.af­ter that, Tonight Alive re­turn – one mem­ber down – from a pe­riod of tur­moil

Be­tween leav­ing their la­bel and over­com­ing per­sonal demons, tonight alive have Been through a lot to make their new al­bum, un­der­world. and now gui­tarist whakaio taahi­has left. what’s go­ing on, jenna mcdougall?

Kerrang! (UK) - - Contents -

TONIGHT ALIVE have had a busy sum­mer: straight af­ter play­ing Slam Dunk at the end of May, singer Jenna Mcdougall re­vealed they were im­me­di­ately go­ing to start work on the fol­low-up to 2016’s Lim­it­less.

The band spent six weeks holed-up in a Thai­land record­ing stu­dio with pro­ducer Dave Petro­vic, the man re­spon­si­ble for pro­duc­ing their ear­lier re­leases, in­clud­ing their se­cond full-length The Other Side. The re­sult is Un­der­world, and the re­ally good news is that Tem­ple – Jenna’s favourite song on the al­bum – has been pushed for­ward as the first sin­gle.

This year marks a pe­riod of sig­nif­i­cant change for the band. Since part­ing ways with pre­vi­ous la­bel Sony, the band have signed with Hope­less/unfd. But it’s not all pos­i­tive – the band have also slimmed down to a quar­tet fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of gui­tarist Whakaio Taahi.and on a per­sonal level, Jenna her­self has had to deal with is­sues of her own.there’s a lot to take in, so we caught up with her to find out more…

WHAT IN­SPIRED THE FIRST SIN­GLE, TEM­PLE?

JENNA MCDOUGALL (VO­CALS): “I was re­ally un­well a few months ago and strug­gling with my health – my eczema was back in a chronic state. There’s a line in the song which says:‘help me please, I could not be more des­per­ate / And I don’t think you heard me when I said.’ It’s about my strug­gle with go­ing to doc­tors and hav­ing them say, ‘You’re too young to be this sick,’ but they wouldn’t do the test­ing I was ask­ing for be­cause they thought it was too se­ri­ous, too se­vere. I was su­per-frag­ile and fa­tigued and dizzy.the worst part was that I was de­vel­op­ing an al­lergy to ev­ery­thing I was eat­ing, so my diet was re­ally scarce, and I ac­tu­ally de­vel­oped a bu­limic habit. I was re­ject­ing ev­ery­thing I ate in the fear I was go­ing to have an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to it.”

BUT JUDG­ING BY YOUR IN­STA­GRAM, YOU EAT IN­CRED­I­BLY HEALTHILY – THIS MUST HAVE BEEN RE­ALLY CON­FUS­ING AND FRUS­TRAT­ING…

“Yeah. I don’t re­ally have a toxic diet, so it was re­ally con­fus­ing to be re­act­ing to fruit and veg­eta­bles, sug­ars and things like that. I don’t eat grains or any an­i­mal prod­ucts, no al­co­hol. I was do­ing ev­ery­thing I could to stay as pure as pos­si­ble and keep my body re­ally healthy, but I wasn’t be­ing re­warded in any way; it was al­most like I was be­ing pun­ished. I was feel­ing re­ally trapped in my­self.the song’s about the de­pres­sion that was spawned from that.”

ARE YOU FEEL­ING BET­TER NOW, THOUGH?

“I am. I can’t be­lieve I’m say­ing that, be­cause I can’t re­ally re­mem­ber the last time I’ve felt this well.as soon as we’d made this record, it felt like I’d purged ev­ery­thing that needed to leave my sys­tem.a lot of it came from the pain of Lim­it­less and the re­jec­tion we’d felt from our past la­bel, as well as the stress of mak­ing this record and also be­ing re­ally sick at the same time. Fin­ish­ing the record and leav­ing Thai­land shut that book for me. Com­ing back to Aus­tralia, my in­ten­tion was to get healthy and find the right prac­ti­tioner for my con­di­tion. It’s like it re­solved it­self, and I’m in a much bet­ter place.”

WHAT ELSE HAS IN­FORMED THE NEW AL­BUM?

“I’ve ex­plored the idea of ‘re­turn­ing to the child’ a lot. It’s about prac­tic­ing non-judge­ment. I’ve al­ways had that fear of judge­ment, and that was some­thing that re­stricted my hap­pi­ness. It’s about be­com­ing more play­ful and re­turn­ing to your in­no­cence and your vul­ner­a­bil­ity, and the lack of fear as­so­ci­ated with that.when you’re a child, you’re not afraid to cry, or ask for help, or ex­press your­self, even if it makes oth­ers un­com­fort­able. I feel a lot more at peace with my­self than I ever have. For the first time, I look in the mir­ror and don’t want to change what I see. I think that’s part of hav­ing some spir­i­tual un­der­stand­ing that you are not your body.”

WAS THE ACT OF SHAV­ING YOUR HEAD A WAY OF HIT­TING THE RE­SET BUT­TON?

“It was some­thing that was sym­bolic for me – re­mov­ing con­ven­tional beauty.that’s some­thing I felt a lot of pres­sure over with our last la­bel. I guess I put it on my­self that I never felt beau­ti­ful enough or fem­i­nine enough, and ev­ery time I tried to chase that im­age I was dis­sat­is­fied. It was unattain­able for me. By cut­ting my hair I was tak­ing my body back and I was mak­ing a de­ci­sion that a lot of peo­ple didn’t agree with.that’s what em­pow­ered me the most.”

DUR­ING LIM­IT­LESS, IT SEEMED LIKE YOU NEVER STOPPED WORK­ING…

“It was a dis­tress­ing time for us.we had done so much in the lead-up, and there was noth­ing else in the world that mat­tered. But once the al­bum was re­leased, we stopped hear­ing from our la­bel.we took a lot of risks with that record and I made a lot of com­pro­mises. Once we were on Warped [in 2016], I was try­ing to rebel against ev­ery­thing I had done by wear­ing mil­i­tant out­fits, black­en­ing my eyes and hav­ing a bowl cut – which is not a fem­i­nine hair­cut.”

HOW DID YOU PICK YOUR­SELF UP?

“I wasn’t ready to ad­mit what had hap­pened, that the record wasn’t con­nect­ing with our fans. It took me un­til Jan­uary to grieve that record. In the band, we were pretty low and did a cou­ple of tours. But the thing that got us ex­cited again was when we started writ­ing this new record.when we were set­ting up our new record deals [with UNFD and Hope­less], it was re­ally ex­cit­ing, be­cause we felt sup­ported in an hon­est and au­then­tic way. It didn’t feel like they had another agenda for the band, and they told us to make the record we wanted to make. No-one has ever said that to us be­fore.”

WHAT IS UN­DER­WORLD A REF­ER­ENCE TO?

“In a spir­i­tual sense, it’s the realm where your shadow re­sides. It’s a place where we ne­glect our­selves, shun our­selves, and put ugly, em­bar­rass­ing, shame­ful things. For me, I started pur­su­ing a spir­i­tual life­style a few years ago, and when that hap­pens you’re at­tracted to the light in the world and other peo­ple.you start re­mov­ing tox­i­c­ity from your life, whether it’s your diet, your be­hav­iours, any­thing. I ne­glected a lot of work that needed to be done, like past pain and trau­mas, re­la­tion­ships – things for me that were never fin­ished. It’s a fit­ting theme for me, be­cause I was pre­pared to look at my­self more

hon­estly and prac­tice more hon­esty in my life.”

WHAK HAS NOW LEFT THE BAND. HOW WILL HIS DE­PAR­TURE AF­FECT YOU GUYS, MOV­ING FOR­WARD?

“There’s go­ing to be a gap­ing hole where he was.we made this record to­gether, so when we take this mu­sic on the road, he’s still go­ing to be very much there. It’s a dev­as­tat­ing change for us, but it’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion that means he’s hap­pier and health­ier in his mind. I don’t have to tell his story, but we’re sad to lose him and hope our fans will sup­port his de­ci­sion. His essence is within the band and the mu­sic – it’ll be im­pos­si­ble to not feel his pres­ence.”

“FOR THE FIRST TIME, I LOOK IN THE MIR­ROR AND DON’T WANT TO CHANGE WHAT I SEE…” JENNA MCDOUGALL

Tonight Alive sim­ply loved hang­ing out at the gar­den cen­tre

Jenna:“i’m feel­ing bet­ter now“ Un­der­world is re­leased on Jan­uary 12 via Hope­less/unfd. Tonight Alive tour the UK in March 2018 – see the Gig Guide

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