Our generation is still looking for a band to reflect real life in 2015. We have less prospects than our parents. We’re attacked through high tuition fees and cuts to welfare. Our wages are low, living costs are rising, and we pay over-the-odds for a damp room in an old terraced house, because it’s either that or living with your parents in a nondescript town in Lincolnshire. Yet the charts consist of mostly bland, but admittedly catchy, pop music for the masses that ignores this. Sure, we’ve got songs for going out, but where are the soundtracks to the melancholic 6am conversations afterwards? Where are the anthems for those longing to move out of their box-room in the ‘burbs to a city that charges them £6 for a beer? Look no further than Real Lies. Touring their debut album, fittingly called Real Life, they are out on their own as a modern band that give us not only songs we can dance to, but songs we can relate to. Any nervousness I had about this interview was quickly extinguished by them using a table to open a beer bottle, caught short without a bottle opener. We’ve all been there. And we’ve all had the post-party mornings their sound echoes.
This sound is one born out of their London lifestyle – one of multi-day house parties and late-night walks to clear the head. Tom Watson, singer and guitarist, explained “We wanted to make sample-heavy after-party music that reflected the surroundings that we were living in, where we were going out, our friends. We get compared to a lot of shit 90’s bands, older music journalists focus on that, but what we’re finding out is people who are a bit more switched on understand that it’s not derivative, it’s a 2015 record”. Kev Kharas, who uses his own style of spoken-word style vocals, agreed; “the main thing is that the album is a product of our lives. It’s completely born out of this time in which we live – the lyrics are all about our friendships, the music sounds the way it does because it was produced in bedrooms. Nobody can afford a studio anymore”.
Even though they lack big budget production, their aspirations are anything but small. Kev continued; “The best way to describe us, I think, would be as a cult band with big ambitions. We don’t want to be also-rans, we want to do as much as we can, we want to see as much of the world as we can, we want to reach as many people as possible”.
It is clear to me that if they continue doing what they are doing, they will reach these ambitions. Their tracks are best described as dance-orientated songs with honest, reflective narrative lyrics. Hooks either side of sharp rhymes like “No first kiss could explain/ love in the decade with no name” (see “Seven Sisters”) complement slow-burning standout track North Circular, which continues the theme of self-thought; “bag on my shoulder and a pocket full of rage/ how many late nights does it take you to change?”. Lyrics such as these create a sound that resonates with fans, and this is what the band strives for. Tom says “Something that has struck me since we’ve been on tour is that a lot of the songs we’ve written are about our own personal experiences of living in London, but we’ve found that people are applying their own experiences to these songs. That for me is exactly what I wanna hear, everything we do is extremely personal, more than usual for dance music, and the fact that people take them to heart is a massive complement to us”.
I saw first-hand at their show at Leeds’ Belgrave Music Hall how enthusiastic some fans were about a record not even a month old, and the band see live performances as an important way to make new connections with those who enjoy their music. Kev stressed that if their record was about anything, it was about friendship, and going out and making friends. “What we try to do, especially in London, is make our gigs social events. We try to have after parties and it’s all about getting people together. All the London shows we play are almost like a wedding reception, just a room full of people that you absolutely love having a fucking great time, and I guess when it boils down to it that’s the aim for when we go on the road, to turn up in Manchester and have 30-40 people we know personally, same for Leeds, just to create that communal euphoria. What more noble aim could you have?”
As a parting note, Tom told of their plans for next year; “it’s really important to us to keep playing and meeting new people in every city, we definitely want to come back to Leeds and play again”. Real Lies are a band that connect with people in a way no other band does at the moment and have a sound that defines 2015. As they gain more exposure, I can’t help but feel they will achieve what they set out to do and make friends in every city, so if that show does go ahead, expect a communal vibe. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by friends?