On the opening night of their headlining tour with support from Candy Hearts, Stickup Kid and Modern Baseball in Howell, MI, Kyle Fasel, bassist of Chicago, IL pop-punk quintet Real Friends, spoke with Mind Equals Blown about their first stint on Warped Tour and the band’s new EP, addressed lyrical criticisms, and looked at their future as one of the genre’s most promising acts.
MEB: Tonight’s the first stop of the tour with Candy Hearts, Stickup Kid and later to be joined by Modern Baseball. Is this your first headlining tour that you’ve done?
Kyle Fasel: Technically we did a headlining tour last December with a band called Light Years, but this is definitely a little more known. That was just with them, but yeah, I would say so. I know that all of the areas we’re playing we’ve hit before and we’ve always done pretty decent in most of the areas. The east coast especially – our music’s pretty prominent out there. Florida as well, all of our bands do really well down there, so we’re really looking forward to those two areas. But everything in between should be really good as well.
You also just got back from Warped a few days ago. Was this your first Warped Tour as well?
Yep, this was our first Warped Tour as a band, and it was really cool. It was definitely a lot harder – you have to wake up at seven in the morning, etc. With us, we were in a van. I know a lot of bands do it in a bus or a bandwagon, which is a smaller tour bus, but we only had the five of us and our merch guy, so we didn’t really have any crew of people to help us do stuff. It was still kind of cool in a way, as it toughened our band’s skin and made us kind of realize that there was more than just playing on stage, that there’s so much more that goes into this band, and Warped Tour really brings that out of us. Even though it was hard, at the end it was still kind of nice. It’s kind of like when you work out, it sucks, but you feel that burn afterwards. But still, it was a really good experience for us. We got to play in front of a lot of different kids and stuff, so it was good.
What were some of the highlights of that two-week stint that you did?
Just sitting at the merch table throughout the day and having them [fans] come up to me, seem so genuine and tell me that our music helped them. It was kind of cool, because you were in a more personal area. We had our tent and everything and kids would come and hang out for a little bit and really kind of connect, so that was cool. Playing in front of the kids was really cool too – I feel like there were a lot of people there that were like, “Oh, I’ve never heard of you guys, but I really liked it,” and that’s awesome. With the internet and things, I feel like it’s really hard to just find out about a band just out of nowhere. I mean, I’m 24, so when I was younger, I found out about bands just by going to shows. Nowadays, everyone knows these bands because they looked them up on Facebook or something. But it was kind of cool. The heat kind of sucked, but it was good. I’m definitely happy to be playing a club tour after this.
What was the top memory that you took out of the whole Warped experience?
Ron Jeremy was there.
[Laughs] Yeah, I remember seeing that!
Yeah, that was pretty cool. He actually wanted to buy one of our shirts, and he had no idea who we were. I don’t know, he was kind of drugged out, I think. But yeah, that was cool. Honestly, that was funny and everything, but honestly, just hanging out with all of the bands. We got to hang out with The Wonder Years a lot more, which we’ve hung out with them before and it was cool, but to hang out with them more was great, seeing we’re doing a UK run with them. But yeah, just hanging out with everybody was just really fun. It was super laid-back, the BBQs were a lot of fun. It was a lot of hard work, but still fun.
That actually leads into my next question really well. What were some of your favorite bands to watch?
The Wonder Years, like I said, were really good. The Early November, which was awesome, because I loved that band growing up and they’re kind of back now, so it was really cool to see them. Motion City Soundtrack was really cool. The Chariot was awesome – they’re such a good live band, so energetic and crazy.
Now, if you got offered to do Warped Tour again, is there anything you’d change or do differently that you really didn’t know this time around?
I’d probably bring an extra person or two. We had just our merch guy, so when you’re at Warped Tour, you’re like “merch is here on one side, your stage is on the other side.” It’s just so spread that you almost need the extra hands sometimes. Hopefully we can afford to do it in a bus next year, because it was kind of brutal to do it in a van. There isn’t too much I’d change though – overall we had a pretty good experience.
Last month you put out your EP Put Yourself Back Together. First of all, it’s great, I wanted to tell you that.
Thank you very much.
How’ve you been with the reception to it?
It’s been good! Especially on Warped Tour, it was very cool to see kids having fun with the newer songs in our set. They’re singing along, they’re getting into it. For us, it was kind of nerve-wracking, coming out with a new EP. With our last EP, it kind of helped us get the response that we’ve gotten so far over the past year, so hopefully it will be equal to that or more so even. Some kids might think it’s worse, but hopefully not everyone will think it’s worse. But overall, I think it’s been pretty good. We definitely had a lot of people buying the CD at Warped Tour, [and] we’ve got the vinyl now. I mean, just today we’ve sold a ton of vinyl. We didn’t have vinyl on Warped because it was so hot and it’d melt.
When you go into writing material, what is your process like? Do you structure your songs, or do you just kind of go with the flow?
I write constantly. Our EP was written over the course of a year and a half. I mainly just write on my phone on note pad, and sometimes I will seriously just write one word, and then come back, write a sentence, come back, write a verse on it. It’s just a constant build for me. A lot of it though just comes from me being alone on the road; driving around is where I actually write most of my lyrics. It’s where I’m kind of in my own zone, looking at my phone, writing off it. I think I write the best like that. I try to usually have a good three or four songs written, and then when we get back, I’ll try and fit it. If the song’s music is a little bit more edgy, then I’ll try to pick a more edgy song to use it for.
Now, recently you posted that blog post about using the lyric “sleepy eyes and boney knees” in a few of your songs. Do you want to give the condensed version of what that blog talked about?
I posted that blog because there were people giving us negative feedback related to “sleepy eyes and bony knees” multiple times on the new record. I thought it was kind of bullshit, because we try our best to be the most honest, real band that we can be. Some people were saying “it’s a gimmick,” but honestly, if I were to use a gimmick, I’d pick something much better than “sleepy eyes and bony knees.” I’m almost 25 years old – if I want to choose a gimmick, I’m going to choose something that’ll help me move out of my mom’s house. Usually I don’t really care or take negativity to our band very much. Usually I just write it off. Everyone’s going to say negative things, and everyone’s going to say positive things, so over the past few months or so, I’ve tried to not look at the internet in aspects of both ways – I don’t want any positive stuff to go to my head, and you don’t want to trip over the negative stuff either, because I think a lot of people tend to get caught up in that. I’m on tour, I’m having a good time, I’m happy with what I’m doing – but I thought there was a lot of negativity around the “sleepy eyes and bony knees” and people saying it was a gimmick was what bothered me because those lyrics mean a lot to me, which is what set up the blog.
I gave a brief description… “sleepy eyes” refers to when you have so much going on in your head and you can’t sleep at night. And I’ve been there many times – like, I’ll be the first to say that a lot of our songs are sad songs and that’s what they deal with, which is what I chose to write about, you know, and when I put my feelings into a song, it’s what makes me feel better; that’s what comes first. That kids connect with it comes second. “Bony knees” physically refers to the fact that I really do have bony knees, which people brought up to me in the past, so I just worked it into a song. When I first put it into the song, it didn’t mean much, but then afterwards, it kind of referred to really getting off your knees. Like in our song “Floorboards,” it says “I pick myself up off my bony knees,” [and] it reminded me of progress, so I put it in the songs. If you don’t like a band because of two references to things, then go ahead and unlike us on Facebook, unfollow us on Twitter, throw away our CDs, I don’t care. Even then, for every negative comment, there were 100 positive ones.
Oh yeah, absolutely.
But yeah, I just felt that it was necessary. And besides the negativity, for me, I really like to know what things are about, because a lot of my favorite songs I had no idea what they were about – most of my favorite songs I had no idea what they were about. So I think it’s always important to get really in depth with those things, which I tried to do with the blog. Especially now, we’re on a headlining tour, which gives us the opportunity to get more time to explain the meaning of the songs, which is always cool.
That being said, do you think you’ll use it in any of your future material?
I don’t know yet. I probably have another good four or five songs written for our next release, none of which have them in it. I think it’s time to grow past it, not to mention a lot of those lyrics are about a relationship that’s kind of more so in my past. I’m sure they’ll pop up somewhere, but probably not as prominently as in the last EP, because the EP dealt with a relationship that I was in for about five years, all of which I’m kind of passed on from now. But my relationship doesn’t affect my writing so much anymore.
A lot of your promotion for your band stems from the use of social media and networking, like through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, what have you. Did you go in when you started this band with the notion that you’d promote yourselves heavily through these sites, or was it just you guys posting random stuff and it eventually caught on?
The thing about a band is that it’s meaningful and it’s an art, but more realistically, it’s a business too. When we started the band, we’d talk about music, our direction, etc., and we’d always talk about the business end of it too. We’ve always discussed marketing ideas through Facebook and stuff because, hey, it’s 2013 – that’s what everyone’s on. If you go inside the show right now, there’s probably multiple kids right now looking at their phone, and it’s so easy to grasp kids like that. The days of AP [Alternative Press] Magazine being your #1 promotional tool are over. Social media is definitely something that’s helped us a lot, and I think it’s definitely something that we think out and plan ahead for things. For example, we released a few songs before we released an EP through little promotional things, which was really important, and utilizing those tools really helped us along.
As a band that’s gained a lot of momentum all at once, has it been overwhelming at all, or have you guys just taken it all in stride?
It’s hard for me to say what kind of success/attention we’ve had because I’m on the outside of it. There are times where I feel overwhelmed in a good way, like when people have emailed me and told me that our lyrics helped them. I’ve sat in front of my computer and cried at emails like that because of happiness. I don’t think I’ll ever see it through the eyes of how a fan sees it, but I think the best way to say it is that we’re very fortunate and grateful for it. We keep growing and it’s so awesome to see, but we don’t let it get to us. It’s because of that that I’m more about communicating with fans face to face.
Do you have any final words for anyone reading?
Thanks for the support! Anybody that’s reading this that’s a fan, you’re the reason that we are what we are.
Real Friends are currently preparing for a short stint with Man Overboard and Young Statues through the U.S. and Canada, as well as a full headliner in the U.S. immediately after with Mixtapes, Forever Came Calling, and Pentimento. They’ll also be in the United Kingdom supporting The Wonder Years along with Neck Deep on their way to the region’s Warped Tour in London. You can check out their latest EP Put Yourself Back Together on their Bandcamp, as well as purchase the vinyl through Glamour Kills.