Chicago Emo/Pop-Punk band Real Friends have created a lot of buzz with their third LP, Composure, which was released on July 13th via Fearless Records. It is described as the band’s most musically adventurous album to date, combining it’s pop-punk sound with elements of alternative rock and pop-rock. Whereas Fasel wrote a majority of the lyrics for past albums, Composure also saw Lambton writing more of the lyrics this time around. Consisting of Dan Lambton (vocals), Brian Blake (Drums), Kyle Fasel (Bass), Dave Knox (guitar) and Eric Haines (guitar), the band became a breakout act in the alternative scene in 2014 with the release of their debut album Maybe This Place Is the Same and We’re Just Changing and have been gaining momentum ever since. The band has a loyal and dedicated fan base, which stood by the band when they took an unofficial hiatus last year so that Lambton could seek treatment for his previously undiagnosed struggle with bipolar disorder. The band is back now and better than ever and is ready to tour in support of Composure, an album that means everything to the band right now and one they are extremely proud of. They recently surprised many of their hometown fans with exclusive listening parties ahead of the album’s release! The band is currently touring as part of the final cross-country Vans Warped Tour, which runs through early August. Our staff writer Emily May spoke recently with Lambton and Fasel via email about the new album, being a part of the final cross-country Warped Tour and what’s next for the band. You can stay up-to-date with the band and all upcoming news and tour dates on their website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can stream their music on Spotify and SoundCloud. You can purchase their music on iTunes, Amazon Music, their website store. You can watch the band’s videos and check out their “Something Old, Something New” sessions on their YouTube channel. Watch the videos below for “Smiling On The Surface” and “From The Outside”.
Your new album Composure will be released on July 13th. You guys approached the writing and recording of this album differently, writing a lot of it in the studio with the help of producer Mike Green and recording it in 2 different sessions. What caused you to approach this album differently? Having co-written 3 songs with Green on your second LP, The Home Inside My Head, did you go into the third album knowing you wanted to write with Green again or is that just how things worked out?
Dan: I think this time around we definitely wanted to take more of Mike’s input into consideration. We felt that some of the strongest songs on “The Home Inside My Head” came from working with him and really enjoyed the whole process.
Kyle: We decided to be more prepared this time around. We also wanted to release a stand alone single to tide people over until the album. That song was “Get By”. It was recorded in the first chunk of recording the album. Having that out gave the fans something to have while we were recording the remainder of the album. We knew we wanted to go with Mike off the bat. We hardly had a conversation. We all agreed at once that Mike was the right fit.
How do you feel your music has grown over the years and how do you feel that Composure compares to your first 2 LPs?
Kyle: I think it’s the most memorable album. Each song stands on it own. I can’t say that for many of our older tracks.
I read, Kyle, where you mentioned that an album is a band’s identity, at least for a year. What do you feel that this album reflects about the band’s current identity?
Kyle: Composure defines the band more than ever. This exactly the sound we have been trying to get to for years. It takes time to get here. We’re glad to finally be here.
You guys are currently on the final cross-country Vans Warped Tour. What have some highlights been? Does it feel bittersweet, in a sense?
Dan: I’d say that the past few shows in Texas have definitely been very awesome. San Antonio in particular was very awesome, we just really felt this connection with each other and the audience. As for Warped Tour ending, it’s humbling that we were included in the final lineup to send this tour off. A lot of us grew up going every summer to see so many of our favorite bands so to have this opportunity to experience it one last time is very awesome.
Kyle: Well, we hadn’t played a show in six months before we started the tour, so it felt amazing to get back on stage. It feels a little bittersweet but I’m excited to see what they will do with Warped Tour in the future.
You recently announced some free acoustic shows in Chicago, only to surprise your hometown fans with an exclusive listening party in which they were the first ones to hear the new album ahead of its release. Was that something you had planned since the beginning stages of the album or was it more spontaneous? How were the listening parties and what were the fans’ reactions to the new album?
Dan: We were discussing what to do to prepare for the album a few months ago when the idea came up. I think some of us were afraid that people might get upset that they weren’t getting the acoustic shows but everybody we talked to was stoked to be able to listen to the album and they seemed to enjoy it.
Kyle: It was an idea that came up while we were talking marketing plans. We wanted to have our hometown fans be the first ones to hear about the album and listen to it. It was really cool to do that. There’s a video on our YouTube channel that documents the whole day for anyone reading that wants to see it. The fans were stoked on the album. They were shocked. It was fun to do something out of the ordinary.
I read a recent interview, Dan, in which you mentioned that it is important to look back at everything and see the holes in what you do, like “I could have said this better” or “I could have sung this better”, but at the same time recognizing that you can’t change the past. You can only move forward and make those changes on the next album. Did you guys found it challenging to not dwell on the past or was it pretty easy to move forward and have a fresh perspective for the new album?
Dan: I think many times there has to be some dwelling, or at least contemplating, to be able to assess what can be done better wherever improvement can be made. If you don’t know what to fix or why you want to fix something can you really fix it? I feel like this time around we were definitely able to look ahead with a clear vision of what we wanted to do.
Dan-What prompted you to write more of the lyrics for this album as opposed to previous ones? Do you feel that you had more to say on this record and how does your writing compare with Kyle’s? Do you have similar writing styles?
Dan: I started writing more lyrics for “The Home Inside My Head” and felt confident enough this time around to continue to contribute in this way to the writing process. I would say we have similar writing styles with slight differences. I feel like in some ways I aim for more specific little details where Kyle is able to capture a broad feeling across the board.
The new album’s lyrics reflect some of the troubles the band faced last year. Was it uncomfortable at all to reflect on/revisit those troubles when writing the album or did you find it therapeutic? Do you each have a favorite song from Composure that holds a special meaning for you?
Dan: I think it was good for us to be able to process these emotions as they were happening. Since a good amount of the record was written in the studio there was a lot more urgency and everything felt more in the moment and how we felt in the moment as far as dwelling on the past. My favorite track on the record is “Take a Hint” because it covers a lot of ground lyrically concerning a lot of things I experienced throughout the last year up to that exact moment and how there’s always more than one side to anything you may experience.
Kyle: At certain points it was a little weird but I think we all agreed that we wanted to put it all out on the table and hold nothing back. Honesty has always been a key part in our writing process and it was truly present while writing and recording Composure. My favorite song is Unconditional Love. It’s just so different than our other stuff. It really pushes our boundaries.
The band cancelled their international tour dates this year so that you could focus on treatment for your bipolar disorder. How has your treatment been going and do you feel that the band has achieved, or is starting to achieve, the fresh start it was hoping for? The band has always had an incredible and devoted fan base. What kind of support have you guys received from your fans through everything?
Dan: I believe the treatment did wonders for me but everything is always a work in progress. Taking this time off definitely gave all of us the opportunity to regroup and get a grasp on our personal lives to get that fresh start we wanted. When we announced the cancellations there was nothing but support from our fans. Everybody wanted me to take the time I needed to be able to get back on my feet and I am very grateful for that.
I read an article from two years ago, Kyle, in which you mentioned some of the bands that have most influenced Real Friend’s sound, such as Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional, Saves The Day and Jimmy Eat World. Are there any current bands that you guys would count as influences? Who are you listening to right now?
Kyle: I think the biggest influence was trying to out do our old material. That was very present all of the time, even more than referencing other bands. It was a very self contained writing process. It was a little different in that aspect but sometimes to beat yourself you have to just compare while looking in the mirror. I’m not really listening to any newer bands at the moment. Just a lot of The Smiths, Owen, and any band that plays on Warped Tour because that’s all I hear all day long.
You mentioned in a previous interview, Kyle, that you guys want to tour with bands that maybe don’t sound like Real Friends in the hopes of widening your audience, such as with your tour with Cruel Hands and Have Mercy. Who are some bands you guys are hoping to tour with going forward?
Kyle: We would love to do a bigger tour opening for a bigger band like – Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, Panic At The Disco or A Day To Remember. We have never done a bigger tour of that nature. It would be great for us to widen our fan base.
You guys have said this will be your most important year yet! In what ways do you feel it will your most important year? What’s next for the band?
Dan: I think we’ve all taken a lot of time to assess what is important to us and get our priorities in order. We spent a lot of time and energy on an album that we are extremely proud of and just want to get it out into the world and continue touring.
Kyle: This album is everything right now so we are going to spend this entire year getting it out there. That makes this year our most important one ever.