Your track-by-track guide to Real Friends' new album

Real Friends
Real Friends (Kyle Fasel, left)

American pop punk quintet Real Friends formed in Tinley Park, Illinois in 2010. To date, they’ve released six EPs and two studio albums. Their latest album, The Home Inside My Head, is out now on Fearless Records.

To mark its release, TeamRock sat down with the band’s bassist and chief songwriter, Kyle Fasel, to get the lowdown on the album.

“We started writing the record in 2014, so we spent a really long time writing it,” Fasel explains. “There were times when we’d write for a while, then we wouldn’t, and then we’d go back in the studio and write some more. And I think we needed that time to find our sound, and to define and refine it more. It’s kind of like when you date someone; you can’t really know everything about them after only a year. It’s the same thing with a band; you discover new things and people change and evolve over time…”

Here, then, is Kyle’s guide to The Home Inside My Head.

“This was kind of an obvious album opener for us after we heard the recordings back for the first time. It’s straight to the point and really driving. We kind of dissected the song a lot too, so there were a lot of variations of it, which I think can be really healthy for a song. I wrote most of our previous songs myself, but with this album we had Dan [Lambton, vocals] in there to incorporate his lyrics as well. He ended up writing lyrics for four of the twelve songs on this album, and this song was one of them. I think he did a really good job too; it’s very cinematic and it really paints a picture.”

Empty Picture Frames is a song that really defines the album. The album name is in this song actually - it’s where we got the idea. Lyrically, it’s about feeling at home in your own head, and being isolated but having that feel OK. I think that’s something we all deal with, and I still deal with that to this day. So this song is about that, and it also touches on the struggles of opening up, which I’ve always struggled with and I think that everyone deals with at one time or another. This is also one of the songs that Mike Green wrote with us and it’s got a bit of a poppy feel in my opinion, but I think that it complements the other songs well.”

“I remember right off the bat after writing this song feeling really stoked with the energy of it. We kind of felt like, musically at least, it reminded us of an older Fall Out Boy vibe, and we’re really big fans of their old stuff. Lyrically, the song’s about being with someone just to have them there, and not really having any feelings for them, and coming to the realisation that you need time alone to be a stronger person.”

“This is a song that’s really personal to me. It’s actually about my mom, who without being too detailed is in an unhealthy relationship in my opinion, and I don’t really agree with it. I feel like she can do better than the person that she’s with, and it’s kind of about looking at that from the outside and seeing someone that you love make a bad choice, but there’s really nothing that you can do about it because at the end of the day it’s their life. So it’s really about seeing somebody that you love in a position that you can’t really change, and I think that’s very relatable.”

“Mokena is a town two towns over from us, and it actually has nothing to do with the song. It was just a working title that stuck. It’s a bit more of a ballad on the record, which I think is cool, and it really fits what I listen to – like that more angsty, slower stuff. I’m really happy with how this song turned out.”

“We actually didn’t want to put this song on the record, but it ended up being a single and also a lot of people’s favourite song. It was dissected to the point where we felt like it almost lost its identity, and we weren’t super stoked on it, but we just disconnected ourselves from that and put it on the record anyway, and I’m glad that we did because it’s a perfect middle of the record track for me.”

“Dan wrote the lyrics to this song and it’s sort of a different sound for us in a way. It’s got kind of a nice jump to it and a different rhythm, and we dug a little deeper with the textures. I really like the end of the song as well; it’s got a very cinematic sound to it and there’s a nice bass line underneath the guitars. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album because it was a breath of fresh air for us to try new things.”

“This song has a really cool guitar riff at the beginning which we were really stoked on, and the lyrics are really just about over-thinking things too much. It’s funny because I never really want kids but I still have this paternal instinct where I want everyone around me to be happy. Even when we’re on tour, if there’s someone having an off day in the band, I just want to fix it. But I’ve learnt in life that you can’t really do that; you can’t always be the problem solver. Sometimes you’ve got to realise that you can’t make everyone happy, and that’s OK.”

“This song is about one of my really good friends. He and I lived together in my mum’s basement for a short amount of time when I was about 21, hence the song title Basement Stairs. It’s about realising that I’m getting older and missing that youthful friendship, because it’s not really the same once you get to your late twenties. This is an anthem to missing those younger, simpler times.”

“I think this song is really cool. It’s about having someone that you care about who’s a good person and has good intentions, but you keep letting them down because you’re scared to open your heart and let them in. That’s something that I’ve dealt with a lot in the past, and I’m really happy with the way this one came out.”

“This was another song that Dan wrote, so I can’t really comment too much on the lyrical content, but it was one of the last songs that we wrote. Some of the vocal melodies were actually from a song that we ended up throwing away, and that’s one of the cool parts about writing music for me. This song also sounds really good acoustic, when it’s stripped down to its bare bones.”

“This song just felt like a really good song to close the record, and it was one of the three songs that we wrote with Mike Green. I think it’s a little different for us, and it has sort of a different energy, but it was the first thing that we released from the record and people seemed to really like it. I think it has a really relatable vibe as well, and it touches on that reoccurring theme of having trouble opening up to people. And that’s the greatest thing about music; you’re able to take so many negatives and write about them, and over time they turn into positives because they can help people. Music is always there to remind the writer and the listener how to move forward.”

Listen to The Home Inside My Head in full on Spotify.

For more information on Real Friends, visit their Facebook page.

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.