The Unlikely Candidates have been on a bit of a tear recently. Their video for the song “Novocaine” has crossed 10 million views and the song itself is kicking ass on the charts. Other songs are being used in various TV trailers now. The band has been touring relentlessly, so when we sat down before their opening slot with The Score at Summit Denver, time was a little muddled for them.
We met five years ago at the Firefly Festival in Delaware and happened to hit it off. Lucky for me, Denver is a town they play a lot, so I’ve seen them 2-3 times per year ever since. The interview below is a lot less formal than the ones I normally do; I just recorded our conversation and transcribed it. But I think it gives a sense of how fun and personable these guys are. Well, except for Cole and Brent, who were getting pizza while we chatted.
Kidding! Seriously, they are all great people and I am so happy for all their successes. Looking forward to seeing them many, many, many more times in the future.
Header photo by Zach Burns. Interview photos by Steve Wederski.
The Unlikely Candidates Interview
The folks chatting with me were Kyle Morris (vocals), Jared Horbeek (bass) and Kevin Goodard (drums).
Aimee: All right, um, so, I actually didn’t prepare all that much because I just figured we could have a conversation.
Kyle: Yeah, for sure.
Aimee: Mostly, I want to hear about all the crazy things that have been happening for you guys lately.
Kyle: (In a weird voice) All the crazy things that have been happening to us recently…
Jared: Change your voice so it doesn’t sound like that.
Aimee: (laughs) I’m just gonna transcribe this, so I’m recording…. ‘Cause I plan on getting drunk later.
Kyle: Yeah, same, same.
Kyle: Uh, ok. Crazy things. The song is doing really well. That’s a new for us. We’re at 17 [on the Alternative chart] right now. And, uh, just a ton of touring. The most like, legitimate tours that we’ve ever gotten. With like bands that are, like big, and like, doing stuff … Not that we haven’t done good tours with bands that are also doing stuff.
Aimee: Right, right.
Kyle: Yeah, This is like the most consecutive tours we have had.
Aimee: Right, I mean how long have you been on the road? I feel like it’s been forever …
Kyle: This is three months –
Jared: Way longer than that, off and on.
Kevin: It’s been, like, a month on or like a month and a half on or like two weeks between. It’s been pretty consistent.
Aimee: And who have you been on tour with?
Kyle: Well, it started with Marianas Trench …
Kevin: The Brevet before that though, too.
Kyle: The Brevet? That was a long time ago.
Aimee: Yeah, that was the last time I saw you here.
Kyle: Yeah, that was, that was…
Aimee: That was like in March. Of this year.
Kyle: That was like, that was like eight months ago, I think. Was it?
Aimee: So far back … yeah.
Kyle: In another lifetime.
Kyle: So young then.
Aimee: Yeah, what do you remember from your childhood, when you toured with The Brevet?
Kyle: Oh man… Some simple times, simple times. Not promoting anything, just you know, just young and free. Wait, wasn’t Irontom after the Brevet?
Jared: Irontom was after The Brevet. It was Brevet, then Irontom and then…
Kyle: Marianas Trench. And then Goo Goo Dolls and then…
Kevin: And then The Score.
Aimee: And next you’re gonna do Wes- (stumbles to pronounce the name of the band Welshly Arms).
Aimee: I always wanna say Wesly.
Aimee: Welshly Arms.
Kevin: Welshly Arms and then, uh, are we allowed to announce the next group of dates?
Kyle: Yeah, the Orphan and the Poet, the guys that are opening tonight. We’re taking them out with us on a short run in January and then, uh…
Jared: So, then we’re going on a cruise. We’re going to play a cruise.
Aimee: Wait, what? – Was that announced?
Kyle: It’s gonna be weird.
Kevin: The Rockboat, yeah, got announced.
Aimee: Okay, so do any of you get seasick?
Jared: I don’t know.
Kevin: I don’t know.
Aimee: You don’t know yet?
Kevin: We’re bringing Dramamine for sure.
Jared: Kevin’s never been on a ship.
Kyle: I’ve never been drunk on a ship, so we’ll see. But you really can’t feel it unless there’s, like, really bad winds.
Aimee: I’ve only ever been on a really rocky cruise, so-
Aimee: I walked around like this… (pretending to vomit)
Jared: Was it a big boat?
Kyle: Oh, shit.
Aimee: But it was on the east coast, north east. People tell me the Caribbean is better.
Kyle: Yeah. Plus, I found out that if you get, like, lost at sea, like, no one really cares ’cause it’s in international waters, so if you die on the boat, they just chuck you over …
Aimee: I’m pretty sure that people are gonna care if a boat full of rock musicians suddenly disappears …
Jared: Doubt it.
Aimee: Well, then it’ll be the best documentary of all fuckin’ time.
Jared: They’ll care about Switchfoot.
Kyle: Castaway with guitars.
Jared: Wait, can we buy the options for the film now?
Aimee: So, tell me about playing with the Goo Goo Dolls.
Kyle: Oh, it’s great, they’re like awesome dudes and we played to, like, over 2,000 people every night. Get this. There’s catering. I ate fish, like, 10 days in a row. I was living like a king. We had big-ass green rooms. It was the best of times. But the uh, the audiences. You guys can elaborate.
Jared: Everyone was sitting down.
Kevin: It was, it was a, like, a huge seated theater, no general admission.
Jared: So, it took a minute to get used to.
Kevin: And we’re not the Goo Goo Dolls.
Aimee: Right, I bet that was hard.
Kyle: When they play, you know, obviously, everyone is like, hell yeah!
Aimee: Yeah, yeah.
Kevin: You know, we had to win them over. By the end of the night, eventually it’d be better. We even got a couple standing ovations here and there.
Aimee: No way, that’s amazing.
Jared: Except for that last one, right, Kyle?
Kyle: Except for that last show, yeah. I wanted that one so hard. I wanted to go out with a standing ovation.
Aimee: Where was this?
Kyle: It was in Iowa.
Jared: Everyone sat down in Iowa.
Kyle: I fought so hard for that one. It was kind of pathetic. I, like, stood out there, after the set was done for a little bit, like, just kind of, like… (waving his arms)
Kevin: “Hi – Are you gonna stand?” (laughs)
Kyle: A bit too long I was out there (laughs), like, waiting for maybe it to happen. Nope, it didn’t happen.
Kyle: There was a couple people stood up, but it just wasn’t…
Kevin: They stood up to get ready for the Goo –
Kyle: I don’t want to talk about it.
Aimee: Okay, okay, and so (laughs) and so, um, we were talking before about how some of your songs have been used in TV and movies and those kind of things, so what’s going on with that?
Kyle: Uh, I don’t know. They just, someone calls us and they’re, like, hey your song’s gonna be in this…
Aimee: Really? It’s just so awesome…
Kyle: Yeah, very cool.
Aimee: Nobody’s promoting it? They just have liked it?
Kyle: A lot of it’s from the video for Novacaine.
Aimee: You barbecuing is really the thing.
Kyle: Yeah, that’s probably why we got all those placements.
Kyle: You’re welcome.
Kevin: It was in Ray Donovan trailer…
Kevin: Uh, Veronica Mars.
Aimee: Veronica Mars, yeah. That was the one I was really excited about.
Kevin: Yeah, it was cool. I was watching Hulu at home. That just popped up out of nowhere.
Aimee: How amazing is that?
Jared: It was weird.
Kevin: Feels like hearing your song on the radio – and then your song is a trailer for a television show.
Kyle: And, radio’s not gonna reach as large an audience as, like, someone at home watching Hulu.
Aimee: And it’s also a new audience.
Kyle: You honestly do get reactions, people will come try to find your music from the trailers. We get comments, on YouTube and stuff. Like, “heard this song” here and here…
Aimee: I feel like your music has started to change a little bit over the last couple years.
Aimee: Are your styles are changing or, what’s the impetus behind that?
Kyle: Just boredom, honestly.
Kyle: Just continuing to wanna do new things. We find things that we like and we’re like, oh, wanna try that. That’s cool, this affects me. Now I want to make this part of my DNA. And, we’ve never really been a band that’s, like, we do this and that’s all we do. Like, imagine if we just kinda stayed writing “Follow My Feet,” – that, like, acoustic kind of like balladry stuff forever. We’d probably be huge, (laughs) but, you know, it’d probably be less fun.
Jared: But yeah, it’s just continuing to wanna grow and try new sounds.
Aimee: So, what is the next step? You said you’re gonna finish this tour and then, did you say you’re doing a headline after that? Is that kind of the goal – to start being the headline?
Kevin: January, early January and then we immediately jump on a…
Aimee: The Weshy. (laughs)
Kevin: Don’t say it.
Kyle: Welsh. Ly. Arms.
Aimee: Do you have any cities that you feel like you’re stronger in?
Kevin: Denver. Definitely Denver.
Kyle: Denver, Chicago. That’s a good market for us.
Kevin: Philadelphia, Atlanta…
Aimee: What do you think it is? You just struck a chord?
Kyle: A lot of it is early support from the radio stations, like, you know, Channel 93.3.
Kevin: That’s a big part of it.
Kyle: I feel like that we do well in places that are a little bit more, like, I don’t know… Not, rough around the edges, but a little bit more, maybe, salt of the earth. You can say that there’s like elements of that here in Denver and Kansas City and Philadelphia and Chicago. They just seem like a little bit more real than, like, you know, really big city mentality or that glossy thing. So, maybe …
Aimee: I also feel like you guys have been here a lot, so that helps.
Kyle: We’ve played so much – yeah.
Kevin: Since, like, 2013…
Kyle: God, like, 20 times.
Aimee: Right, right, ’cause, do you know we met in 2014?
Kevin: I would definitely believe that.
Aimee: It was at Firefly.
Kevin: Firefly, yeah.
Jared: Best Firefly, ever.
Kevin: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Aimee: Um, is there anything that you wanna say that I haven’t covered?
Kevin: I’ll say, just, you know, find us on social media and hit us up. We like talking to everybody.
Jared: Come see us on tour in January.
Kyle: I wanna put a LP out really bad.
Kevin: Yeah, we’re going back our catalog of songs and we’re thinking about writing more songs. We’re just thinking about what we want, if we have an album – what our first album will be like, something that we –
Aimee: Wait, you guys haven’t put out a full-length album?
Aimee: Okay, you need to fix that shit.
Kyle: A whole lot of EPs.
Aimee: Well, I hope that those power you into a full-length.
Kyle: It really doesn’t worry me because Portugal the Man has four EPs at first, so…
Jared: Imagine Dragons had, like, five EPs…
Aimee: No, here’s the thing, though. I hear people talking about you guys all the time. I mean, it’s kinda weird for me.
Kyle: It is weird.
Kevin: They tell you we suck, huh.
Aimee: No, no. They love you. It’s just very weird. Like, I’m, like…
Jared: … We’re like, OG friends…
Kyle: In Nashville, somebody told me that last night. They’re like, I was at a bar that they played your song in, like, some east Nashville kinda like bar and they overheard these people were like, “Oh, my god, I love this song.”
Aimee: That’s exactly what happens. It’s wonderful. I’m just saying, I just feel like you guys are on the precipice of being huge.
Kyle: You never know. We’re trying.
Jared: Hopefully. Keep on truckin’.
Aimee: There’s certain bands that I know who I feel like have slogged really hard and you guys have done that as well, you know.
Kevin: You gotta put in the work, you know?
Jared: It usually takes a band, like, a solid, like, decade I feel like, to really get it going.
Kyle: I’m saying, no, dude, if you look at all the old metal bands, it took ’em like at least 10 fuckin’ years.
Jared: This coming May is gonna be 10 years with these guys.
Aimee: How old is the band altogether?
Kyle: Me and Cole did it, like…
Kevin: High school.
Kyle: Yeah, 2007, so I don’t know how to do math.
Kyle: Wait. 12 years, Jesus.
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