Strange Lines & Novocaine on the Road with The Unlikely Candidates

All photos of The Unlikely Candidates by @shaaaaannon_ on Instagram!

Our boy WAPS is back with a dope interview with The Unlikely Candidates! Check out their interview below and catch them on tour now!

Thanks for sitting down with us before your show tonight!

Cole: We’re honestly just glad to be here. Our RV broke down, so we were late to soundcheck at yesterday’s show.

Oh, wow! At least you made it—everything okay other than being set back a bit on time?

Kevin: Yeah, we’re all fine. It was just…money. A few hours and like, $500.

YIKES! You were in DC yesterday and you started the tour about a week ago, right?

Cole: We did, and we started in Iowa.

Des Moines?

Kevin: Ames, actually.

That’s kind of near Des Moines…kind of like tonight’s show in Wayne is kind of near Philly, is that right?

Cole: That’s a fair comparison, yeah.

Iowa seems a bit out the way for you to start, being from Texas…

Jared: The drive wasn’t too bad though. 

Kevin: It was only 12 hours or so.


Jared: Nah, it would be like the same distance from Denver, Colorado for us, really. Then we did South Dakota the next day, which was like, the middle of nowhere, so that was interesting, as well.

Oh, that’s cute. I don’t differentiate Dakotas because I’ll mix them up. It’s not “North” and “South” as prefixes; it’s just “Dakota.”

They are pretty much the same; just in the middle of nowhere.

My friend grew up in this area and was telling me she saw you guys at a blood drive event almost 10 years ago at a local mall around here.

Unlikely Candidates [unanimously]: Yeah!


On that topic—were you guys throwing back to the eighties and doing an entire mall tour like Tiffany?

Jared: My dad works for non-profit calls Music Saves Lives.

Oh, wow! So, “donate blood, get a free concert?”

Jared: It was around the time we were on Warped Tour [RIP], so we would give like, backstage passes or stuff like that from Warped out to anyone who donated.

I love it! Fast-forward to today, and you just released your new single, “Novocaine,” ahead of this tour…but I feel like you kind of have that as well as “Strange Love” going at the same time.


Kyle: Actually, “Strange Love” should be tapering off. I thought we should have more time in between singles, but the record company [Century Media] was like, “nah, it’s cool. Just throw a bunch at people and something will stick.

Jared: Over the last year of writing, we have been getting waiting to get some newer music out and we actually had those songs and “Best I Ever Had” sitting around for a while and weren’t doing anything with them.

So if you weren’t doing anything with them, are they just one-off singles, or are you planning a fourth EP? A full-length?

Kyle: “Bells,” “Best I Ever Had” and “Strange Love” were all one-offs, but we’re always trying to get another album out. 

Jared: There will be another release, we just don’t know if it will be an EP or an album. At this point we want an album.

Kyle: I think they [Century Media] want an album.

Jared: I think they want an album, too. That’s just what we’re gonna keep our fingers crossed for.

I like what you did there…talk a little bit more about “Fingers Crossed?”

Jared: Another new song!

Kyle: We’ll be playing it tonight!

Is that the only new song you’re testing out on this tour?

Kyle: That is, besides the single, of course.


Of course!! While we’re speaking on new music, I was wondering about the opening line in “Strange Love,” she said she knew me by my tattoo… my question is, which tattoo would she know each of you by and would you like to show that tattoo off?


Kyle: I’m not gonna show you my tattoo, because it’s on my asshole.

WOW. So is that new image of a black hole actually YOU?

Kyle: So wrong, but right on!

Cole: People would know Jared by his Bart Simpson tattoo.

Jared: Yeah, it’s on my inner forearm, so when I put wrist bands on at venues and stuff, people are like, “oh, it’s Bart Simpson!”

That was actually terrible and fell flat. I thought I had an awesome question there and we were going to get five awesome tattoo stories.

Kyle: That one’s on us, though.

Jared: Cole just finally got a penguin.

Kyle: OH YEAH! We do have some good tattoo stories.

Jared: And pepperoni pizza.

Kyle: When me and Cole were in high school and started the band, I made a bet with him at like, 1 o’clock in the morning at like, Wendy’s or something. And the bet was if we got signed to a major label, he had to get a tattoo of a penguin on his back. And we were pretty terrible at the time—

Jared: —you guys were probably like drunk and high and in your heads, like a big fucking thing.

I mean, when he said Wendy’s at 1AM, I kind of figured drunk or high. Or both. I mean, right?

Kyle: At the time, I guess he felt it was a safe bet because it was pretty early on and I think most people were betting against the band. We end up getting signed to a major label and he doesn’t get the tattoo because at the time, he didn’t have any tattoos.

Cole: It would have been a ridiculous first one, for sure.

Kyle: But then he got the pizza, so I knew the door was open.

Cole: Yeah, we were in Colorado a few weeks ago and a tattoo shop down the street offered to do it for free, so…

WAIT. A penguin on your back would have been a ridiculous first tattoo, but you got a pizza, though?!

Cole: It’s like drinking out of an alcohol bottle.


Cole: The pizza!

Kyle: That would be dope though.

THAT would be—Chilly Willy knocking back a bottle!

Jared: I always thought the most ridiculous tattoo would be a hot dog eating ice cream.

Well, what’s your next big goal—make it happen!

Jared: I’m down to get a hot dog eating ice cream.

Kyle: How about a hot dog eating an ice cream cone, but with your face on it?

Jared: Sure, that’s even weirder.

Kyle: Okay, so say it now—if we sell one million records of “Novocaine,” Jared—I’m speaking on his behalf—will get the hot dog eating ice cream tattoo.

Jared: I’ll do it! I’ll get a hot dog eating ice cream with my face tattoo!

Kyle: That’s a step up from the penguin for sure!


Tattoo goals are only going upward from here out! On a non-ink related subject, you guys also released a cover mashup of Juice WRLD’s “Lucid Dreams” with Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road, Jack.” How did that happen? 

Brenton: In our house.

Yeah! I saw the video and was so impressed, honestly. How did you pick those two songs?

Kyle: We wanted something different…yeah, how did we do that?

Jared: We were jamming it one day without Kyle I was like, these are the same chords as fuckin’ “Hit the Road, Jack.”

Kevin: Kyle picked the song and then we just kind of realized it worked.

Brenton: We brought one of our friends in to be an engineer and we ran cables, microphones and I don’t know how many fuckin’ hours we spent on this project but it turned out cool, though.

Kyle: Yeah, the first take we did of it, something bizarre happened to the vocal and it was missing, like it got chopped and screwed and mixed up and we had to redo the everything; it was a disaster.

That’s so surprising to hear because the video looked so flawless!

Kyle: Yeah, our buddy Zach Burns—who’s been our longtime photographer and videographer—he did a good job with it.

Is Zach working on other stuff for you guys then, like music videos?

Kyle: We’ve done a bunch with him, for some reason they always get tied up at the label section, unfortunately.


Bummer. Are you guys going to be doing one to promote “Novocaine” further?

Jared: We did one. We just finished shooting it. It’s our favorite video, for sure.

Cole: We just saw an edit of it a few days ago and it’s going to be really awesome, we can’t wait to put it out.

So you just filmed it, but you’ve been on tour a few weeks…is it something you did with live crowd shots or you took a day off and went to a studio, or…?

Kevin: We actually took three days to film it.

Jared: Yeah, we had some shows in Denver, drove back and played two shows in Texas, hopped on a plane the next morning and shot for three days out in Los Angeles. A few different locations. 

Kevin: It was out in the desert, in the studio and like, an abandoned gas station area. Have you heard of Salvation Mountain?

I have not!

Kevin: It’s a really trippy side of a mountain with artwork and painted trees and such. 

Wow—sounds like a lot; safe to say your biggest video, yet?

Kyle: Most ambitious—well, I can’t even say that because we’ve done ones underwater…

Jared: Underwater, wire crews and green screens and slow motion cameras….

Kyle: This is also ambitious, but will look the most complete because it was achievable.

Jared: Like, for one scene, the director said “I want you to go smoke a giant joint, come back here and eat all of this food.”

My day job is run reports and order things—wish it were something like, instead!

Kyle: And then the ice cream truck came. And we all bolted.

Jared: Yeah, in the middle of filming and they encouraged us to go get some and bring it back for the video.

Sounds like a lot of fun on that shoot with all the food going around. Speaking of food, do you have a “go-to” food while touring?

Jared: Dried mangos.

God, you’re so healthy.

Jared: Dried mangos AND those crunchy donuts.

Kyle: They’re crumb donuts.

Jared: Cigarettes. Gas station junk food, in general.


Sheetz or WaWa?

The Unlikely Candidates, collectively: DUDE. SHEETZ AND WAWA.

Jared: Have you ever been to a Buc-ee’s?!

No, and I really want to because the beaver mascot looks dope!

Jared: Oh, dude. When I see a Buc-ee’s, I don’t care if we need gas or not. I’m like, “we’re fillin’ up the tank!” Buc-ee’s is like a Cracker Barrell meets WalMart meets WaWa…

Cole: …a barbeque…they have packaged meats.

Jared: And a bakery and a deli. ALL-IN-ONE.

Cole: They have t-shirts, furniture…

My friend said they have some kind of signature hashbrown thing or something?

Kyle: Gopher nuggets!

Jared: BEAVER.

Kyler: Beaver nuggets! You can buy a whole grill there, like a smoker. You can buy anything there.

Music? Maybe you guys could partner up with Buc-ee’s and sell an exclusive single with them?

Kyle: That’s one of those things that’s almost so cheesy, it’s cool.

Jared: “Pick up our new song at Buc-ee’s!” I love that. That would be awesome!


Speaking of exclusive singles…today was Record Store Day…anyone in the band into vinyl and do any shopping? 

Jared: I do like vinyl, but I have not.

Kyle: In Brooklyn the other day, we played Rough Trade Records.

That’s a two-story record store, right?

Kyle: Yeah and it’s so cool. You should definitely go check it out; it’s one of the coolest venues.

Jared: They were setting up some Wayne Coyne thing in there—probably for Record Store Day—King’s Mouth it was called. Some kind of Flaming Lips interactive experience.

Cole: We JUST missed it.

Jared: Yeah, we were leaving and I asked if I could get a picture in front of it; it looked so cool.

Flaming Lips x Unlikely Candidates collaboration 2020! But let’s talk about collabs, in general. The Dirty Heads song you’re featured on—and you have your own version on your last EP, “Celebrate.” Was that an organic coming together?


Kyle: We wrote the song and were working on it and we had the same producer so they heard it and really liked it. They asked if they could rap verses on it because they needed another single and we were like, “ok, that sounds good, let’s do it.”

Since that happened, is there anyone since that you would like to work with?


Kyle: Anyone that is good that we like.

Kevin: Rihanna.


Kevin: Yeah!

Kyle: I thought it would be dope to have a female R&B vocalist singing the verses on that song. That’s what I wanted to hear, personally. The Dirty Heads thing turned out good and they added a really nice, sentimental spin to it. Mine was more like the jaded rockstar, being like, “I’m so tired. I’m just gonna call my mom because I’m going on stage soon.” There’s is more, “I miss my son, I missed my dad’s funeral,” it’s heavy shit.

Jared: They’ve been doing this a lot longer, too. They’ve probably had to deal with this stuff a lot more.

You guys are just getting started—I’m sure you’ll have that longevity and more of those experiences that will shape your writing. Thanks so much for sitting down with us before your gig tonight!


While they may just be getting started, The Unlikely Candidates put on one hell of a set, just shy of two hours! I found myself mesmerized by lead singer, Kyle Morris, wondering if his dancing, twirling and jumping around the stage would take a turn for the worse and he would stumble off of the stage—while simultaneously being entertained by his unique way of owning the stage. A true showman, for sure. In a quick word after the show, Kyle shared he’s generally a fairly lax character and all of his energy comes out on stage; in buckets of sweat, I would add! Seeing Cole Male switch seamlessly between electric and acoustic guitars all night was a treat, too—never missing a note in his rotation of the two. Lead guitarist Brenton Carney was a joy to watch when he got to unleash his blistering solos upon the crowd at 118 North, his hair laying flawlessly the entire night (this interviewer admittedly has hair envy). Kevin Goddard on drums was another spectacle to behold; watching him keep time all night, never missing a beat, always on-time, executing percussion perfectly. Bassist and keyboardist Jared Hornbeek, while off to the back corner of the stage, held his own with fat basslines and beautiful—but still rockin’—arrangements throughout the night.

The Unlikely Candidates Strange Lines Tour is over, but they’re winding up for a second leg, The Midnight Love Tour, co-headlining with Irontom. That tour kicks off May 7, hitting the mid-west and west coast throughout the month of May. If you’re near St. Louis however, you’re in luck. They were recently added as direct support May 2nd for Good Charlotte at The Pageant—but tickets are almost sold out! 

Be sure to follow The Unlikely Candidates on FacebookInstagram, Twitter, and Youtube! for more tour, ticket and music news. And be sure to keep a lookout for their forthcoming Novocaine video, TBA soon. 

After discussing it during the interview I can hardly wait! Check out that single and more, LIVE from the 118 North show after our interview: 


Call My Name

Best Things in Life Aren’t Free

Fingers Crossed

Best I Ever Had


Danger to Myself (including guitar/crowd call-back)

Follow My Feet


Celebrate (Dirty Heads cover)

Novocaine (including drum break)

Your Love Could Start a War



Oh My Dear Lord



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All photos by @shaaaaannon_ on Instagram!



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