Behind The Success of The Unlikely Candidates

Unlikely Candidates

We have said it time and time again that the most important piece of reaching a successful music career is consistently putting in work towards a big picture plan. Current alt-rock darlings The Unlikely Candidates have been at it since 2008. Their dedication and work ethic has been second to none. Kyle Morris, lead singer of the band, shares his story of putting in years of consistent hard work to reach the success they are experiencing today.

-Guest post from Kyle Morris of The Unlikely Candidates

A lot of people ask about what our band name means and I usually answer it in one of two ways. I either tell them the truth, which is I picked it from a list of three hundred names and the second best choice sounded like a bad metal band name (Dark Horse), or I give them the answer that they want to hear. That the name was representative of our underdog spirit and that even we didn’t think that we could start from the bottom and end up where we are today. There is some truth to that, but really I never considered us underdogs and I always thought that we would make it. I think for a long time I was the only one who believed that. 

Cole and I met in middle school and were more acquaintances than friends. We both loved music and going to local shows, but neither of us were in bands growing up or really had much musical experience at all. Cole could play a few chords and I had a feeling I could sing, but (besides singing in the shower) I really had no idea if I was any good and was too nervous to try to do so in front of anyone. One night towards the end of Junior year we both were at a party and Cole started playing some covers. I was drunk on three Keystone Lights and was the only one who knew the lyrics to the Green Day song he was playing, so I started singing. The looks on everyone’s faces changed and I felt the gratification of knowing that they were enjoying what I was doing. Something clicked in my brain and I thought to myself, I’m going to do this for the rest of my life. It would have been so easy to let that night fade into memory and take it for what it was, a small moment of validation. That wasn’t what it became for me. Maybe it was delusion but it felt closer to destiny. 

The next day I called up Cole and asked if he wanted to come over to my house to jam. There wasn’t much to do in our small suburban town in Texas, so he figured why not and we ended up playing music for 5 hours that day. We never stopped. Our songs by most measures were terrible. Neither of us had ever written a song so they were a mess of tempos and transitions. There was something there though and I believed in it more than I had believed in anything. Our parents were concerned since we were now in our senior year and while everyone else was getting ready for college, we were writing for hours and hours every day. Our friends were amused but also confused why we would waste our senior year toiling away. We were discovering music and songwriting for the first time. We were hooked. It didn’t matter that we had no idea what we were doing. 

After five months we wrote enough songs to play our first show, recorded a terrible demo from some money we made from doing dishes at a BBQ restaurant and stocking shelves at Target, and when college came around we both went to schools in the same area. We just kept writing. We spent countless hours playing catch up to get on the same level as other bands in our local scene who had been playing seven times longer than us. 

One day some guy caught us at a show and that led to him connecting us with another guy, who connected us with another guy, and that guy became our manager. We quit college and went home to work on music in earnest. We played scores of shows to no one, were regulars at four different open mics, and studied songs that we admired to get better at our craft. It took years, but we kept going because we knew we had something and wouldn’t give up until we saw how far it could go. 

Latest Video ‘High Low’ From The Unlikely Candidates

After three more long years we ended up getting a deal, we started touring the country and now 12 years after starting the band we got our first number one hit at alternative radio. We had hit almost every snag in the business during our career, but we still believed that at some point it would all connect and it did. I truly think if someone is willing to learn and work harder than anyone else, they can find their place in the music business. We started playing music at eighteen and had no reason to believe we could turn this into a career, but we worked tirelessly.

The Unlikely Candidates may have just been a random name on a list of hundreds but I like to think we made it mean something. We will most likely always be fighting for our spot and stumbling through the pratfalls of this very slippery business, but until we can’t anymore we’ll keep carrying the name and see how far it can go. 

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