The Boys of Summer: An Interview with The Unlikely Candidates

Spending summers in a van has its good and bad moments, and Forth Worth rock band The Unlikely Candidates can tell you all about it.

They’re not strangers to life on the road, as they’ve been touring together nonstop over the last six years. They’ve gone through record labels, RVs with no air conditioning and towns large and small to get to where they are now.

What gets them through long, hot drives is music. They throw playlists together and add to them as they go, sharing music with everyone in the van. It opens up the dialogue between them and gives them the opportunity to hear new acts or favorite musicians and dissect the thing that they too spend so much time on.

What’s currently on their summer playlist? For bassist Jared Hornbeek, he’s been listening to a lot of Mt. Joy and new albums from Vampire Weekend and Cage the Elephant. They also have Portugal. The Man on there; a band that Hornbeek has admired for quite some time and got to meet at Firefly Music Festival a few summers ago.

“We got to watch their set and when they got off stage we got to kick it with them; they were the nicest fucking guys ever,” Hornbeek said. “The coolest, nicest humans, period.”

When they aren’t sharing their new favorite songs, they’re doing the only thing that really helps to pass the time: sleeping.

“It’s almost like teleporting if you do it right,” Hornbeek jokes.

Sometimes there’s really glamorous parts to touring. Recently, the band played a four-song set for a convention in southern Florida, complete with hotel rooms where the convention was and right on the beach. While it was technically a business trip, it ended up being a great band vacation. They got to go swimming, relax by the pool, enjoy Cuban food, have drinks by the ocean and be in one another’s company.

Sometimes there’s not-so-glamorous parts of touring. Hornbeek joked that “you haven’t toured unless you’ve gotten your shit stolen” and he isn’t completely wrong. One time they left their RV for 20 minutes to have dinner and by the time they came back their windows were smashed in and thousands of dollars worth of equipment, money and personal items were taken. Miraculously they got their passports back, but they took a major hit that day.

Through the ups and downs of touring, they’ve learned so much about one another and themselves as individuals.

“I see it in everyone that we've all just learned the ins and out of the industry,” Hornbeek said. “Especially with touring, everyone has gotten more mature and grasped a better understanding of it. All of this has been a learning experience.”