PLUS we chat to the band all about their new chapter and where these two tracks stemmed from.
In case you were somehow unaware, Real Friends are well and truly back.
The band recently kicked off a new chapter of the band with the revealing of new vocalist Cody Muraro and two new singles 'Nervous Wreck' and 'Storyteller'
The band have now released new reimagined versions of those two tracks, flexing their creative muscles in ways they weren't able to with the originals, and we have them exclusively right here for you.
Here's the beautiful 'Nervous Wreck':
And the sombre 'Storyteller':
And we couldn't present new music from the band without catching up with them about everything that has been going on. So we jumped on the phone with Cody and bassist Kyle Fasel to discuss the last year and what the future looks like...
How has it been for you since the big reveal? It feels like something you had been waiting to share for a long time…
Kyle: “It’s been pretty crazy. I know that we have said it before, but Cody has been in the band for over a year at this point. We spent the last 12 months wondering how it’s going to be with the public response. We were stoked about the songs we had and where we were heading, but we were just wondering the whole time what it would be like when we dropped it. So it’s exciting to see such an overwhelmingly positive response. It’s such a big switch with a new vocalist, but our fans have been so welcoming to Cody. It’s given me a new appreciation of them and how open-minded they are.”
Cody: “For me, it’s been a case of going from playing to 200 people and trying to build a fanbase into being in a band which already has an established fanbase and expectation. It’s been a huge jump, but it’s been really exciting at the same time. With a year going by, and having to keep it secret was another thing. I had fans of Youth Fountain reaching to me after I announced I’d left there asking, ‘What’s going on? Are you done with music?’ It was tough to keep it a secret like that for so long.”
So how did you get together then? What’s the story of how this came to be?
Cody: “The whole thing was challenging because we did everything at the start of Coronavirus. We thought that touring would be coming up in a couple of months, and the band were set to go out on the road with State Champs, which would eventually be pushed back. But at the time, they needed a singer, so they hit me up, and I flew over to LA. We practised, and then I flew back home, but then they hit me up again and said to come back out again to jam and try writing a little bit. Then lockdown hit. So it was a case of sitting on it for a couple of months. Then as they went by, it became a case of, ‘Let’s go into the studio and see what happens’. That was the second time that I met the band, and it was the moment we wrote some of our new songs. So the whole thing happened quickly, but still so slow. It was like all of a sudden, ‘You’re in the band now, so let’s get to work.’”
What was it like from your perspective within that, Kyle?
Kyle: “For us, we were getting auditions in from some people, and nothing was sticking out too much. Cody was the one who stood out and was also the person we felt strongly enough about to get in a room with. It just felt really good and like we were on the same page. You get that vibe, and everything was natural. Then when COVID hit, it was at a standstill. We wanted to solidify things, but we couldn’t because of all of this. So in the meantime, we got other auditions in, but nothing felt like Cody. He was still at the top. We asked him to join the band over FaceTime, which was unfortunate. We all had a different vision in our head for how that moment would be. Then we started writing remotely, and then when we finally got some studio time in LA, it was the second time that we had all met in person.”
There must have been a sense of relief that things worked the way they did, and it felt like there was a fit. In another world, you could still be looking right now…
Kyle: “I feel like there are some things that are aligned, and this was one of them in the darkest of times. We’re still getting to know each other even now, but it feels like there are so many parallels to how it felt when growing up and playing in bands and meeting people. I think having that mindset and experience has meant that we have been able to click more and more even now.”
So, where did ‘Nervous Wreck’ and ‘Storyteller’ initially come from? Were they early on in the creative process? And why did you feel they were the right tracks to launch with?
Cody: “These songs were near the end of the process, really. The first songs that we put together when we first met in LA were very much us figuring each other out. We sat on them and then decided to try diving even further into trying to keep that Real Friends sound. I think the songs we had sounded a little bit different, and we wanted to make sure that we were still Real Friends with this.”
Kyle: “There was a batch of songs that we made at the beginning that didn’t make the cut, but they are recorded. So maybe people will hear them someday. But it was one of those points where it wasn’t Real Friends enough for that time. It didn’t feel like we wanted to present as the first thing. One of my biggest fears is releasing a song and people saying, ‘It’s cool, but why is it Real Friends? It doesn’t sound like Real Friends’. We’re not trying to be a carbon copy of what we were, but we still want it to all make sense at the same time.”
Cody: “So we met up again in Florida and worked with Andrew Wade. ‘Nervous Wreck’ was a demo the band had had for a couple of years at this point, but we brought it in and showed Andrew. There was a tough time figuring out the chorus at first, but then everything just clicked.”
Kyle: “‘Storyteller’ was pretty true to the demo we had. Even when we wrote it initially, I knew it was a really special song, what with the energy and emotion around it. I feel like it embodies what Real Friends is well. And with that in mind, these are two of my favourite songs that we have ever written.”
That’s the other thing as well, isn’t it? It’s not just the sound you have to get right. You have to nail the ethos of the band as well…
Kyle: “Definitely, and those are things that went through our minds the last year. Before Cody joining, the band had this timeline in our heads of how we wanted to do things. Get a singer, get in the studio, get some songs and get back out in the public eye in a few months. But the more we sat on them, the more we had the reservations. Like this is cool, but is it Real Friends? Is it where I want it to be? But we learned a lot in terms of toeing the line between embracing the spirit that has always been there but also expanding on it.”
And the thing is that you’re all learning how to navigate this at the same time as the fans and people who are supporting you…
Cody: “Absolutely. With my online presence, the thing is that’s what the guys have seen of me as well because I’m not with them. That’s the exact same way as to how the fans see me. That’s a really interesting dynamic.”
Kyle: “And yeah, the fans are in this with us. That rings true to the way that Real Friends has always been as well. Our songs are our fan’s songs as much as they are ours. Their meaning is just as important as the true meaning, and that will always be the same.”
We should touch on these reimagined versions of the tracks, which show off the bare bones emotion of the songwriting. Where did the idea for them stem from?
Cody: “I was living in Mexico at the time, and the band were all in Chicago. We were talking to Pure Noise Records, and things were moving on well with that, all about what we wanted to release and how. So that’s when we decided to have a couple of singles, to begin with, it was one to what we want in the future. At that time, we felt it would be cool to have alternate versions of the songs we felt the most strongly about. We knew we would be meeting up to make the music video for ‘Nervous Wreck’, so why not record something whilst we’re together? Then we thought, ‘Well, why don’t we release them around the same time as the songs?’ So we release a song, then there’s a reimagined version of it, then we release more singles and more reimagined versions, and then there’s a full package. Then rather than releasing an EP and then a year later having the reimagined versions come out, we have everything together as one thing.”
Kyle: “The other thing that we wanted to do with these reimagined versions is how we have been able to present the song in a different style, instead of not just doing acoustic versions. ‘Nervous Wreck’ leans more into Cody’s soft vocals and cleaner guitar tones and electronic beats, which showed the song off in a different light. I don’t know if we would lean into these things if we were writing a song normally. Then ‘Storyteller’ is our nod to Death Cab For Cutie, a band that we all love. We were able to incorporate more piano and lo-fi drum tones.”
More than anything, how does it feel to be here finally and doing what Real Friends does best once more?
Cody: “It’s crazy because we were dormant for so long, and now to be releasing things and announcing tours is so great. I feel overwhelmed by all the things we have planned and the fact that people like me! Not having to worry about those things anymore makes it feel like anything is possible right now.”
Kyle: “It just feels fun again now. Within the dormant period, it was easy to get inside of your head. There was a lot of self-brought on doubt of whether this was good enough or not. Will this backfire? There are so many scenarios you can build, and we are all rightfully guilty of doing that. But right now, it’s really rewarding to prove to the world and ourselves that we could do it. It’s all just really exciting, and still know that people still love Real Friends as much now as they did ten years ago is so awesome.”