Brian Quinn was supposed to be on a plane Thursday, flying out for a week of rehearsals with his Candlebox bandmates to prep for next week’s album-launch tour. Instead, the guitarist is at home in the Philadelphia suburbs, and like many touring musicians, grappling with what has abruptly become the new normal in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The tour has been postponed, and so has the album release.
“If the guitar’s not making noise, I don’t have food on the table, and that’s a scary thing,” Quinn, who is originally from Pittston, Pa., said Thursday.
Quinn has been with the Seattle-based Candlebox, known for grunge-era hits like “You” and “Far Behind,” since 2015. The band is his major source of income, but when the group is off the road, he works in the Philadelphia area, playing acoustic shows in bars, recording studio sessions and playing corporate gigs. Now, all of that is gone, and he’ll be filing for unemployment.
“I’ve been a full-time musician for 23 years now, where I’ve done nothing else besides music,” he said. “Even during a recession and swine flu, even then it always seemed like we were impervious to having to deal with unemployment and this and that because people were going out.”
Like many performers, from Neil Young to John Legend, Quinn is turning to technology to perform to an audience despite both performer and crowd being stuck at home. On Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Quinn and his former Fosterchild bandmate Danny Beissel will stream a “Live from Headquarters” happy hour, during a slot when the duo could often be found playing at a real happy hour. The set will be streamed on Quinn’s Facebook page, and it will be a “pay what you will event” with a virtual tip jar.
“I know we’re not the only ones having a hard time with this,” Quinn said. “So if they want to donate, they can. It will certainly help us out. To go from the money I had coming in every month to zero is pretty big.”
Quinn, who has his own LLC, said he is a “subcontracted hired gun,” even with Candlebox, where he has been a constant member since 2005. So that means no shows, no money. Noting that 95 percent of a musician’s income comes from touring due to minimal record sales, what’s remaining is less than a penny per play from album and song streams.
He said he’s looking forward to returning to Candblebox “once this cloud kind of lifts.” Until then, he hopes people “support the arts.”
“Tune in to these livestreams,” he added. “If you can donate toward the virtual tip jar, that would be fantastic. I hope everyone is staying healthy and washing their hands and not fighting each other over toilet paper.”
Lead photo by Tony Traglia