Jenna McDougall and Whakaio Taahi – Tonight Alive (audio interview)
A lot can be said about bands that put in the hard yards, work their arses off by touring, releasing albums and EPs and interacting with fans from very early beginnings, but the one thing that always remains the same is that no matter what, don’t give up because you will make it big one day and when you do, all the effort put in won’t go unnoticed. That exact mentality can be said about Sydney pop punk band Tonight Alive who in the 8 years of making music together have experienced unbelievable highs, gut-wrenching lows and most recently the true extend of their popularity and desirability as a band with offers flying though left right and centre. It’s no wonder why these guys are always on the ball and working so much.
The band are briefly back in Australia to kick off their World Tour to promote their forth coming album “Limitless” which (as expected) has met both positive and negative responses from old and new fans alike. As any band will tell you, progression is the key to evolve both musically and personally and staying the same without development doesn’t exactly do too much to further you as a musical act. We all have to grow up at some point kids, unfortunately that’s life and as you age your passions, beliefs and attitudes towards the world will change with you. The transition for Tonight Alive from their earliest album “What Are You So Scared Of?” to new release tracks such as “Human Interaction” or current radio single “Drive” are pure examples of how far these guys have grown over the years and with the help of the brutally honest producer David Bendeth (who’s infamous techniques of hard-working, emotionally draining recording have helped such acts as Bring Me The Horizon, We Came As Romans and Paramore gain worldwide recognition through their music) their new album will hands down be their best to date.
Front-woman Jenna McDougall explains the reason behind her style change:
“We’ve always preached about if you’re unhappy in your situation, to change it and not expect the world to change for you and that’s finally what I’ve done for myself.”
“Some fans have said; ‘You inspired me to do this and stand up for myself, but now you’re changing’; but what I’m actually doing is challenging their idea of who I was, and I’m challenging that for myself and it feels good.”
Guitarist Whakaio Taahi adds:
“Its the hardest thing in the world to look at yourself and we’ve really had to look at ourselves and what we believe in. This is really confrontational for people [to listen to] this new music that we’re writing.”
“If we just did the second album [like The Other Side] who does that help? I think we have so much to say, Jenna has so much to say and now we’re just saying it to a wider audience and more people are going to accept this.”
And if they did they the same and didn’t challenge themselves musically they wouldn’t have been given one of the biggest opportunities a young band could ask for, to write and perform “The Edge” which was the theme song to one of the biggest Blockbuster Movies of 2014 “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″. To put it into a perspective you might understand, that offer has previously been given to bigger, established bands such as Snow Patrol, Dashboard Confessional and (to a lesser extent) Chad Kroeger.
And as it turns out Jenna and Whakaio are fans of the original Tobey Maguire trilogy more so than the rebooted Andrew Garfield films. But lets not hold that against them. Although things got quite geeky when discussing the future of everyone’s favourite web slinger and the fate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe mid-interview… but you can hear that for yourself.
At the end of the day, Tonight Alive are a band who still have close ties with bands in Australia’s hardcore/pop punk scene and have beaten diversity and the realisation they’re not the same musically as their fellow associated peers like Parkway Drive, In Hearts Wake and co. but they’ve risen above the level of expectations from fans of the genre and proven they’re more than just a local pop punk act from Sydney. Even though they’re destined for worldwide domination, they can still appreciate the bands doing the hard yards and playing the small community centres/venues to a handful of “hardcore scene kids” like they used to and offer up these simple pieces of advice:
“Write music, get better with your songs and record. If someone has a good song, they’re gonna get recognised.” – Whakaio
“Be aware of your effect on people, lyrically, melodically and musically. Don’t try and replicate other sounds, I wouldn’t be concerned with what’s trendy because we certainly weren’t and we were still able to form connections with people based on the music. Make sure you have the right intentions, because if its all about taking good photos, having status and getting overseas for bragging rights then of course you’re not going to be a successful band.” – Jenna
And in a world full of bands with the wrong intentions and a self-entitled philosophy, that small bit of advice could help you get on the right track and project your band further than you ever thought. And as fans of the bands in the scene, our obligation always has and always will be to support the gigs which come though our towns. No matter how big or small the band, we are what helps to keep the ball rolling and the scene thriving.
Tonight Alive wrap up their “Limitless” Australian Tour in Sydney next Friday.
The gig is Sold Out but if you can sell your soul for a ticket, we highly recommend you do it!
Until next time, rock the fuck out
Facebook: Tonight Alive
Twitter: @TonightAlive, @jenalive11, @whakaio
“Limitless” Out March 4, Pre-Order here
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