After a tumultuous year, Tonight Alive emerge stronger than ever

After a tumultuous year, Tonight Alive emerge stronger than ever

Words by Tammy Walters

Even though they haven’t been in the spotlight for the last twelve months, Jenna McDougall and band, Tonight Alive, are still very much alive.

In fact, McDougall is the strongest and healthiest she has ever been in her life but it took being at the lowest point to get her to the top of her game. Not only was McDougall’s health issues related to severe eczema a constant underlying battle, the band had been severely bruised.

Their third studio album, Limitless, released through Sony Music Australia in 2016 came with an unfulfilled promise that lead to the quick turn-around of follow-up album, Underworld, however Underworld came with the announcement of the departure of founding member Whakaio Taahi.

The final hit is one of tragedy involving the sad death of a security guard during their Sydney concert, resulting in the cancellation of their American tour and an eventual
touring hiatus.

“Making Limitless really broke the back with us because the goal with that record was commercial success and that really broke our heart because we were invested in the band and that album,” explains McDougall.

“We put out our record [Underworld] at the start of last year and toured all year on it and then unfortunately we did have to cancel our American tour and we just decided to commit to a real break so this is big deal. It was the first time we had taken time off in 11 years and it will be 12 years early next year of being a band so coming back from this is really ceremonial in a way.”

The first break in McDougall’s music career since starting as a fresh-eyed 15-year-old saw an extensive process of healing – mentally, physically and emotionally.

“I don’t recognise myself. I’ve never felt so stable in my life emotionally, physically and mentally and obviously things fluctuate, but it’s been really good to have consistency and to experiment with the lifestyle and the kind of life I want to lead. There’s been a lot of focus in my life on wellbeing and personal development, growth, consistency, stability and balance.”

“I’ve never been able to attain the level of those things that I have been in this year off. It’s just so nice to be living at a higher quality of health and stability and happiness and being able to maintain it and not interrupt that progress as you do when you’re touring,” she explains.

“It’s so great that in this day and age, our generation and the younger generation are talking about self-care and self-love and acceptance because that wasn’t part of the social dialogue when we started as a band. My self-esteem and sense of self was really unsupported and that’s fine – it is what it is and I’m not the only one but it’s really great to be healing my teenage and young adult wounds that were inflicted by being a public figure and performer.

“I’m really glad for that because I want longevity in my career and I want to keep making music and performing but I think I really needed a gap year and to be reborn a little bit.”

In phoenix form, the Sydney rockers will be making their return to the stage for the 2020 UNIFY Gathering, doing so with a massive support network of friends who will be
joining them.

“These are friends of the band and some will be artists that we have toured with previously and some of them won’t be. I’d like to think that most of the artists we perform with, people will see as a surprise – not just because they didn’t know who it would be but a surprise of the coming together of different worlds!”

Tonight Alive come to UNIFY Gathering which goes down from Thursday January 9 to Sunday January 12 in Tarwin Lower. Grab your tix via the festival website.