Photo credit: Brittany Menjivar
Real Friends have been making a real impact in the pop punk world. They’re a true staple of the Warped Tour scene, having traveled with the iconic festival in 2014, in 2016, and during its final 2018 run. Listen to their latest record, Composure, and you’ll quickly see why. Their songs pair powerful major key melodies with lyrics that cover themes like mental health and facing challenges, offering fans both honesty and hope.
Backstage at Warped Tour in Columbia, MD, I had the chance to chat with Dan Lambton, Real Friends’ lead vocalist, and Kyle Fasel, their bassist. We talked about Composure, the band’s music videos, Halloween costumes, and more. For some photos of the band’s high-energy set, scroll to the bottom of the interview.
TYF: You guys have been on Warped Tour for a little while now. What would you say that some of your best memories have been so far?
Lambton: Hometown show, definitely. We grew up around Chicago, so going to the Tinley Park date of Warped Tour. We’re all from the South Side and the Tinley Park area, so that was awesome. We had a bunch of family, friends out there just hanging out. Another really good one that comes to mind is San Antonio. San Antonio was a really good time. (To Fasel) Anything else you can think of?
Fasel: Dan mentioned San Antonio, which is actually a date that has stuck out to me on the whole tour ‘cause I think we weren’t expecting it. We were the last band, or at least one of the last bands, of the day, and it was pretty exciting to see everybody stick around. You think, “Oh, we’re playing last, and it’s kinda rainy; I think people are gonna leave,” but everyone was there. Someone dressed up as a dinosaur and all this crazy stuff. It was exactly what we wanted a Real Friends show to be.
TYF: Amazing. Are there certain bands that you guys tend to hang out with when you’re on tour?
Lambton: I’ve been hanging out a lot with Knuckle Puck and Mayday Parade and a bunch of people here. We met a decent amount of people playing this game called Werewolf that’s about social deception and manipulation.
TYF: Is that the game that’s kind of like Mafia, but extreme Mafia?
TYF: I’ve played that before. It’s so much fun.
Lambton: It’s awesome. There’s a whole hodgepodge, motley crew, of people on tour we all hang out with. There’s a little of everybody there.
TYF: That’s great. You guys have been on Warped Tour before; how would you say that this year’s Warped Tour is different from the Warped Tours of the past?
Fasel: Attendance-wise, I’ve seen a lot of older people, which is cool. I feel like with it being the last Warped Tour, people are like, “All right, I haven’t been in a while, but I’m gonna go.” And it’s cool. The other day, there was someone who was probably even older than us who was like, “I haven’t heard of you guys, but you’re awesome; I love it,” and it’s just cool to see that there’s still people out there who are older who want to discover new music. That’s been really exciting to see. I’d say that’s the biggest thing. Also, the attendance in general has just been great since it’s the last one. It’s really pushed not only older people, but also younger people and everyone in between to be like, “All right, I gotta go, no matter what.”
TYF: Did you guys ever go to Warped Tour as fans when you were younger?
Lambton: Yeah. I’ve been going since 2006, when I was about 15. The only year I missed was last year. I definitely grew up going to Warped Tour, looking forward to it every year, and I’ve gotten to see almost all of my favorite bands on Warped Tour.
TYF: That’s awesome. (To Fasel) Did you?
Fasel: Yeah. I think my first Warped Tour was 2004, I wanna say. I wouldn’t go every year, but it seems like every couple of years, I would go, if there were bands I wanted to see. It’s pretty amazing to be on the other side of it and play with some bands that we grew up loving. It’s awesome.
TYF: You guys recently released your album Composure. What was the inspiration behind the album cover?
Lambton: The album cover was taken from the second song on the record, called “Stand Steady.” The chorus says, “Watch me try to stand steady/Like a bird in a hurricane.” We took that imagery and put it on the album cover to symbolize certain outside stressors—how they affect us, how other people perceive them affecting us, and how we inwardly perceive that.
TYF: Awesome. And you guys just released a video for your song “From the Outside.” How did you guys come up with that idea, and what was it like filming it?
Lambton: That was more of a collaboration with the director, Caleb Mallory. He came up with the general idea based on the overall concept of the song. It was really cool to see a different interpretation of it. The filming of it was honestly pretty cool. It was the first time we did everything separately. We didn’t have any takes where we were recorded as a full band. And everything was color-coordinated, with different things happening with each assigned color and each assigned band member with the color. I think it was a lot more vibrant than the music videos we were used to in the past, and it was a lot of fun to do.
TYF: Yeah, it looked like it. My personal favorite music video from you guys is “Mess. In that one, you guys have a massive Halloween party going on. How did you come up with the idea to focus on Halloween?
Lambton: I’m not really sure. We were all talking about it on the phone, and then somebody had mentioned possibly doing a Halloween-type thing. We wanted it to be an ’80s/’90s style thing, and we gave that to the director, Kyle Thrash, who we had worked with for a while at that point. He took it, ran with it, made it awesome. We had two different days filming that around Philadelphia, and we had 150, 200 extras who were fans of the band come out, and it was a lot of fun. It was hectic in a good way. There was a lot going on.
Fasel: It felt like we were on the set of a movie, actually. There were multiple locations… It was wild. Definitely our biggest music video shoot to date, still. It was wild, but definitely an awesome time.
TYF: Yeah, it definitely has that ’80s/’90s coming-of-age film vibe. What are the best Halloween costumes you guys have ever had?
Lambton: I was Elvis once. I had sideburns glued on. I was, like, 7 years old. That was probably my best one.
Fasel: I’m trying to think. The only thing that comes to mind is when I was in 2ndor 3rdgrade, or maybe even younger, I was the blue M&M, and I had these big, obnoxious gloves that you can’t even do anything in.
TYF: Let’s say that you guys had the chance to make a music video for any song you haven’t made a video for yet. You have unlimited resources, and nothing is out of bounds. What would you do?
Lambton: One song I did have an idea for was “Ripcord.” Have you ever seen the movie Hot Rodwith Andy Samberg?
TYF: I have not.
Lambton: Well, it’s kind of an Evil Knievel thing where he wants to be a stuntman and he’s riding a motorcycle over ramps that are separated by 100 buses or something. [I’d like to do a] silly, lighthearted thing like that, based around Hot Rod.
Fasel: Well, if the budget was unlimited, Andy Samberg would be in it.
Lambton: That’s true. I love Andy Samberg.
TYF: Now we’ll have a few more lighthearted questions. Going off of that last one, what are your favorite movies?
Lambton: I really like Step Brothers.I also really enjoyed the last Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. It’s really good.
Fasel: I’d say Back to the Future. Old School. Superbad.
TYF: You said “Back to the Future,” so if you guys could time travel to any eras, where would you go and what would you do there?
Fasel: I think the ’80s would be cool. Growing up, I always liked ’80s TV shows and stuff. So going back [would be fun]… ‘Cause I was born in ’88, but my earliest memories are, like, mid-’90s.
Lambton: I’d say late ’60s, early ’70s. The Beatles era. A lot of weird shit happened then all the time, I feel like. I’d like to experience some of that.
TYF: If you guys could cover any song from the ’80s, what would it be?
Lambton: Probably “Plainsong” by The Cure. (To Fasel)What about you?
Fasel: What is the song called? …“We Built This City on Rock and Roll.” Starship.
TYF: A classic. How about a ’60s song?
Lambton: Probably gonna have to go with something Beatles. I’m trying to think… There’s just so many. Probably “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” I think that’s the name of the song. I’m gonna go with that.
TYF: Nice. And you recently volunteered at the Humane Society. Would you say that animals are a big part of your life? Do you have pets at home?
Lambton: Kyle actually adopted one within the last year.
Fasel: Yeah. Just over a year ago, I adopted a dog from a local rescue. She’s a 4- or 5-year-old Chihuahua rat terrier, and she’s the best dog. Dogs are definitely important to us as a band. We have a lot of merchandise with dogs on it, and people like it… We have this weird connection with dogs, it seems. But I don’t mind it.
TYF: If you guys were dogs, then what types of dogs would you be?
Lambton: There’s something about Corgis. They always seem really silly and really happy.
TYF: I get that vibe.
Fasel: I feel like if I were a dog, I would be a really big one. Like, what’s the Beethoven dog? A mastiff type dog that just sits around. Any big dog that just sits in a big window and is nosy—that is me.
TYF: Were you guys ever into Pokémon when you were younger?
Lambton: Oh, yeah, huge. And I played the last iteration, Sun and Moon.
TYF: Nice. If you guys were to have Pokémon companions who could constantly follow you around, kind of like a pet, which Pokémon would it be, and why?
Lambton: I like Vulpix. Vulpix is probably my favorite one. I don’t really know what we’d do. I’d probably have it burn shit or maybe cook for me.
Fasel: I used to have Pokémon cards, but that was a very long time ago, and I don’t really remember it that well. So I won’t answer the question, but I will say that the school I went to banned Pokémon cards when they were really popular.
TYF: How come? Was it just causing too much chaos among the school community?
Fasel: I don’t know. People would bring them in in these big binders and trade them… It was too much. So they banned them.
TYF: Wow, that’s wild. What franchise were you really into when you were young?
Fasel: I’ve always been a really big pro wrestling fan. And still now, I’m a huge wrestling fan. I feel like that’s always been my “thing.”
TYF: That’s cool. If you were to go out to dinner with any pro wrestler, which wrestler would you choose?
Fasel: John Cena, I think, would be pretty cool. He seems like a pretty cool dude.
TYF: Seems like a chill guy. Finally, since you guys are called Real Friends, how do you determine whether someone is a real friend or not?
Lambton: I guess if they stick around.
Fasel: If they know my birthday without looking at Facebook.