Interview with Tonight Alive

Australia’s own Tonight Alive are not only used to the heat, but they’ve got quite a handle on this whole Warped Tour thing as well. Having played the festival two years in a row now, with five tours in between, it’s no wonder the quintet has seen massive growth in their fanbase. After all, we are led to believe that hard work pays off and this band is a true testament to that. With their sophomore release set for early September, the Sydney natives plan to hit the road for an Australian headlining tour, followed by a European tour, a brief stint supporting You Me At Six in the US, and then Warped Tour Australia. (We need a nap just thinking about it.)

However, even with all that on their plate, vocalist Jenna McDougall and drummer Matt Best were still able to find a few minutes to sit down with us and talk about their upcoming release, ‘The Other Side,’ the music video for “Lonely Girl,” and a crazy story involving mace.

How’s Warped Tour treating you? It’s your second year, right?

Jenna: Yeah! It’s been awesome!

Matt: Yeah!

Jenna: The fact that this is our second year in a row is so cool to us because Warped Tour is something we’ve always wanted to do. It’s something we’ve always dreamed about. So, one year is amazing, two years is like the cherry on top.

Matt: Yeah, it’s really cool to see the progress that we’ve been making two tours since then. And the growth in our crowd.

It’s ever-changing, right?

Jenna: Yeah! Ever-growing.

So do you guys have some crazy Warped stories?

Matt: [laughs]

Jenna: On this tour?

Yeah, on this one.

Jenna: [laughs] Yeah, we’ve had a few good nights.

Matt: We always get asked this question and we never know the answer to give.

Jenna: I do know one! This was actually at the beginning of tour, so it’s kind of crazy that this happened early on, but we play this drinking game called Higher Or Lower and it’s a card game where you put the card face up — say it’s a seven — and the next person guesses whether it will be higher or lower. Anyway, it goes around and if you get it wrong you drink and there’s different cards with rules. So the night progressed to the point where there were these ridiculous rules and Jake [Hardy] made this rule where he’d get maced if this card came up.

Matt: Ah, yeah!

Jenna: And the rule only applied to him so he was like “Okay, I’ve gotta get maced” and we’re like “What the hell, are you serious?” And he decided to mace himself. He went outside, strips down, and maces himself in the eyes and said he was blind for half an hour. Ridiculous! He just poured milk over his eyes forever. Matt went to the shop to buy milk for him. It was so ridiculous but it was super funny for everyone else.

It’s something he can look back on and laugh, but at the time be like, “That was the worst idea ever!”

Matt: Yeah, basically.

Jenna: [laughs]

That’s when you know you’ve gone too far! [laughs] But, anyway, last night you guys released a clip for your new song “Lonely Girl.” How has the response been?

Jenna: Really cool! People are into it. A girl tweeted me saying “It’s so hateful, I love it!”

Matt: [laughs]

Jenna: It’s cool because it is quite aggressive and a little bit bitchy. It’s kind of channeled from this friendship that I had in high school that fell apart basically and it talks about the kind of person that calls out for help but doesn’t want help. It’s kind of like “I’m the damsel in distress. Somebody hold me; I’m desperate” and then it’s like “No, I don’t need your help. I’m fine on my own.” So it’s like the position that I felt like I was in. So yeah, the song is sort of about a person you don’t feel sorry for anymore.

So it’s kind of on the same personal note as “The Ocean”?

Jenna: In a way. It’s from the same original drive but they’re definitely not about the same things. “The Ocean” is about a personal health position I was in, but written in sort of general terms.

Matt: A lot of the songs on the album are a bit more aggressive and a little darker.

Jenna: Yeah. I feel like through that time we were touring a lot, I learned a lot about myself, so I was happy to write lyrics that were a lot more honest and at times weren’t necessarily flattering to myself. I was kind of the bad guy sometimes. It was cool to write an honest album.

Are there any slow, ballad-y type songs on it, or is it more hardcore, in-your-face stuff?

Matt: There’s two ballads and a couple of fast ones.

Jenna: We’ve got one pop song on the album. We’ve got this super hip and medieval song. It sounds like knights battling pirates on a pirate ship. It’s kind of crazy. [laughs]

When you do a video, you should be pirates!

Matt: Yeah, right!

It could be this huge thing! You could do through the times, with ninjas and pirates and knights!

Matt: [laughs]

Jenna: Yes, I can completely see that happening. You’ll hear it now when you listen to the album. You’ll know what I’m talking about.

I’ll tweet at you and be like “I know the song!” [laughs]

Jenna: You’ll get it straight away!

Now, you have a video that you’ve done for “Lonely Girl,” right? Do you know when it’s going to drop, or can you tell us a little bit about it?

Jenna: It’ll be a few weeks away, to be honest.

Matt: Yeah, it will probably be almost in tune with the album coming out.

Jenna: It’s a two-part video, which is exciting for us because we never really got to experiment with what it’s like to have actors and have a b-plot to a video. Like, we kind of did it with “Breakdown,” but I think budget and time kept us from fully experimenting. So this time we’re going to have an actress in the clip and that’s going to be filmed sort of in the next week. We’re really excited about it! We have a real vision for this one.

Awesome! And for my last question, if you had three words to describe this Warped Tour, what would they be?

Jenna: Sweaty.

Matt: Yeah, sweaty.

Jenna: Mates.

Matt: Sweaty.

Jenna: [laughs]

Double the sweaty!

Matt: Yeah!

Jenna: Double sweat!

Pick up Tonight Alive’s new album, The Other Side.

For the band’s upcoming tour dates, check out their Facebook page.