Real Friends

In just four short years Real Friends have made massive gains in the world of pop-punk. The Illinois-based quintet are one of the up and comers in the genre and their future is looking pretty bright right now. chatted with bassist and lyricist, Kyle Fasel, about their long-awaited debut album, ‘Maybe This Place is the Same and We’re Just Changing’, the state of pop-punk in 2014, and exceeding early expectations.

How are you feeling now that ‘Maybe This Place…’ has been out for a few weeks and a lot of people have had their say about it?

I am definitely feeling really good about it. It definitely takes a lot of stress off our shoulders. It was rewarding to see that a lot of it was really positive.

Was their much pressure going into recording the album?

Oh yeah, definitely! I feel like a lot of people were expecting a lot from us considering it was our first full-length album. In the past we only did EP’s so it was nerve wracking releasing that many songs at once. Once we had started recording however, and we liked how it was all sounding, that pressure did start to go away.

Do you feel after four years and a handful of EP’s that this new album is a culmination of sorts of what came before it?

Well, we only had like three proper released EPs, the others were digital, one of them just acoustic versions of some songs. But, I do think that it was a big step forward from the EP’s and showed more progression and growth. Not so much that it was completely different. I sometimes think that people forget we don’t have a full-length record [laughs].

Would you still classify yourselves as a pop-punk band, or do you prefer another title for your music?

I always see we’re a pop-punk/emo band because we pull influences from both genres. I think that that’s more up to the listeners of our band to distinguish what we are than anything else.

Taking a step back to Soundwave earlier this year, what was your first experience in Australia like, and did it live up to any expectations that you had?

I didn’t know what to expect, but it was awesome! I thought that we’d play the shows with no one really caring as there was so many other bands on the lineup. The plane ride over though, that was really brutal. We would really like to come back, but I think I’ll just get knocked out for that plane ride [laughs].

One thing I’ve always wanted to know is, does it ever feel weird to you that you write the lyrics but Dan [Lambton] sings them?

Not really to be honest. I’ve been in a lot of other bands, none really worth mentioning, and I originally was a vocalist for a band when I was like 13 and writing the songs and lyrics, that always stuck with me. To me, it’s just normal to do that. When Dave [Knox, guitars] and I started the band, and we got Dan to come in, I already had lyrics written for the songs. When I write the lyrics, I don’t really think about how they’re gonna be sung or the melody, I’m just focusing in the emotions of those words.

Did you think that the lyric, “Sleepy eyes and bony knees” would have become such a big thing for the band, both in a positive and negative way?

It was just something that I always liked and connected with because of the meanings behind it. A lot of the songs dealt with that meaning of moving on and getting back up. There was plenty of people who were negative about it, but that’s anything on the internet really. If it hadn’t been those lyrics, it would’ve been something else about our band they’d hate on, that’s just how I look at it. I mean, we just got off Warped and there were kids with these SEBK tattoos around an ‘X on their arms or legs, it was crazy! So to me, if it impacted one person in a positive way then I’m happy about it, and all the negativity i just don’t care about.

With bands like The Story So Far, Neck Deep, and even yourselves getting bigger with each new release and tour, do you ever see the band hitting the bigger leagues like say, New Found Glory or Taking Back Sunday?

I don’t really think about that stuff as time has gone on to be honest as this band has surpassed all of my expectations of what I thought it would be. So I’m happy wherever the fans want to see us. I’m just kinda along for the ride as I think it’s the fans who’ll judge what and where our status is. I do think the bands you mentioned are the bands that just stuck with kids for so much of their lives. That’s what I want our band to be like too; a band that in ten years time, people will still listen to our records. I think that’d be so cool.

That would be a very cool sentiment, to have someone grow up with your music.

Yeah! I think that’s the most beautiful thing about being in a band for a substantial amount of time. Kids are starting to take notice more and more over the past four years. We have had fans tell us that we helped them go through high school and college and dealing with change and many different personal issues, which is just the best thing about being in this band, and it’s so rewarding knowing that.

Finally, following on from my previous question, what’s your opinion on how pop-punk is doing in 2014?

It’s sparking a lot more now and getting even more popular, which is great. I don’t think that any pop-punk band is gimmicky, I think everyone’s doing it for the right reasons when it comes to this music. We’re friends with so many other bands, and we all help and support each other and I think it’s awesome. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and when Drive-Thru Records was a thing, and bands like the Starting Line and Finch were doing some really cool stuff. I just remember seeing that happening and thinking how cool it was that they were doing bigger and bigger things. Now that’s kinda what’s happening now. There’s multiple bands, all with the same fans, all going in the same direction and I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all!

‘Maybe This Place is the Same and We’re Just Changing’ is out now via Fearless Records/UNFD. Read our review here.

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