INTERVIEW: Real Friends (13/04/2017)

Illinois’ own Real Friends released their sophomore album ‘The Home Inside My Head’ last year and scheduled a headline tour across the UK to follow in December. Unfortunately, due to health concerns, the band decided it was best to postpone to make sure they’re right and healthy before heading on over.

Despite this, the whole tour rescheduled four months later for April is sold out, and the hype around the band has only grown in their absence. We managed to catch up Dan Lambton (vocalist) and Kyle Fasel (bassist) before their set at Bristol’s Thekla to chat about touring, local music, and, most importantly, how many hours of Zelda lead singer Dan has played.

DP!: Hey guys, first of all thanks so much for talking to DEAD PRESS! We’re currently towards the tail end of your European tour. You’ve been on this leg of the tour for about two weeks now. How’s it going?
D: Great! Yeah, it’s been awesome. We’ve been in the UK for a week and had a week in Europe, and, yeah, it’s been great!

DP!: So, what’s been your favourite show so far?
D: Leeds so far, possibly.
K: Glasgow, and tonight possibly because we’re playing on a boat.
D: It’s our first time in Bristol, and we’re playing on a boat. How cool. We would play shows at the Welsh Club in Cardiff and people would always tell us to come to Bristol. So, here we are!

DP!: These shows were rescheduled from the tail end of last year. Did that change the way you guys approached the shows? Were you nervous or more excited to play them?
D: There’s definitely a lot more anticipation because there’s been another four months of waiting around, but mainly because we haven’t played any shows since the end of November. There’s a little bit of nervousness to get back out there, but mainly excitement.

DP!: As soon as this tour finishes, you’re heading straight back out on the road in the States for almost two months with Have Mercy and Tiny Moving Parts. It’s an amazing line-up for a tour. How excited are you for it?
D: It’s gonna be great, because we also have Broadside and Nothing Nowhere on the bill, so very stacked and very excited for it.
K: I’m really stoked because we haven’t done a US headliner in quite a while. Except for the $5 tour, the last time we did a headline tour was the fall of 2014, so it’s gonna be great to be able to revolve the tour a little more around our new record ‘The Home Inside My Head’ which came out almost a year ago, which is really weird.

DP!: That brings me onto the next question quite nicely. How do you feel the reaction to the album has been?
D: It’s been good. That record was the first time we’d gone into the studio with producers, and we did some co-writing with a guy called Mike Green which was awesome. It’s nice to have an outside opinion influencing the songs. As far as the process goes, it’s nothing we haven’t done before; just a bunch of us sitting in a room making songs. There was just an extra person pinging ideas back and forth.
K: As far as how the album has been received by fans, it’s had a great response, especially on this tour. It’s cool to see all those songs blend in with the rest of our songs in a live setting with a lot of people knowing the words. When we first started playing the songs, we’d think “Does anyone like these songs?”, just because they don’t know them, y’know?

DP!: With you debut ‘Maybe This Place Is The Same…’ being so well received, did that bring much pressure when you began writing and recording a follow-up, or were you guys pretty relaxed about it?
D: There’s always pressure, but I think that’s something that’s healthy to have. With every release we give ourselves more time to work on it, because we’re a band that likes to get things done. When we get to the studio, we don’t want there to be crunch periods with “well, maybe we’ll get this done, maybe we won’t” moments.
K: I think there’s a lot of pressure with how it’s going to be received. Before any release that we put out, we know that we’re happy with it because we’re our worst critics when it comes to things not being up to our standards. There’s a pressure with “Are people gonna like this?”, and I don’t think that ever goes away. But, we’re very lucky to have a really great fanbase that’s always received our music very well.

DP!: Going back to tour supports for a second, you guys always have great supporting acts. This year you’ve got Microwave and Can’t Swim, and in the past you’ve had Neck Deep, Have Mercy, and Cruel Hand just to name a few. Is that always a conscious decision, or is it something that just tends to happen?
D: It’s a little bit of both, because sometimes there’s a suggestion from our agent like “There’s this band that you should take out that would be fucking awesome for the tour!”. Other times, we’ll suggest bands to hit up and if it works out, it works out.

DP!: So, you guys have a big say on who you take out on tour?
D: Oh, yeah. Always.
K: We’re always very hands on with everything.

DP!: You guys are big supporters of local music scenes. I’m from Cardiff in South Wales where the local music scene at one point was regarded as one of the best in the UK. At the moment there’s been a big uproar surrounding small and local music venues being bought out and shut down, especially on the street that Clwb Ifor Bach is on, which I know you guys have played a few times. This isn’t just happening in Cardiff, but the UK in general. How important do you think independent venues are to local music scenes, and is there a similar situation going on in the US?
D: We were actually talking about this before we left for this tour. Venues sometimes don’t last more than three years. There’s a bowling alley (Centennial Lanes) near us that Kyle and Dave book shows at, and it’s been picking up a lot. We originally started doing shows there where we originally didn’t have anywhere else to go since 2010. Now, the bowling alley has to get sold, and the way that Kyle explained it was, “When someone buys something like that, they don’t see it as a bowling alley they see it as an acre of land in a town that they can demolish.” We definitely see plenty of that at home.
K: This bowling alley that Dan’s talking about is like home to us, and we really care about it a lot. We consider it our home venue really. It’s closing next month for good, and it sucks, but we were talking about where we used to go for shows in High School and none of those places are around anymore. I don’t really think it’s an isolated situation. It just sucks that when it comes down to it, it’s just about money. In business, local shows, and even shows like ours, don’t make a ton of money as opposed to a bar or a restaurant.
D: It’s not just in the UK, so we feel your pain.

DP!: So, I put out some feelers online for a few quick fire questions from some fans, if you’re okay to answer them. What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
K: That always changes, but I feel that on this tour I’ve really enjoyed playing a newer song, ‘Stay In One Place’. The first time we played it the crowd were like *Kyle stands perfectly still*. It’s the first song on our record, so we were like “Oh, people will know it!”, but we played it last fall and people didn’t really react to it. Now though, people are finally starting to come around to it. It’s fun and upbeat, and I just really enjoy playing it.
D: I would agree.

DP!: Have you got any least favourite songs to play live?
D: No, not really, because we all go through the songs before we head out and we’re all happy and agree with them.
K: Over the last couple of years now, we’ve had more of a catalogue of music to play, so we filtered out a lot of old songs that we were sick of playing. We have a song called ‘Floorboards’ and we literally played it every single show ever, so recently we had it out of our set list for a while. We decided to put it back in for this tour, and it’s like “This is kind of nice, it’s all good!” instead of “Oh no, this song again?”

DP!: What are you listening to right now?
K: I’ve been listening to a lot of Microwave and Can’t Swim.
D: I would recommend both of those bands as well. The new American Football record is great, Pinegrove are great, and Foxing are awesome. If I could open my laptop, I could give you a huge list.
K: He can literally go on and on!

DP!: If you could go out on tour with any other band, who would it be?
K: We were asked this a couple of times on different tours and we couldn’t answer it.
D: Everyone that we’ve wanted to tour with, we have!
Brian: I disagree, Pantera.
K & D: You can quote Brian on that one.

DP1: This is a specific question for Dan. How many hours of the new Zelda game do you think you’ve played?
D: If I had my Switch handy I could tell you, but probably around 40-50 hours or so. Honestly, not as much as I would’ve expected to play. I’m so used to playing Zelda at home on a console that I haven’t been playing it much while I’m out on tour.
B: You said you were kind a sick of Zelda, huh?
D: No! It’s not true!

DP!: The end of your US tour takes you smack bang into the middle of 2017. What does the rest of the year hold for Real Friends?
D: Writing some new music, we’re heading off to Australia, and just really getting into working on some new music and getting a new record going.

DP!: You’ve been to Australia a few times now how do you find doing shows on the other side of the world?
D: Yeah, this will be our third time over there, and it’s awesome. One thing that we don’t really do in the States that they do in Australia is age restricted shows. They do a lot of 18+ shows, so on our first time over we weren’t really sure how it would go down because we generally have a younger crowd. Turns out those shows go over just as well as the all ages shows do.

DP!: And, last question, what advice would you give to any young kids starting a band and trying to get into music?
K: I would say that the first step is finding the right bandmates. I’ve been in bands since I was 12. I’m 28 now, and I didn’t find the right bandmates until I was 22-years-old. It took me ten years to find the right people. I think it’s really important to be in bands with like-minded people with passion, because passion means a lot. It’s not all about playing skills, because there are a lot of bands that grow together.

The band’s new album, ‘The Home Inside My Head’, is out now through Fearless Records. You can purchase it online now via iTunes (here), Amazon (here), and Google Play (here).

You can keep up-to-date with the band online by following them on Facebook (here), Twitter (here), and Instagram (here).

Interview by Jacob Eynon (@itsjustjake93)