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Real Friends on playing the role of their idols

We don't shy away from the little details. Whether we're feeling joy, or pain, or frustration – it all goes into the music.”

They call it “realist pop-punk” – a hybrid genre that originally got its kicks on misunderstood youth, teenage rebellion and skating your girl troubles away before branching off into a new generation of bands throughout the 2010s.

While a lot of the stylistic mannerisms remained somewhat similar, these bands took a more emotive and strikingly-honest lyrical approach, contemplating life outside of their small towns and the ever-present loneliness of 21st-century living. If they were to take a look at some of the more important names associated with this wave, Real Friends would find themselves toward the top of the list. Hailing from Tinley Park, some 30 minutes south-east of Chicago, the quintet have struck a chord with listeners approaching the genre in hopes of something empathetic and direct.

“We're not afraid to put ourselves out there,” says Dan Lambton, the band's lead vocalist, when queried on what it is about bands like Real Friends that leave such an indelible mark. “We don't shy away from the little details. Whether we're feeling joy, or pain, or frustration – it all goes into the music. We're able to articulate what it is that we're going through, and I think that's why it speaks to people.”

Conversation turns to the connection Real Friends have established with their fans since their 2010 formation, and Lambton is incredibly humble when he speaks about the kindness shown to him and his bandmates when it comes to correspondence from listeners.

“It's a very surreal thing for us,” he says. “Growing up, we had a lot of bands that we connected with – The Starting Line, Motion City Soundtrack and blink-182, to name a few. The fact that we are that band for people that age now honestly makes this whole thing so rewarding. I can be as specific as I want about a certain subject, and yet the music is malleable enough to accommodate for other people's own views and to be reflective of their own experiences. That doesn't take anything away from what I went through to write that song – whatever it comes to mean to them, that's fucking awesome.”

Real Friends release their third studio album, entitled Composure, is a record that further carves the band's niche of dynamic choruses and high-energy soundscapes, matched with autobiographical and straight-shooting lyricism. Lambton notes that a lot of Composure's lyric writing, shared with bassist Kyle Fasel, came from a low point in his own mental health – and, by proxy, his efforts to get out of that. “When we were in the studio, I was in the middle of a manic episode,” Lambton says bluntly. The sentence cuts directly to the point, almost to the point of being taken aback entirely.

“I was off the walls, extremely hyperactive. I was a lot to be around. What that also meant, however, was that I had a lot of creative energy to go around. Some of the lyrics were written as a product of that," he explains. "We already had an idea of where the record was headed conceptually, but writing that back-half of the record really brought it all home.” Lambton is also quick to note the team effort that came with putting these songs together – after all, the band has held the same lineup for almost its entire lifespan, and they unquestionably perceive themselves to be the sum of all their working parts.

“What was different about this record's writing as opposed to the last one [2016's The Home Inside My Head] was that we were throwing to each other for guidance a lot more,” Lambton explains. “When it came to putting together the vocal melodies, Kyle and I would have Dave [Knox, guitarist] in the room with us, as well as Mike [Green, producer/engineer]. If we were looking at the lyrics at the same time, they'd guide us on where to paraphrase, where to cut lines and where to adhere to a particular meter. It gave the songs such a bigger impact by having that input. I think that's why this record feels a lot more immediate and a lot more in-the-moment.”

Real Friends will release Composure on Friday July 13 via via Fearless Records/Caroline Australia.