THE KOLLECTIVE PRESENTS
The Downtown Fiction, For The Foxes, Echosmith
4959 South State Street
Murray, UT, 84107
It's an unlikely tale. Rising from the fevered hotbed of Sydney, Australia's underground hardcore scene, boy meets girl. Or rather, two boys meet girl to make kick-ass rock music.Try to keep up - the story goes something like this...Guitarist Whakaio Taahi and his compadre bass player, Cameron Adler, needed a frontman for a rock project. Scrap that. Frontwoman. Enter ingenue-with-attitude, Jenna McDougall - as soon as the sixteen-year-old songstress' soaring contralto and sweet strains took the mic to their songs, something clicked. Already onboard, rhythm axeman Jake Hardy and new recruit, drummer Matt Best - a childhood buddy of Whakaio's. One jam later, the writing was on the wall. Tonight Alive were up and running, pedal to the metal.The band stepped up, and fast. Songs honed, stagecraft already a dead cert, they entered Sydney's subterranean circuit of metalcore and heavy bands, playing their own brand of catchy-as-all-hell pop-punk... and promptly took the scene by storm, developing a rabid young fanbase in thrall to the band's ebullient, fist-pumping anthemery, arena-sized hooks and high-voltage live performances. Right from word-go, it was clear Tonight Alive were going somewhere.A year on, courted by labels and management secured, with two stellar EPs ('All Shapes & Disguises' and 'Consider This') under their belts, a demo of Tonight Alive's new material landed on producer-extraordinaire Mark Trombino's (Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World, The Starting Line) desk. He rang the band immediately, wanting in."For him to contact us, and say he was interested, was a big deal," says Jenna, now 19. "We couldn't believe he'd put himself out like that. He's amazing. Mark created the albums we all grew up listening to - the albums that launched the careers of all these great bands.Whakaio weighs in. "Yeah, it felt right that he do our first album, that he be the one to kick-start us off. As soon as we got over there, we found Mark felt the same."Recorded at LA's infamous NRG Studios over two months, Trombino's personal interest in the project played out in other fortuitous ways. "Nothing was left to editing or over Pro-Tooling," notes Whakaio. "Jenna sang every line until it was right. I played every guitar part. The drum sound is natural and not heavily sampled. There was no copy-pasting. That was really important to us, as well as Mark. That it sound real. Natural.""It was great because it made us really step up as musicians," says Jenna. "I know I definitely came back from the experience a better singer."What you're listening to now is the inspired result of that auspicious partnership between a bunch of Aussie kids and an auteur with a canon of classic records already to his name. What Are You So Scared Of? is one more album to add to that list.As the charging powerchords, chiming verseline and rattlesnake high-hats of Breaking & Entering kick off proceedings, Tonight Alive make their intent known with this instant torch song. Like serving up straight red cordial shots to a bunch of Ritalin-deprived delinquents. Like scooping up a surging circle-pit and slamdunking into a kids' jumping castle. Like a surly prom queen setting her school afire as the So-Cal styled band plays on, What Are You So Scared Of? is a veritable barnstormer of a debut album. Bouncey, infectious and thrilling.Cue the mosh-happy shout-a-long of Starlight, the sheer infectious fun of Sure as Hell and the sugar-rush of songs like To Die For and the title track. Lending both cred and sporting their influences on their sleeve.But there's also gravitas to match Tonight Alive's gusto and good time - the balls-out heaviness of Listening, the acoustic-shaded power ballad Safe and Sound, and one of the album's best tracks, Let It Land, all showcase a band with serious songwriting chutzpah. Meanwhile, the moving closer, Amelia, is Jenna's paean to a girlhood friend who passed away aged 16, and packs one powerful emotional punch.What really lifts Tonight Alive above another female-fronted pop-rock band is their muscular musicality, a deft sense of dynamic, a way of shifting seamlessly from the big riffs and breakdowns, to allow space and the sensibility of Jenna's sweetly sung melodies to shine through. The hardcore heritage has set them in good stead - these kids have some bad-ass chops. Underpinned by Best's impassioned, athletic drumming, the mercurial undertow of Adler's tasteful basswork and Hardy's meat'n' potato riffery, Whakaio lays down the sort of colour, texture and zinging, adrenalizing leadlines that sing like a wire fenceline being drawn taut.When it comes to fronting Tonight Alive, Jenna is all heart and zero artifice - plus, this gal's got one helluva set of lungs on her. Equal parts sugar and spit, honey and husk, vamp, vitriol and vulnerability, she belts it out, hell for leather. "The weird thing is, even though as a band, we all grew up on bands like Thrice, Sum 41 and Something Corporate, I think what influenced me most, vocally, was stuff as diverse as Frank Sinatra, Missy Higgins, Avril Lavrigne and Fall Out Boy," says Jenna. "Plus I listen to tons of metal, where there's a lot of screaming. I really dig the aggression."Already with a cult following Stateside, key to the band's burgeoning profile has been the inclusion of songs off their last EP on reality TV show The Hills. Ironic, considering the band are from Sydney's Hills District. "Yeah," laughs Whakaio. "We're the Aussie Hills!""We're hoping it'll help us out in the girl department," quips Matt, "That we'll get invited to some Hills launch party in Hollywood. Sadly, it hasn't happened yet."Perhaps a song on Jersey Shore might tip things in their favour? "God," drawls Jenna. "We hope not."The band's grounded approach has added to their groundswell appeal. "We started off playing youth centre's," says Whakaio. "And so we all feel like we have a personal connection to so many people who come to our shows. I know that sounds cliched, but it's true - it's almost like we're friends with all of them. We make a point of going out after a gig, making contact with the fans, thanking them, keeping them informed."So, why the title What Are You So Scared Of? "It's the only question I can ever ask myself where I'll always have an answer," explains Jenna. "Asking myself, 'what are you so scared of?' has always helped me pass through any personal fear or doubt. And it's summed up the last year for us as a band - we've broken new boundaries, stepped up into another league."What Are You So Scared Of? is our mission statement, if you like - we're moving forward, dissolving old barriers or blocks."She's no blonde bombshell, that's for sure, but Jenna and her band may very well be the bomb: Tonight Alive are gonna blow up big-time. Prepare yourself, people. Tonight Alive are here, and they're on fire.
The Downtown Fiction
The Downtown Fiction (TDF) of Fairfax, Virginia have taken their love of music, friends, and a darn good time and created something really special. Citing influences ranging from Green Day to The Rolling Stones, the pop-rock trio has a sound comparable to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Blink 182, and The All-American Rejects. With fans across America and even in South Asia, TDF proves to be on a musical mission.
Formed in the summer of 2008 by Cameron Leahy (vocals/guitar) and Eric Jones (drums), the two posted three demos on their MySpace and were blown away by the response. Soon after, they recruited friend David Pavluk on bass and backing vocals to round out the trio. With Cameron's majestic stage presence, and the band's witty lyrics and catchy chords, it's no question why label president Matt Galle quickly signed them to Photo Finish Records in 2009.
On March 3rd, 2010, TDF released their first EP "Best I Never Had" to a long climb up the iTunes chart. With a blossoming number of dedicated followers on multiple social networking sites and a YouTube channel currently boasting 5,000 subscribers and surpassing a whopping 1,000,000 views, TDF is well on their way to taking over the media world.
The Downtown Fiction has been building a reputation for working hard and touring constantly alongside their contemporaries; making appearances on this past summer's Bamboozle Road Show with headliners Boys Like Girls and All Time Low, as well as the 2010 Vans Warped Tour. With a loyal fan base that just keeps growing, TDF has created a perfect experience for their fans and for music lovers everywhere, providing an entertaining live show in addition to their high-energy music. And not only has The Downtown Fiction made it their goal to road trip across America with their catchy tunes, but they've also made a point to travel the globe; hitting up Japan in the fall of 2010 with We The Kings before embarking on a full US tour as the main supporting act with The Summer Set.
In addition to their world travels, (including rocking cities with The Ready Set on the Glamour Kills Tour) and popularity-gaining EP's, TDF's music has been circling the world in another form – by being featured on some of the most popular TV shows around. Besides their debut video for "I Just Wanna Run" premiering on MTV Hits, MTV2, and MTV U; their music can be heard throughout the second season of MTV's Jersey Shore, and has been featured on other shows like The Hard Times of RJ Berger, The Challenge: Fresh Meat II, The Hills, and Keeping Up With The Kardashians. And since infiltrating your cable channels just isn't enough, The Downtown Fiction has three downloadable tracks featured in the latest edition of Rock Band!
And of course, soon enough, the hard travelin' members of TDF will be doing a bit of settling down in the studio;will be releasing their debut full length on Photo Finish Records by Spring/Summer 2011.
For The Foxes
Only four years into its young life as a band, For The Foxes has never known what it means to move slow. Everything has moved at a breakneck speed for the Barnegat, NJ natives since their inception in 2008, and the group's latest EP, The Revolution, is another catalyst in the process.
Nicholas Dungo (vocals/keyboard/bass), Jimmy Brindley (guitar), and Danny Vassallo (drums) began writing songs together right out of high school and before they knew it, they were playing local shows and developing a repertoire of songs. Dungo, in school for a degree in music business, asked the others if they would leave school with him to pursue For The Foxes as a full-time project. "I realized performing and writing music constantly was my favorite part of the day," Dungo reminisces. "We booked our own first two tours begging for any gas money and had the time of our lives. After getting a little taste of freedom, we decided we needed to be doing this every night. We never looked back."
After extensive touring and experimenting with their sound, For The Foxes recruited Mikey Ballou (guitar) and Jonathan Brunner (bass) to complete the band's current status as a five-piece in live settings. Signing to Hopeless Records in 2011 was an easy decision. "We knew that it was the right choice for us because we weren't sure where we wanted to take our sound," Dungo says. "Hopeless is amazing at developing artists and really diving into the creative side of things and that's exactly what we needed." The band took about a year to write music and figure out the direction of its sound, then recorded The Revolution EP for an April 2012 release. The Revolution is six tracks of high-octane pop-rock that highlights Dungo's unique voice and For The Foxes' instantly infectious melodies.
The band premiered a live music video for "The Revolution" on MTV's Buzzworthy blog, with MTV writing that the song "rises from lullaby-hushed verses to a full-on scream-a-long chorus." The song's indie-infused, '80s-influenced feel is indicative of a wide range of styles on the EP. When the band again teamed up with Buzzworthy for a full EP stream, MTV was more to the point: "The first time's the charm for For The Foxes. [The Revolution] is six tracks of totally iPod-worthy pop-rock, full of big hooks and speeding-bullet guitars."
Swaying from intimate, piano-led moments to soaring choruses, The Revolution holds its own weight in the shuffle of today's pop-rock scene. Dungo says the band draws influences from pop pioneers like The Format to rock-and-roll legends like Bruce Springsteen, and the EP shows it. There are as many shades of modern pop bands like fun. and Hellogoodbye as there are tips of the hat to the stars of yesteryear. "This is where I want to be," says Dungo of the band's sound and creative mindset. "Hopeless truly gave us the time and freedom we needed to explore ourselves and that's how The Revolution formed. If I've realized anything through this process so far, it's that you can't rush honesty, and you can't rush good music."
With no sign of the momentum stopping anytime soon, Dungo says he's looking forward to the cycle of touring that will follow The Revolution's April 24 release. "We want to play for new live audiences, we want to tour with bands we love and learn from them," he says. "We want to show people what's inside the true heart of For The Foxes."
Echosmith might be just starting out on the newest chapter of their career, but that doesn't mean this Los Angeles-based four-piece are strangers to what it takes to make it as a band. In fact, they've known each other their whole lives.
"Music is just what we want to do forever, and we love being in a band with each other," explains singer/guitarist Jamie Sierota. "It's one the most natural ways for us to do music, so we want to stick with doing the band and touring and making records—working together for a long, long time."
The four siblings—Jamie (19), Sydney (15, vocals/keyboard), Noah (17, vocals/bass) and Graham (14, drums)—have been playing together as a band for several years, honing in on their sound and perfecting their collaborative song-writing process.
"There's definitely a lot of factors to balance in this life," adds Sydney. "Finding the balance of family and being in a band. But this is what we want to do."
"Musically," adds Jamie, "we all vibe really well, and as a band, the chemistry's already there."
With balance and chemistry in check, the alt-pop group has time to focus on crafting their songs and preparing their energetic, fan-focused live performances. The band is currently in the studio working on their debut album with producer Mike Elizondo (Tegan And Sara, Gary Clark Jr., Maroon 5), who signed them to Warner Bros. with WBR chairman (and famed fellow producer) Rob Cavallo. And while Echosmith have only been playing together as a band for about four years, they grew up in a musical house, sharing a love for playing instruments and listening to bands as varied as Coldplay, The Smiths, U2, Joy Division and Fleetwood Mac.
Now that Echosmith have refined that sound into what can be described as alt-pop influenced by a lot of early-'80s new wave, they have big plans to share that sound with new fans. Aside from a seven-date run with Owl City this winter, Echosmith will also be playing the first half of this summer's Warped Tour—a rite of passage for many young bands.
"We were super excited when we found out about [Warped Tour]," Jamie says. "So many bands grow from that and just come out of that with tons of fans. We'll brave the heat and it will be a really fun opportunity."
In the meantime, Echosmith will continue to write and record songs for their upcoming debut album. Fans can get a taste of what to expect with "Come Together," which is currently streaming on the band's site, an upbeat song that speaks volumes not only of the band's musical chops but also their attitude about the future trajectory of Echosmith.
"'Come Together' kind of says it all in the title," Jamie explains. "The song's really about coming together when a group of people—especially young people—are getting looked down upon and stuff like that. We can still do things and we can still matter and make a difference."
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