Never afraid of being themselves, the Tinley Park, Illinois-based quartet Real Friends have become a rising name that has been constantly brought up in conversations regarding the current pop punk scene today. Fueled by a heartfelt and honest personality and a complementary melodic-based sound that cites influence from nostalgic acts like The Starting Line, Jimmy Eat World and Brand New, Real Friends’ youthful spirit has helped them gain an outstanding fanbase within recent years, which continues to grow in larger numbers. Whether you love them or whether you hate them, Real Friends is a band that continues to move forward in this world by not only growing as musicians, but also as people.

Right before they embarked on their North American tour this fall with Neck Deep, Cruel Hand and Have Mercy, I spoke with bassist and songwriter Kyle Fasel about the interesting dynamic that is conveyed through the diversity of this eccentric tour lineup, the reception of their debut full-length, Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing, and their plans for the new year ahead.

Next week, you will begin your upcoming U.S. tour. How does it feel to start it off by playing a sold-out show close to home in Chicago?

It’s really, really cool. Bottom Lounge is where the show’s at and it’s going to be sweet because most of us went to shows there growing up and everything. We did play there one time with Senses Fail about a year and a half ago and that show was cool, so I’m looking forward to playing there. It’s a really cool room and it’s always cool to start off our tours in our hometown area as well.

What else will you be looking forward to the most about this tour?

The rest of the tour should be cool. I’m definitely looking forward to like, pretty much all of the dates. I know we’re playing two nights at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, which will be really cool; really looking forward to that. We’re playing the TLA in Philly, which is a really cool place; we played there at the Man Overboard Holiday Show last year. There’s definitely a lot of cool dates and it’s always a good time to do a headliner because you kind of not have to worry so much about, you know, rolling over your set time or whatever, you know, it’s kind of more free. I’m looking forward to that and playing new material too.

For these shows, you will be brining along Neck Deep, Cruel Hand and Have Mercy, three unique bands that are completely different from one another. Now, what is your relationship with these bands and what kind of dynamic do you think the diversity of this lineup will bring to the tour?

Well, Neck Deep is obviously another pop punk band, I guess within “our realm” a little bit. We did some dates with them in the UK; we were both supporting The Wonder Years last winter, so that’s we met them. And then we hung out with them at Warped Tour and we really wanted to bring them out. We thought it would be a really good fit. You know, it’s still something similar to us and also complements us as well.

And then, Cruel Hand kind of came up just in the mix; we kind of said that we wanted to have a “heavier” band that kind of off-set the dynamic of the tour. We approached them and they said they would be interested in the tour and we offered it to them. I think it’s really cool to open kids’ minds a little bit to different music, you know? Even maybe if they aren’t into the bands and even after they see them if they’re not into them, it’s cool for them to at least have a chance with new music.

Have Mercy was a band that I just personally really liked. Their album they put out [The Earth Pushed Back], I was just listening to this band a lot and I was like, “We should really put this band on the tour” to kind of have a good, more emo dynamic to the tour as well.

So, I think it’s cool because you got your pop punk, you got your hardcore, you got a little bit of emo in the mix, so think it’s a really good dynamic when it comes to the whole package.

For sure, I totally agree, especially because of the fact that a lot of people like all of these genres. It will be the best both worlds for everyone either way.

Yeah, definitely. You know what, the thing about it is, I don’t really think that there’s many people out there who pigeonhole themselves to one style of music. I think that there are kids out there that do like all of the styles, but maybe it’s like what I said too, there are maybe kids who aren’t into the other bands, but it could open their minds to giving them a shot or even another shot if they haven’t before.

I remember growing up, there were so many bands that I would listen to write-off right away and then a couple of years later, I would feel like I go back to them and say, “I love this band.” Your taste changes over the years, especially our age demographic of fans. I feel like their taste is always changing and kind of evolving.

You released Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing back in July. Considering that this was your first full-length, what has been the overall reception of the record so far since the summer?

Yeah, I mean, the record came out while we were on Warped Tour. We really wanted it to come out right before we were on Warped Tour so we can support the newer songs on the tour, but it didn’t really work out that way. Which is fine because now, it really gives us a chance to highlight the new songs and everything when we play live.

But after we released the record, we had a really positive response from it. You know, I was unsure how kids were going to react to it because I mean, it was similar to the older stuff, but there was sort of a progression. We definitely incorporated a lot more like, “emo” aspects and sometimes more “aggressive” aspects and sometimes “slower” aspects. So we definitely experimented around a lot, so I was a lot more nervous on what kids were going to think of it, but we’ve gotten a great response from it.

We actually started playing some of the newer material for the very first time. A couple weeks ago, we did a little weekend run and played a lot of new songs for the first time and the reactions to the new songs were just as good, if not better when we play the songs that everyone knows.

It’s really cool to see that kids are still connecting to the new stuff just like they did with the old stuff.

With that being said, since this will be your first tour since releasing the record, what will it mean to you to finally play a lot of these songs live as a headlining act?

Well, it’s definitely a really good feeling. There’s been a lot of bands that I listen to and a lot of other bands that I know where they put out a new record and it sometimes takes a while to really dig it into kids’ playlist or even in their minds with memorizing the songs, because, as you know, there are so many bands out there, you know. Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. And to hear kids say that they want to hear the new songs live is really rewarding.

Something I’ve noticed about the new record as opposed to when we released our past material was, I feel like it took a little longer to really get our new songs in their head like two years ago, or a year ago even. But now it’s really cool to see that connection happen so early. Like when kids would say, “Oh, I bought your record and I just can’t stop listening to it,” that’s such a rewarding feeling. And to see that translate in a live setting is going to be really cool, and I am definitely looking forward to playing the new songs for everyone.

Because of the fact that there has been a lot of time since then to let your fans connect with Maybe This Place Is The Same, what are some expectations that you have moving forward now that you have this debut full-length under your belt?

It’s kind of hard to say. I mean, at this point, this band has exceeded my expectations, like ever. We’ve done so many cool things as a band that I don’t think a lot of people will ever get to do in their lives and to me that’s rewarding. And if we stay here, or even if we go down, you know … even if the band starts to become not as popular, or whatever it might be, I guess it’s hard to say exactly where we will be, but I hope if we can grow even more, and that’s a good thing, too.

I think the new record has really gotten us forward in terms of I really don’t see us going downhill at all anytime soon. But hopefully we will be able to move further even more. I know we want to do our best with exposing ourselves to even more fans and to different kinds of people I guess who wouldn’t normally listen to a band like us, you know?

I know we got some things in the works for next year and everything. Like, kind of do some diverse things and step outside of the box a little bit. One thing that we’ve always been proud of is not really putting ourselves on an outline or in a box where we’re like, “Oh, we have to do it ‘this way,’ just because that’s the way you do it,” or whatever.

Music is an art and everything around it is an art as well. There’s no right or wrong answer, so we’re always open to doing different things. So yeah, it’s kind of I guess a time-will-tell kind of thing.

Real Friends will be playing at the Theatre Of Living Arts in Philadelphia on Nov. 21, the Marlin Room at Webster Hall in Manhattan on Nov. 22 and at GameChangerWorld in Freehold on Nov. 24. Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing is available now on Fearless Records. For more information, go to realfriendsband.com.

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