‘Limitless’ is Tonight Alive at their most open. With its release earlier this year, the band left themselves exposed to criticism but connected to a wider world. It’s a gamble that’s paying off every day.
“We understand that with an album like ‘Limitless’, it provokes a lot more than just listening to songs and liking them. I feel like that record is part of people’s lives now,” starts Jenna McDougall. “I feel like we’re past the point of critiquing and reviewing it. I think it is part of who I am now and part of the fibre of my being. I just feel like I’m a vessel for the album.”
Currently bouncing around America as part of the Warped Tour, ‘Limitless’ has provided a grounding for the band to host daily workshops with their fans. They light incense, they sit in a circle and they talk. “Every day is different because fans relate to what we’re saying in different ways. There are new insights to share and that makes my day every day. This lifestyle can get very wearing if you’re not centred, which is why I wrote songs like ‘Human Interaction’ in the past.”
Face to face with the world, there’s nowhere for Tonight Alive to hide with ‘Limitless’. Not that they’d want to. “Having all these opportunities to meet fans where we talk about the album, life, happiness and fear, we’re getting a lot of feedback on the way our fans’ lives are changing; their journey towards finding their true self and living up to their fullest potential. ‘Limitless’ is like a soundtrack to our spiritual evolution.
“We had a transgender man in our group and it was amazing because the first topic that we were talking about was feeling like everyone’s trying to change you, how our greatest fear is judgment and not being accepted. He just said ‘yeah, I hear that’ and showed us the scars on his chest from his mastectomy and talked about the past two years of his life on testosterone. People get to the point. People get real, really fast and I think that’s because of the album. People feel safe to talk about their experiences.”
As Tonight Alive open up and accept who they are, they encourage others to do the same. There’s a Limitless lifestyle that goes hand in hand with the record. “The relationship we have with our fans and the type of fans that Tonight Alive attracts is really in sync. We never have fans that are rude or arrogant, the people that come to our shows and listen to our music are on a path to becoming a better person, to finding happiness and joy, and letting go of fear. I feel like we’re all on the same page.
“‘The Other Side’ was the beginning of that, but it’s been a step-by-step thing. The message has always been there. With ‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ I was just figuring things out. I don’t know how I wrote that song at 18. I love it. I‘m so proud of the lyrics and I credit so much of myself and my philosophies to that song and that point in my life. But I think since ‘Limitless’ everyone is blossoming and blooming.”
Tonight Alive have been on a journey – literal, emotional, and spiritual – for eight years now. While the nature of the game means that a lot of it is a blur, Jenna does have “a really clear memory of when we were just about to go onstage in Newcastle earlier this year. I thought to myself, this is the happiest I’ve ever been. The album was just about to drop and I really believe in what we’re doing. I’m super grateful to be at that stage in my life. I feel really lucky.”
Before the band take a break from a relentless year, there’s a return to the UK for Reading & Leeds on the cards. “I don’t want the year to be over,” admits Jenna. “I definitely have more fire in me. We played the festival two years ago and I’m really excited to come back. I remember watching The 1975, Don Broco and Die Antwoord in that tent and it was a great feeling. I’m pumped. The energy in the UK is so different, in the best possible way. I feel as excited as everyone else about music. You guys got a very special chemistry at shows.
“It’s really exciting because the set’s shorter, you get to have a huge burst of energy in a short amount of time and excite people. Festivals are days that you never forget for your whole life. Even if you go to festivals every year, there are going to be moments. I want to make sure our show is a moment people don’t forget from that day on.”
More from Features
Topshelf Records signees Prawn are back with a new album – and you can hear it a little bit early.
Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, Chuck D, B-Real and DJ Lord have teamed up for new band, Prophets of Rage – and in a time plagued by political turmoil, they’re as provocative as ever.