As we get closer and closer to release of their third album, we caught up with Real Friends' Dan Lambton to talk reinvention, writing with Jeremy McKinnon and what the future really holds.
YOU SAID THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME YOU HADN'T RUSHED INTO RECORDING AN ALBUM...
Says Dan Lambton: “I don’t know where to start. We were writing, but we weren’t writing in the way that we normally would. I was working on lyrics and we had a couple of songs with vocals but we came here with the record not done.
If this was me two years ago, you’d have a cover story where I shaved my head on a Facetime call, I’d have a fucking breakdown and it would be a big deal. But this is the opposite, it’s fucking awesome.
We’re chilling and we’re trusting people to help us instead of being too proud.”
HOW HAS THAT AFFECTED THE SOUND OF THE ALBUM?
“We can be more critical of stuff because there’s so much more to work with. In every song I hear, there’s at least two parts where I’m like, ‘Fuck yes! This is so, so fucking tight!’ So then we can see how it all fits together cohesively.
The Real Friends standard that we’ve done things with before has been changed in the best fucking way possible. And your boy’s going to be fucking dancing when we play some of these songs live, you’re going to see my ass fucking running around on stage, it’s going to be great.
We’d have some of these instrumental demos and maybe I had like a verse or a chorus, but maybe something else caught my eye when they sent me a demo and I could just be like, ‘Oh I want to work on this instead,’ because I’m just going to. And it was cool, because they’d just then drastically change the demo and maybe there’d be something that I can’t come up with, and then Mike would throw out a line. He’ll finish the rest of it and we mould it and I’ll mould everything to how I want to sing it, we’re still using the words, we’re all still in the room and everybody’s moving everything forward, nobody has more ownership.
We’re just trying some new stuff out and it’s fucking working, it’s cool!”
HOW DOES THIS ALBUM DIFFER TO 'THE HOME INSIDE MY HEAD'?
“I feel like with the last album, I had my head too far up my own ass trying to perfect all of the songs that I was bringing to the band lyrically, and that became my focus for the album. And everybody was trying to perfect the new things they were trying with the album, instead of trying new stuff and then building on it.
As far as the music goes, I feel like the album was progression for Real Friends though. And this is just taking that further. Lyrically too, I recognise certain stances that Real Friends had, we’ve definitely played with the line of certain questionable lyrics within relationships, but nothing that I think was unforgivable, because a lot of things Kyle and I felt when we first starting out with the band were things that were natural to feel, but if you don’t look back on something you did and see it as immature to some aspect, then you’re not growing.
I think we can all acknowledge that there’s been shit in Real Friends that’s been immature, we’re trying to make that right. I can talk all the shit that I want but if I’m not trying to be a better example now that I’m in a good headspace and can provide that for people then I should do that.”
"There’s a song about smoking weed that I hope makes it onto this record, but it’s not the ‘Yo, we’re going to fucking kick back, smoke a blunt, play video games, waste our time’ thing, it’s actually looking at a situation where I was in a fucking bad space and I was abusing something that should be used for helping people or recreationally.
So I’m trying see if we can approach certain things in a way that these things are talked about, people are smoking weed in the music world, but why are they bummed out smoking weed in the first place?”
IS THIS A CONSIOUS MOVE TO DO SOMETHING GENUINELY DIFFERENT?
“It’s a conscious move. It’s not that we were dissatisfied with anything, we always get so proud of everything. It’s just important to be able to look at everything and see the holes in what you do, I could have said this better, I should’ve sang this better, but that’s the thing, we can’t fucking do that, so the thing to do then is do it on the next record. We didn’t get to do this on the last record, but that makes this record even fucking better.”
IS THIS ALBUM GOING TO SURPRISE PEOPLE?
“Some of it yeah. People are going to hear some of it and be like, ‘What the fuck?’ and then some of it, people are going to be like, ‘Maybe a pop-punk album I can actually listen to in the background!’”
YOU WORKED WITH JEREMY MCKINNON AND ANDREW WADE TOO, HOW HAS THAT AFFECTED THE ALBUM?
“We actually wrote the weed song with Jeremy and Andrew! The reason that we’ve been able to change the subject matter is because Jeremy and Andrew really opened that up to us. We went in with them, like ‘What’s going on with you man?’ Jeremy and Andrew helped a lot with rewording those two songs and writing some new lyrics entirely that go with everything, because I feel comfortable giving them ownership over those songs.
The band that built those songs is the five of us, Jeremy McKinnon, Andrew Wade and Mike Green as far as I’m concerned and that’s fucking cool. Originally I would’ve let my punk rhythm bullshit go, ‘It’s some fucking nerd pressing a button on Pro Tools!’ but just because we’re working with other people, it doesn’t mean we have to pull something like Beyonce did with ‘Lemonade’ and have 14 artists on a song or some shit! I mean Beyonce fucking kills it and does her thing, but that’s the thing she plays her game, I play my game, hopefully I’m killing it, I know Beyonce’s fucking killing it!
I’ve had a great fucking month out here, maybe we’ll do a last tour and we’ll make the places really expensive and get some money and I can start a new band or something, I don’t know man, either way if we fucking end with record I’m happy with that, it’s really cool, I’m really happy with everything and I think that everybody’s on the same page.”
YOU TWEETED ABOUT MOVING AWAY FROM POP-PUNK, DO YOU THINK IT'S BEEN LIMITING?
“I have habits that don’t sit well with other people sometimes and if that’s the case I want to know why they upset other people and I want to know if I should change what I’m doing so I’m not making other people uncomfortable and that’s fine with me. We want to learn from everybody, we want to be taught and that’s great. It’s feels like right now if you’ve been doing stupid shit, if you’re not stepping up, what are you fucking doing? I’ve wanted for the longest time to be more active.
But sometimes I can’t even make sense of it because I need to make sense of myself before I can be that voice for other people and I think I’m at that where I can at least help and maybe I can’t call out the people that they want me to call out but I don’t have to because I know these motherfuckers, I can talk to these motherfuckers, if somebody’s doing something that doesn’t sit well with me, I feel comfortable enough around them to be like, ‘Hey, I’m not going to call you an asshole because I’ve said things just as stupid, unintentionally or ignorantly, I don’t want people to treat you like I’ve been treated because I did stupid things, I want to be an understanding voice or entity for you so just tell me what you’re thinking and I’ll tell you how people are seeing it’. That’s where I want to be and I just think people need to see our side and we need to see more of their side and they are telling us more of their side and I’m very thankful for that.”
SO WHERE DOES THIS ALBUM FIT?
“‘Maybe This Place Is The Same’ is ‘where the fuck are we? How do we fit into it?’ and ‘The Home Inside My Head’ is ‘who the fuck am I? How do I fit into myself?’ and then whatever the fuck this album is, doesn’t even have a title yet, we have three working titles and we might not even go with those, because again who fucking cares? We don’t care about any of that shit anymore!
Dan three or four years ago thinks I’m a fucking poser! Dan a while ago would say that right now I’m a fucking poser, looking for attention! But I don’t fucking care, we figured out who we are. And now we’re just okay with that and we want to listen now, like this is about being okay with that and moving forward.
But I can’t even say that for sure because that’s next record, we’ve got to think about this record and this record’s not fucking done yet. Everything is a double-edged sword and I’m okay with letting my hand bleed a little bit.”
YOU RELEASED 'GET BY' AT THE END OF LAST YEAR, IS THAT GOING TO BE ON THE ALBUM?
“I’m being completely honest with you, we have no fucking idea yet! So I can’t tell you an honest answer because it could be a stand-alone single, it could be on the record, it was discussed recently not well enough that can even bullshit you that we don’t have an answer because even if we did have an answer, I wouldn’t fucking tell you! My position at least I can tell you, I would like it on the album, some people have reasons why it shouldn’t be on the album that I completely understand and agree with and I go either way, so that’s why I can’t tell you!
But I have to see where the other songs go because there could be songs where ‘Get By’ is an appropriate bridge from ‘The Home Inside My Head’ to this new album because now that we’re saying out loud, that kind of does make sense to me! I don’t know because I’m not trying to play the fucking game! I’ll play Monopoly but I’ll play the Mario version or the Zelda version.”
“We literally give no fucks about this record and it’s the coolest thing ever! And we don’t give a fuck because everything’s working. It’s not punk, it’s not anybody trying too hard, because everything’s working, all the fucks that needed to be given are already there and we’re just working with them, no extra fucks are coming out of nowhere to fuck us!”
SO THIS ALBUM IS THE REAL REAL FRIENDS?
“It’s just us, that’s the record. It’s fucking heart-on-our-sleeve bullshit, but it’s our heart on our sleeve and maybe it’ll end up on yours someday. And that’s the thing, we don’t need to worry about what we can do, we need to worry about what we can’t do and how we can remedy that, because by now we know what we can do really well so to figure out what we can’t do, we find people that can help us do it or we see who would like to figure out how to do it on their own terms, like you want to be more involved with something? Fucking step up buddy, say something and we’re all doing that now.”
IS THIS THE DEFINING STATEMENT FOR REAL FRIENDS?
“I think yes and I think we’ll at least be able to have LP four after this! And then we’ll see where we go from there. And the thing is, with the last album I didn’t know if that would be the case while we were working on it and that wasn’t because I thought we didn’t have the ability to, that was just something where ever since I’ve spent every waking moment, every fucking day thinking of what I’d do after this band breaks up and having to think fucking twenty years down the line and now I don’t have to fucking do that, now I’m thinking like two or three years down the line and what I can just do from now until then and I’ve got a pretty busy year and that’s fucking cool.”