Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive talks new music and the meaning behind their music

Hey, I’m here today speaking with Jenna McDougall of Tonight Alive, How are you doing?

Hello, Im doing pretty good, I’m good spirits. Thanks for asking.  

You’re Currently on The Honeymoon Tour with Mayday Parade, Major League & Pvris. Hows that going for you so far? 

It’s actually awesome, Everyone on the tour are all really cool people. We’ve been hanging out on the bandwagon, and we just started an American Horror Stories marathon. So each night were gonna be on the Tonight Alive bus, catching up on all the episodes of Season 4. Every show so far has been great, Its just been all around positive. 

You released “The Other Side” back in September of 2013, so we just past the 1 year anniversary of that album. Congratulations on that 1 year Anniversary, What inspired the name behind the album title?

Thank you, In a two year writing process for The Other Side. There was a lot going on within the band and within our personal lives and was probably the most challenging points of our growing up I think, professionally and personally. I think there was just a lot of growing pains and The Other Side came from the concept of reaching a point of acceptance and having learned enough and have gone through enough that you have finally reached the next stage, and to us that was like reaching the other side. When you’re all dark side of that its kinda of Illusive. You cant really predict whats going to happen but when you finally get that breath of fresh air, it finally changes. Its something you just cant explain ya know? The lyrics on the record kind of all lead to that place on The Other Side. 

Would you say “The Other Side” is your best album yet?

Absolutely, yes I’m very proud of it. Im really glad that we wrote that record solely as Tonight Alive and I have no quarrels with co-writing but I think it was really cool because on the first record “What Are You So Scared Of?”, we were kind of precedent to co-writing a little bit but it actually taught us a lot being in with professional co-writers, who do it for a living. I guess we learned a lot the first time around and we were also a lot younger. Then, when we wrote The Other Side we just completely natural and I think it showcases everything that we are capable of and were capable of at the time. What’s cool is that we made that record almost two years ago now. So the next record will kind of showcase the next step & we will be out doing everything we did on The Other Side, but its a record that I wouldn’t touch and I wouldn’t touch and I wouldn’t change. I love the way it is.

Is there any new music in the works? If so can you tell us a release date?

Yes, 100%. We kind of have a whole track-listing almost. We’re gonna continue writing until we reach the studio, which will be early next year but we’ve been writing for a year and a half and we’ve been collaborating and as I sort of said we try to learn as much as possible. I think we’ve reached a point where we kind of have to learn again, As I said The Other Side was kind of everything we were capable of and it was 100% pure Tonight Alive. With the next record I think I’m excited about it because its the next step in our progression. Its still in the works. I unfortunately cant say a release date but I think a lot of our fans have kind of figured out we are on a two year cycle basically so each record we do it so its two years till the next one comes out. So its been one year since The Other Side came out so we still have about another year to go until another record will be released. 

When writing lyrics, What inspires what you write? Is it personal stories or? 

Yes, 100%. Its always that, but it almost like everyday life situations which can either be exaggerated or just felt at a different kind of level. Sometimes you just hear a story and it relates to yourself and how it makes you feel but it always comes from a personal experience. 

You recently contributed “The Edge” to The Amazing Spiderman 2 film, How did that opportunity come about?

Well, We were lucky because the movie was associated with Sony Music and we were a Sony band Worldwide, excluding North America which we are signed to Fearless Records. When we put out The Other Side, We were on tour in America and we got a phone call from back home from our Marketing manager back in Australia and he kind of said they were making a sequel of The Amazing Spiderman and they were looking for a a contribution to the soundtrack in Australia from a female fronted rock band and we kind of fit all of the prerequisites that they were looking for within the sound of the song which was key. Some kind of dark driving rock song, cant be a ballad you know something other. We were like Wow we fit the description. We went home after The Other Side tour which was close to Christmas in 2013 where we started jamming a few different ideas, when we wrote 3 different songs and the third song was “The Edge” and it kind of came together within a day. It was really natural, in a way there was a little bit of struggle for Cam and I. Experienced a little bit of tension but when write we kind of push each other like that and The Edge just kind of happened. 

What has been the fans reaction to “The Edge” outside of your normal fan base? (like what has been the feedback from the Amazing Spiderman 2 Film viewers?) 

It was great, It was a totally positive reaction. I think more then anything it became a really big talking point for Tonight Alive and it got our name out to a lot to people, a new demographic. That wasn’t necessarily music based, maybe they were fans of the comic or the movie or just generally exposed to it through the soundtrack and maybe even the ads and our music video which has exclusive footage from the movie before it was actually released. It was a 100% positive reaction and its a song that our fans love to and it goes down very well live. 

Other then new music, what else is in store for the future of Tonight Alive? (any new tours coming?)

Yes, Next year is going to be very exciting. We will be getting on the Festival Circuit probably throughout the Summertime, But I guess at the moment were mainly focused on the new record and that probably going to go through most of 2015, whether its through the recording or the album art and all the meetings and all the touring thats going to surround it. Basically well hope to fill the summer with festivals and put the record out later in the year and start headlining again and hopefully head out to new territories that we haven’t visited yet like South America, Argentina, Brazil, parts of Asia that we’ve never visited and Europe too so I think it will be a year of new things for us.

Describe that moment in time, Tonight Alive felt that they have finally made it as band? Like is there a certain point where you think like wow we finally did this?

Made It? Well, I mean this is kind of a super Australian thing to say because we always downplay everything, I think it just comes naturally. To have an ego in Australia is really frowned upon and its something that we always criticize people for, so for us to say that we’ve made it, I think its something that we would struggle to ever admit or anything like that, but for me I think that moment is still to come but if there has been a taste of it recently I think it would’ve been when we played our home show in Sydney, AUS in September with You Me At Six, it was a hometown show and we sold out the Sydney Roundhouse which is a 2,200 capacity venue and its actually where I saw my first show. I went and seen The All American Reject with Cameron our bassist when I was 14 years old and I remember exactly where I stood in the pit and I just remember how it felt and we supported bands there as well but to headline it and it was sold out. It was just an amazing feeling. It was a feeling that was just untouchable and at that moment I was just like I don’t want anything else, this is enough. Of course were always striving for more but we actually did have a conversation, Cameron and I and were like “Maybe this is what it feels like to make it” because it was just an all encompassing feeling and that just felt like a really successful moment for us. 

Out of every track you have written, which song or songs has been the most meaningful to you and what is the meaning behind the song? 

Hmm…. A song that we still play is the title track from our first record which is called “What Are you So Scared Of” and I introduce it every night we play it, as the most important song that we have ever and will ever write. Sometimes when your performing it’s like muscle memory and you don’t think about what your saying, seeing it kind of like your on autopilot but when I actually kind of check in with what I am saying it real ly resonates with me. We went through a lot of stuff early on in our career in Australia where I think we were being accused of not deserving success or not having earned the positions we were in being we were signed and having booking and management and all these types of things because the industry in Australia is quite difficult to be successful in and a lot of the bands quit before they ever reach a successful point and its really sad. There is a lot of talking points within that song that kind of talk about just because we have a positive attitude and just because of the opportunities we had doesn’t mean that you don’t have challenges and struggles or that you don’t still work hard. The whole song is about what’s meant to be will be and kind of accepting the fact that you will always be judged no matter what you do, So you might as well be happy in the way that you live and certainly you should never live in the fear of someone else’s judgement. So thats kind of resonates a lot with me and our band.  

On the topic of songs, What would be your top 3 favorite songs to play live?

The Fire is my favorite song to play live because it’s just aggressive and kind of reminds you of the punk emo movement, it just has that feeling to it I think and we get the crowd to jump and the lyrics are kind of about being liberated  from even a personal experience it doesn’t have to be like a political or social thing. It’s just accepting yourself and letting things go, so yea The Fire has a lot of depth to me. Complexes is also really cool because it is a super lyrical song and It tells a lot of stories. I wrote it about the need to feel that the people you love are proud of you and acknowledge you. The song is called Complexes for a reason cause It’s kind of all that I worry and over stress about and I think all of our fans can really relate to that song, its a universal topic. Lastly, Wasting Away because it was from our first EP and it is the only old song that we still play live, I mean at the moment anyway because we haven’t really revived anything for a little while but Wasting Away always seems to be a crowd favorite, as many times as we played it live the fans always make it interested for us every time.

1. The Fire

2. Complexes

3. Wasting Away

If you had to choose one song out of all of the songs you have ever written and show it to someone who has not yet heard of or listened to Tonight Alive yet, What song would you choose to introduce your band to them?

Let me think for a second, this is kind of a hard question… Man this question is so hard, I might pick The Ocean at this point in time or maybe The Edge actually. I mean they have similar traits in the way that they have a heavier intro which is what I really like. The lyrics all really important to me and that they both have these climatic bridges, the bridges are always my favorite part of the song to write cause you can always let loose and break away from the structure of the song a little bit and tell a different side of the story and I also get to use my range a little more. So I think The Edge is a song that represents Tonight Alive really well. Musically and in a message sense and in a performance sense as well, when you hear that song performed it has a really high energy and its kind of dark and yes I believe that represents us really well in a live performance as well.

What does it feel like when a fan comes to you at a show or tweets you (@jenalive11) and says that your music has potentially saved their life? Do you think Music can really save lives & has it ever saved yours? 

That’s a really big topic, I feel like especially when your on tour and you meet fans everyday and you are hearing a lot of different stories. It’s really difficult to put yourself in that position and imagine is it truly possible that music that we wrote can really make someone feel that way and it comes down to trusting that possibility. I think back to when I was in high school and listening to music, I never used the saying that “this song saved my life” or “this band saved my life” I never ever said things like that. Although, I did feel that certain music did carry me through different points of my life and it was kind of like a mentor and helped me through those tough times. I specifically remember being in the first year of high school and in Australia you’re 12 years old turning 13 years old. I just remember feeling so different and I was friends with everyone but I kind of just floated around and I didn’t really know where I belong and that’s just when I started listening to Blink 182, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Green Day, Avril Lavigne, and they were my favorite bands and I felt like nobody else liked them, but the thing was, the things that those bands were talking about. Specifically, I remember Good Charlotte had lyrics in a song that talked about basically just being the underdog and the outcast and things like that. That just inspired me and it made me dress a certain way, have a different kind of confidence and I didn’t need to look or feel or act the same way as other people did in my grade. I just try to relate it back to the way I felt at that age and try to remember what it was like to have a band guide me that much and at the same time it’s still difficult to accept that our music could do that to someone. There is no higher compliment, and its a lot to take in personally.  Those bands are a million times bigger then Tonight Alive is or ever will be and it just feels impossible that people look at our music that way but nothing is impossible. 

Anything you would like to say to your current or future fans?

Thank you for believing in us and making what we’ve always worked so hard for, actually possible with your love and support. Were just going to keep doing what we do and living the dream I guess, and we could do that without you guys so thank you so much for that. 

Thank you for participating in this interview with me for Music Mayhem Magazine, It was great talking with you and we hope to catch a show of yours near us soon and looking forward to your new music in 2015! 

I appreciate it and very great questions, Thank you, Cheers!  

Check out Tonight Alive! www.TonightAliveOfficial.com 

www.youtube.com/user/TonightAliveVEVO
www.twitter.com/tonightalive
www.soundcloud.com/tonightalive
Instagram @TonightAliveOfficial

About Andrew Wendowski

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