Interview: Kyle Fasel from Real Friends
9 November 2014
Pop-punk rockers, Real Friends, create a certain energy in their music that entices the listener. The combination of strong, relatable lyrics, vocals and catchy melodies has made them one of the best in the scene, and this energy definitely transfers over to their live shows. Check out our interview with Kyle Fasel, the band’s bassist and main lyricist, before their headlining show at the Epicentre in San Diego.
Question: So you’re two weeks into this full-length tour – what’s been the highlight of the tour so far?
Kyle Fasel: The highlight of the tour has probably been simply being on tour because we had two and a half months off. It was really nice, and I feel like we really needed the time off because we were really going hard for a while touring. And it’s not like we hated each other, it was just, you need that break, just like anything else in life. We got to go home, I moved into a new apartment, I got a new car, and I did “real people” things. I hung out with friends and family a lot, and everyone kind of did their own thing. Then we came back together for our rehearsing for the tour and it was a lot of fun – it felt fresh. And being on tour, everyone is in better spirits, and that actually does make a huge difference. Because when you tour for so long, it falls into this routine – even though it’s what we love to do – it gets tiring. We’ve done tours where you’re home for two days and then you start another tour. Or you’re home for a day and you get on a flight to like, the UK and go tour Europe. It’s like, this is great, but I’m really tired.
Q: How is it touring Europe?
KF: It was cool! I’m not really one to be outside of the country, honestly. A lot of people are into that stuff, but I just feel very away from home, and it’s weird, but it’s a good experience, you know? It’s one of those things that when it’s done with, it’s like “that was awesome!” but as it’s happening, I’m just like “I miss home.” It’s just normal, American things because culture shock can be kind of weird. But it makes home more special.
Q: This is a really awesome line-up you have for this tour, how did it come about?
KF: When we were talking about having the tour, we knew for sure we wanted Neck Deep, and we confirmed that and it was all good. Then it was like, who do we want to open the tour? And we wanted to do different kinds of bands because as we grow as a band, one of our messages is to have an open mind with music. Like, don’t just listen to pop-punk or don’t just listen to hardcore, just emo, you know, cover it all. And so we kind of wanted to have that message with this tour, and I think we did that. And this line-up was actually the first line-up we came up with for the tour. So it was really cool because this was the line-up that came up in like, casual conversation. We were like, “what should we do?” and it was like, “Have Mercy, Cruel Hand, Neck Deep and us – that’d be cool.” And we had a bunch of submissions from bands and stuff, but it still ended up being the original thing. It’s been really rewarding for me to see our fans enjoy Have Mercy and Cruel Hand and be exposed to more, emo-type music with Have Mercy and more hardcore with Cruel Hand.
Q: That’s cool! What song has been your favorite off of your new record, Maybe This Place Is The Same And We’re Just Changing?
KF: Oh that’s tough… There’s a song called “Old Book.” It’s really short, but I feel like…
Q: There’s so much in it, in that like, minute and a half!
KF: Exactly! It’s also really different. There’s like, no pop-punk influence in it at all, it’s more of an emo side – and that’s kind of what I’m personally into more. So it was cool to experiment around with that and kind of capture a lot of emotions in such a short song. As a songwriter, it was kind of a good accomplishment to me and the band to say “this song sounds nothing like anything we have.” And a lot of us lean more towards that emo side of things when we listen to music so it’s kind of cool. “Old Book” is good and lyrical content, as well, I was really happy with the lyrics ‘cause it’s kind of about getting older… it’s just weird. You kind of start to feel useless in a way – even though I know I’m not useless – but capturing that emotion of it is really cool. It’s short but it has a lot in it so that’s why I enjoy it.
Q: Do you have a favorite song that you’ve ever written, out of all your songs?
KF: That’s really hard. I think our song “I’ve Given Up On You” is really cool. I personally like more stripped-down type songs and I’m really into a lot of acoustic music. I don’t know, I feel like the reason we do songs like that ever is because if the lyrical content is really strong. I think it’s good to focus on that and not have too much instrumentation going on. Then people really listen to the words. So “I’ve Given Up On You” is an important song to me because it has that intense lyrical content and just a slower vibe. It’s one of those songs that when we play it live, it kind of makes kids stop – no one’s stage diving or anything crazy – and it really sinks in. So I like when we are able to really capture that in a live setting, and in a recording setting as well.
Q: So now that you’ve played these songs over and over again, do they hold different meanings when you play them live now rather than when you first wrote them or first started playing them?
KF: I’m the main lyricist, so I feel like they still kind of hold the same meanings really, but maybe I don’t feel as strongly about some of the subjects. I know everyone in the band has told me before that they have their own definitions of the songs – which is awesome because I would hope that a fan would do the same. A fan isn’t going to listen to a song and know exactly what it’s about from my perspective. But I guess for me, it’s kind of the same emotions.
Q: What things do you miss most from home when you’re on tour?
KF: My own bed is nice. Hotel beds are okay, sometimes they suck. But just waking up and having like, a solid routine. We have a routine on tour, but it’s just like, waking up in a different city every day can actually start to mess with your head sometimes. When you’re gone from home for like, six months, it kind of feels weird. So I miss just being in a consistent routine of waking up and seeing the exact same things and waking up and going to the exact same places. I miss that, but it also makes me appreciate it more when I get home. So it’s kind of bittersweet. But that, and family and friends, of course. It makes me value my time with them more when I’m at home. It all is positive, though.
Q: What’s your favorite food on tour?
KF: I’m a vegetarian so it’s not really that hard for me to eat on tour, but we have a couple vegans and it’s tough for them. So it makes me feel good when they can’t eat anything – I’m just kidding! [laughs.] But we do a lot of Taco Bell because we can all eat there. There’s that and also In-N-Out Burger we do out here a lot which is awesome. Between those two places, those are probably the two we get the most stoked on.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about San Diego?
KF: I just like how it’s kind of laid-back. Where we are right now is really nice because it’s more like, suburban-type place, and that’s kind of where we’re from. We’re from the suburbs of Chicago. So when I’m here it kind of reminds me of home in a way. So just having that familiarity is really nice. And today we got here early to we went over to a plaza and just chilled. The vibe around here is just great.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not performing, or not involved with the band?
KF: I still do a lot of writing. I do spoken-word poetry that I really enjoy doing. And I wish I could do more with it, but it’s so hard because I’m gone. It’s cool though because I play bass in the band and when I do spoken-word poetry, I record guitar-stuff. Like, I’ll record it and do noise over it – I’ll create an atmosphere and then talk over it with whatever poem I have written out. So that’s really cool for me because it gets me to get my emotions out at a higher level because I can say a lot more in a spoken-word poem than in a song. And it gets me to play guitar more too. I definitely still love writing, even when I’m not writing for this.
Q: That’s awesome. So now we’re gonna head into some quick questions.
What was your first concert?
KF: Spice Girls.
KF: My very first concert was Spice Girls. My first like, punk-rock concert was The Starting Line.
Q: What’s your dream country to tour in?
KF: Probably Australia, and we just went there!
Q: Who’s someone you’d like to tour with and why?
KF: I’ve always wanted to tour with bands that I grew up really liking. The Starting Line is one of my favorite bands, and we actually got to play some shows, I think three shows, with them. We played with them in their hometown at like, a holiday show so that was really cool. But I guess someone we haven’t played with, Brand New would be awesome. I love Brand New.
Q: What’s your favorite album of all time?
KF: American Football, their self-titled album.
Q: What’s the coolest venue you’ve played?
KF: Chain Reaction in Anaheim, CA – we just played there last night – that’s probably one of my favorite venues to play. I was talking to someone who works there last night and I was telling them the first time I was there was like a year ago, but it just brings back nostalgic memories because it just has that feel to it. Growing up, I watched videos online of bands playing there and we just played two sold-out nights there.
Q: Do you prefer horror films or action films?
KF: Probably action. But I just got out of a horror movie kick because of Halloween. My roommate and I were watching a lot of Halloween movies, trying to get into the spirit. But probably action, you know, when it’s not October.
Q: Now, do you prefer spring or fall?
KF: Fall, totally. I love fall. I’m a flannel and plaid guy – if I can wear this then I’m happy.
Q: What’s an iPhone emoji that describes your life right now?
KF: Believe it or not, I’ve actually never typed an emoji. And it’s just one of those things now it’s to the point where I haven’t used one ever and I just don’t want to. I use – like how a parent would do a smiley face – that’s what I do. And so it defines me because I feel old. [laughs.]
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
KF: It’s hard for me to say a piece of advice from someone, but I think I’ve come up with a lot of conclusions in my head. Like, growing older I feel like I’ve done a lot of self-reflection. I think something that I have taught myself over time, reflecting on what I’ve done, was just to always work very hard for what you do. Don’t give up. Like, I’ve been in bands with probably forty people since I was fourteen, and I’m like, the only one that does music full-time. I think that kind of taught me if you really love something, you really enjoy it, I’m gonna literally do this until I have nothing except the shirt on my back. And even if I didn’t, I’d still be doing it. I just always try to tell, whether it be bands, or myself a lot of times, you just gotta keep working hard. Anything in life, whether it be a job, whether it be a passion, or whether be friendship or anything, you gotta work as hard as you can and exhaust all options. And then when those are all exhausted, at least you can say you gave it your all.
Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
KF: Growing up, all I’ve ever known was music. I never went to college or anything. And just growing up and hearing bands that I used to look up to in our local music scene come see my band and be like, “you guys are great!” That meant the world to me, you know? So things like that, and like I mentioned earlier, we’ve played with The Starting Line and I remember their singer Kenny came up to us and said, “Dude, you guys are awesome!” and I just sat there like, wow. So yeah, music-related stuff like that, probably.
Q: What’s your proudest moment as a band?
KF: It happened this past summer when we were on the Vans Warped Tour. We played the Chicago date which is in Tinley Park, Illinois which is actually where we’re from. It’s our legit hometown, and we played there. And we played on the same stage that I saw the Spice Girls at, which is funny. And I even mentioned it on stage. It was amazing, I mean there were thousands of people watching us because it was our actual hometown show. It felt good to actually be like, “we’re from here!” not “we’re from the city,” because it’s like a half hour away. But anyway, when we got done playing, I just felt so good, and the whole crowd started chanting “Real Friends” at the end of the set and it was like a movie. It just kind of brought me to tears, you know? And at the end of the set, our friend was there doing photos and we ran up and put our arms around each other with the crowd in the picture. I have that picture in my room in my apartment and I see it every day, and I’m always reminded – you know what I said earlier – just keep going. That was one of the biggest motivations for me ever. To have that many people chant “Real Friends” – it’s not the fact that they did it, but it’s the meaning behind it. We were this little tiny band from Tinley Park, and we’ve played some shows I remember for like, fifty kids, and like five people knew the words to the songs and I was like “oh my god, this is awesome.” And then playing to thousands of people and them chanting our name…it felt like a movie. Proudest moment, definitely.
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