composure [kuh m-poh-zher] noun.
1. serene, self-controlled state of mind; calmness; tranquility:
Composure ultimately empowers.
By reaching that sphere of serenity and confidence, we can achieve our full potential. Real Friends make a major leap towards this space on their appropriately titled third full-length album, Composure [Fearless Records]. The Tinley Park, IL quintet—Dan Lambton [vocals], Dave Knox [guitar], Eric Haines [guitar], Kyle Fasel [bass], and Brian Blake [drums]—perfect their patented one-two punch of punk and pop, while penning their most personal tunes to date.
“We wanted it to be the standout album and literally reclaim our composure,” says Kyle. “In some ways, it felt like we were on autopilot or something until now. We had a conversation. We didn’t hold anything back. We devoted one million percent to the music, were present, and showed who we truly are.”
Following a whirlwind of touring in support of 2016’s The Home Inside My Head, the boys dove into writing a year later. They headed to Los Angeles to record with producer Mike Green—who helmed a handful of tracks on The Home Inside My Head. Musically, they built on this incredible foundation by pushing themselves as writers first and foremost.
“For us, it’s truly the definition of a new start,” Kyle elaborates. “We’re not beating around the bush. On the whole, we weren’t satisfied with the The Home Inside My Head. We felt like something got lost along the way. It was a really good lesson though. So, the songwriting became the focus. We aimed to make the most energetic, dynamic, and catchiest anthems we could.”
Despite harnessing instant chemistry with Green, the process presented a myriad of challenges as Dan’s bipolar disorder worsened.
“Everything was a huge clusterfuck while we were recording,” sighs Dan. “I was bouncing off the walls and just losing my mind. I couldn’t control myself. It was hard to pin me down in one direction. I was smoking too much weed. I was getting into trouble. It was a big wakeup call. Everybody finally sat me down and asked, ‘What the fuck is going on with you? We’ve got to fix something here’.”
After he finished his parts, Dan found a new psychiatrist in Illinois, received a different prescription, enrolled in an outpatient program, and attended group therapy alongside his bandmates. The vocalist openly shared his journey and struggles on social media, engendering empathy and eliciting similar stories from the fans. It strengthened the Real Friends community in the process and set the stage for Composure.
The album’s first single “From The Outside” hinges on an off-time riff that swings into a confessional chorus as Dan sings, “From the outside, I seem fine. On the inside, I’m
still sick. The pill’s a temporary fix.” Each word immediately connects as the music reflects a frenetic and fiery feeling.
“It’s about the use of medication, how it doesn’t sometimes work out, and the feeling of confusion,” Dan goes on. “The uncertainty can extend to everything in life. We don’t always know what’s good or bad for us. We question why we feel certain ways when things may seem crazy. In bipolar disorder, untreated mania and depression go wildly out-of-control. With the mania, I feel invincible. On the other end of the spectrum, it’s just the opposite. I think we all share similar feelings.”
Meanwhile, “Smiling On The Surface” builds from acoustic guitar into another high energy chant. The sweeping dynamic underscores a relatable message written by Kyle.
With many tunes about coming-of-age, the boys tackled another phase of this struggle in the poignant slow burn of “Unconditional Love,” which is “about how we end up taking care of our parents.”
In the end, Real Friends have certainly come full circle, found their composure, and remain ready for their brightest chapter yet.
“Emotionally, I hope listeners feel connected to it,” concludes Kyle. “On a guttural level, I hope they think it’s our best release so far. That’s what we set out to make.”