Real Friends' Dan Lambton Says His Bipolar Disorder & Substance Abuse Nearly Ended the Band. Here's How They Survived


Whether he was writing his personal songs or connecting to lyrics from The Starting Line and Blink-182, Dan Lambton all the time knew music was an outlet for listeners' angst and ache. What he didn't understand was that music would maybe find yourself saving his life years later.

Lambton, 27, has been the lead singer of the pop-punk group Real Friends for the final eight years, pairing high-energy, guitar-heavy music with deeply emotional lyrics on songs like "I've Given Up On You," "To: My Old Self" and "Scared To Be Alone." After the group launched its second album in 2016, Lambton revealed on social media that he'd been coping with psychological well being and nervousness points. During the making of their third album, this 12 months's Composure, Lambton was identified with bipolar dysfunction, and he says his conduct alongside along with his struggles with substance abuse almost derailed the group's future.

Now sober, Lambton says enjoying the document reside on Real Friends' fall headlining tour, which kicked off Oct. 17 -- together with going to remedy collectively -- has been therapeutic for the group. "It's cathartic to have the ability to play and re-experience it, and have it breathe a brand new mild in a reside setting," Lambton says. The tour has additionally allowed the band -- which incorporates drummer Brian Blake, bassist Kyle Fasel and guitarists Dave Knox and Eric Haines -- to see first-hand what the brand new songs have meant to their rising audiences. "We really feel much more snug discussing these subjects, as a result of there are extra individuals coping with it than what we could have initially thought within the first place," he says. "It's this fixed dialog now."

Below, Lambton tells Billboard concerning the ups and downs of recording Composure, how the band regrouped in remedy and the way he's doing now.

Could you inform one thing wasn’t proper with you whereas recording Composure?

There's positively a whirlwind recorded in that document. When we had been recording, I used to be on the peak of my mania and substance abuse. I had by no means been that manic earlier than, and I wasn't essentially certain what the fuck was occurring with me.

It was all a cluster fuck. I simply didn't know course of what was occurring round me, the way in which that I used to be feeling and never essentially understanding what would curb any form of nervousness, any mania, any despair. But I really feel just like the mania did contribute to loads of my productiveness within the studio -- that actually drove loads of my inventive vitality.

Was there a degree that your bipolar dysfunction virtually made it unattainable to proceed with Real Friends?

Everybody was questioning being within the band with the way in which that I used to be appearing. And I used to be attempting to determine how I used to be going to remain sober, how lengthy I ought to keep sober for. Originally I used to be solely planning on doing it for a month, and now it's extra of an indefinite sort of [thing].

We went to my therapist after the album was achieved, as a result of [the group] didn't essentially know course of what was occurring with me and the way I used to be expressing myself. My therapist was in a position to break down how I used to be appearing and why I used to be appearing the way in which I used to be as an alternative of constructing excuses for it.

We had loads of sit-downs and loads of conversations about what we anticipated out of one another, what we wished to do shifting ahead and making the band operate as an precise unit. There was positively loads of soul looking out and loads of studying who we had been as people outdoors of the band.

Where do you suppose the band is at now that Composure is out and also you’ve been performing these new songs?

I feel we're in a very good place. I might say that it has been getting higher. I feel we're positively again within the full swing of issues which is absolutely good. It's very reassuring. It's been good for us to be collectively once more, to have the ability to spend time collectively, operate as a unit and simply have a standard purpose. Right now it's all concerning the album. We simply need to make it possible for we're in a position to give it our all, even when it's only for that [90] minutes that we're on stage. There's an goal, and all of us need to work collectively to make actuality.

How do you are feeling personally?

I'm not a 100 p.c the place I need to be. But it's good to have one thing that we're happy with [with Composure]. I personally suppose that as a lot chaos as there was, I did have a great time recording the album, though it put loads of stress on everyone else. I've fond recollections of with the ability to be so inventive and have simply such uplifting emotions on a regular basis. But I've to take it with a grain of salt -- I needed to study from it, and I did do loads of silly issues whereas that was occurring. It's all a studying expertise.

Is there a tune on Composure that you simply really feel most related to?

The title monitor. I feel it sort of encapsulates all the album. [It's about] our on a regular basis buildings and what we've to cope with, not solely on a day-to-day foundation, however extra in the long run as properly: What we've let chip away at us, what we've let strengthen us and whatnot. “Composure” can imply mentally and bodily the way you carry your self, how individuals see you and the way you see your self.

We've come a good distance from being an area band to now being a nationally and internationally touring band. [We're] reflecting on these adjustments that we've seen in how we understand ourselves and the way different individuals understand us -- we're coming to phrases with all of that.

Where do you suppose you’d be for those who hadn't began Real Friends years in the past?

Fuck if I do know! [Laughs] I'd most likely have an actual job, or I'd simply be fucking out of my thoughts. I truthfully can say I'm blissful the place I'm at. I get the chance to go not solely across the nation, however all over the world. I by no means thought that I'd be capable of go to Japan -- and we've been to Australia, Europe, England. To be capable of try this enjoying music [is] such a satisfying job. It's simply superior.

Do you are feeling like placing this album out has modified your relationship along with your followers?

Lots of people are appreciative of the openness, of opening a dialogue. People are in a position to really feel somewhat bit extra snug with divulging extra of what's occurring with them as an alternative of solely placing it into the music.

This new document has opened us as much as a extra diversified viewers, each musically and topic matter-wise. I'm simply hoping to succeed in as many individuals as potential. If we are able to break somewhat bit outdoors of the pop-punk neighborhood, that may be superior. The extra the merrier.

Some individuals have instructed me they've been in a position to really feel snug sufficient to go to remedy and search skilled assist, which I feel is superior. If there may be something I can do to have my wrestle [be] worthwhile, in a way, hell yeah -- put me on full blast.