9 March 2014 – O2 Academy, Birmingham [ON SALE NOW]
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13 March 2014 – Manchester Academy, Manchester [SOLD OUT]
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15 March 2014 – O2 Academy Brixton, London [ON SALE NOW]
Female-fronted Australian rock act Tonight Alive have been making tremendous waves with the release of their sophomore record, The Other Side. Far from a sophomore slump, The Other Side, is a dark and emotional record, full of musical and lyrical twists and turns. The band are fresh off off last summer’s Vans Warped Tour and are headlining their own American club tour with support from Echosmith, The Downtown Fiction and For The Foxes. UTG had the chance to catch up with Jake and Whakaio while out on The Other Side tour to talk about everything from the stellar new record to the growth of the band’s American success.
Hi, guys! You’ve been out on the headlining tour for quite some time now. How has this run been?
Whakaio: It’s been really, really cool. It’s different, because it’s a lot more tiring. Normally, when we headline in the UK or in Australia it’s for 12 or 15 days and here it’s 30 so playing for an hour every night- gets a bit tiring. But it’s been awesome.
I saw where you sold out your first headlining show in America on this tour, at Webster Hall in New York City. Congratulations! How was that experience?
Jake: Thank you, dude. It was an incredible show. Honestly, it rivaled the shows we have back home.
Whakaio: It was definitely a moment for all of us. It was one of our favorite shows for sure.
Jake: We all got off stage and hugged each other and had one of those moments, [laughs].
When I listen to The Other Side, I feel it is a natural progression from the last record. How has the reaction been and are you satisfied with the result?
Jake: A lot of kids have been saying we get better with each release, which is what we wanted. We feel the same way, we’ve been stoked with the reaction we’ve had from the kids.
Whakaio: The new songs have been going over better than the old songs, which is a great sign. We sold over 8,000 here in the first week. It’s been crazy, really. Obviously, when you record an album you’re nervous about what people will think and this album did end up being different than the first one. But I haven’t seen any bad feedback at all, which is rare these days.
What’s it like having that international success? You charted in Australia (#5 on the Australian Recording Industry Assisociation chart) and in America (#15 on the U.S. Rock Billboard chart).
Whakaio: It’s definitely something we didn’t expect at all. We just did the record and hoped for the best, but for that to happen and for us to go into this headliner off of it is the best we could hope for.
Jake: It’s insane to get recognition in each territory we can hit. We are more than ecstatic about it.
You’ve been over in America for the good portion of the year, are you ready to head home?
Jake: We’re ready for Christmas and to have some time off, [laughs]. We’re excited, man. It’s summer back home, and it’s winter here, [laughs].
In the past, you had collaborated with some fantastic artists, such as Mark Hoppus and Benji Madden, but we don’t see that on The Other Side. Any reason for not bringing anyone in?
Whakaio: We didn’t want collaboration on this record because we wanted it to be 100 percent us. I think, for the first time in our career, this album was exactly where we wanted to be and we knew what we wanted to be. We just wanted it to be 100 percent us.
Jake: We also felt like we’d already collaborated with so many artists we wanted to work with growing up.
You’ve had two cool videos to go with this record. Where do these ideas come from?
Whakaio: We do all the treatments, so we come up with all of the ideas and we find a director we want to work with. We got the first cut (of “Lonely Girl,” the first video off of The Other Side) back, and we’re always so nervous when we get the first cut back, and we watched and we were like, “this is awesome.” And “Come Home,” we did at the end of Warped Tour and it was more of a fun thing. We had a lot of beers [laughs], and the concept was really fun and it was a really great day. It came off really well and you can tell.
What’s next, guys?
Jake: We fly straight home and we have one day off and then we hop on the Australian leg of Warped Tour, which hasn’t been there for 11 years so it’s going to be pretty interesting to see how that turns out. We’re really excited.
Whakaio: Then we have Christmas off and a bit of January off and then we’re back here and then back to the U.K. and all that kind-of stuff.
For a young Aussie band, Aussie band Tonight Alive have amassed a vast collection of war stories. They emerged five years ago from their parents' suburban garages as a fully formed melodic punk group and were signed to an international recording deal as teenagers.
The five-piece pursued an international touring schedule off the back of their debut album, What Are You So Scared Of, which would have burned out those with less ambition and stamina. There were days without a decent meal, subsisting on a per diem that would probably put them below minimum wage.
Then there was a management switch and frontwoman Jenna McDougall was struck down with a debilitating bout of eczema. This year, with the release of a second record, The Other Side, their schedule isn't any less hectic, but Tonight Alive seem happier about their lot in life.
McDougall and bandmates Whakaio Taahi, Jake Hardy, Cam Adler and Matt Best are heading home for the return of the Vans Warped festival. Warped has proven a happy hunting ground for Tonight Alive in the US and there is a sense of pride they have been chosen for this local leg of the festival alongside Parkway Drive and internationals The Offspring, Simple Plan, New Found Glory and The Used.
The tour will see them return to Coffs Harbour where they recorded The Other Side. "We had this massive house and it turned out to have the best drum room we have ever seen," Taahi says. The going got tougher when Taahi returned to the house to complete recording while his bandmates enjoyed themselves at the Soundwave festival. "The whole area was hit with the biggest monsoon and the power went out for four days," he recalls. "Somehow they found a generator. We had to put petrol in it every two hours and turn the studio off so we could power the fridge."
McDougall attributes the shifts in sound between albums to "growing up". "I was 16 when we first started as a band and now I'm 21, which is a massive growing-up period for anybody," she says. "The band is the only thing any of us have known in our lives so that's why this record feels so personal to us."
While Tonight Alive are lauded in the rock scenes of Europe and the US, maintaining momentum back home has been tough. There aren't as many venues, festivals or radio stations dedicated to their genre as overseas. "Things are starting to change but it has been hard to get any kind of major support or radio play," Taahi says. "Triple M just picked us up but Triple J never did. It's tough for a young homegrown act to get heard."