Features, Print February 24, 2019

The Unlikely Candidates: Kyle Morris On Seeking The Unexpected

by Valerie Vampola

Kyle Morris was driving around Los Angeles, heading to a meeting with the next producer on his list. Weaving through traffic, taking on each freeway one at time, the city was like a treasure map, where the ‘X’ that marks the spot would be his next business partner, bringing his music a new perspective and twist. The catch, of course, is he had no idea what that would be like until he got there.

Since their beginnings, The Unlikely Candidates have toyed around with a slew of different sounds. Despite charting more than once in Billboard’s Alternative Rock category, The Fort Worth, Texas quintet continue to seek out freshness. Now, with a ton of new songs written, they are once again in search of another new sound for their first full-length album.

“We’ve always been influenced by bands who weren’t stuck on one particular sound, like The Beatles and Blur,” Morris, lead singer and founder of The Unlikely Candidates said in an interview with BandWagon. “We’re searching for that new sound through trial and error.”

The tunes are written, but The Unlikely Candidates are still searching for that elusive new aesthetic for their upcoming full-length. But rather than keeping their fans waiting for their next project to drop, the band has been satisfying their followers by slowly releasing singles over the past few months. Unexpectedly, these tracks are not alluding to their new album, nor hinting at any interim EP.

“We had so many songs back-cataloged from our previous EP,” remarked Morris. Despite not making their originally intended record, the band were still proud of these older songs, finding the online singles a perfect format to continue engaging their fans.

With each proper EP, they’ve brought on a new flavor to their song writing, picking a band or a mood they were attached to in the moment. Despite being self produced, their first two EPs Follow My Feet (2013) and Bed of Liars (2017), are very distinct in the aesthetic they project. Follow My Feet brought a more earthy, folksy influence with a heavily acoustic sound, while Bed of Liars brings on almost hip-hop vibes with its strong beats and groove-driven style.

Their most recent EP, Danger To Myself (2018), was the first time the band opened themselves up to working with a producer (several, it turns out) who pulled their music in yet another direction, giving it a darker and riot-y sound that was, again, very different from their previous releases.

“Working with a producer made our EP sound slick and polished, and gave us this grandiose sound,” said Morris.

Grandiose though they may be, the band maintains a “garage band” style of writing, where everything is created then-and-there in the moment. They play together and experiment with different grooves and riffs until something sticks. The more they keep at it, the better they become.

With 10 years as a group under their belt, Morris still believes heavily in their free-style approach. However, he has taken to coming prepared to writing sessions with loose ideas and moods that he can pull from while working through a song.

“I read a lot of books and articles for inspiration, writing down ideas and phrases that really stick with me,” he says. With this process, Morris typically writes over a hundred hooks or choruses. Then, after 8 to 12 hours working with the band, The Unlikely Candidates have a new song.

Now, as he drives the 101 freeway en route to his next producer meeting with a catalog of new music, he wonders what this next partnership and chapter will bring. Like the band’s writing style, it’s a process of trial and error, experimenting with different ideas until something really catches on.

“We don’t know what this new sound will be,” Morris claims, but fans of The Unlikely Candidates can bet the new record’s unexpected freshness is anything but unlikely.

The Unlikely Candidates play Sunday, March 3 at The Moxi Theater in Greeley with Silver & Gold, Pretty Awkward and The Bright Silence (Tickets at moxitheater.com) as well as Friday, March 1st at Black Sheep in Colorado Springs and Saturday, March 2nd at The Roxy in Denver.