When Canadian export Theory of a Deadman wanted to get the word out
about their music, they got a little help from a friend… and a very
well-known friend at that. They were signed by Chad Kroeger of
Nickelback to his 604 Records label, which helped the disk to get
released by Roadrunner Records in the US.
Consisting of four talented guys – lead singer and guitarist Tyler
Connolly, Dave Brenner on guitar, Dean Back on bass and now Joey
Dandeneau on drums, Theory released their self-titled CD in 2002. The
debut was produced by Kroeger and included the hit single “Make Up Your
Mind.” In 2005, their sophomore release titled Gasoline hit the
radio waves bringing the group more notoriety, fueled in part by several
singles including “Santa Monica” and “Say Goodbye,” which was released
on the soundtrack for the popular video game Fahrenheit. Then in April
2008, the guys released their latest CD, Scars and Souvenirs –
proving this group has evolved and matured with thirteen new tracks of
what is their best album yet.
Besides the creative growth heard in Scars and Souvenirs, this CD
once again offers hits like “Bad Girlfriend” – which almost
didn’t make it to the album – and their current mega-hit “Not Meant To
Be” which was co-written with American Idol’s
newest judge, Kara DioGuardi. During the making of this CD,
Theory also turned to former Idol contestant and platinum selling
artist Chris Daughtry for his help with vocals on “By the Way.”
Hollywood has once again come knocking. In 2002, Theory was introduced
when their song “Invisible Man” was used for the soundtrack of the first
blockbuster Spider-Man movie. Further getting their name out
there, Tyler also played guitar for Kroeger’s huge single hit “Hero,”
which was on the same soundtrack. Now in 2009, their hit “Not Meant to
Be” is being used on the soundtrack to Transformers: Revenge
of the Fallen, which should once again help catapult Theory of a
Deadman up the charts.
Recently lead singer Connolly – an extremely funny man and a gifted
musician – took a break from a sound check on tour to give
us a call and share what’s going on with the band, discuss how their
sound, melodies and lyrics have changed and how the tight-knit group of
guys that make up Theory of a Deadman are definitely meant to be
When did you know you
wanted to make music your life?
Probably when I was a teenager. I think high school – grade eleven or
twelve. My Dad was in a band and he had all the musical instruments and
all the recording stuff. When I was a kid, I hated it because he would
always jam really late and I couldn’t sleep. My Dad tried to get me to
take drum lessons and I hated it. Then one day, I don’t know… I just
picked up the guitar and was like, this is it. So, I guess my Dad was
pretty happy then.
it all, it’s basically been you and Dave and Dean? What’s it like
working with those guys?
Ah, great you know. We’re just a bunch of goofy guys that since day one
didn’t take anything too seriously. It’s almost like we just play music
for fun. We never took it so seriously that it became tedious. It was
always like, I’m not having fun anymore so let’s just quit for the day
or whatever. When we got a record deal and started doing it for a
living we still tried to make it fun because sometimes it can be hard
and exhausting. We always goof around and make stupid jokes just to try
to keep it light.
Is it true you took
the band name from “The Last Song?” Why do you think it fits you guys?
I don’t know. It was probably a bad idea. (laughs) You know
what’s funny, picking a band name is probably the hardest, flukiest
thing you can do. It represents your band forever. If you pick a bad
band name it could probably make or break you. With Theory of a Deadman,
sometimes I get people who are like “Wow, that’s a great name,” and some
people are like “Ahhh, it’s very interesting” or “Hard to remember.”
Sometimes it’s good. But it is thought provoking and it’s different and
we love it.
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback has been a champion of the band from the
beginning – he signed you to his label and co-wrote several of the songs
on your debut. How did you get involved with him and what is he like to
We were friends and he pretty much knew I was in a band and heard our
stuff and was like, “I’m starting a label. Are you guys interested in
getting on it?” And we were like, “Yeah.” And through that we got
signed to a major label in America and he offered to produce our first
record and he had already produced the demos which got us the record
deal so we were like, “Yeah let’s just keep going.” It just turned out
really good. It was great.
So, then obviously he was a good person to know.
He was instrumental. I can easily say we wouldn’t be here without his
Possibly the first time you were really noticed by the world at large
was when your song “Invisible Man” was on the soundtrack to
How did that come about and how huge was it for a mostly unknown band to
get an opportunity to be a part of a big hit movie like that?
It was a great introduction. I think it came about because of the
“Hero” song being on that. Our record label was able to put a B-side on
it and so they picked us. “Invisible Man” was never a single but I
think they just picked it because it made sense for the movie.
“Invisible Man”… kind of comic bookish. Kind of made sense. It was
pretty cool. Back in 2002 the internet wasn’t as widespread and it
spiked a lot of peoples’ interest to who Theory of a Deadman was. The
word spread pretty quickly and really helped us out.
You also played on Kroeger’s hit “Hero” from the same movie. What did
you do on that song?
I played guitar on that track. It was supposed to be Jerry Cantrell but
he couldn’t make it. It was literally a one day thing when Cameron
played drums and Josey Scott came and sang. It was supposed to be Jerry
Cantrell but he missed a plane or something and I was just sitting there
and they said, “Tyler you’re up. You’re playing guitar.” I did and we
recorded it and then shot the video the next day. It was great. The
song turned out to be a huge hit. I went and saw Spider-Man at
the theatre and heard my guitar solo and was like, “Shhhh, that’s my
guitar solo. That’s crazy.” I don’t know why I was the only one in the
theater standing up screaming “YEAH!” (laughs)
debut album came out and became a pretty substantial hit – even winning
you guys a Juno for best new artist. How surreal was it when you
started popping up on the radio and TV and all?
I think surreal is a good word for it because basically we hadn’t
started touring much yet. We had a first single that came out and it
got good radio play around but they really played us a lot in our
hometown of Vancouver. It’s just kind of surreal, driving around and
hearing our song playing on the radio. It was just weird. So, yeah I
would definitely describe it as surreal.
The follow-up album
Gasoline had two songs sort of about the Los Angeles scene – “Hating
Hollywood” and “Santa Monica.” Was the album itself a reaction to the
whole stardom lifestyle?
Ahhh. Not really. I don’t know what it was about LA. I moved down
there and did some songwriting there on my own. Maybe it just sort of
spiked some creativeness in me about Hollywood and you know how fake it
could be which is what “Hating Hollywood” came from. “Santa Monica” was
more or less just a metaphor because Santa Monica is a pretty beautiful
place so kind of a metaphor for a better place, I guess.
Scars and Souvenirs is a great album. What do you feel you did
different with this third disc from the first two CDs? And how has your
I think I’ve just become more confident. I’ve learned a lot as a
songwriter. It’s a process much like everything else. Like being an
architect… You pretty much design something from the ground up and you
learn a lot. I’ve been doing this for quite a while now. I think I’ve
become more confident and knew what I wanted to do. I was a lot more
open minded about a song so if I wanted to sit down and write a song
about how I met my wife or a song about being lonely, I just do it. I
just sit down and write it and I felt really good about what I was doing
at that point.
You had a big hit with “Bad Girlfriend,” which is sort of a big old-fashioned
rock song. Why do you think that songs like that catch on?
I have no idea. (laughs) I don’t. You know, that song almost
didn’t make it on the record.
Yeah, we did like three weeks of pre-production and we never even jammed
that song. It was just like a riff that I wrote and it had no lyrics
and one day I said, “let’s jam this song.” I was just mumbling words
and the melody and I was like, “I don’t know, I’ll write lyrics for it
later.” We recorded all the tracks in the studio and then it was the
very last song I sang and at that point we had a whole record done. I
was like, “I don’t know if this is going to make it on the record, I
mean whatever.” Even our producer was like, “Yeah, I don’t know if the
song is any good.” I thought it might be too cheesy and it was weird.
Then when we heard it all done and mixed, we were like “Man, this is an
awesome rock song.” It turned out to be a single and it was just one of
those things, it just took off. I don’t think anyone knew that song was
going to be a big hit.
does your wife think about the song?
Well when I first ran
into her, it was at a nightclub and she was the kind of crazy girl
described in the song, so it’s almost a true story. I don’t think a lot
of people can relate. They call me up and say, “My girlfriend is the
bad girlfriend.” And I’m like, “Actually, my wife is the original bad
just making the top 20 on VH1 with “Not Meant To Be.” It’s a great
song. What was it like working with Kara DioGuardi while writing the
song and making the video?
That came about as another fluke, I think. She writes with a lot of pop
artists, big artists like Pink, Ashlee Simpson and she’s even written
songs for Celine Dion. It’s pretty crazy. It was just one of those
things where I lived right down the street from her in LA and someone
called her and said, “Do you want to write with this guy named Taylor
Connolly from a rock band?” She said, “Sure.” I don’t think she even
knew who our band was. (laughs) So, I just went to her house
and we wrote “Not Meant to Be” in like fifteen minutes which was just
one of those things. It just came around and sounded really awesome.
For as well as the
first albums did, this new CD is getting even more airplay. How
gratifying is it to have your music getting such huge exposure out
It’s pretty good.
It’s like the hard work is paying off. It feels really good to be able
to be in a band and see you can do it for a living and see the reaction
happening. It’s almost like running into an old lady at a grocery store
and she says, “What do you do for a living?” And you’re like, “I play
in a rock band” and she’s like, “uhh huh,” while thinking, “dirt ball.”
Having that success feels good. That’s the whole reason you get into a
band, to have people react to what you write. It’s gratifying.
Howard Benson (who
has worked with POD, Hoobastank, All-American Rejects, Matthew Sweet, My
Chemical Romance, Daughtry and many others) produces the new CD. How
did you hook up with him and what was he like to work with?
It was his manager I
think, that was a fan of ours. And she called him and said, “You gotta
work with this band called Theory of a Deadman.” So he checked us out
and was like, “Ahh, I don’t know.” Then he flew up to Vancouver and
watched us play some songs and then he said, “These are some good songs,
I think I’ll produce your record.” And that’s how it came to be. It
was different you know, working with Chad on the first record was a long
process and it was very hands on. You spent a lot of long hours, a lot
of partying. Some days we’d go to the studio and not get anything
done. Get drunk and stuff. With Howard it’s all work. You’re in the
studio at ten AM and out by six PM. It’s like going to a job. You get
so much done in the day and it was totally different atmosphere and it
was great. We loved it. I love how he produces records.
A lot of your music
is about relations ending or in trouble. As a songwriter, do you find
dying relationships more interesting that happy ones?
I write what I feel
so I don’t necessarily know, but I think people can relate to the break
up stuff, the miserable stuff. Music is cathartic in a way that it’s
medicinal almost. People listen to music and it makes them feel
better. I’ve always kind of felt writing songs that are always happy
all the time just annoys the hell out of people.
Where do you get your
I don’t know. They just sort of come to me. I just kind of sit down
and think. When I wrote the song with Kara DioGuardi, she told me when
she writes songs, she just sits down and thinks, “How are you feeling?
What’s going through your mind today? Is there something that’s
bothering you? Is there something you feel great about?” We’d just sit
and talk and drink some wine. That’s pretty much the best way to come
up with an idea for a song. It’s just really how you feel and then you
come up with these honest ideas.
Between the three
CD’s, do you have a favorite?
The new one is my favorite for sure. I think it has to do with the
reaction and the fans really loving it. That’s why we do it really. I
mean, we haven’t been doing it long enough to put out a jam record and
not really give a shit if it sells. I think when bands get old,
sometimes they get selfish and put out music that they just care about
and the fans are like: this sucks!
You’re on the road
with Motley Crue on their Crue Fest. How did that opportunity come
about and what is that like?
We just finished the
tour with them and then we’ll go back out with them in the summer. They
were looking for bands to open for them, and our label pitched it to
them. They’re methodic about picking the bands, ones doing well,
selling records, ones what makes sense for them.
After the tour,
what’s next for Theory of a Deadman?
Keep touring I guess. More Crue Fest and then we’re going to Europe in
What do you think of
yourself as most – a singer, songwriter or guitarist?
I’m all three now, I
guess. I think for the longest time I was in denial about being a
songwriter and singer. I’ve always been a guitar player. I love being
a guitar player. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t love
picking up the guitar, but there are definitely days when I don’t want
to sing and I hate singing and my throat hurts. Or there are definitely
days when I don’t want to write a song. So I’m all three, but in my
heart I think I have always been a guitar player and that’s what I’ll
You’ve had a lot of
drummers over the years. Are you guys trying to outdo Spinal Tap for
most drummers in a band?
Yeah, no kidding. I don’t know. They all hate us. We must be horrible
people. No, it’s one of those weird things when people just don’t work
out or people don’t fit. We have a guy named Joey right now, so
hopefully he’ll be around forever and he won’t blow up. (laughs
Who would you like to
Paul McCartney. (laughs) No really, I don’t know. I think I’d
like to write some songs with some pop people. You know who I really
love is Rhianna. She’s got a really awesome voice. She’s hot. It
would be fun to do a song with her and some other hot women too.
Somehow I think it would definitely be a lot more intriguing to do a
song with a hot chick than some sweaty dude.
Are there any
misconceptions about the band that you would like to clear up?
I don’t think so. I mean, I think the only misconception might be the
name of the band. People might think we’re a metal band or we’re
heavier than we are and then they hear “Not Meant to Be” and they are
like, “Really, that’s them?”
Email us Let us know what you
Return to the features page