Just because a band has been around for nearly a decade doesn’t necessarily mean it’s hanging up platinum records and using Grammys as paperweights. For Fort Worth-based alternative rock quintet The Unlikely Candidates, the last nine years have been spent learning – honing their songwriting skills, while at the same time, getting a feel for the ins and outs of the music industry.
It’s been mostly the latter, frontman Kyle Morris says, which is part of the reason why The Unlikely Candidates haven’t released a full-length album yet. But now that they know a little more about the business (and have recently switched from a big-name label to a smaller label), the band is ready to get going, releasing its second EP, Bed of Liars, on Feb. 17, with plans to make its first album in the near future.
“We have enough material for at least four very solid albums,” Morris said. Well, sort of. More like “three great ones and two very average ones,” he adds, laughing.
In some ways, making the switch from Atlantic Records to Another Century, a label owned by Sony, is like starting afresh. When the band signed with Atlantic in 2013, it couldn’t help but feel starstruck. After all, it would be working with the group behind names like Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Paramore. That same year, The Unlikely Candidates released their first EP, Follow My Feet, on which most of the music was co-written with a producer, Morris said.
After that, the band hit the road, performing around the country and “living the rock ‘n’ roll dream,” Morris said. But soon, he says, it hit a snag – the band had written a handful of new songs but couldn’t get a go-signal from the label to put anything out.
“When we did that whole Atlantic thing, we wrote hundreds of songs, but we weren’t able to release them because we were waiting for an official release through them,” Morris said. “But that never panned out. We had so many songs that we needed to move on.”
So the band left Atlantic, having spent about three years on the label. It remained independent for a stint; then last October, it signed with Another Century, a smaller label founded just three years ago.
Still, Morris says the band has much more creative freedom than it had in the past. Working on its newest EP, Bed of Liars, was a different experience. While Follow My Feet was mostly written with a producer, Morris and guitarist Brenton Carney handled most of the producing for Bed of Liars on their own.
And with that came a brand new sound. Bed of Liars strays from the folk-infused, acoustic guitar-driven conventions of Follow My Feet, instead incorporating synths, distorted vocals and edgier hooks.
The band plays with sound effects, too. A careful listener jamming out to the clap-worthy anthem “Ringer” will notice the faint ding of a bell before the chorus; “Violence” appropriately opens with a police siren that reemerges throughout the song almost seamlessly.
The band is currently booking dates throughout the year. When it’s not on tour, it calls Fort Worth home, sharing the same house off Hemphill and Berry streets. Drummer Kevin Goddard admits they sometimes feel like the odd men out, especially in a city that tends to be a hotbed for country and blues artists.
But it’s okay. The Unlikely Candidates like being...unlikely.
“We just love dirty rock ‘n’ roll stuff,” Morris said.