“You see all these people singing along,” Theory vocalist Tyler Connolly says as he points toward the sold out crowd. “That’s why we do it.” And what they do is pure and simply take music lovers on a rock & roll journey through an amalgam of rock & roll adventures. From a down and dirty ride of bluesy riffs on “Nothing Could Come Between Us” to a reverberatingly nasty “Bad Girlfriend” and all the way down to a satisfying acoustic three song hopscotch of melancholy: “Out Of My Head”, “Easy To Love” and “Better Off”.
This is Theory Of A Deadman – a band comprised of Connolly’s winking sneer vocals, David Brenner’s fresh guitar playing, Dean Black’s lively bass lines, and Joey Dandeneau, who is having a hell-beating good time back on the drums.
It is a well-known fact that Connolly was not a happy camper when he wrote the band’s latest record The Truth Is, but what happened in the process was that a popish, devil having fun, part rock/part rockabilly hornet’s nest of a symposium was created instead of something more sinister. And it worked. The singles have been hits, the shows have been sell-outs, and Connolly just may finally be a happy man once again.
Starting their Biloxi gig with the South Park parody “Blame Canada”, these, yes, Canadians, blew right into “Gentleman”, a snippy-snappy ditty that had the crowd swaying and singing, something that continued throughout the entire evening – through “The Bitch Came Back”, “The Truth Is”, “Lowlife” and an encore of Brenner Flying V fueled fretting on “Bad Girlfriend”.
Covering Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” has become a staple of their live set, as is the mid-section acoustic interlude, and Connolly’s repartee with the fans. Playing a game of Tyler Says … prior to “Lowlife” and hailing the praises of casinos (“We love playing casinos. You can go out and blow your whole fucking paycheck”), introducing the title track with “the truth always comes out … the truth always hurts” to shooting MTV a verbal middle finger (“Remember MTV Unplugged? We always wanted to do that but it was cut for 50 shows of Jersey Shore.”)
A definite highlight of the night was “Santa Monica” featuring a silent killer blues intro via Connolly and a short shout out supporting the Hollywood Habitat For Humanity organization. The song is just pure, in lyrics, in vocals, in sound, in vibe. Another highlight was Dave Brenner’s all-around guitar playing: sharp, focused, haphazard, bluesy and definitely under-acknowledged.
Theory Of A Deadman is one of rock’s most fun bands that are on the precipice of a bigger spotlight. Being a little bit different in several obvious ways helps them stand out in a pack of leather and long hair, and their next album should further prove the goods are in the heart of this band.
Glide had a chance to chat with Theory’s front-man before he headed off to the band’s meet & greet. Sitting on a couch in the dressing room, Connolly waxed poetic on life, a new Theory CD and end-of-tour shenanigans – all with his notorious dry sense of humor.
For someone who is coming to your show for the first time tonight, who is Theory Of A Deadman?
I think we’re kind of a rock & roll band with a little bit of southern tendencies. I think our name can be a little bit scary. I think people that are walking through the casino will see our name and go, “Theory Of A Deadman? What is that? Some sort of metal?” But I think ironically once you hear our stuff it’s very radio, very friendly to all ages.
It’s been a while since The Truth Is came out. Are you getting ready for a new one?
Nay, next year. We’ll be touring up until the middle of December and then that’s all that’s booked. Then in January we’ll start working on something new so we’ll probably have something out this time next year maybe.
Are you writing?
Nay, we’ll kind of do it all at once. All of our records have all kind of been done at once.
When you finished writing and recording The Truth Is, did you feel like you had purged all the anger and all the hurt that you had been feeling when you were writing it?
It’s not as cathartic as maybe people think. It is some sort of process, I guess, but it’s not like saying seven hail Mary’s or whatever you call it. It’s not like it fixes everything. I’m still the same person I was before I wrote it. It’s just kind of like you needed a heavy bag or something and you just need to punch it every once in a while. And that is kind of how writing lyrics is for me sometimes. Like a heavy bag and just punching out what is inside of you. You’re still the same person but, like you said, it’s almost like purging a little bit. But it’s not like, “Oh ok, I’m all done now, I’m over that.”
Are you happier now?
Yeah, everything is great. I don’t think I’ll ever be content. I think when Johnny Cash’s wife died, he died right after, right? So I think once she died there was nothing else for him to live for. So I think kind of with me is I don’t think I’ll ever be in a position where I’ve done it all so I can die now. There’s so many things for me to do. I am happier now but I don’t know if I’m content, you know what I’m saying.
Do you think that will pull over into the next album and you won’t be so bitchy?
Yeah, you know, you always got to progress with your band and some bands get really preachy, like Green Day can get really politically preachy or Bono who likes to be the hero and talk about famine and all that kind of stuff, “Where The Streets Have No Name”. But that works for them too. So I don’t know. I don’t want to be the misogynistic whiney baby guy that ten years from now is still writing songs like, “Women always screw me over.” I don’t want to be that guy. So we got to progress and for me lyrically, I always want to progress. But it’s tough and it all depends on where I am emotionally when I’m writing the record. But I’m assuming that by January everything should be fine. But then what the heck am I going to write about? That becomes another problem. It’s like, “Oh, I’m so happy.” “So what are you going to write about, Tyler?” “I don’t know. Nobody wants to hear that shit.” So it’s tough.
“Love Is Hell” sounds like it would be a great crowd sing-a-long but you never play it live.
I know, it’s good, I like that song. We all like that song. And it’s one of those things too where you make a record, then we never listen to it again. It’s just something you never really do and once in a while you kind of go back to it or you’ll hear it somewhere, coming through your ipod, and be like, “huh, I forgot this song.” It happens all the time.
I talked to Tavis Stanley of Art Of Dying and he told me a story about him and Jonny [Hetherington, AOD Vocalist] coming out on stage one night and giving you a big slobbery kiss.
Oh yeah (laughs). I can’t think of where that was but it was an outdoor show somewhere.
Yes, Tavis said you called them ugly girls.
Yeah, Tavis is an ugly girl or a pretty man. I can’t remember where that was but yeah, that was funny. I think it was the last day we had on the tour. Those are good guys but it was funny because we did this co-headlining tour with Stone Sour and I’d pretend I would be getting a text from Corey Taylor on my phone. “Oh wait, Corey is texting me on my phone” and he’d be like, “Hey Tyler, how is the crowd tonight?” And I’d be like, “I don’t know, what do you think, maybe Corey can hear when you fucking scream real loud” and they’d go, “yeah.” So the very last show, the same day those Art Of Dying guys came out, I’m like, “Corey is texting me right now,” and Corey walks out on stage with his phone and is like, “Dude, I’ve never texted you once this whole tour. I don’t even have your phone number.” (laughs) So it was pretty funny. Cause sometimes end-of-the-tour jokes is more like the crew guys are more excited about it than the band guys. The band guys are kind of like, “Hey man, good last show, it was fun, we’ll see you soon” but the crew guys are like, “Oh yeah, we’re going to do this to the opening band and we’re going to come out on stage in our underwear” and all this stuff and we’re like, “Ok, go ahead.” It’s almost like a college frat thing.
He also said that you’ve been rocking that hair for a very long time.
Yeah, it works. I kind of had a faux-hawk for a few years. Then it just kind of turned into the pompadour, which is cool, you know, it’s a bit of a fifties thing and people aren’t doing enough of something that’s different. You always see some rock bands and those guys always have like a faux-hawk or the hair is really long. I used to have my hair really long and it just wasn’t working. I looked like Jesus Christ.
You told me before about your dad being a musician and that you really didn’t get into it till later. When did you finally decide that being a musician was cool?
Well, I was never at the forefront of anything, I was always a follower. It was like, all my friends could play guitar except for me and they’d always be jamming all the time and I’d be like, “That looks kind of cool. I wish I could kind of do that.” So I just started playing guitar. This was probably in junior high school and of course all the guys that played guitar, there would always be chicks around. It’s always the chick factor. I remember I was playing guitar somewhere, at a buddy’s house, and just picked up this guitar and some chick came over, they always had a bunch of chicks over all the time, and the chick watched me play guitar and her eyes were just like (makes a face) and that was kind of the moment: I should do this. Chicks like guitar players.
What is your favorite band?
I like stuff all over the place. I like anything from Led Zeppelin to Alice In Chains to U2. But then I was also into all that shredding shit, like I love Joe Satriani and Steve Vai and that kind of stuff. There isn’t one, really. It depends on what mood I’m in.
What is your current philosophy on life?
I don’t know if there is one. You know, living in a first world country everyone gets very comfortable cause life is so good. Then you start complaining about shit. I went over to the Philippines a couple of Christmases ago, went with some friends over there, and they were working at a rehabilitation clinic for kids with disabilities. So I went there and played guitar and it was a third world country but it was like pretty fucked up. So it kind of made you think a little bit so when I came home I maybe changed the way I lived but then slowly got back into it. So every once in a while something terrible happens, like that thing in Colorado, and you’re just like, Jesus Christ. So I guess the philosophy would be to live life cause you don’t know what the hell is going to happen. Just try to be happy.
And tonight’s show is going to be?
Awesome. It’s going to be overly air conditioned though. It’s gross. The last two shows were outdoors and we were like dripping with sweat but I like it, it’s good, it’s like an exercise, but then you go inside here and it’s cold and it’s not supposed to be cold. Kind of weird. That’s for Tony Bennett.