Real Friends: Homeward Bound
As a band that have served as long-time disciples of the so-called “realist pop-punk” movement, Real Friends are moving beyond lonely nights and Jimmy Eat World. With their second studio album, the Tinley Park natives are doing their best to become leaders in a genre replete with followers. Lead vocalist Dan Lambton was on hand to speak with BLUNT, giving a guided tour through The Home Inside My Head.
It’s safe to say that perhaps there were some more discerning listeners amidst the pop-punk world that were somewhat turned off by how gung-ho Real Friends were when they started off. Put simply, the five-piece started out as the exact kind of cookie-cutter genre cliché that the likes of Jarrod Alonge constantly make fun of – all pizza, kickflips, over-earnesty and girl problems. Thankfully, the band had carved a further niche by the time that their debut LP – the vividly-titled Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing – in the summer of 2014; adding texture and depth to their accessibility and hookiness. This has continued into their latest release, The Home Inside My Head, and effectively catches the band in a state of transit between who they once were and where they see themselves now.
“I think the songs on this record kind of took their own course a bit more naturally than the songs we’ve done in the past,” says Dan Lambton, who serves as the band’s lead vocalist. “We used to just churn out an entire song within a day and never come back to it. What was done was done. This time around, however, we started piecing things together a little more incrementally. We’d throw around some ideas and maybe get a verse happening, then see what would work for the chorus. Rather than trying to push for an immediate completion, we’d leave it be after we had those things. I think going on tour in-between writing blocks for this record really helped our songs get a bit more breathing space. We were able to come back to them with a fresh outlook and really develop these songs properly.”
The Home Inside My Head was recorded through a handful of studio sessions and in-between tour dates, coming to a close as recently as this past February. Behind the boards was celebrated producer Steve Evetts, known for his work with the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Every Time I Die as well as some of Real Friends’ biggest influences – Lifetime, The Wonder Years and Saves The Day. Also overseeing the album was Mike Green, a producer and engineer behind big albums from acts such as All Time Low and Paramore. “Everything else we had done up to that point, we had recorded with a friend of ours,” said Lambton about going with Evetts and Green for the album’s recording.
“I feel this is a much darker record compared to the other material we’ve released thus far.”
“He was great to work with, and we got everything we could have ever asked for from him up to this stage, but we knew that if we were going to take this album to the next level, it had to be someone who had been to that next level. Someone with real experience. That’s exactly what we got – both of these guys were such a vital outside voice that could give us real perspective on the songs we were making. It was the first time we had ever done pre-production, too. We put a lot into these songs, and as a result we got a lot out of them.”
The second album is often seen as the environment where you know whether an artist is bound to sink or swim. It’s a chance to make a lasting impact, to outlive whatever precedent is set by your debut. Although it’s far too early to say how The Home Inside My Head will be looked upon in the long run, the feeling within the Real Friends camp at present is one of confidence. If you couldn’t yet gather, Lambton himself feels strongly about the work that he and his bandmates put in to make this their best release to date.
“I feel this is a much darker record compared to the other material we’ve released thus far,” he muses. “The idea of reality versus perception is a big part of this album. It’s a record about coming to terms with the fact that the idea you’ve built up in your head of what something is going to be like isn’t always going to match up with reality. It’s a record that looks at the people that you look up to and are supposed to be able to guide you – coming to terms with the fact that they’re people, too. They are just as fallible. They are just as able to let you down as you are to them.”
The Home Inside My Head is out now through Fearless/Caroline.