What happens when you place five Australians in frigid New Jersey to write their third LP with one of the most renowned rock producers of the modern day? Well, you're just going to have to scroll down and read more because I'm not going to tell you on my own. HAH. Look at me, trying to get you to read the article.
But seriously, you should read the interview. All Time Low's headlining tour is currently making its way across America, and one of their openers consists of an extremely talented group of musicians that hail from Sydney, Australia. Tonight Alive are currently getting ready to finish up their third studio album, this time recording with David Bendeth, a producer that has helped create the iconic sounds of artists like Paramore, Underoath, Bring Me The Horizon and (most recently) Of Mice & Men. Check out the full interview I did pre-show with guitarist Jake Hardy and bassist Cameron Adler.
The band released “The Other Side” back in 2013, and it’s been said that you are currently working on your third studio album. With as much as you’re able to say, what has the process been like for this new record, in comparison to “The Other Side”?
Jake: Well, we’re recording it in New Jersey this year, whereas we recorded it back home for “The Other Side”. We’re recording it with a different producer, David Bendeth. It’s definitely been a different experience. He’s more different than any producer we’ve ever worked with.
Cameron: We’ve spent a lot more time in pre-production than we have in the past. There’s a lot of elements to the songs that weren’t in our previous record, instrumentation-wise. That’s changed things a lot as well. The writing process took about twice as long. “The Other Side” was done in a beach house on the coast of Australia, as opposed to winter in New Jersey. (laughs)
You’re working with David Bendeth on this record. What does he bring to the table for your band, as a producer?
Jake: He’s got a really old-school kind of mentality. He got us all in, and really worked on us as musicians. We broke down the songs, and he took us in. We had like 45 songs written for the record. We sat in his office and listened to every single one of them, rated them, and picked a bunch from that.
Cameron: One of the goals for the record was to achieve some kind of commercial success, whether that be radio or just reaching more ears than we have in the past. He’s had success with that in the past. He’s broken bands with their breakthrough records. He understands what sounds are current, and what needs to be done with our band. He’s kind of a puppet master.
You mentioned the word traditional. When you guys are recording, I know that a lot of producers are now starting to veer towards using programs to simulate the instruments. Is he much more traditional in the sense of going the analog route?
Jake: Dave is very authentic. We still record through a program, but he’s a very traditional guy.
Cameron: Dave’s studio has a pretty signature drum sound. He doesn’t want to jeopardize that for anything. But at the same time, if the song calls for a different sound that’s not a heavy, booming rock kit, he won’t do that. So he’s not stubborn. Every decision, so far, has been made song by song.
One of the things that I was always curious about was the album artwork. What’s the story behind it, if I may ask?
Cameron: I think that the image of the escalators was appealing to us. In all honesty, we were kind of just browsing through the Internet, searching for things that might spark a thought for us. Something that fit with “The Other Side”. What was cool about it was that…well, we love the green as well. Jenna loves green. But we just thought it was a cool thing that worked really well. If you want to look into it more, you can look at the symbolism of the album being called “The Other Side” and how the escalator is going from the bottom to the top. You can’t see what’s at the top, there’s just a light. It’s just symbolic of moving from one place to another.
We don’t actually get asked about it much! But we definitely put a lot of thought into it. We were really stoked on it. A lot of people may have been really surprised at using the sterile nature of escalators (laughs). Nobody had really done that before, but we’re proud of it.
This is going quite a ways back, honestly, but the first introduction I ever had to you guys was the cover you did of Little Lion Man. My jaw dropped the second that I heard it, and I could tell there was something about your band that was very unique. How long did it take you to come up with the arrangement for that cover?
Cameron: Not long, really. You know sometimes there’s just things where when they work, they work. I think when we got the opportunity to do that cover, we had already done a previous cover when we were young of a band called Rufio. When this opportunity came up, it was fun. We were able to bring all of our influences onto the table. We kept a lot of those punk, Rufio-type moments. We just jammed. It didn’t take long; we recorded it quickly.
Jake: We got sent a really big list of songs that were on the radio at the time, and that was the really the only that had any elements that our band could use. The rest of them were like Beyonce, Kesha. So we had to go with that one. We were like “yeah, that’s definitely the song that we have to do”.
What kind of message, if any, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Jake: I guess we’re all about empowerment. Especially going into the later records. [We want people to] take any part of it, and use it to better their lives.
Cameron: Yeah, Jenn’s message is always pretty firm about not letting other peoples’ judgment affect who you want to be, and having a sense of self. She always makes a point to point that out at the shows, that [the show] is a place where you can be yourself, look how you want to look, and be accepted.
What does music mean to you?
Jake: It’s everything to us. We listen to music all day, every day. There’s music in every element of our lives.
Last question: after this tour with All Time Low finishes up, what are the future plans for your guys, in terms of anything you can let fans know about right now?
Cameron: We go back and finish the rest of the record. The tour ends in Baltimore, then we go back to Jersey for about a month, and then finish it up!
Tonight Alive's second studio album, "The Other Side", is available now via Fearless Records.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.