Dan Lambton talks to Inked about the band's newest album, Composure; touring; and tattoos.

The pop punk band from Illinois, Real Friends, has released six EPs, three studio albums, and have toured to Japan. Currently signed to Fearless Records, Real Friends released their third studio album, Composure.

Real Friends include the very real friends: Brian Blake on drums, Dave Knox on lead guitar, Eric Haines on rhythm guitar, Kyle Fasel on bass, and Dan Lambton as lead vocalist. 

Composure was produced by Mike Green, who has produced for bands like All Time low and Paramore.

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Composure showcases the band’s progression from a pop-punk band to full-fledged pop-rock juggernaut, touching on topics such as mental health, being accepted, and above all, learning to love yourself.

“We have never put this much time and effort into a record,” said bassist, Kyle Fasel.

Composure is everything we’ve always come up short on. We focused more on melodies than ever before. We focused more on the overall emotional climate of each song than ever before. I truly think that every song on the record stands on its own. But when all the songs come together it creates our best effort to date.”

Vocalist Dan Lambton sits with INKED, to talk how a group of real friends became the band, Real Friends.

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“In 5th grade I started playing the saxophone. I had older cousins that were band directors, so they were able to throw me a saxophone, and a couple years later when I was in junior high I started playing bass,” Lambton said. “I was getting into bands like Blink 182 and Green Day and Rancid, and played in bands in high school. From there I met our guitar player, Dave, and we were playing local shows with his old band [The Show and Tell]. Then we started Real Friends.”

What was the turning point for you, that you knew you wanted to make music as your career?

“I didn’t necessarily want to pursue music when I was younger. I went to community college for two years, most of my electives were in English to teach, or psychology to do therapy work. For me music was always for fun, but then it ended up working,” Lambton said.

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“I heard from Kyle, our bass player, about making Real Friends work was the same day I applied to Illinois State University. With Real Friends, I felt this is kind of our last shot at trying to make a band work, because I put off going to university for the band,” Lambton explained.

“I remember on our first tour we had a house show at the end of it that was just off the walls crazy. We thought, ‘Yo let’s set a goal, by next spring be able to quit our jobs and tour full time.’ We decided that in 2012, and by 2013 we were touring full time.”

How did you decide on the band name?

“Kyle had decided it. He had played in a band that was more so one dude’s band that had wrote all the music and he had hired guns playing, you didn’t really know any of them,” Lambton said. “Where as with us, we knew each other prior, and had hung out and had time together to get to know each other.

How would you describe the evolution of Real Friends?

“When we started we didn’t really know what to aim for. It was more pop-rock to an extent, and then we wanted to change things up and make it a little more faster a little more aggressive. Since, it has been a slow progression but I feel like we brought back a little bit more of a pop-ier edge to the music to an extent, while making it a little more aggressive with the new record, if that makes sense.”

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Composure really captures loving yourself. How did that project start?

“We did a couple songs on our last record with producer, Mike Green, where we did three songs with him. We really liked the vibe there so we wanted to do the next full record with him. Last August we went in for two weeks to get a head start, just doing some co-writing and recording, and then in January we went in to finish the record with plenty of time to sit in the studio and refine everything,” Lambton said.

“In the past, we would toil over the demos non-stop and whatever we brought into the studio was the finished product, where as this time we had a bunch of instrumentals to play with and to have Mike’s opinion to mold it into what it eventually became.”

Do you have a favorite Real Friends song, on or off Composure?

“Yeah my favorite would be the last song on the album, “Take A Hint.””

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How would you like to leave the music industry better than you found it?

“We are a little more outspoken as far as mental health concerns go, and I feel like a lot of people are becoming more accepting on that front. I think we want to be able to encourage open communication and be able to help on that front.”

Are most of your tattoos music-related?

“My first tattoo was a City and Colour tattoo for the album Sometimes. I was 19 when I got that, in Illinois. Some tattoos are music related, I have some for video games that I like, but there’s a decent amount. I have a lot of birds on this arm and a mixed bag on my legs, but a good amount is music-related.”

Future tattoo plans?

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“Honestly the well is kind of dry when it comes to that. Over the past two or three years I’ve mostly got stuff done while we were travelling. Two of my friends, Gianna in Philly and Dylan in California are the people I have been going to for the most part over the past couple of years,” Lambton said. “There's a guy in Baltimore, Brett Burnham, that I want to get tattooed by, but I feel like anytime I try to set that up we are there on a day we aren’t tattooing, or a day he is booked up.”

Do you have a favorite band to tour with?

“We toured with the Wonder Years a couple times and they really go above-and-beyond and out of their way to make sure everybody on tour is having a good time. They plan a lot of really cool off-day activities and try to include everyone in on that. Just generally fun dudes, always looking to hang out.”

Dream tour destination?

“South East Asia would be cool, we haven’t been there yet. South America too, we are actually going there in February, so that will be cool. I’d also really like to go back to Japan at some point.”

Do you think traveling is the best part of what you do?

“Yeah, it definitely opens us up to a lot of perspectives and cultures. One thing I noticed… not saying that people who don’t travel are close-minded… but I feel like those that don’t, don’t really leave their town much, and have a tiny ecosystem that they experience and everything out of there is just stupid or pointless and they don’t see the world. It’s not much beyond their backyard.”

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How do you think you’ve grown with Real Friends?

“I think I’ve gotten a lot of fulfillment out of it. Definitely crossed off a lot of places I’ve wanted to go to, experiences I've wanted to have. Got to play with and meet some of our favorite bands; whether it be on festivals or traditional tours.”

What will you be doing post tour?

“Just going to be chilling at home. I’m a simple guy. I’m moving soon and there will be a dog at the apartment named Tucker, a really nice Australian Shepherd.”