Fort Worth, Texas band The Unlikely Candidates was born out of circumstance and as frontman Kyle Morris puts it, a bit of delusion. It started when Morris and guitarist Cole Male gave an impromptu performance of Boxcar Racer’s “I Feel So” at a high school party in 2008. Something clicked and they decided to keep making music together, even if they weren’t the best at it.
“We played some pretty bad shows I’m sure (laughs),” reflects Morris. “We didn’t know how to write songs and didn’t have a style. We never really let that stop us from getting out there and playing whatever we had for people. We just love playing music, we didn’t care if some people didn’t dig it or if it was a little raw. The second we had something we thought was good enough to show off, we booked a gig.”
Wanting to get serious about the band, they teamed up with Brent Carney (guitarist), Jared Hornbeek (bassist) and Kevin Goddard (drummer). Morris says they focused on improving their writing skills and found their sound by writing “for hundreds of hours until we figured out how to put a decent song together and we discovered a style that worked.” They also learned from working with other people, watching their peers and seeing what they were doing right. “You can learn much so much by seeing the people you dig write in real time,” says Morris.
Their meticulous practice paid off and they released their debut EP, Follow My Feet, in 2013. Five years later, and a quick lineup change, they have two more EPs under their belt, have toured with acts like Fall Out Boy, and collaborated with Dirty Heads on their hit song “Celebrate.” And their current single “Oh My Dear Lord” is getting national radio play and has over 18 million plays on Spotify.
Taken from their latest EP, Danger to Myself, “Oh My Dear Lord” is an anthem about self-reflection, learning from mistakes, and figuring it out what it takes to set things right. The lyrics are dark and downright confessional. It’s no surprise that it’s about a reckless time in Morris’ life, who’s not afraid to get personal with his songs. “I do occasionally write story driven or more thematically based songs, but most are personal,” he says. It’s a source he turned to when it came to writing the latest EP, which in part, was about finding who he really is.
“A lot of it was influenced by life on the road,” says Morris. “I spent a lot of time figuring out who I am as someone who spends half their time in bars and half their time on a stage. Your persona from the stage bleeds into your personal life and then becomes your personal life. A little bit of an identity crisis while writing the EP, mostly fun though.”
The band may have finally found their sound, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to explore how far they can go. “We are still evolving, still figuring it out,” says Morris. “Oh My Dear Lord” gave them a chance to push their boundaries and step out of their comfort zone with its sound and even with Morris’ singing. “I had never used my falsetto much before. I finally had a chance to show it off and now it’s becoming one of my main assets. It adds a lot of dynamic and emotion. It really opened a door for me writing wise.”
Morris also hopes to collaborate with more artists in the future. Aside from Dirty Heads, the band has worked with Jay Fresh, Talib Kweli, and Kevin Abstract. While he has his own list of dream collaborations, which include Arctic Monkeys, SZA, Gorillaz, Electric Guest, and Tame Impala, Morris hopes to work with more rappers. “They can add so much energy and lyrical value to a song,” he says. “They have a lot more freedom on a track lyrically and rhythmically. It’s rad to see what people do with that.”
The Unlikely Candidates have come a long way since that party ten years ago. While Morris admits he hoped the band would get to where they are now when they first started, he couldn’t predict their journey so far. “I was a bit delusional then and really believed we had something even when we were terrible. It’s bizarre. I got a text from Kevin [Goddard] saying that [Weezer’s] Rivers Cuomo started following us on Twitter. I could never have imagined that when I was squished in with six thousand other kids watching him back in the day. Stuff like that really takes you out of it and lets you think, ‘Wow we have come a very long way.’”