Meet Australian pop rockers Tonight Alive, Warped Tour’s resident “foreign exchange students” as one guy enthusiastically yelled out before their interview, during their stop in San Diego, CA. I got to sit down with Jenna McDougall and Whakaio Taahi and discuss everything from their experience so far on Warped, to their first full length album, What Are You So Scared Of? For a band that is barely graduating from their freshman year in the game, Tonight Alive is quickly making a name for themselves and putting a few of the seniors in their place, too. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be the most humble, down to earth people from down under. And….. cue the unison “awww”!
Being a ‘female-fronted band’ in a typically perceived man’s world, Jenna and Whakaio had wise words to say about their music and the bands that share this rather broad category with them. Some people may argue that it’s easier or more difficult for a female-fronted band, but lead singer Jenna notes that Tonight Alive have had no special treatment, and “if you’re doing it right, it’s as hard as it is for everyone else.” Whakaio further adds that he doesn’t see the group as being a female-fronted band. “The thing about Jenna,” he states, “is it’s not because she’s female, it’s because she’s talented as a songwriter and as a vocalist.”
Talent is the first factor that catches your eyes (and ears) when listening to Tonight Alive. Another trait that is hard to ignore is how seasoned the band seems, even though they currently have released only one full length album. Whakaio accredits this to the band touring with each other for over 2 years now, making them a tight-knit group. Even so, Warped Tour is a whole other world and it’s obvious that the band is still riding on cloud nine. Whakaio adds that “It’s been two weeks and still it hasn’t worn off that we’re in this thing finally.”
Jenna’s face lights up when she mentions how excited she’s been for the entire experience and the fans that come out to the shows. “It’s nice to know that the people that are standing in front of us when we play are not waiting for the band that’s coming on next,” says Jenna, and she’s got a good point. For a freshman band to attract so much attention while on a tour with over 90 other musicians, I must say, it’s impressive.
The band has obviously put a lot of thought into their tours, their performances and their music, as Jenna and Whakaio describe the feelings behind their album, What Are You So Scared Of? Jenna states the album’s theme is a number of things, but mainly it hopes to ask others the question, “what’s holding you back?” For a first album, the idea of facing your fears head-on seems like the perfect theme. Whakaio adds that he wanted to “help those people that are…searching for something.” with Jenna adding in to “take chances.”
Maybe that’s why the album has been quite popular. It sounds like YOLO, only smarter and a little more relatable. And I’m loving that. What do you think?
Another reason why I like this band? They signed that poster that we’re giving away on the site! If you’re interested in winning it, make sure you check out the giveaways section.