Realtalk: From House Parties to Headliners

By: Nikki Steele

What started as a house party band has become so much more.

Sean Campbell of Realtalk.

Sean Campbell of Realtalk.

If CU Boulder formed a band, it would sound exactly like Realtalk, which in a way is actually how Realktalk came to be. It’s hard to imagine how the Realtalk members would have met each other had they not been hanging in CU dorm rooms together and chatting at parties on the Hill. Realtalk has all of CU's favorite things rolled into one band: beats you can easily zone out to after breathing in some special Colorado air and a funkiness that makes you want to party and have a good time. But Realtalk’s music also has an awareness that there is more going on in the world than just the party lifestyle of your average college student.

A Hill House party Performance.

A Hill House party Performance.

After meeting each other and officially getting the band together, Realtalk started playing house parties, a lot of house parties. House parties come with the most casual networking known to mankind. Someone sees a cool band, asks them to play at their house party, and before you know it, you have played every weekend for months all over Boulder. And that’s exactly what Sean Campbell (lead vocals and guitar) and Julian Kitzmiller (drums) explained happened to Realtalk on this year’s summer break. Playing every single weekend had its benefits: Realtalk had a lot of chances to practice together, they networked to play different parties, and they built a legitimate Boulder fan base. The more times someone sees you at a party, the more times they remember you. And let’s face the facts- it’s going to take more than one booze filled night for people to remember what your band sounds like, so being the ‘unofficial house party band’ encourages some memory for even the most drunken of partygoers.

Although both Campbell and Kitzmiller enjoyed their house party stretch (and told me they would still play them today), they were excited when they started to actually book local venues. And their loyal fanbase from their nights on the Hill came in handy. When they booked Denver’s Bluebird Theater, where they opened for Rocktin, a lot of the faces they saw in the crowd were familiar. Talking to Campbell about the experience, he smiled, “When you’re up there and it’s a venue that can hold like 500 plus people and you realize you’re just this college band trying to make it, it’s a very real moment. You realize that people sell this shit out.” Which is exactly what inspired one of the band’s current goals: to sell out the Fox or the Boulder Theater.

Before taking the stage at the Bluebird.

Before taking the stage at the Bluebird.

But beyond parting, where does that awareness of world happenings that Realtalk sings about come from? Campbell explained that when he writes music, his lyrics are pretty personal. So when his brother started covering the Baltimore riots this year as a reporter, Campbell started getting a whole new perspective on what was happening in his home state. This new perspective led to Realtalk’s song “Freddie Gray.” The chorus, “It takes riots and violence before we are listening” was inspired after Campbell watched his brother covering the protests on the front-lines. A song like “Freddy Gray” is obvious proof that Realtalk is much more than just a college-made-party-band.

Post bluebird Performance. 

Post bluebird Performance. 

Since Realtalk has convinced Boulder cops to let the band finish a song before shutting a party down, played at the Bluebird theater to an awesome crowd, and written lyrics that give you goosebumps, what’s next for this local five-piece? First and foremost they are headlining a show featuring opener Whatever's Clever at the Lazy Dog tomorrow night! This is their first time headlining a gig, so get there! Realtalk also has plans to release an album by Christmas. And finally, Realtalk is wanting to connect with other musicians by creating a bi-weekly event where they meet up with other local artists and work on a song together. The idea is to give musicians that don't have a full band the chance to create an entire song, or to give full bands the opportunity to try something new. This event will be recorded live and they’ll toss the audio up on their website. Stay tuned for more info on this cool collaboration idea!

So who are Realtalk? As Kitzmiller says, “[We’re] a combination of energies coming together. When I go out there and play by myself, I get a certain amount of satisfaction, but I don’t smile or sweat or love life as much as when we we’re all out their playing [together]. That is what [Realtalk] is for me. I love playing with these guys. I love playing on stage, I love playing house parties; I love anything that allows us to just jam.”

Give Realtalk a listen here and catch them tomorrow night headlining the Lazy Dog!

-Nikki

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.