Australian five piece, Tonight Alive, has been making waves from down under since the release of their debut album in 2011. Although they share the same producer as Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World, their style of pop-punk ain’t your girlfriend’s style of pop-punk. They explain during an interview at Pomona Warped Tour, in which Jenna, Jake, and I cozy up on a shady length of blacktop and discuss the band’s future, poker, and unicorns.
Jenna and Jake, what has Tonight Alive been up to recently?
JENNA: A whole lot of touring and shows. We haven’t really slept. We just got two months off recently, but other than that we’ve been on the road nonstop on consecutive tours. We’ve just been getting our name out as much as possible. We put out a full length record in the states called, What are you so Scared of? , everything has been leading up to this, and this is not the end, obviously. We just keep going. It feels really good to be here. It feels like a massive achievement.
What is your favorite thing about touring in the States?
Jake: The people. Everyone will come up after the show to say, “Hello.”
How is that different from shows in your home country?
JENNA: Well, Australia is obviously where we’re from. We’ve been playing there for a lot longer, so there is a loyal fan base there rather than a fresh fan base. We’ve already got a great foundation at home, where as here, we are the guy guys on the block, which is exciting.
Do you have a new album in the works?
JENNA: Yeah, we’ve been writing it since before our last album was released. We’ve got enough material for two albums at this point. I’m really excited, but that’s not going to happen. We’ll be recording at the beginning of the year. Hopefully we can see a worldwide release around mid 2013.
What is the process of narrowing that much content down to what you’ll put on an album?
JENNA: It’s sort of like, what is going to work, what is versatile, what appeals to our target audience, and what appeals to the different genres of music that we are influenced by. There are fans of ours that are metalheads or people who only listen to Top 40. You can’t keep everyone happy, obviously, but because we come from a different background, that sort of thing comes through. We narrow it down to what our fans are going to like, but also what we are going to like to play live.
Who is the Tonight Alive target audience?
JAKE: Anyone from 12 to 30, I guess. We get a good mix of people at our shows. Parents bring their kids and kids bring their parents.
Who have you met on the Warped Tour whose music you enjoy?
JENNA: We look up to so many bands on this tour. When they walk past us, just that is enough. I don’t want to seem like a fan. I mean, we’re trying to do our thing as well, and it’s hard. When you look up to someone, you kind of just want to keep them in that way. We really like Pierce the Veil, Senses Fail, and Four Years Strong.
I met all of those guys earlier. They are all really good guys.
JENNA: Exactly. And that’s the best part–when you love a band and they turn out to be good guys. It’s inspiring.
Very reaffirming. Tonight Alive plays a very diverse style of music. Where are you drawing inspiration for these songs?
JENNA: Thanks for recognizing that.
JAKE: We’ve all got such different influences. We’ve done jazz, punk, and hardcore. There are so many influences because we listen to such different music.
JENNA: If I wasn’t playing this kind of music I would love to be doing pop-folk. I love The Script. I just appreciate all kinds of music because I can see where people are coming from as a writer. Anything that makes me feel. I know that sounds really dorky. If it makes me angry, if it makes me happy, if it makes me sad, then they are doing their job. That’s what I want to do with our fans–I want to write something that makes them feel something.
That’s beautiful. Hey, do you guys prefer dancing or moshing?
JAKE: I’m more of a dancer.
JENNA: I can’t mosh. I’ve never actually been in a circle pit. I’ve been in a mosh pit, though. You know what’s cool is in Sydney, where there is a big metal and hardcore scene, our fans again come from diverse backgrounds, and we get a lot of kids moshing. I love that!
You’ve got to feel good when you’re playing on stage and people start crowd surfing.
JAKE: That’s the best. It’s an awesome feeling.
JEENA: That’s so bold, isn’t it? I’ve never crowd surfed, either.
It can be pretty dangerous. Dangerously fun.
JAKE: Hah! Yeah, on one of our headline tours, someone got on stage and decided he wanted to crowd surf. He’s a big guy and no one caught him.
JENNA: The crowd just parted. It was really scary.
JAKE: We had to stop the set.
JENNA: He was okay; unconscious, though.
For the American audience, who are some other good up-and-coming Australian bands?
JENNA: We just toured with Friendly Unicorn. They are from south of Sydney and they are freaking awesome. It’s hardcore but their time signature changes every few bars. It’s angry and aggressive, but they are singing about funny stuff.
JAKE: One good show, the singer was wearing a one piece tie-dye suit. He takes it off mid set and he has tie-dye underwear on.
JENNA: He jumps off shit and he’s hardly stays on stage. Half the time he’s in the crowd pushing people around. It’s not an aggressive kind of way, but he keeps you on your toes because every time you watch it is different. You want to look away but you just can’t. It’s awesome.
What are your plans post Warped Tour?
JENNA: We’re going home for a bit and then hitting the UK. We’ll be back in the States in the Fall and then we’re doing some stuff in Asia.
JAKE: We just go everywhere, really, and do as much as possible.
How do you spend your downtime when touring?
JAKE: We like to watch movies together, kick back with some beer, and play poker a lot.
Who is the best at poker?
JAKE: We’re all pretty good, but probably Cam and Whak.
JENNA: Cam and Whak are really great. They are into the skill side of it. They read the books and everything. We go to the APL, the Australian Poker League, which is every night of the week in Sydney.
They really clean you out then, huh?
JENNA: We’re cleaning out each other’s money. It all gets passed around anyway.
It’s communal anyway, right?
JAKE & JENNA: Exactly!
Thanks for speaking with me. Is there anything you want to tell your fans reading?
JENNA: Thanks for your support! Our record is called What Are You So Scared Of?, which came out on Valentine’s Day a few months back, and we’ll be back in the fall if you don’t get a chance to catch us on the Warped Tour.