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Interview: Theory of a Deadman

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Let’s not beat about the bush here: university students love to party!

Theory Of A Dead Man

And Theory of a Deadman know it.

That’s why the Canadian hard rockers are making sure that, on their upcoming UK tour, they hit up a few campuses along the way, including the student unions at Cardiff and Leeds Beckett Universities.

And naturally, when I asked front-man Tyler Connolly why students should check the band out on their tour in March, his response was, “I think the beer’s 50% off that night. That’s probably the only reason.”

Clearly, he knows us very well.

“I think we’ve actually played a university there before, which was a great show. University shows are great and like I said, sometimes it’s just all about the beer.”

The band will be raising hell all over the UK with a little help from supporting bands Forever Never and Royal Republic.

“We actually had no idea who those bands were. We went and checked them out online. Because they’re so far away it’s something that their agent puts together.

“They’re great bands. We’re good about it. It’s tough to find bands to play with, especially in different markets we haven’t been to in a long time. I’m sure they’re gonna be great.”

The band’s tour of the UK will be their final in support of their fifth album, 2014’s Savages: an album which is probably the darkest and heaviest entry in Theory of a Deadman’s repertoire.

“Our label wanted us to try and get away from some of the more fun songs like ‘Hate My Life’ and ‘Bad Girlfriend’ [from 2008’s Scars and Souvenirs] and ‘Bitch Came Back’ [from 2011’s The Truth Is…] for some serious stuff.

“So there’s heavier songs on this record, more musicality. But then there’s songs like ‘Blow’, which is one of our most popular songs, that kinda call back to that sound. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen the next record honestly, it could be much the same, it could be something different, who knows?”

Throughout its entire career, Theory of a Deadman has always been a band in touch with that lighter side in their songwriting.

“That’s just who we are. I think if you hung out with us long enough you’ll realise that we’re really just fun guys. It’s important, I think it shows some diversity.

“We’ve always done something that’s a little more left of centre so I think it kind of makes us stand out and not be one of those rock bands that is deliberately trying to be heavy.”

Savages was also Theory of a Deadman’s fourth consecutive album to be produced by Howard Benson. But the band also got to work with some new musicians: most notably, shock rock legend Alice Cooper.

“It’s just familiar. It’s like a family over there. We know what we’re gonna get with Howard, and we just really enjoy working with him and the engineer Mike [Plotnikoff]. I don’t know, it’s easy. We’re able to go in there and just know what we’re gonna get.

“That’s the easiest way to describe it: it makes for a fun, stress-free environment, which is nice. Sometimes if you’re going to work with a new producer every time, you don’t know what you’re gonna get.

“And [Howard] was once managed by Alice Cooper’s manager so he just give him a shout and asked him if he would be interested in singing on one of our songs. We sent Alice the music and he was interested.

“I got to go around Alice’s house and work on it with him and watch him record it. It was pretty amazing, and the guy’s just a legend. Having him on one of our songs, it really was a dream come true.”

The writing process for the album involved going back in time, looking for inspiration from their earlier albums. And it’s material that Tyler assures they never get sick of hearing or playing:

“I think that when you’re on-stage you can’t be narcissistic. We really just play and perform for the fans. We’ve heard of bands in the past that go on-stage and they just perform all their new material and refuse to play their old hits. Dude, you gotta understand the reason they buy tickets to your show is because they wanna hear the stuff they grew up listening to from a record that maybe came out ten years ago. It’s interesting how people can think it’s all about them.

We know what it’s all about: the fans wanna hear certain songs. I actually went on and Tweeted, asking the fans what they wanna hear. We’re curious because that’s what we’re gonna play. We’re not gonna go into some weird, twenty-minute jazz odyssey like Spinal Tap.”

And that ability to connect with the band’s fans on social media has, for Tyler, “made the world a lot smaller.

“It lets us get out to fans and let them have the ability to hear our music. Not all records are bought nowadays, you can just go online and stream it. It definitely helps fans that way.

“And for live performances, there are acts that go out on-stage and do the whole thing on Periscope. I think that’s amazing.

“It’s created the world we live in now where, twenty or thirty years ago, they had to spend thousands of dollars making a live album and now I’m like: ‘Well, there’s Periscope. There you go!’ That’s what the expectations are nowadays. It has to be on the internet.”

And in 2015, Theory of a Deadman continued to dive into some of their older material as they released their Angel EP: a collection of some of their most popular songs, this time reworked with acoustic guitars.

 “We’ve been doing things live where we kinda get down in the middle of the set and bring out steps and stools and do a couple songs acoustic. And the fans love it, they asked for more so bringing out an EP was kinda cool.

“We recorded one song on the road, we had others already recorded, I did a couple at home in my studio. It was done pretty quick, we just kinda chose the songs we wanted to.

“We got a few more, there could be another EP. There’s only really seven songs we really wanted to do acoustic, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we did a part two at some point.”

And a new acoustic EP could potentially be followed up by another acoustic tour:

“We just did the one in Canada and it was amazing, we had such a great time. We’re gonna do another one in the fall. It’s gonna be over Canada and a couple shows in the States.

“As for overseas, I don’t know. Obviously we’d love to go and do some acoustic stuff in the UK, so who knows?”

If a new acoustic EP and unplugged tour aren’t enough to get you hyped, there’s more:

“We're working on a new record.

This UK tour is the last we’re doing on the current record. We’ve spent two straight years supporting record number five. We’re ready to go home, write a new record, which we’ll have out… who knows when? We’ll probably start working on it the day we fly home.”

But that’s for later in the year. Right now, Theory of a Deadman is getting ready to party hard across the UK.

And Tyler Connolly signs off with an eager reminder: “Half off beer! And we’ll drink!

“Actually, I shouldn’t say that because then they’ll get there and we’ll be like ‘You’re paying for all the beer by the way.’”

Too late now.

Theory of a Deadman is touring the UK in March with Forever Never and Royal Republic.

Theory of a Deadman’s latest album, Savages, is available physically and digitally now via Roadrunner Records.




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