Real Friends: Moving forward and touring Australia

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By Will Oakeshott

One of the most incredible facets about artists, even the most prestigious or infamous known throughout the world is that these talented people have idols and influences that affect and direct their work also. Without the inclusion of the idea of plagiarism, which is a very fragile line to even try to negotiate; but in the case of music, a similarity in style can be seen as a gesture of respect to the musician’s heroes. For Illinois emotional pop-punk outfit Real Friends, their recent Record Store Day acoustic release More Acoustic Songs, the band decided that a cover of the song ‘Island’ by their idols Pennsylvania’s The Starting Line was the best way to thank them for helping Real Friends find their identity. As bassist and chief songwriter Kyle Fasel admits, without The Starting Line, Real Friends may have been a completely different entity.

“The Starting Line is a great band that influenced us tremendously. I can honestly say that I don’t think that we would sound the same if it wasn’t for The Starting Line; I’m sure you can hear in our music that we clearly respect and adore them.”

Fasel continues, “The reason for the acoustic theme was just to show our songs in a stripped down light if that makes sense? It’s a nice little mixture of songs from our album, the earlier material and obviously The Starting Line cover; it’s meant to be an intimate sounding record. We all love acoustic music so we were really stoked to have an opportunity to re-imagine our music that way.”

Before the readers of this fine publication disregard this quintet as just another Blink-182 wanna be pop-punk band, there is a lot more to Real Friends that meets the eye. Sure, their music is faster, lighter and exposed with their hearts on their sleeves lyrically. But, in their defence, it is also completely honest and sincere which can be hard to come by in this synthetic pop music world. More impressively, Real Friends embrace the idea of touring with bands from all genres, for example their next tour of the USA is with southern metalcore experts Every Time I Die and progressive hardcore favourites Counterparts. It is risky, but as Kyle elaborates, it is an uncertain exposure they revere.

“We are all about playing mixed bills with all types of different bands. We are on tour with The Maine (from Arizona) right now who still pop-sensibilities like us but they also are a lot more diverse than our more pop-punk identity. They certainly have roots in that sound so we are not completely dissimilar, but they’re musical range has expanded a lot in their career in a great way.”

Were there times where you knew you were out of place though?

“We recently toured with Cruel Hand (from Portland) who are a hardcore band, which at those shows you could see a slight divide between who was there to see who, but we won over some of their fans and they won over some of ours. In the end each night was great and that’s what we aim for every time we get up to play.”

Having been to Australia as part of the Soundwave Festival, an event known for combining acts from alternative musical walks of Earth (Mayhem playing only two stages away from Fall Out Boy? Yes, that happened), Real Friends’ perspective can undoubtedly be admired. But how did they find the experience? They were invited as a smaller band on a rather intimidating bill.

“That was so awesome it was basically indescribable, it was one of the coolest and most different tours we have ever done. It was really organised, a massive production, we were treated exceptionally well by not only the festival but also countless fans. Actually the fans were probably the most overwhelming part of it all. We had literally just finished recording our debut album, then the next day we flew to Australia. So we were a bit exhausted from that process, but it was really refreshing and incredible to see that people actually cared so much about a band like us, who just had a few EPs out officially.

“I know we have sold shirts to people in Australia before and they had bought our music off iTunes as well. But I never thought we would have a successful wide range fan-base, Soundwave was how we discovered that our music was reaching more people in places we had barely heard of which was just mind-blowing.”

Besides the already discussed showgoers, the authenticity of the five-piece’s music has only expanded their affection here in Australia, especially in numbers. With the release of their debut album Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing in 2014 finally comes the time they toured Australia supporting it. As headliners and not festival players, it’s Real Friends turn to really shine and they are ecstatic about it.

“Ever since that experience we have wanted to come back and do our own headline shows. This time around I think we will be able to showcase ourselves as musicians more in a more intimate setting, I find that a lot more fun. To be honest, we are way more at home in the smaller cap venues, when I reflect on Real Friends’ career so far, the most memorable shows for both ourselves and our fans have been in the smaller setting. There is so much more energy in the room but all tightly wound together, it’s an inexplicable feeling but I know you guys in Australia deserve to see us in that environment.”

Having a bit of a well-deserved break for three months before gearing up for their recent tours, it plagued this scribe to ask if the members of Real Friends began work on album number two?

“I wrote some lyrics during the downtime and we did get together a few times to write music also during the time off. It’s still very loose though, none of us really felt pressure to write new stuff at all. It’s good when we did, because it was so natural, we have about six to seven skeletons of new songs that we are all stoked about.”

Will Australia be privileged enough to witness any new songs in the upcoming shows?

“Nope, way too early,” he laughs. “We didn’t work on any vocal stuff, it was all music. When we first listened back to what we had written when we went back on the road we all looked at each other and collectively agreed ‘Wow, this is terrible’. However, we found cool parts in each blueprint of what was there and we knew how to tear them apart bit by bit and start again. In the end you are your own worse critic as an artist, that’s what keeps you going and helps you become a better songwriter. We always try to better ourselves from the what we have written in the past.”

Tour Dates

Wednesday, 10th June 2015
YMCA HQ, Perth AA
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Thursday, 11th June 2015
Rosemount Hotel, Perth 18+
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Friday, 12th June 2015
The Brightside, Brisbane 18+
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Saturday, 13th June 2015
Trinity Hall, Brisbane AA
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Sunday, 14th June 2015
Hombre Records, Newcastle AA
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Monday, 15th June 2015
Rad, Wollongong AA
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Wednesday, 17th June 2015
The Basement, Canberra 18+
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Thursday, 18th June 2015
The Factory Theatre, Sydney LIC AA
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Friday, 19th June 2015
The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne 18+
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Saturday, 20th June 2015
The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne AA
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Sunday, 21st June 2015
Fowlers Live, Adelaide LIC AA
Tickets: Early Bird bundles available via The Virtue Agency

Written by Robyn Morrison

Photos: Greenfield Festival, Switzerland – Day One

Photos: Emarosa + supports, Sydney