Interview: Lead Vocalist & co-founder Kyle Morris of The Unlikely Candidates
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music, what would you be doing today?
Listening to music was always my primary outlet growing up. It was a huge part of my identity, and I felt like I could learn truths about the world through it. That was really what got me into it, just being a huge fan. The band came later.
I am not sure what I would be doing, honestly. I was going to do business, but it wasn’t for me. Then I wanted to do psychology, and then I tried to go into literature. I could have ended up in one of those fields.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music, and how does that influence your creativity?
Like most people, I consume a lot of media. I watch a lot of TV, but I’m looking for shows that challenge me to think or have a surreal artistic twist. Some of my favorite shows at the moment are Atlanta, Lovecraft Country, and Russian Doll.
I enjoy reading. I like books similar to the TV genres I gravitate towards. Plots in the real world but with bizarre, more complex fantastical happenings around them. Like any of Murakami or David Mitchell’s books. These things feed into my writing. They are relatable in their everyday drama and also satisfying artistically in how they use seemingly absurd plots, symbols, and metaphors to highlight bigger themes.
How long has your band been around?
The Unlikely Candidates was formed as an acoustic duo in 2008 by myself and guitarist Cole Harris. Cole and I went to the same high school and hung out in the same friend group. One night at a party during our senior year, Cole was playing the guitar and I decided to join in and start singing. We performed a Green Day song and something clicked.
The next day, we started writing songs and just figured it out and here we are, 14 years later.
Where are you based out of, and how did that influence your music?
The band and I are based out of Fort Worth, Texas and grew up in a smaller town 20-minutes away. There were not many bands in the area, especially making rock music and there weren't really any other bands making the same kind of music as us, so we had to figure stuff out on our own for the most part.
The general music scene all over Texas is country, folk, blues, and Americana. I appreciate the songwriting in those genres. There is a lot of emphasis on lyrics which I have always liked. Some of that kept myself and the guys sharp on trying to always have songs that meant something to us.
How did you come up with the name of your band, and what does it mean to you?
Honestly, the band just had a long list, and it was the only one that wasn’t awful. The band was started during senior year of high school, and neither of us (Cole and I) had been in a band, written a song, and Cole only knew how to play a few chords. Our families and friends were really confused about why we were starting a band so late and thought we were wasting our time. So The Unlikely Candidates sort of fit, and that’s what it has come to mean. The band has always been sort of left of center and not really part of the pack for better or worse.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
One of the most memorable shows was playing in front of ten thousand people in Denver, including some of our family and friends who made the trip from Texas to be there. It was 100 degrees that day, and I walked out in a fur coat. While not the ideal attire, I wanted to play into the running joke the radio DJs had about the band always wearing clothes that were too hot for the weather. It was also special because our friend rapper Jay Fresh was in town and performed one of our songs with us. We spent the rest of the day watching bands like Young The Giant and Cage the Elephant and lighting off fireworks.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I really love playing the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs. It’s a great simple rock club, the staff is amazing, and the fans are the best. It always feels like a home show.
Performing at Red Rocks is the big goal right now.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
The Unlikely Candidates
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I would probably give myself the same advice. Write as many songs and play as many shows as you can. Always keep pushing your craft forward and try new things. Go to a place where people can find you when you are finally ready. And most importantly, get a good music lawyer.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Get a good music lawyer and keep writing every day.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I like “Follow My Feet,” it is the best advice I’ve ever given myself, and it still rings true. Don’t worry so much about who or what you are supposed to be, be a good person and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Which songs are your favorite to play, and which get requested the most?
I love playing “Violence.” It’s overly dramatic, has a rough edge, and most of all, fun to perform. Fans always want to hear “Novocaine” because it’s the band's biggest song that reached number 1 on the charts. People sometimes ask for “Howl” off the first EP as well. It’s a sort of sexy psych blues-type song.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Usually, it will start with the music. That sets the vibe. Then the band starts to make melodies over it. I then freestyle some words over the top until something connects and then I start putting the words to melodies. There are a lot of ways to do it, but this is primarily how we do it as a band.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I lean on introspection a lot in the songs, and hopefully, that helps people see themselves and their problems in it. Sometimes we highlight current events and issues to hold a mirror to them.
“Sunshine,”Is one of the singles off the upcoming debut album, “Panther Island,” where I reference hoping that I’m alive to buy my first house before a world war, virus, or the ocean sweeps us all away.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Sure, most of them are never too significant to cause too much of an issue. As a band we all voice our concerns. Good or bad, they get out there, and we deal with it. Sometimes things are swept under, and other times they are settled. We have all known each other long enough to let most things roll off our backs and keep moving. Communication, even if it’s uncomfortable, solves most of it.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?