HomeInterviewsHappy Mondays: Reality Suite looks forward to releasing Awaken EP in May

Happy Mondays: Reality Suite looks forward to releasing Awaken EP in May

Come out tonight to Happy Mondays at the Wonder Bar for a special event honoring JeffcrespiROCKS‘s Birthday. Be prepared to surrender yourself to Reality Suite’s music as they put on a high-spirited, alluring performance. Comprised of NJ natives, this four-piece fuses together classic and modern rock music that will help you leave your pain and sorrow behind and experience an awakening to brighter days.

The Pop Break had the chance to interview Reality Suite’s drummer, Brian King, to discover more about their sound, the upcoming Awaken EP and all their dedicated fans from around the world.

Who is Reality Suite? Reality Suite is Kimmii Heart on lead vocals, Brian King on drums, Joe Padula on guitars and vocals and Antonio Valenti on bass and vocals.

From New Jersey to New York, where would you say is your home base? We all have grown up in Passaic and Bergen counties, New Jersey.

How does your music bridge the gap between classic and modern rock? Our music bridges the gap between classic and modern rock by having open minds to several eras and genres of music. Musically, we all have our roots in 80’s and 90’s rock. But we all have a taste for modern pop music as well. When we formed in 2009, we were challenging ourselves, experimenting with synth pop and trying our best to sound unique in the modern rock genre. However, listeners and eventual fans saw through our guise. By the time of writing and recording our debut full-length album, Skinn, we were more comfortable with wearing our classic rock influences on our sleeves. I found that with modern production and songwriting techniques supported by an old school rock backbone, we seemed to had found our sound.

Photo found on Reality Suite’s Facebook Page, taken by April K. Franco.

What sounds or elements do you think are most recognizable to listeners in your music? It’s tough to be objective, but I can answer based on feedback on our social media. I once literally reached out to fans via Instagram and Facebook and point blank asked “I see that many of our fans also follow heavier bands such as Black Veil Brides, Bring Me The Horizon and The Pretty Reckless. What is it about us that appeals to you?” One response that made a big impression on me was a 16-year-old girl from Texas named Lilly. She assured me that she found us to be unique and authentic. She went on to say we were perfect–don’t try to become more heavy just to “fit-in” with your contemporaries. Her observation and ability to express what she was hearing really impressed me. Kimmii’s unique and powerful voice has absolutely become a focal point. Our ambition to write catchy songs with subtle moments of self-indulgence has helped us forge our sound.

I see that you’ll be releasing your new EP Awaken on May 4, which is very exciting! From your previous album Skinn and your latest single “Bury Me Alive” to the upcoming EP, how has your music evolved over the past couple of years?

We have become closer as collaborators, which I believe benefits the music. Most of the time, we are all on the same page with a common goal of writing and producing the best song that we can. That means being honest with each other and letting each other know when a song, riff, lyric or melody is just not great. Sometimes there are hurt feelings–and sometimes you have to keep your mouth shut and just let the main songwriter of a particular song lead the way and trust it will become something epic. It’s all about collaborating with an open mind, and that relationship grows in time.

Most of Skinn was written before Kimmii joined the band. It was a compilation of our best songs from over the course of 6 years. After Kimmii joined, we wrote four new songs and jumped into recording, but there really was no common thread throughout the songs. “Bury Me Alive” was ambitious because we were much more confident after gaining success with Skinn on social media. The Awaken EP is more consistent. We wanted to limit the recording to 5 songs to force ourselves to only release the strongest material. We are all bringing our “A” game and Kimmii is singing the best she ever has. We really discovered over the last few years the range and power that she has, which we did not capture on SkinnAwaken is going to blow everyone away.

How does Awaken reflect who you are as a band, both sonically and thematically? Awaken has catchy, heavy songs. We are a hard rock band who wants you to still be able to sing along to our songs. It’s kinda like if Metallica and Taylor Swift collaborated. (Hahahaha, my band is going to hate me for saying that!)

Do you think there’s any particular song that captures what Awaken is all about? If so, what song is it and how does it convey the main idea or message of the EP?
The songs “Grave” and “Cut, Burn, Bruise” may be closest to defining what Awaken is all about. During the writing for what became Awaken, Kimmii and I realized most of what we were writing about (she and I are the lyricists) were losing loved ones (including unreleased songs.) Each of us had lost someone close to us in the last two years. I lost my mother in 2016 to lung cancer–which spawned the song “Cut, Burn Bruise.” Kimmii lost a close family friend which inspired “Grave.” Antonio lost his mother and Joe had lost an Aunt in 2017 – so, as much as “Grave” and “Cut” are about missing a loved one, in the context with the other songs – Awaken becomes an EP about recovery and rebirth. It’s leaving the pain behind and moving on. The songs “Live Now Forever,” “Dead to Me,” and “Lust” drive that point home.

From the songwriting to the recording process and mixing of the EP, what are you most proud of regarding AwakenI am most proud of our songwriting on Awaken. We spent a lot of time on pre-production. From demoing songs, narrowing down the best songs – re-demoing them – and really working them out before entering the studio rather than evolving them in the studio. Producer and Engineer Mike Ferettii guided us through a new, more structured process and the songs and arrangements strongly benefitted. Mike also recommended Earl Cohen, who co-produced the first single, “Dead to Me.” Where Mike has a lengthy resume having worked with heavy rock bands like Saliva and Sevendust – Earl is more of a pop producer having worked with Lady Gaga and Jessica Simpson – and we wanted to experience that flavor too.

What else do you want your fans to know about your upcoming EP? What should they expect to hear in these songs? We are confident that our fans around the world – especially the fans that supported us via our PledgeMusic crowd funding campaign – will not be disappointed. As we were recording Awaken, we would continue to see our passionate fans raving about songs from our previous album, Skinn. We would just be pumped up saying “They haven’t heard ANYTHING yet! They have no idea what is about to come their way.”

At shows, how do you want listeners to be feeling while you’re up on stage performing? How would you describe what the energy is like on stage for you guys? We are definitely a high energy band on stage. It is in our blood–when we’re on stage, we are there to entertain people and seduce them out of their everyday lives….to surrender themselves to the music.

What is the best part about being a member of Reality Suite? Our international fan base! Since Skinn was released, we’ve earned passionate fans via social media. We definitely feel and appreciate the love in the United States, but it still blows our minds when a 16-year-old girl from Argentina, a 19 year-old-girl from Iran or a 20-something guy from Poland posts about us – whether they’re sharing photos with our CD or posting videos of themselves singing our songs on the other side of the world – it’s just an awesome feeling.

What’s in store for Reality Suite for the rest 2018? We are digitally releasing Awaken on May 4th along with the official video for “Dead to Me.” Soon after that, we will see the physical release with bonus tracks and potentially an official video for each song on the EP. We will be performing regionally and talking with promoters about touring outside of the East Coast.We would love to find a promoter to support a tour of Central America and meet all of our friends and fans down there!


Laura Curry
Laura Curry
Laura Curry is a Rutgers University graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Interviewing bands and writing about music is her passion. She is a frequent concert-goer, whether they’re happening in New Brunswick basements, Asbury Park venues, concert halls in NYC and anywhere in between. Alternative rock is her go-to genre (i.e. Kings of Leon, Cage the Elephant, Foals, The Maine and lots more). When she isn’t writing for The Pop Break, she works at the North Brunswick Public Library, which offers plenty of Fantasy/Adventure novels to quench her love of reading. Additionally, she takes on creative projects from dream catchers and scrapbooks to paintings and jewelry making. She’s always happy to talk about her furry Maine Coon cat Austen and his knack for playing fetch and hide and seek. Just try not to ask about her next career move, because trust me, she’s working on it.

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