Allie Gonino is one-third of the band The Good Mad and plays Laurel on ABC Family’s The Lying Game. Allie talks about recording in Nashville, songs she uses to help get into character, and what she learned from opening for Justin Bieber.

Allie Gonino After The Show Interview

After The Show: What was your experience like recording The Good Mad’s EP in Nashville?

Allie Gonino: I had such a blast recording ALTA. The first smart thing we did was hire Phil Swann to produce it. He kept things moving swiftly, and put together a really good mix. His energy is so fun to have around, so the recording process was always light and enjoyable for us. Another treat was getting to work with awesome studio musicians such as Joe Spivey and Paul Scholten.

It was amazing to watch/listen to Joe work, he played mandolin, dobro, bazooki, and banjo on ALTA. He added all the necessary touches needed to complete the feel of the EP. And Nashville in spring is definitely something to experience. Beautiful countryside and so many awesome places to hear live music and eat delicious food. I know that will always be a sacred memory for Adam, Andy, and me.

You play guitar, violin, mandolin, and piano – do you prefer one instrument over the others to compose on? What about playing live?

Believe it or not, I don’t do a ton of composing with instruments. I tend to enjoy writing songs with my voice, acapella. I’ve written a few songs on guitar, and they’re probably my more “marketable” songs. Playing live though, I definitely prefer the violin.

What’s the most challenging part about playing music as Laurel on The Lying Game? Is it hard to separate yourself from the character when you’re playing music (with a fictionalized version of your own band)?

Honestly, playing the musician side of Laurel is the least challenging aspect of that role because it is so close to real life. The only thing different between the way Laurel performs is that she’s a little more timid and less experienced. I don’t try to “put on” any act with Laurel, as opposed to when I perform, I’m telling a story, and I usually like to embellish. It’s always surreal because we do have so many similarities, and I believe life and art imitate each other.

Every character I play is a different aspect of myself, or at least, there are things that we definitely have in common. Part of keeping my head on straight is realizing I am already the woman I’ve always wanted to be. No character I play is separate from me, and ironically, no character I play is me. That’s the paradox.

Do you have any advice for teens about managing stress and balancing school with all the activities they do?

Yes, let’s talk about managing stress! First thing for managing stress is to stop eating sugar, and other foods/drinks that cause acidity in the body. Caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, fried and processed food, red meat, drugs (both legal and otherwise), all create acidity. This doesn’t mean you should never consume these things, but combined with our public water quality – which is another conversation altogether – air pollution, social media obsession, relationship stress, and many more environmental factors, eliminating such dietary factors would be one smart way to lower stress levels.

Massage therapy, meditation, reading entertaining literature, laughing, dancing, and restful sleep are all great ways to keep balance. The body gets its most restful and repairing hours of sleep between 11pm and 8am. And the number one way to manage stress: mindful, deep breathing!

How does your songwriting process/collaboration work in The Good Mad?

A lot of the time we’ll write songs on our own and bring them to the rest of the members to put everyone’s scent on it. However, there definitely have been instances where we’ll get together and someone will bring a hook or a melody line, or lyrics and we’ll work on it. It’s different for every song. We just try to make the song sound the best that it can, no one person is trying to hog the attention. The most important thing is that the song feels whole and moves the way that feels best to us.

What did you learn opening for Justin Bieber, performing for crowds of 17,000 people a night?

I think most importantly, I learned I definitely want to play to crowds like that again. Alternatively, I’m so unbelievably grateful for that experience, that if it never happened again, I’d be fine. That’s not to say I’m not going to shoot for it though. It’s a rush like no other. I know I wouldn’t have been prepared for that kind of gig without all the experience I’d had leading up to that. I also learned how important it is to know how to operate a water gun.

What bands have you been listening to lately? Do you listen to certain songs to help get into character before filming a scene?

I’ve been listening to Feist’s Metals, Alt-J, and Nicki Bluhm a lot lately. Usually if I need to get in the mood to cry for a scene I’ll listen to a Coldplay song or two. Katy Perry’s “The One that Got Away” has been helpful in those times, as well as “Holocene” by Bon Iver. If I need to get pumped up though, Beyoncé and Emily Haines are my go-to ladies.

What Metric and Lana Del Rey songs do you most connect with?

All of them? Ha. Most recently Metric’s “Poster of a Girl” and “Synthetica” have been on repeat. As for Lana, “Video Games” is the song that totally captures the feeling of my early twenties. Not even so much in the lyrics, but more in its whole vibe. Sometimes, I imagine myself as an old woman listening to that song and feeling all the power behind it, and it makes me cry. Not in a sad way, but in a fond way.

Despite all the trials, terrors, mistakes, heart breaks… when you reflect on your memories, if you’ve lived a life you’ve loved, you’ll be filled with an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. That’s my favorite thing about music. Music is the closest technology we have to time travel.