Real Friends, Tinley Park, Illinois’ very own band of "sad boys," quickly grew into one of pop-punk’s most noteworthy acts after forming in 2010. The band became known for its honest, relatable lyrics and sometimes-blistering tempos characteristic of the genre.
Fast forward to 2016, and the band is gearing up to release its second full-length album, The Home Inside My Head, on May 27 through Fearless Records following its 2014 full-length debut, Maybe This Place is the Same and We’re Just Changing.
The Chronicle spoke with vocalist Dan Lambton about the band's upcoming release, experimenting with new music styles and staying fresh within the genre.
THE CHRONICLE: What’s the overall theme of The Home Inside My Head?
DAN LAMBTON: I would say that it’s expectations versus reality [in two ways]. The first way [is how] growing up, we all have this picture-perfect idea of where our lives are going to go. We underestimate the obstacles we have to deal with. We think it’s going to be peachy keen, no problems. We don’t realize that is not the case. And the second way would relate to the people that you look up to in your lives. When you’re younger, you view your parents as superheroes, as being invincible. Now, I’m coming up on [the age my parents had me at], going through some of the same s--t they had to deal with and [realizing] they’re also people. Nobody’s perfect. They did what they could, [raising me] to the best of their abilities, and I respect the f--k out of that.
What does the band want to convey through this album?
Musically, [The Home Inside My Head] is a progression. We definitely took more attention to making some of the hooks in the choruses catchier, to having more consistent melodies. More than anything, we worked more on structures of songs. I contributed lyrics [on the songs “Colder Quicker,” “Isolating Everything,” “Eastwick” and “Stay In One Place”] for this album, where in the past our bass player, Kyle [Fasel, had written them]. Sometimes I would paraphrase things, you know, rewrite some lines to make them fit the music, but I wouldn’t necessarily consider that writing lyrics. So now I [wrote] full songs. It makes it more of a meaningful release for me as well.
It sounds like the songs on this album have more musical variety than your previous album. Was this a conscious decision?
I don’t think so. I think we know when we want to write maybe a faster song versus a slower song, or maybe you need something with a little more energy, but as far as the style goes, we don’t necessarily go with something in mind.
In “Scared to be Alone,” you used falsetto in the beginning. That’s not something you have done previously. Is that an effort to push the band into new territory?
Yeah. I feel like a lot of music we have, with my singing, it’s either “go-go-go,” like all-in, belting it out, or it’s super quiet, and there’s no in-between. With this album I definitely tried to explore and give the songs more vocal variety in my sounds. I wanted to capture a different side and range in my vocals. I feel like [the different sounds are]able to give more drastic changes in the song, add a little more that I think we were lacking in our past material.
Do you have a favorite song off The Home Inside My Head at the moment?
“Scared to be Alone” is probably my favorite. At least up to this point, that’s one of the more different songs we’ve done. I feel like we took a little bit more risks on that song. I don’t know if that fits more pop-punk, if that makes sense. It’s a little more out-there for us.
What is Real Friends doing to stay unique and ahead of the genre with this album?
I think we’re just trying to relate to people, you know? That’s really the best thing any band can do. Growing up, having bands like Taking Back Sunday, The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack and Fall Out Boy, [I had] these albums where … for half an hour or however long the album was, that was my one focus; none of my problems were there. I think that’s the most important thing to do, to give somebody that safe place [where] they belong. We’re very lucky to have that bond with people.
Real Friends will play the entire 2016 Van’s Warped Tour on the Journey’s Right Foot Stage alongside 3OH!3, Mayday Parade, Pepper and more. The tour stops in Tinley Park at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre on July 23.