[Q&A] The Unlikely Candidates Dominate the Alternative Charts with “Novocaine”

Photo Credit: Errick Easterday (@easterxdaily)

By Alissa Arunarsirakul // March 3, 2020

Who would’ve expected a lame high school party to bring together the very rock band that’s absolutely dominating the alternative charts? Definitely not us… Not by a long shot. The Unlikely Candidates has been cranking out zestful bangers for the past decade, but it wasn’t until last year’s “Novocaine” that the Texas band’s success skyrocketed. 

On “Novocaine,” The Unlikely Candidates shared,

“It’s sort of the celebration and lamentation of being a slacker. I think we all have that voice that wants to be lazy and avoid responsibility a little longer. So it’s about being okay with it and that lifestyle somewhat.”

To celebrate The Unlikely Candidates’ rise to fame, we recently chatted with the alternative rockers about their ten year anniversary, upcoming tour, and of course, “Novocaine.”

HH: You guys have been compared to greats like Panic! At the Disco and Imagine Dragons, but there’s something remarkable about The Unlikely Candidates. What would you say sets you apart from the other alternative bands in the scene?

TUC: We have never been one to stay on a specific sound for very long, so we cover a pretty diverse range of genres. I think that has always been a big part of our sonic makeup. We like to experiment and are always trying to evolve. 

HH: “Novocaine” officially reached #3 on the Billboard Top Alternative Songs Chart! How does this feel? Did you ever expect the song to be so successful?

TUC: It feels great! We have been doing this for a long time so it’s nice to see a song connect with people in a big way. It was a more honest song for me to write as well. It’s cool to see people relate. I think you always hope it will but so many things have to line up. We just kept our heads down and worked hard on writing and touring more. This one definitely felt special though. It ticked off every box a song needs to and had a lot of dynamic sonically. 

HH: For those who don’t know, what’s the message behind “Novocaine?”

TUC: It’s sort of the celebration and lamentation of being a slacker. I think we all have that voice that wants to be lazy and avoid responsibility a little longer. So it’s about being okay with it and that lifestyle somewhat. I think most people also have lived that service industry life. Going from check to check where they spend what’s left after rent trying to shake off the week at a bar with your friends. So it’s a composite of all that. 

HH: Rumor has it you guys are celebrating ten years of The Unlikely Candidates. What have been some of your fondest memories in the past decade? 

TUC: Too many to account for really, but a few were playing one of the best shows of our life at SXSW. That led to us getting flown up to NYC to try out for labels and then getting signed. Playing a 933 show in Denver for 10,000 people. One will definitely be playing Hawaii for the first time.

HH: Let’s switch it up… Where do you see yourselves in ten years from now?

TUC: Hopefully making music and touring around the world, playing shows for people. 

HH: Soon, you guys will be taking off for three months to play shows across America. What are you most looking forward to on your upcoming tour?

TUC: Besides performing the songs in a bunch of cites we don’t usually play, it’s going to be cool playing with a bunch of bands we haven’t toured with yet. We are going out with Swimming With Bears on the first and last leg of the tour. We are also hitting the west with Castlecomers and RH2. Then we are doing most of the rest of the country with Zero 9:36 and Federal Empire. After that, we finish out the run with Swimming With Bears again and our buddies in The Orphan The Poet. We got to pick them all out of a lot of submissions so we are excited to see how all these bands we dig do their thing and bring dynamic to the bill. 

HH: We last saw you guys at the Troubadour in June 2018. How has your live performance changed since then? 

TUC: That’s awesome; loved that show! Well, we have played hundreds of shows since then so we have gotten a lot tighter. We have added more moments to the show and little transitions or parts to the act that add dynamic and energy to the set. 

HH: What are your three hidden hits (underrated songs by rising artists you love)?

TUC: I’ll pick a few from the artists we are going out with because I feel like they are all dope and rising. Zero 9:36 – “Come Thru.” The Orphan The Poet – “Headstone.” Swimming With Bears – “Keep Smiling.”

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