When Australian pop-rockers Tonight Alive were over in the UK recently, we went down to Sony HQ for a chat with frontwoman Jenna McDougall and drummer Matt Best. We talked about their 2013 album ‘The Other Side’, plans for the next record and how much they’re looking forward to the future. Let’s all get psyched with them, because they’re going somewhere.
YOUR SECOND ALBUM ‘THE OTHER SIDE’ CAME OUT IN SEPTEMBER. THAT FEELS SO RECENT TO ME.
Jenna: For us it feels like a really long time ago because when we put it out we played Australia, and then the UK and Europe, and then America, and then we came home and did Warped Australia and then it was Christmas, so it was a crazy whirlwind. It was pretty nuts, it feels like a lifetime ago.
Matt: We held on to the songs and recorded them over a year and a half before it got released. We’ve had them for a long time.
Jenna: The record represents a really different time in the band’s life than where we are now.
DO YOU THINK THE NEXT ALBUM WILL BE REALLY DIFFERENT THEN?
Jenna: I’m starting to feel that way. It’s interesting. Our producer, Dave Petrovic, that did ‘The Other Side’ made a comment recently saying that it was an album for us as a band, because it’s super-personal, and he said the next album will need to be for the fans. And the way the songs are sounding now is kind of true to that.
I LOVE THAT ALBUM. DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT HAS PROPELLED YOU TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
Jenna: I think it’s set a foundation for the future. It didn’t change the world or anything, and not that we ever expected it to, but it’s a really good album that brought us closer to our fans and it brought us a lot of opportunities touring-wise, and it definitely stepped things up for us, but I think ‘The Other Side’ is the stepping stone to what comes next.
DO YOU FEEL READY FOR THE NEXT ALBUM ALREADY?
Jenna: This writing process is gonna be a lot more challenging, because the songs before came quite naturally. And not that these songs aren’t coming naturally, but I think they’re kind of a little bit more surprising from what we’re hearing. We’ve never written this kind of thing before.
Matt: It’s new to us as well.
Jenna: Exactly. It’s totally new ground. We’ll see what happens. We don’t even know.
IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE I CAME HERE EXPECTING TO TALK ABOUT ‘THE OTHER SIDE’, BUT YOU SEEM TO BE VERY FOCUSED ON THE NEW ALBUM ALREADY.
Matt: We’re still yet to play some of the songs from ‘The Other Side’, which is what we’re gonna be doing on our headline tour at the end of the year when we’re back over here.
Jenna: We’re not even playing half of it live yet.
Matt: And that will close the album cycle before the next one comes out. There’s still a lot to look forward to from this album.
Jenna: It’s not even halfway through its life cycle yet, but I guess everything keeps moving for us.
Matt: I think one of the things with us is, that as soon as we’ve done one thing – as soon as we recorded and put out ‘The Other Side’, we were already writing new things and always constantly looking forward which I guess is what you have to do, isn’t it?
Jenna: It’s because we’re always on the move. Because we’re on the road all the time, everything is always moving forward and moving on.
DO YOU LIKE THAT FEELING OF BEING ON THE MOVE ALL THE TIME?
Matt: Yeah, we like it…
Jenna: …but it’s not normal.
Matt: Yeah, it’s not normal. We had a two month break earlier this year so we were all wanting to stay at home a bit longer before we got back into it.
Jenna: I’m kind of the opposite to Matty because I was starting to miss that part of me and that part of my life because we definitely have split lives, in that you go home and you’re a different person, you do different things every day. But on the road we’re brought together by this mutual love and mutual lifestyle and it was a long time to be away from it. I started to miss it towards the end.
Matt: I like it when I go home because I live on the coast and I get to surf.
Jenna: Matt’s got a paradise lifestyle.
Matt: All day, every day. But when I’m on tour it’s still awesome, and I really can’t complain. We get to experience so many cities and it’s so nice.
WHAT’S YOUR PLAN FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR?
Jenna: We’re gonna go back to Australia and then we’re gonna go away and write. We wanna have half the album done by June because we plan to record by December, so the pressure’s on a little bit but the whole year’s ahead of us still so it’s hard to gauge how much time we have left. It seems like a we have a long time but it always creeps up. We recorded ‘The Other Side’ in the summer of 2012 and it came out the summer of 2013.
Matt: Any spare time we have, even if it’s on the road, we have to be doing something towards the new album because we’re gonna be out on tour from August until Christmas and then we’re gonna have to go in and record it, so the only time we really have is now.
Jenna: You have to plan ahead with this lifestyle.
WILL YOU BE AIMING FOR NEXT YEAR TO RELEASE THE NEW ONE?
Jenna: Yeah, 2015. Every two years we’ll put out a new album. ‘What Are You So Scared Of?’ came out in 2011, ‘The Other Side’ 2013, this one 2015. We’re on a two year cycle.
PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY THE SECOND ALBUM IS THE HARD ONE, BUT IF YOU FOUND IT EASY, DO YOU THINK THIS WILL BE YOUR ‘TRICKY THIRD ALBUM’?
Jenna: I feel like it is our tricky third album.
Matt: I think every album will be tricky and come with pressure though, hey?
Jenna: I feel like as I said with ‘The Other Side’, it was for us, so it was easy, but I think this one will be for the fans and I think – I don’t like the ‘make or break’ saying – but I think this album needs to be a huge step forward otherwise we’re basically taking a step back, because we’ve been on the road all this time and it’s like a foundation for the future, and if the future isn’t special, then I don’t know. But I have confidence.
I FEEL LIKE ‘THE OTHER SIDE’ HAS BEEN A BIG STEP FORWARD ALREADY THOUGH.
Matt: We felt like that when we were recording it. We knew it was a good album so now we need to start working to make the next one even better.
Jenna: We’re gonna put a few singles out before the end of the year. That’s super exciting for us. And we’ll finish off the album cycle towards the end of the year with a headline tour of the UK. We can’t wait.