he gives you a brief taste and keeps it reigned in, and I have a lot of respect for that.
Q: Do you have a favorite song on the new album?
A: I love them all, and I think your favorites change just depending on the mood you’re in or what kind of day you’re having. One of my favorites is called “Scratch and Hiss” and it’s nearly toward the end. We got really creative with the production on that one, and I love the way it turned out.
Q: And I guess there is added gratification because you don’t have a major record label behind you, so you’re able to have more freedom in what you’re expressing.
A: That’s exactly right. And that is why I have chosen not to work with a major label (laughs).
Q: Most of your songs that I have heard are more upbeat whereas, on “True Detective,” your songs were more dark and depressing. How was that to co-write songs that are pretty different from what you’re used to?
A: It’s very easy for me to summon that kind of dark spaciness, and there is some of that present on the new record as well. It was easy and it was fun. It was liberating to have someone encourage you to write music like that, because generally you’re encouraged to do the opposite. So I enjoyed it immensely.
Q: And there was a lot of freedom with that too, where you were given slight direction and asked to run with it?
A: Yeah, they were all like that. [Music supervisor] T-Bone [Burnett] had read the entire script. I was not allowed to see it (laughs). T-Bone had read it, and he had a pretty good idea of the tone that he wanted the music to set. He was there to guide the whole process.
Q: Aside from being portrayed as unhealthy and a drug addict, you were probably pleased with the way your TV scenes turned out?
A: Yeah, it was fun, and what an experience to be on the set with those actors who are so talented, and just see how the whole thing works. It was all new for me. I enjoyed the pace of it and the challenge and yes, aside from the yellow teeth and the greasy hair and the track marks, it was really fun (laughs).
Q: Between “True Detective” and opening for Sheryl Crow and having a cover song on “Pretty Little Liars,” do you feel your career is just beginning in a sense or taking off because of the exposure?
A: I don’t feel like it’s just beginning. I feel like this is just a natural part of the trajectory. It feels very natural to me. It doesn’t feel like suddenly I was on TV and now I have fans. There were plenty of very generous and loyal fans before TV came about. I don’t want to not recognize how crucial those people have been in allowing me to do what I do. I have always been an independent artist and I have always relied solely on selling records, people coming to shows and supporting me to make records. So I don’t think it would be fair to say TV has helped me start a career (laughs). It’s the fans who have helped me start a career. They have been here with me for a while.
Q: Is there anything in music you want to accomplish that you haven’t been able to do yet?
A: Oh my God, there is so much (laughs). From all angles – musically, from the business side, everything. I want to continue to grow artistically. I want to continue to grow my business so that we can tour more and out with maybe another musician in the band. It’s a constant challenge and I am completely addicted to it.
Q: I read that writing music for you can be a pain, but it’s very rewarding once complete.
A: Yes. Hate writing, love having written. It’s like this painful thing when you’re trying to get a song out. Sometimes it’s easier, but usually pretty painful. Then you’re done and you’re like, “Thank God. Whew.”
Q: And I guess the business side can be like that, too. Even though you have some help with promotion, it can be tough.
A: Yeah, it’s tough. Also not having a label, we are doing everything ourselves. Everybody is working really hard all of the time. I have a really great team working with me and I am so grateful for those people. Everyone wants to see this thing succeed, see it go and grow, and the harsh reality of the music business is with nobody buying records, you really do rely on fans, people coming to shows and people who want you to continue making music – if you don’t have the funding of a major label – so it’s more work, but I think it’s worth it in the end because we can release the music we want, the way we want to.
Concert Date: Tuesday, May 3
Ascending radio airwaves in the ‘90s with alternative rock anthems like “Far Behind” and “You,” Candlebox has enjoyed numerous accolades since its conception. Led by band founder and frontman Kevin Martin, Candlebox is sporting a new lineup, with returning members Martin, drummer Dave Krusen and bassist Adam Kury joined by new guitarists Mike Leslie and Brian Quinn.
While Martin said the additions bring ebullience to the band’s sound, Candlebox has maintained its focus on meaningful lyrics, making its sixth studio album, “Disappearing In Airports” one of its most ambitious projects yet.
“We knew we wanted to create something different, so that was first and foremost our thought process going into this record,” Martin said. “I'd say it was very much by design, but the songwriting process was more organic than we'd ever done before — allowing the songs to show themselves to us and just rolling with it rather than overthinking them!”
In a correspondence with the Voice, Martin shared his enthusiasm for the Candlebox tour and the 12-track album, which is due for release on April 22.
Q: You’ve described the new album as “simplified” and “relentless.” You have songs about society’s disconnect, Kanye West, gun rights, and your mom. Did you plan to have that diversity, or were those just the issues and emotions that grabbed you?
A: Those were purely driven by the emotion of each song. That's how I always approach my lyrics. It makes me feel more connected to what I'm singing rather than writing bunch of lyrics and trying to fit them to a song. There is an instance with each song that sparked the lyric and that's what I worked with. I knew what I wanted to write about, but I just didn't know which songs I wanted to use the content for, so by allowing the music to trigger that was critical, and I'm really happy with how each one came out.
Q: This is the first album with Mike Leslie on lead guitar and Brian Quinn on rhythm guitar. How have those additions altered the band’s sound?
A: Greatly, both stellar guitarists and honestly, both are lead players, so it was interesting to watch them work off of one another in an Izzy Stradlin/Slash sort of way. They were very quick with offering parts and riffs to one another, which in turn excited Adam, Dave and myself. Candlebox never had that type of relationship between guitarists before, hence the tension and passion in the parts that people haven't heard from us in quite a while.
Q: What can fans expect to hear on the tour?
A: A minimum of four new songs as well as the favorites and a few tracks that we haven't played in some time as well we have been throwing a few covers in to spice it up a bit. We're also throwing around the idea of stopping the set midway and doing a few songs acoustically.
Q: Twenty-five years after forming Candlebox, how rewarding is it to still produce music and perform live for audiences worldwide?
A: The greatest gift ever. I cannot thank our fans enough for the career they've given us; it's sincerely the most amazing feeling in the world.
Concert Date: Wednesday, May 4
Many fans know Javier Colon as the winner of the inaugural season of NBC’s “The Voice” in 2011, when he parlayed a series of captivating performances into a competition victory and a record contact with Universal Republic Records. Five years later, the former star of coach Adam Levine’s team has overcome some obstacles, including a split with his record label, yet he is thrilled with his current status.
On April 15, Colon released “Gravity,” his fourth record, and the 13-song album is his debut with Concord Records. Igniting his blend of rock, pop, R&B and soul with emotional lyrics, Colon is excited to share his new music with listeners.
Q: You expressed a great amount of freedom with “Gravity,” writing a diverse list of tunes from break-up songs to upbeat songs. Is “Gravity” a record you’ve been craving to write for a while now?
A: Absolutely! This is the kind of record I've always wanted to make. I had as much creative control as an artist can have and I'm so thankful for that. For previous albums, I would have some control, but there was always someone trying to make me sing something that I felt wasn't “me” or trying to make me into someone I'm not. That wasn't the case here. Working with John Burk, who is the executive vice president of A&R [artists and repertoire] at Concord and the executive producer of “Gravity,” was amazing. He's a great producer, so having him as a partner in the process was key. Loved working with him and already can't wait to make another record!
Q: Not every song you write is about yourself (“Gravity” being one example). As someone who creates music filled with emotion, where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?
A: My inspiration comes from a lot of places. Most of the time, I write about things I've experienced or seen someone experience. I've written a lot about my family, as they are such a huge part of my life. Sometimes, I'll see something on TV or in the news that moves me to write, or I'll be inspired by a phrase I hear someone say that might make a good title for a song. It varies, but I'm definitely inspired by the people around me, probably more than they realize.
Q: You returned to “The Voice” on April 13. Reflecting on that experience, even though it didn’t work out with the record label, how did it benefit your career?
A: “The Voice” completely changed everything for me. The month before I auditioned, I was thinking I would hang up my music career and start doing something else. After many ups and downs in the music business, I had had enough. I was tired of living gig to gig and resting all my dreams on promises that were never fulfilled. What bothered me the most was that I felt like I was letting my family down.
After winning the show, things have been amazing. I'm writing and releasing new music to fans that I never had before. I'm touring around the country and around the world, singing in places I only dreamed I would be singing. “The Voice” changed my life and the course of my career. It also changed the lives of my wife and children, for which I will always be grateful.
Q: What can fans expect to hear during your tour? Will you perform songs from just “Gravity” or some of your previous releases as well?
A: I'll definitely be performing new songs from “Gravity,” but I'll be mixing in some songs from some of my previous albums as well. I'll also throw in some covers that I sang on “The Voice;” the folks who watched Season 1 will remember. There also may be some special guest appearances along the way. Ya never know. I like mixing it up, so whatever we do, it'll be slightly different every night and we'll have a good time. Can't wait!