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Tonight Alive: “We’re ready and excited to play new music”

Jenna McDougall answers a few questions ahead of the band’s UK tour.

Tonight Alive: “We’re ready and excited to play new music”

Before the much-anticipated release of third album ‘Limitless’, Tonight Alive are heading out to venues across Europe and the UK for the first time in a long while after a brief run around their native Australia. Vocalist Jenna McDougall tells Upset what’s going to go down.

You’re diving straight into the ‘Limitless’ tour with a ten week run. Why are you going in so hard?
It’s just that time again! We’ve been off the road for seven months since making the record, which is something we did deliberately to give ourselves and our fans a break, but it definitely reinforced that we belong on the road. We’ve been touring since we left high school so coming home had always felt like a holiday, but this time it was a big adjustment as we had to sort of build a normal life for the first time. I thought I would like it, but the novelty wears off! We’re just ready and excited to play new music and feel the rush again.

You mentioned that the touring cycle for ‘The Other Side’ was healing. Was that from the support of fans, overcoming personal struggles or the unity in the band itself?
All three played a huge part in the healing process I think. Through the end of the touring cycle for ‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ and into the writing of ‘The Other Side’ we were facing a lot of challenges internally. There were break ups, sicknesses and letting go of our first manager in a really complicated situation. There was so much I didn’t know how to vocalise at the time so writing the record really forced me to face my demons and furthermore, performing those songs every night was the first time in my life I had to develop that kind of confidence to express myself so fearlessly. Our band and crew has always been a really strong unit as well, so we really stood by each other through that time and learned how to communicate on a new plane.
Any nerves about playing the new songs live?
No nerves at all if I’m honest! This is definitely the most natural that our music has felt to perform and I think that’s because writing it took a very conscious shift to let go of rules and formulas and even any ideas of what Tonight Alive ‘had to’ sound like. 
How do you think the new songs will change the shape of the set?
The set is just so much more colourful now. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. I love it. I used to feel unsettled about the fact that we didn’t have ‘one sound’ or even on a personal level that I never had ‘one opinion’ about anything; but we’ve just totally embraced the polarities in our lives and in our music and for that reason I think this record is more exciting.
Is it difficult to balance the new material with the older tracks or do you still get a thrill from playing the ‘classics’?
I think playing the older material is actually more enjoyable for us now because of the nostalgic attachment to it. We’re finding that when we headline, our singles are taking on new meaning and each song really plays a different role in the set for the first time. When we started rehearsing for the Limitless World Tour I was really happy to discover all the songs complimenting each other so well. It’s just as if the new record is a fully bloomed version of our past sound.

At what point in the writing/recording for ‘Limitless’ did you start thinking about the live show or do you treat them as two separate entities?
I find with our music, the show really follows the songs rather than the songs following the show. Certain tracks were kind of screaming to be played live and had a more obvious rock tone to them, but with the nature of the song writing style for Limitless which was really about removing any concept of borders or boundaries in our sound, we had to adapt to the songs and relearn our instruments to suit them. Which I think was challenging but really fun and eye opening to the possibilities we each had as individual musicians and because of that, as a band.
What do you hope people take away from a Tonight Alive show?
I hope people leave our show at the end of the night in a renewed and empowered state of mind. The last thing I could ever want for our fans is to return to their lives and continue approaching things the same way, unless of course it’s working for them. But I’m very aware that we all follow negative thought patterns and get caught up in other people’s expectations and subliminal control, so I hope to inspire people to take their power back and learn how to say no. 
What’s the reaction been like to the four songs you’ve released so far? Is it what you were expecting?
It’s been a passionate response. And I say that because of course it has been quite mixed but that’s exciting to us and I think it means we’re doing something right. The point we made when we were making this record was to do it on our terms; and when you start making decisions based on your happiness and your standards and not those of others, not everyone will be satisfied. But with our age and experience we’re far more inspired by risk and intuition in music and we totally stand by everything we did. Having said that, with only four songs out I think the record is going to make a lot more sense as a whole!

You’re touring Europe and the UK with Milk Teeth and Our Last Night. What do you think they’ll bring to the evening?
I admire what both bands are doing and think our fans will too. 

And as the release date of the album draws closer, how are you feeling about ‘Limitless’?

I’m ready now. I worked my ass of writing and recording this album, now I want to go and live it.

Taken from the February issue of Upset, out now – order your copy here. Catch Tonight Alive on tour at the following dates:

18 Kentish Town Forum, London
19 Ritz, Manchester
20 Newcastle University, Newcastle
21 ABC, Glasgow
23 Pyramids Centre, Portsmouth
24 Academy, Bristol
26 Institute, Birmingham

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