Killer Klassix: Real Friends- “This Is Honesty” EP

Real Friends does not let reminiscing memories encompass their lyrical material or musical style, but carve out their own niche for independent pop punk music.


Antonio Llanos, Staff Writer

Dreams are difficult to write about. In a way, dreams are something we (as students) are working towards. Often, when we close our eyes and picture our dreams, they’re what light us up, capable of bestowing on us strength when life plateaus. Dreams are often lost on Hollywood. Films never capture dreams in an esthetically pleasing frame, inspiring editorial mash-ups synched to the rhythm of a moving soundtrack. Dreams are either sacrificed or shifted to meet societal expectations. 

However, those who are most dangerous, most dedicated, refuse. That’s how five friends from Tinley Park embarked on their journey to become one of the largest pop-punk bands of the Midwest set to headline their  tour with fellow Chicago pop-punk band, Knuckle Puck. 

“This Is Honesty” is the debut EP released by pop-punk band Real Friends, released on April 11, 2011, without a record label and as an effort to solidify their dreams as musicians. Bassist and main lyricist, Kyle Fasel; rhythm guitarist, Dave Knox; vocalist Dan Lambton, and drummer, Brian Blake wrote five songs in their basement that would result in the start to one of the most influential Midwestern pop-punk bands of the 2010s.  What makes the EP so appealing is the independence and talent exhibited on a debut not only free of the reliance on financial success but the potential for a band of pop punk fans writing pop punk. 

“A Little Too Nice” is the demonstrative introductory track that is musically celebratory but accessible to most traditional pop punk fans. The track juxtaposes melody with lyrical material, contrasting the embittered message to someone Fasel was hurt by with the playful, overall positive and catchy melody. Fasel is spiteful, but the track overlaps between angry and coy as Lambton sings Fasel’s sentiments: “I bet my last dollar/That me and you could never just talk/So hey, let’s talk it all out.”     

“High Hopes” is a track exhibitive of the same sentiments. Although energetic and fun, the lyrical material explicitly highlights distaste and spiteful feelings. While calling out someone for what can best be described as “shitty” behavior, the composition of the track flourishes. As the song carries the listener through each emotion, Knox’s guitar transitions between gritty and rhythmic melody. Fasel’s failed relationship can best be summed up by the snide chorus, sung by Lambton: “I’m standing up on my feet and off my bruised knees/Far away from your high hopes to please/I’m getting up, I’m getting up/I hope to God it’s bringing you down.”

“Skeletons” is a masterful, minimalistic somber track. Thematically, nostalgic youth is a theme consistently referred to in future releases, but none like this track. The composition is initiated by a single, three-chord riff to introduce the essence of the song, but it is also done to solidify the musical metaphor of innocence.  Lambton’s vocals carry the theme through as he bounces back and forth singing: “Way back then there were monsters in my closet/And now there’s just skeletons hiding in there/The clock is ticking away/The leaves are still falling every day/The sunburn on my shoulders kept me warm back then.” Fasel’s lyrics highlight the trade off of growing pains, slowly (eerily) lost in the paradise of innocence creeping one inch closer towards the inevitable. 

“Something’s Keeping Me Here” is a coming-home track wrapped in the excitement of leaving but coming home to tell about your adventure. The track initially attempts to appeal to built-in fans of the genre, referencing Midwestern emo greats, Saves the Day, but quickly returns to the narrative of dream chasing.  Musically, the track is fast paced so as to capture the excitement of unfolding, living experience, but circles back to the choral melody like your traditional pop-punk track. While the track is based on leaving individuals behind, there is the subtle suggestion that individuals in the midst of trying to make their dreams come true will often encounter those who are on the same path, and find solace in the path, because it’s less lonely.  As sung by Lambton: “I don’t know where I’m going/I’m having one hell of a time getting there/Everyone’s trying to find the meaning of the nights/We spent laughing forever/I don’t know if we’ll ever find it/I could sure as hell care less.”

“Monday” is the final track on the EP and is a reinvention of the Anthem. However, the Anthem has nothing to do with capitalism, or politics or war, but is, instead, revolting against the loss of self. As one grows up, they give in to ideals often diluting and stifling who an individual truly is. Fasel, sick of all the conventions of growing up, encapsulated his feelings in a single day. Lambton sings these sentiments in a way that expresses the frustration with being told how to live and what to do to attain “success” in the first verse: “We’re just kids stuck in this town/Outside of a big city/Where everyone wants you to grow up as fast as they fall/My old friend Dave wakes up on Monday/Wishes there were more than two days in a weekend.”

Embittered feelings, failed relationships (even platonic ones), and refusing to grow up established the Midwestern pillar for Real Friends to embark on a beautiful exploration to make sure music was their career. While nostalgia is a driving factor for the band, Real Friends does not let reminiscing memories encompass their lyrical material or musical style. Their sound carved out their own niche for independent pop punk music. All this, coming from five dudes who decided to sit in their basement and write music they loved to listen to.