“Getting older scares the shit out of me,” admitted Real Friends on debut album ‘Maybe This Place Is The Same and We’re Just Changing’. Two years later and the band are facing their fears with ‘The Home Inside My Head’.
“It still does,” shares vocalist Dan Lambton, “but this record is definitely coming to terms with that. Life happens. There are things we can do to steer it in certain directions but we’re not always going to be in control. That’s the biggest thing to take away from it. Letting life run its course. It’s OK if things don’t come out the way you planned ‘cause that might mean it comes out better.”
It’s an attitude the band – bassist Kyle Fasel, guitarist Dave Knox, guitarist Eric Haines, drummer Brian Blake and Dan – took to heart when creating their second album. Written over the course of months, not weeks, the band had space to feel things out and ensure nothing slipped through the cracks. “It’s just weird how these things kinda materialise. After we put out our first album I remember thinking, ‘Oh, there’s eventually going to be an album two’, and you think about certain things, what that album’s going to be and then it just shows up, nothing like you originally pictured. That’s awesome. It’s how life is. If you predicted every single thing that ever happened, it would be pretty boring.”
The band’s debut album was the perfect summation of everything Real Friends were up until that point. ‘The Home Inside My Head’ sees them head to pastures new. “We never set out to sound a certain way when we put the songs together. We did the bulk of the record with Steve Evetts and a big reason was because he was so passionate and adamant about this record being the best version of Real Friends that we could possibly be.
“We’d never worked with a producer up until this record and we just felt it was time to go to somebody with a little more experience. We went through pre-production for the first time and we were able to put the songs under the knife and let them breathe. That was the big thing that sets it apart from everything else that we’ve done.” With space at every turn ‘The Home Inside My Head’ was a lot less stressful than what had come before. “We didn’t have the luxury of time before. Having more time made the record much more cohesive and definitely brought out a lot better songs.”
Not only does the new Real Friends album sound bigger, it also sees them draw from a wider lyrical palette. Part of that’s down to them growing up and experiencing more but also, for the first time, Dan wrote lyrics for songs instead of only acting as an editor for Kyle’s words. Despite two different voices at play, the band were united under the arching theme of “the perception of life versus actual reality. The idea that you can’t predict everything and you want to paint this picture of how your life is going to turn out while you’re growing up but you can’t really finish it until you get there ‘cause you don’t know what’s going to happen.
“You can think that whatever you want to do with your life is perfect and there’ll be no drawbacks but then, that wouldn’t be real life. We have to deal with obstacles; we have to have negatives in our lives to enjoy any sort of happiness or positivity. I think that can also tie in with the idea of how we look at people that we idolise. We see them as these infallible beings that will always be there but then you grow up and you realise they’re human just as you are and they’re capable of the same pain and same limitations that you are.
“Kyle and I both dealt with the deaths of our grandfathers, maybe six months apart. I think a lot of that goes in there too. The frailty of life and the idea that we aren’t going to have these safety nets to fall back on. At some point in our lives, we’re not going to have our parents. The idea that both of my dad’s parents are gone and soon, both of my parents will be gone and then I’m next. Realising that cycle, we’ve got to step up to the plate. We’ve got to grow up, be responsible for ourselves, take ourselves where we want to go and not have to rely on anyone else anymore.”
Across ‘The Home Inside My Head’, Real Friends put everything out there. “We’ve always talked about whatever’s on our minds, no bars held. And I think that’s the charm of it. We don’t bullshit people with it. What you hear is what you get and it is what it is. I don’t think we ever try and hide behind anything. We’ve been pretty transparent with Real Friends and what we are with our fans.” There are no misconceptions about their flaws. “We’ve never had room for bullshit. Whatever we want to put in the music, we’ll put in the music and we don’t need to hold back from anyone.”
That honesty comes from the cardinal rule: if it feels right, say it. “Personally, I don’t really share a lot about myself and music is a great way to express things that I might not otherwise be able to.” From realising that your heroes are just as fallible as you to dealing with a disconnect with the world around them, ‘The Home Inside My Head’ cuts to the bone. It’s never forced though. “You need to be able to put passion and yourself into it. If it feels right in the music and the emotion’s there, then you let it in. ”The first people that need to be satisfied with the music are us, because if we’re not happy and confident in it, why? What’s the point? That’s another thing Steve said that really resonated with me: ‘We don’t have to do this.’” The band are doing this because they want to. There are no groans in the morning as Real Friends head off for a job they hate. “We have this opportunity so why bullshit it.”
“I just want people to be able to listen to this record with an open mind and have something resonate with them. Hopefully our interpretation of pain or an experience means something to them. Hopefully it helps them in the same way all of our favourite bands helped us. When I was younger, I would walk around and listen to all these albums [on a portable CD player] and I would have this half hour to just turn my mind off and, even though I didn’t have this person next to me, I knew that there was somebody else that had some sort of feeling that resembles whatever I was going through. It doesn’t matter what they went through that I’m relating to, it just matters that there’s this emotion there and I’m able to grasp it. I’m able to feel it and I’m able to know that someone else felt it. If somebody else can get that out of the album, then I think we have done what we needed to do.”
As accepting and self-aware as ‘The Home Inside My Head Is’, there’s still a sense of unease running rampant. Yes, the band has grown but there’s still an uncertainty to everything. A mortality. “I feel like bands can be so temporary. You never really know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if Real Friends are going to be here a week from now, or two years from now.” Because of this, the five-piece are grabbing everything with both hands and there’s a sense of pride that they’ve made it this far. The group share, “this feeling of happiness that we were able to get here.”
And as the band reason on ‘Mess’, you “don’t need to be perfect, just happy.”
Taken from the June issue of Upset, out now – order your copy here. Real Friends’ album ‘The Home Inside My Head’ is out now.