Theory of a Deadman are currently making their way across the country on their debut appearance and they’re just about to wrap things up, but not before we had the chance to sit down with frontman Tyler Connolly for a chat about their first trip down under, their history and the time they were signed to Chad Kroeger‘s record label…
Welcome to Wall Of Sound Tyler. It’s a pleasure to finally speak with you. Now this isn’t your average tour interview as you and your band Theory Of A Deadman are half way through your first ever Australian Tour. Is there a reason you haven’t toured Australia before?
There is no reason why we have never toured Australia before to be honest. We have always wanted to come to Australia as a band. I think there were just too many places to go where the band had become successful and we had to grab onto that traction. Australia is such a long way away from our home in Canada. It has taken us sixteen years to come to Australia and honestly I wish we had of done it sixteen years earlier. It is a beautiful amazing place, the fans are great and well; we wish we could have been building our following out here all those years ago.
But it also comes down to what I think is every bands excuse (including ours) is that it is really far away and there aren’t a lot of cities to play, blah blah blah. It’s a terrible excuse, but I am just so happy we finally got to come out to Australia.
The success that Theory Of A Deadman has had over the course of the last sixteen years globally is just incredible. The back catalogue has six albums, one EP and an astounding 35 hit singles. What do you credit the huge success you have had in America and Canada to?
I don’t know, I really don’t know. I could say hard work, but that is insulting all the other bands that work their butt off and haven’t achieved the success we have had. I think that it is just that our songs click with a rock audience in those markets. We do spend a lot of time on the road and especially in those markets. I really do think that a big part of the secret to our success is being present in those market places. There is only so much you can do over the phone etc. and that is why we are here, you have got to show up and make the effort. That is exactly what we have done in those markets.
With shows in Sydney and Brisbane under your belt, has there been one of those shows that has stood out from the other?
No. I mean they have been different in the sense that Sydney has a much larger population than Brisbane. It’s like playing the larger American cities and then doing a show in a secondary American market is has quite a different feeling about it. What I mean by that is when you go to these places that are a little smaller population wise I think the crowds get a little crazier and more excited. This I am sure creates a different vibe at the show. The smaller the city the more hungry people become and you the more you feed off that energy.
Brisbane was awesome last night, but Sydney was great too. We are having a blast so far.
Prior to these shows were you familiar with the music of the bands supporting you? Had you heard any of the Bad Moon Born music before hand?
No, I hadn’t really heard too much about them. I think their music was sent to us and we told these are the bands supporting you and to check them out. The opening bands have been great so far. The one thing that I have noticed about the rock bands here in Australia is that they are understated and should have more success in markets like North America. They seem to tick the boxes as to what those markets like. They really are great. I actually grew up listening to a couple of Australian bands so I know you have a history of producing some great rock music.
It’s a shame too because these days the only way a lot of Australian bands can gain exposure and a following is by travelling overseas and as you said show up on the worlds doorstep to get noticed.
In Canada we have this thing call CanCon where the law says they have to play a third of Canadian content as they call it on the radio. This means that the song has to meet the criteria of being written or produced or performed by a Canadian artist. Do you have anything like that down here in Australia?
I don’t think we have any guidelines like that, but if we do it is taken on the nostalgic path. There certainly isn’t a modern rock radio guideline in place; it would be more of a classic rock guideline. Songs from twenty five years ago plus are in high rotation. I can’t say I have heard commercial radio break a new Australian rock band for about as long which is such a shame. New Australian talent really does not have a mainstream outlet that is easily accessible aside from what you find on the internet.
Well I mean that sometimes is the fun part of it. The struggle and the grind. I think we would all be grateful to wake up and have the number one record in forty eight countries (laughs). But there is something about the climb and seeing your success grow one step at a time. I think it is more exciting that way.
For the readers that may not be familiar with Theory Of A Deadman’s music, tell me how you would describe your sound and style to them.
Our sound is probably the most indescribable thing because we started in Vancouver, me and Dean the bass player have been playing together since high school. We started out as a post grunge band that listened to Guns N Roses and Metallica. We also listened to Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and stuff like that, but at the same time we were playing southern rock. We love the Allman Brothers and Lynyard Skynnard, and I love Creedence Clear Water Revival.
It’s interesting because our sound has evolved so much I honestly couldn’t tell you who or what we sound like (laughs). It’s a great thing that as a band you can change and progress. Essentially it’s rock n roll and everyone can sub genre it as much as they like from there (laughs)
There have been so many different stories surrounding how you got signed to Chad Kroeger’s (Nickelback) 604 Record label floating around and how he got hold of your demo. From what I understand, your demo was passed onto Chad by one of his ex-girlfriends that you were dating. Is that the way it happened? If not how did that all come to be?
It was actually Chad’s girlfriend that passed on the demo to him. I didn’t really know him at that time, we had met probably once or twice. At that point in time Nickleback hadn’t even blown up yet. They were doing well in Vancouver and his girlfriend said you should come check out my boyfriend’s band. She had heard some of the music we were doing and said this is really good, I’m going to show my boyfriend.
It was about a year later when I received a phone call from him saying “Hi this is Chad, Jodies boyfriend”. I’m like hey what’s up (laughs) and Chad goes on to say im going to start my own record label and I want to sign you guys to it. He then says tomorrow morning we are going into the studio to record a real demo, I was like what? (laughs) Chad continues and said you guys have got to call in sick to work so you can be there. So Dean and I call in sick to work, went into the studio the next morning and tracked a legit demo that got shopped to labels.
While we were recording that song, their song “How you remind me” was just going to radio, so that was about 2001. When that song blew up for them things got a little easier for Chad to get something done and that is how it all started.
I have heard a lot of stories on how we got started (laughs) There was one where I snuck backstage, one where I was at a party, but this all happened well before they got big.
Have you or any of the members of the band been able to pay it forward to another band like Chad did for you?
I wish, you know. I always try and I am always thinking about that when I hear a band, get a CD from a band or like a band that is a tour support for us. I always try to give them a shot or try to figure out what can we do for this band because it is how we got started. I never brush that stuff off, but I am yet to find someone. It is just so much more difficult these days than it was back then. So much has changed, I have a cousin in a band and friends in bands, I always have someone hitting me up, so the least I can do is have my friend bands open up for me on a couple of dates which we have done on this last tour. It’s tough man, so tough for bands these days. I just try and give advice and help out the best I can.
What’s the wildest thing that has happened to you guys while you have been out on the road to date?
The wildest thing ….. I don’t know man there is nothing that really sticks out. We have done so many amazing things and there have so many crazy things happen, so many different fan interaction things. One time there was this crazy fan that was on some sort of drugs. A member of our crew brought her onto the bus and we had to drag her off because she was so high. She then went and laid under the back tire of the tour bus and refused to let us leave (laughs). I was like just drive we will deal with this later (laughs)
One of the best tours, and we did a couple with them was Motley Crue. This was in 2009 and those tours were just historical, we got to play some great venues. Tommy Lee was great; he had some amazing parties too. They put his dressing room next to ours and he had this huge DJ set up in there. When we would come out of our dressing room there was just a huge line of women down the hallway every night. We would always see if we could come in and Tommy would be like NOOO!!!, no guys allowed (laughs). But once in a while we would sneak in and he would let us stay (laughs).
We have just had so many great experiences through our career. I could probably write a book on it all now (laughs)
I just checked out your set list from the Sydney show and you have managed to cover something from every album/EP. Was it a hard set list to write given that there have been 35 singles from the band let alone covers and deep cuts?
Yeah it was tough. Having never been to Australia before it was so tough. We didn’t want to come out here and play twenty five songs and a two hour show which is just ridiculous. But at the same time I got our label to send us a list of the top streaming songs of ours here in Australia, so that made it a lot easier what songs people were listening to the most, and that is how we put our set list together. So this time we are just playing the favorites and man it really is tough. Every night we still go do you want to change up a couple of songs up and it all comes back to us realizing that the set list is great the way it is. Sometimes when we write our set lists it just comes down to our personal preferences.
We always go do you want to switch this one around or drop this song for this one. I really don’t think it matters as long as we play the key songs and the set list for this tour is pretty comprehensive.
What I have noticed about Theory Of A Deadman is that in your songs you always seem to be a little tongue in cheek lyrically. Songs like ‘Bad Girlfriend’ and ‘The Bitch Came Back’ are obviously based on real events and people. But what I love about ‘The Bitch Came Back’ is that it borrows the melody from the 1893 Harry S.Miller comic song how did you come to reference something so obscure?
That’s exactly right. The funny thing about the whole thing is that it was a cartoon I remember from being a little kid. In Canada when they had space in between shows they would play these short 2 minute Canadian history pieces and one of them was this short animated music video about a cat that came back every day after its owner would try to kick it out of the house or he would throw it off a cliff and did everything he could to get rid of this cat. But it kept coming back.
So it was just a great idea for a song about a girl that just kept coming back and would take the hint I wasn’t interested. It has got me in some trouble with the choice of words and misogynistic perception. It is meant to be tongue in cheek, but some people missed that, but the melody just works in the context of the song.
Is ‘Bad Girlfriend’ is based on someone?
Bad Girlfriend is a true story. It’s how I met my ex-wife. I met her in Vancouver; I was actually there with Chad. We used to part in a place called the Roxy, which was the “it” bar. We would go there sometimes at night until one in the morning. The staff all knew us there and we would walk right in and they would let us pour drinks behind the bar. So I wrote a song about it. It’s crazy to think that it blew up the way it did.
Speaking about songs and themes your last single ‘RX (Medicate)’ is allegedly written about the opiate epidemic that is in Canada at the moment. Can you confirm or deny that rumour?
No it’s not based on anything personally. It started off innocently as I was sitting around at home bored and I started to sing the songs chorus to myself and thought that’s a cool idea for a song. A guy I know his wife passed away; she had mixed up some pills and then never woke up. So on the back of that I got to thinking about how people in America are just so over medicated. It’s a song for and about the youth being bored and turning to drugs.
Again the reaction to the song was crazy, it was a huge success. It just came from a lot of people who understood what it was about and where it was coming from. It is so cool having a song with such an important message, one that people can relate to and have it become so big.
The Melbourne show is this Tuesday night June 26 and is the last show of the tour. I am sure Melbourne will welcome you and make that show the best of the tour. If you have nothing happening this Tuesday night get on down to The Prince Of Wales Bandroom in St.Kilda and check out Theory Of A Deadman and their killer supports. Tyler, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to chat with us
Thanks man, appreciate it, thanks for having me and chatting. Take care.
Interview by Andrew Slaidins
Theory of a Deadman – Debut Australian Tour 2018
26th June @ Prince Bandroom, St Kilda