First Fleet Concerts Presents
The Downtown Fiction, For The Foxes, Echosmith
212 4th Street
Des Moines, IA, 50309
Doors 5:00 PM / Show 5:30 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
"We were just teenagers when we started playing together in our parent's garages in the Sydney suburbs," smiles Tonight Alive front woman Jenna McDougall.
A little bit older and a whole world wiser, today Tonight Alive are a band brimming with energy onstage and off – bursting with stories from the road and with a lust for life that overflows into their lyrics, their music and their explosive live shows. Today they're a family so close-knit that it seems almost unthinkable that there was a time when the band didn't know each other, but as guitarist Jake Hardy explains, it was a mutual passion for music that caused the members to gravitate towards each other through their local scene, and ultimately brought the band that we know today together.
"Myself and our bassist Cam [Adler] were in a band together when we were at high school, we were mostly covering tunes from other bands that we were into," explains Jake. "Through mutual friends we met Whakaio and asked him to join the band on keys and guitar. That's when we started getting more serious. We started writing our own songs but we still needed a committed vocalist and drummer."
On the other side of town, Jenna McDougall was playing her own acoustic shows – inadvertently putting in the groundwork that would lead her to front Australia's most exciting young band.
"Jenna asked me to help her record some of her acoustic demos," explain Cam. "When we were done I said that my band didn't have a singer and I gave her a demo of a song we'd written and asked her to record her vocals over it …and that was it!"
"We had our first practice the day before my birthday, on May 31st 2008," grins Jenna, "We booked our first show at 'Hypefest' for August that year under the name 'Tonight Alive'. Hype would later become the place we cut our teeth, developed our live show and was ultimately our doorway into the local Sydney scene."
After the first year since Tonight Alive's inception, the band parted ways with their original drummer - at which point the lineup was completed by Matty Best who was originally travelling for four hours each way to practice. "We had one band practice with Matt. He was really tight and he already knew all the songs. That was the moment that we knew everything had clicked," Jenna explains.
Still too young to hangout in bars, the band found themselves at the heart of their local music scene, finding their sound and playing songs that would go on to form the band's first EP, All Shapes And Disguises.
"We saved all our money and took time off work to record and practice," says Cam. "Jenna was still at school at that point so it was difficult to find time, but we managed to get into the studio with Dave Petrovic who later went on to record our second album, The Other Side. We recorded our first and second EP's with him (All Shapes And Disguises and Consider This) in 2010, and with his help we knew that we'd finally found our sound."
The recordings began to generate a buzz that saw Tonight Alive picked up for a support slot on UK band Lost Prophets' Australian tour, venturing out on the road properly for the first time. They were soon spotted by major labels and invited to perform at a showcase, during which, both Whak and Jake snapped a string in the first song.
"We thought it had gone horribly wrong at first, but we did our thing and smashed through and ultimately the label were really impressed! We signed a deal shortly after and immediately pushed to travel overseas to record our first album," recalls Whak excitedly.
It was this drive to expand their horizons and to take their music outside of Australia that saw the band head to LA to record their first full-length album, What Are You So Scared Of? in 2011, working with producer Mark Trombino (Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World).
"We were just out of high school, and we were coming home after the studio every night and cooking and hanging out together in LA," laughs Jenna. "It was our first real taste of freedom and we had an amazing time. It brought us all closer together and helped us to define our message as a band."
That message, one of hope, positivity and determination, provided the backbone of What Are You So Scared Of? and lead their debut to be described by many fans as a life-saving record.
"A lot of people have said that we saved their lives and that our music got them through really difficult times," explains Jenna passionately. "To be that band for people is amazing because it was music that got us through difficult times ourselves. The band's message is about not living in the fear of other people's judgment, not being held back by other people's opinions, about having self-worth. That's something that's carried over to our latest album too from a different perspective; there's truly a silver lining to everything"
Initially touring across America in a van with no backseats on a rough'n'ready adventure-of-a-tour described by the band as "a right of passage", Tonight Alive returned home and embarked on several extensive and consecutive Australian tours to support the album's Australian release, which eventually drained even this most energetic of bands.
"By this point it felt like our feet hadn't touched the ground," says Jenna. "We were exhausted and burnt out by a year of solid touring. I had been really ill for about 9 months between mid 2011 and early 2012, spanning over 9 different tours both national and international. I was battling severe head-to-toe eczema, seeing handfuls of different doctors in between tours. So after Australia's Soundwave festival we made the decision to cancel all of our upcoming commitments to recover and insure the rest of 2012 would reach it's full potential."
Battered almost to breaking point, the band took time to rejuvenate and catch their breath, but with What Are You So Scared Of? being released around the rest of the world, they soon found themselves back on the road – but this time refreshed and with a renewed fire inside them. Their rapidly expanding global fan base saw Tonight Alive hit the shores of Asia, North America and Europe with the likes of Pierce The Veil, All Time Low, Yellowcard and Young Guns – embarking on the almost perpetual journey that still continues to this day, penning the tracks for album two, The Other Side, as they went.
"The first track that we wrote for The Other Side was 'Don't Wish' in a hotel room in Jakarta, Indonesia, while we were on tour in 2011. Every track on the album can be dated back to the tour it was written on as we were on the road consistently between the recording of our first full length at the end of 2010 to the recording of our second at the end of 2012." explains Jenna.
"After playing on the full Summer of the Vans Warped Tour 2012, trekking across Europe and The UK on a headline run and later supporting Pierce The Veil across America we decided after spending so much time away from home, that we would go back to Australia to record our second full length record, The Other Side. We found a big house out in the bush at Coffs Harbour (7 hours north of Sydney) and set up our own studio there to record once again with Dave Petrovic."
What the band emerged with is a definitive rock record – a bold advance that Jenna describes as having both "balls and bite".
"It talks about challenges and experiences that we've never been through or understood before. I think we found our lyrical and musical direction, and through that wrote a rockier and more confident version of What Are You So Scared Of?."
With the new album finished the band feel rejuvenated and reborn once again. Armed with new material and a world's worth of road experience, Tonight Alive are ready to continue their journey across the globe – one explosive show at a time – and look set to take their music farther and wider than ever before.
So has the adventure so far changed them? "Not a chance!" Jenna exclaims. "We're more experienced and wider travelled, but even when we're home we still hangout every day. We started as friends with a passion for music and in that regard nothing has changed. There's no ego and no ulterior motives, we just love making music and I think that's why we have such a strong and dedicated fan base."
"We've travelled a long way but we're still as passionate as ever. Tonight Alive is the strongest it's ever been as a band – we're the same five kids that set out on this journey, only now we're more in love with the music than ever before."
The Other Side will be released on September 6th through Sony Music Entertainment, Australia
The Downtown Fiction
Formed in the summer of 2008, The Downtown Fiction have taken their love of music, friends, and a darn good time and created something truly special. Armed with an arsenal of witty lyrics and catchy chords, the Fairfax, Virginia-based trio – Cameron Leahy (vocals/guitar), Eric Jones (drums), and David Pavluk (bass/backing vocals) – have quickly earned a fervent fan following across the country.
The band’s self-titled debut EP was released in March 2009 and was soon followed by last year’s “BEST I NEVER HAD” EP, highlighted by the breakthrough hit single/video, “I Just Wanna Run.” The track is currently a top 20 smash at Radio Disney as well as Sirius Hits 1, while its companion video clip has scored major play on MTV2, MTV Hits, and mtvU.
Furthermore, The Downtown Fiction has received an array of high-profile placements, with songs appearing on such shows as MTV’s Jersey Shore, The Challenge: Fresh Meat II, Styl’d, Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Ruins, The Real World Cancun, and The Hills, as well as E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Named one of Alternative Press’ “100 Band You Need To Know” for 2010, The Downtown Fiction has toured constantly from the start, as headliners; on multi-artist bills such as 2010’s “Bamboozle Road Show” alongside Boys Like Girls and All Time Low; traveling festivals like the 2010 Vans Warped Tour; and supporting such like-minded acts as Plain White T’s, The Summer Set and We The Kings (with whom they hit Japan for a well-received 2010 tour).
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."