Next week The Garage welcomes Illinois-based band Real Friends as they kick off a promotional headlining tour for their newest album, Composure.
Released July 13th of this year, Composure is a ten-track pop-rock tour de force, which pushed the band’s songwriting limits immensely in an effort to perfect their art.
We sat down with bassist Kyle Fasel to ask him some questions about Composure and what went into making it what the band describes as their most ambitious work to date.
MIM: In the press release that is included in your emails, you said that Composure is everything that you’ve always come up short on, so how did you go about the process for writing this album in comparison to the last?
Fasel: Definitely the first thing that comes to mind is more time; we just took a lot more time with writing the songs. We actually didn’t write any vocals until we went into the studio which was a lot different because typically at that point we have the record almost done. It gave us a lot of time to be able to focus on the vocal melodies, which is something that we were really adamant about with this record; having it be vocally driven. The music is still very important but we kind of based everything off of what was best for the vocals. For example, I remember a couple of times where we’d take a guitar part out or simplify the music to make the vocals shine more. That was something we’d never done before.
MIM: Why did you choose to title the album, “Composure”?
Fasel: Composure originally was just a song name, and it still is one of the songs on the album. In the beginning, we were just throwing around ideas and I think originally were going to call it “Caught Up” but everyone liked the simplistically of “Composure”. We felt like we were going through some things as a band and we were all going through some personal issues as well, so in a way, we were all sort of trying to “find that composure”, so it made sense. In the song, it says, “I’m reclaiming my composure”, and that related to this album because in the album before this we felt like after releasing it there were so many things that we wanted to do differently that we just hadn’t put much thought into. With this one, it was about reclaiming that spot and reclaiming who we are as a band and as songwriters.
MIM: So it’s very symbolic in that sense and reflective of your whole goal in writing this album.
Fasel: Yeah definitely. Also the simplicity of it. We all really gripped to the idea of it being just one word because its simple. The artwork on the album reflects that as well, it was just a blue background and a bird with some rain and that’s it. We just really wanted the music to do the heavy lifting for everything. So having a simple title like “Composure”, a word that everyone has heard before and knows about, is what attracted us to the name as well.
MIM: This album dropped over the summer in the middle of your run on the final Vans Warped Tour. It must have been difficult to be so excited about an album and have to wait so long before being able to do a full tour for it.
Fasel: Yeah, it was cool to release it on Warped Tour, but we weren’t able to play many of the new songs because people didn’t really know the album yet. So in being able to do a headliner now, we are able to incorporate a lot of the newer songs from Composure, so that’s going to be really exciting.
MIM: How did you pick which songs off of Composure to play on Warped Tour?
Fasel: We chose to play Get By and From The Outside because they were both out for a decent amount of time. So we felt like by playing those two, people would have a reaction to those songs in that setting. It went over well, especially with From The Outside. As the tour went on more and more people kept singing it every day since they had more time with it. It was exciting to watch the song grow in a live setting daily.
MIM: As a band, you guys touch on a lot of heavy topics like mental health and being accepted. I felt as though this album overall had a more positive tone to it even though you were still touching on those things. I also appreciated how the songs are all able to stand alone, it didn’t feel like there were any fillers.
Fasel: That was an important part too. It’s our shortest album, it only has ten songs. We were really concerned about having every song be great; there were a couple other ones that we wrote but just didn’t want to include. We could have had a twelve to thirteen song album but we wanted to make an album where every song can stand on its own. Everything on the album comes together nicely when you listen to it as a whole, but I do think that every song has its own identity. Even before we wrote the record I was really dead set on it only having ten songs because I feel like in the climate of today’s music world there are so many bands and so many things going on; you can go on Spotify and listen to any song ever written that you want to. So being able to get someone to listen to ten songs is a task. Even now there are some songs on the record that you don’t hear a lot of people talking about, and ten isn’t that many. It is a lot different than it was when we first started releasing music, so it was important to keep it short and sweet.
MIM: It’s interesting that you mention that too, because I was just talking to a friend of mine the other day about how oftentimes artists will set out to tell a story with an album, and how by doing so they kind of pigeonhole themselves to a point where you can only listen to an album if you have the intention of sitting down and listening to the entire thing.
Fasel: Yeah, totally. It’s still a cool concept if a band can make that happen, but I think that in today’s world, it’s sad, but people don’t really listen to whole albums anymore. Even me, I used to be really into albums and though I still am for some bands, I listen to a lot of playlists. I’m a big Spotify user. You kind of just have to roll with the times, which is how it is now. Five or six years ago people might have listened to whole albums and known all the songs, and ten years ago, definitely, everyone knew every song. It just isn’t like that now. In this instant age, everyone is on their phone all the time, it’s one distraction to another. Even on Spotify, it’s not really a social network, but you can be on there listening to something and then you’re browsing looking at other stuff, and next thing you know, you’ve listened to forty seconds of ten different bands in just a few minutes.
MIM: I know how that goes all too well! I do have a fan-submitted question for you that I’d like to wrap up on. Someone in a newer pop-punk band reached out and wanted me to ask about how you are able to translate your thoughts and feelings into lyrics during the writing process.
Fasel: For that, a lot of it is about not being too critical in the beginning and just writing what comes to mind. If you look through my phone because I do all my writing in my notes, you’d probably see some of the stuff and think it’s not very good. But I think it’s about that first step and just writing whatever comes to mind and writing a bazillion things, whether it be simple, poetic, clever, or straightforward. It is important to be able to just start somewhere. For us, our lyrics now are a lot different than they used to be and it’s a lot more critical as far as to what makes it in a song. We change a lot of things to fit melodies better and there’s more that goes into it than there used to be. Its just about not being too critical at first. Just go with it and power through, write whatever comes to mind and whatever is on your heart.
MIM: Do you have an example of a specific lyric off of Composure that is totally different than when you first wrote it?
Fasel: This isn’t a specific example, but more of a way to prove it to you. I write poetry as well, which I’ll post on my Instagram and I also recently released a book of poems as well, but what I will do is take a lot of things that may start as a poem and try to make them into a song. There have been times that I’ve used a chunk of writing for a song and after I can still take the original and use it as a poem and it’s totally different because during the songwriting process it is so dissected. At that point maybe there are only a few words that are the same. We do a lot of simplifying when we are writing the songs whether it be eliminating words or making it broader. We try not to get too detailed in the songs because we want people to listen to it and be able to relate to it. If you say something specific like a street name or something then maybe not everyone would know, so we try not to do that, at least not in the chorus. So there is just a lot of dissecting.
MIM: That’s all I really have for you today, I appreciate you for taking this time to sit down an talk to me. We look forward to seeing you at The Garage in Burnsville next week!
Fasel: Awesome! I’ll be hanging out. I’m usually hanging out at the merch table, so come and say hello!
Be sure to grab your tickets here to see Real Friends, Boston Manor, Grayscale and Eat Your Heart Out playing at The Garage next week on October 17th! You don’t want to miss it!