Monday, October 17, 2011

Tonight Alive

JENNA MCDOUGALL and WHAKAIO TAAHI from breakthrough Sydney pop/rock outfit TONIGHT ALIVE talk toRACHEL BARNES about the influence a label can have on music.

A change in band members, names, and three years’ of hard work may not be on every band’s road to success, but for Tonight Alive that’s the road that sent them from garage band to trending Twitter topic. After releasing two independently funded EPs, touring and building up a fanbase on the road and online they found themselves drawing interest from the likes of high-profile American producer Mark Trombino and several record companies. After a showcase for Sony, everything seemed to fall into place for the young Australian band, who then got the okay to jet off and record their first studio album with Trombino.

Trombino didn’t come without a cost, with the recording process harder then they were used to. “Everything that we played in the studio was just 100% natural and it was hard but you can definitely hear it, you can definitely hear each instrument,” Taahi says. “It was a lot harder but it was so much more worth it.”

Trombino helped push Tonight Alive in the right direction without telling them what to do. “Everything on that record is us. It’s not some big producer putting his spin on it. Every melody, we wrote that. I definitely love and appreciate that that’s the way he did it,” Taahi says.

Sony gave the band complete creative control of the album that they finished in just two-and-a-half months. “They sort of act like an indie label, everything is really close and we all have really good relationships with our team,” McDougall says. Though Sony has a big say in what singles the band puts out, which can generate some tension between the two, McDougall says it’s always a mutual decision. “They know what’s best, but we definitely get a say,” she says.

With the new album just released and a tour underway, a wider audience has come at a cost for the band with frequent comparisons between them and pop-punk icons Paramore. McDougall denies any influence from Paramore and says although the comparison doesn’t exactly bother them it is annoying. The band hopes their latest release will help set them apart from the eerily similar-sounding Paramore, but the true test will be seeing how fans react to it on their upcoming tour. Hitting the road with close friends Rufio, who they met while touring in Indonesia, the two bands can’t wait to be reunited during Tonight Alive’s album release tour. “We respect them so much with their music, we grew up listening to them. So it’s definitely an honor to have them here,” Taahi says.

Touring for the rest of the year without a break until Christmas the band is looking forward to another full-on year sending them all over the world. “I used to sit in my bedroom and play guitar and then when I’d play guitar I’d close my eyes and picture I’d be in front of this massive stage and now it’s happening and it’s just like ‘that’s nuts’,” Taahi says.

“It’s like that dream you never think’s gonna come true,” McDougall says. “We know how lucky we are.”

You can check out TONIGHT ALIVE at the ON THE PULSE festival, Saturday Oct 22 at both The Hive and Fortitude Valley PCYC. They also play The Zoo on Sunday Oct 23. For more information hit WHAT ARE YOU SO SCARED OF is out now on Sony.

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