Fresh Finds: The Unlikely Candidates Talk Embracing Change, Elementary School Teachers, and “Oh My Dear Lord”
The Unlikely Candidates are a five-piece Alternative Pop band with a tinge of grit straight out of Fort Worth, Texas. We got to chat with lead vocalist Kyle Morris about touring, their success in 2017, and their progression as a band.
Formed in 2008, the band has seen a great amount of success. Five years ago, the band released the Follow Your Feet EP, which was primarily acoustic and folk. “Cole and I didn’t really have a band when we started, so acoustic was a big part of our writing process.” Now that the band is matured, radio worthy beats and eclectic blends of instruments are the norm for The Unlikely Candidates. “I think that as we learn and grow, our style does the same. We have always been a band that embraces change and loves to experiment, whether that be out of curiosity or circumstance.”
While touching on the evolution and development of the band, Morris explained the role of fellow band mate Brenton Carney. “When Brent came into the band, he was a production wiz, so I started writing to his lush dance-y, mildly psychedelic alt-mix.” Morris also added that they have a producer that they work with in New York, who brings some of that “bigger arena” and “rock grit” to their songs.
“There are elements of the older stuff that get brought up the new songs. Sounds and themes. That earnestness is still there, it’s just gotten more complex and colorful.”
Since the release of the Danger To Myself EP in October 2017, The Unlikely Candidates have not slowed down. A national tour with the Dirty Heads, a New York writing voyage, a Los Angeles music video, and more give a glimpse into the band’s hectic schedule.
Check out the rest of the interview below, along with the playlist the band compiled for us, which includes their hometown heroes from the Fort Worth, TX area.
Acentric Magazine: 2017 was a really big year for the band — you toured a lot, released a lot of new music and just overall, really worked to get yourselves out there. It’s the beginning of the new year and you’re coming out full speed ahead with the release of “Oh My Dear Lord”. Do you guys take breaks?! What are your plans for releasing new music this year?
Kyle Morris: Not many lately! Since we released the Danger To Myself EP in October we’ve been on the run. Did a national tour with the Dirty Heads, a small Texas tour for Karbach Brewing with Grizfolk, a NY writing trip, an LA music video, and an LA radio trip for Kroq with the Dirty Heads for our song together “Celebrate.” We are building an album right now and will most likely be releasing it later this year.
AM: Let’s talk about “Oh My Dear Lord” and the band’s overall sound progression. Two years ago, you guys released the Follow Your Feet EP, which pulled heavily from the acoustic and folk genres, but this newest single seems more heavily influenced by the production aspect. How has The Unlikely Candidates’ sound progressed over the years? What do you say to fans who miss your old sound and might have trouble getting acclimated to this newer sound?
KM: It was actually five years ago, we re-uploaded it to Spotify so that may be why it says two. Crazy it’s been that long. We wrote some of those songs 7 years ago. I think that as we learn and grow, our style does the same. Cole and I didn’t really have a band when we started, so acoustic was a big part of our writing process. I had also really began to discover and dive head first into Led Zeppelin at the time and all their pastoral magic. When Brent came into the band, he was a production wiz, so I started writing to his lush, dance-y, mildly psychedelic alt-mix. Now, we have a producer that we also work with in New York, and he brings some of that bigger arena and rock grit to the songs. We have always been a band that embraces change and loves to experiment, whether that be out of curiosity or circumstance.
There are elements of the older stuff that get brought up the new songs. Sounds and themes. That earnestness is still there, it’s just gotten more complex and colorful. Hopefully they can access that and appreciate the new stuff it as they and their tastes grow too.
AM: Speaking of “Oh My Dear Lord”, the lyricism seems to be discussing someone who feels as though they have everything and nothing at the same time. This is a pretty common feeling that most bands go through. Can you talk a little bit more about the meaning behind the song?
KM: It was about an over-indulgent reckless time in my life where I preferred to live without much self-consciousness. Embracing a lack of control. It was good and it was bad. This song is about when that tide shifted. It’s a reflection on the path that lead me to that point.
AM: Since the release of your single, you guys have been really feeling the love from Spotify. The Unlikely Candidates were featured on three of the top rock Spotify playlists recently. That’s huge! So first of all, congratulations! Secondly, I’m interested in knowing more about what it’s like from a musicians perspective to get so much support from a company as big as Spotify — especially with the discourse around Spotify, and beneficial it truly is for some artists over others.
KM: It’s been amazing, Allison Hagendorf, who is head of Rock at Spotify, took a shine to our song, “Your Love Could Start A War,” and was really supportive of us. It’s awesome to have a fan there. So many people rely on those playlists to find new music, so it’s a big help to get the music out there. From what I’ve seen, I think Spotify tries to use their power to bring some shine to smaller bands. Discourse aside, there are some real music fans that work there.
AM: You’re from Texas, but over the years as a band, you guys have done some pretty amazing tours and have gotten to travel across the world. You’ve played with Sublime with Rome and The Offspring, just to name a few, and I want to know what your dream bands to tour with are? And the second part — what is your favorite city to play in and why?
KM: [We] would love to tour with The Strokes, that’s a favorite band of ours, so that would be pretty great. Muse would be rad, they are showmen of our ilk. Love me some Atlanta, Philly, Colorado Springs, and Fort Lauderdale, but we have a special connection with Denver that goes pretty far back, and the shows there get pretty wild.
AM: I can’t interview The Unlikely Candidates and not bring up your insanely unique performances last year when Kyle broke his foot. Kyle is so dedicated to the music that he still managed to perform with a broken foot — he was just rocking the peg leg crutch. What was that experience like?
KM: It was really fun, I was worried about the peg being a hinderance, but once I got the hang of it, I didn’t miss having two legs much. The fans really took to it as well (chants of “pirate, pirate” through the crowd), and that made the whole thing even more novel and hilarious.
AM: Got any funny tour stories that you wanna tell our readers about?
KM: We met some seemingly wholesome elementary school teachers in Minnesota who drank like demons and got us kicked out of our hotel after climbing on top of the hotel’s taxidermic buffalo, and then later blasting the volume on adult pay per view movies they bought using our bands tab. That was an interesting one. Someone’s shoe also got thrown on top of the roof. We tried to get that down for a minute.
AM: As we wrap up this interview, I want to conclude on an optimistic note. The Unlikely Candidates have been receiving a lot of positive press and accolades, being featured in magazines of all genres and on all different playlists. These are huge things and it must make you guys feel so good. However, I want to know what’s next for The Unlikely Candidates? Where does the band go from here?
KM: We just put out a music video for “Oh My Dear Lord.” After that, I think we will be doing some touring in late Spring and early Summer. Check out our new song “Oh My Dear Lord,” and “Celebrate,” by the Dirty Heads that I sing the chorus on. If you wanna see what we are up to, follow us on our socials, @tucband.