Joel Morris - Voice/Acoustic Guitar
Alex Morris - Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Voice
Ian Painter - Bass Guitar/Voice/Production
At the very fag end of 1998, after years in other bands making a noise in rehearsal rooms, Candidate turned their back on the noisier end of their record collections and recorded a series of basement demos (at a volume that wouldn't disturb the neighbours) that pricked record company interest.
After a few bruising experiences at the hands of a confused and bewildered music industry, the band took matters into their own hands, and began releasing records themselves. The Snowstorm label was willed into existence and three increasingly confident EPs were put out, ending with the “Leader” EP, whose catchy, thumping title track, with its upbeat, Nilssonesque chorus, gained the band an enthusiastic following.
A first album, "Taking On The Enemy's Sound" came out in April 2000. An independently released, self-financed, self-produced record, Candidate's first album stood out like a sore thumb, and got suitably enthusiastic reviews.
Candidate had never really planned to be a live band, so they played a single celebratory gig and went into hiding, building their own home studios so they could work quietly without time limits or outside pressure.
Obsessively writing and recording for six months before finding the right blend of ideas for their new record, dozens of songs were completed and summarily rejected.
Finally, it clicked. In two parallel home studios on different sides of London, a set of tracks were worked up that took the band where they wanted to go. More considered, layered and textured than the spare music on the first album, this was somehow a much more intimate and personal record than the band had attempted before.
“Tiger Flies” was a sprawling, wilful oddity, filled with fingerpicked guitars and wheezing synthesizers, clattering drum machines and cavernous flutes. More ambitious than its predecessor, with a wider range of influences, Tiger Flies was a confident and ear-catching achievement. The record was picked as Album of The Week by The Sunday Times and hailed everywhere as announcing the arrival of a band to watch.
Encouraged by the positive response to the more folk-inflected elements of Tiger Flies, Candidate decided to record an entire album in that vein. The record was inspired by the eerie soundtrack to cult 1970s British horror film The Wicker Man and to prepare for it, the band decamped to the film’s locations, staying in the same hotel as Edward Woodward’s character and recording demos in the film’s ruined churchyard and between the charred legs of the titular prop on the cliffs at Burrow Head.
The finished album, Nuada, was recorded quickly, allowing just enough time for a guest appearance from legendary guitarist Bert Jansch, but not enough to set up a drumkit (the jazz snare on one track is a handful of spaghetti played on a cardboard box). Its blend of freshness and folky antiquity found it hailed as a ‘gem of superior British folk music.’ It became a firm favourite, gaining the band a whole new fanbase. The rattling, swishing ‘Song Of The Oss’ was picked up as the theme music for the BBC’s dope dealer sitcom ‘Ideal’.
Wary of being pigeonholed as dusty folk revivalists or an alternative soundtrack group, the band adopted a different approach for their next record, Under The Skylon. With deliberate echoes of 1970s radio rock, the album used a wider range of styles to document the rise and fall of a love affair, explored through the metaphor of The Skylon a freestanding, futuristic structure erected to celebrate the Festival of Britain in 1951 and dismantled shortly afterwards for no discernible reason. On this record, the band’s songwriting matured further and, with the help of Divine Comedy producer Darren Allison, they achieved the biggest, most expansive sound of their career.
Their fifth album, Oxengate, sees them return to the experimental folk of Tiger Flies and Nuada, this time with nods to the vocal field recordings of Alan Lomax and the dense harmony singing of the Copper Family, all welded to Candidate’s familiar palette of summery drones and psychedelic campfire singalongs. Recorded in leafy gardens in Suffolk and quiet rooms in London, it’s a mixture of the urban and the rural, the very old and the fresh-out-of-the-box, and listening to it is, as always with Candidate, a little like lying on your back, drunk, in a field.