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Band keeps fresh with reinvention

Theory of a Deadman’s style tweaked on new album


Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published October 24, 2019

Heads Up! This article is 3 years old.

When Theory of a Deadman announced their current fall tour back in May, the band also announced they would be pulling double duty for the rest of the year as they were also beginning to write and record a new album, their first since they released Wake Up Call in 2017.

That album, titled Say Nothing, is due out January 31.

Though they have been quite successful over the years, selling hundreds of thousands of albums and establishing themselves as a touring juggernaut, Theory of a Deadman have never been a band to rest on their laurels, always looking for a new challenge. Known for a diverse sound that fuses a combination of different styles and influences, they have amassed an impressive repertoire of songs, but challenged themselves and their fans on Wake Up Call, branching out both musically and lyrically and offering no apologies in doing so.

The more melodic, intimate style didn’t sit well with critics who were bullish on the album but, true to form, the majority of fans embraced the opus, resulting in a Top 25 album in the U.S. and a Number 1 single in “Rx (Medicate).”

Changing songwriting process

Part of that style transformation came from a change in the songwriting process vocalist/guitarist Tyler Connolly used on the record. Instead of primarily using his trusted guitar to form songs the way he had on previous releases, Connolly instead opted for a piano he had taught himself how to play, creating a whole new vibe to build upon.

Judging by the way Connolly speaks, the change was more of a necessity than a choice.

“Complacency is such a disease when you’re in a band,” Connolly said. “People are so afraid to progress, but you have to change. You can’t just write the same song over and over. So when I saw where this record was going, I said to the other guys, ‘We’re in a car and it’s going off a cliff. Do you want to jump out or ride it to the bottom?’”

A little more Topical

For those who are wondering, Say Nothing reportedly veers the band in yet another direction, finding the Theory guys getting a little more topical and tackling hot-button issues including racism and the divisive nature of politics.

Lead single “History of Violence,” released a few weeks ago, is evidence of the new territory as it tackles the issue of domestic abuse head on.

“I look at the record as a microcosm of our current era,” guitarist Dave Brenner said in a press release about the album. “It’s a reminder to look inward at what’s happening and what we’re becoming. I hope everyone dives into the words. At the same time, music is still an escape. Maybe we can give the world a little solace and encourage everyone to treat each other better.”

The album also features some new sounds and sonics as well, again expanding the boundaries of their perceived definition. Album opener “Black Hole of Your Heart,” according to the release, features “orchestration set to an arena ready beat punctuated by a creaky guitar” while a gospel choir adds another dimension.

And rock n’ roll history aficionados will appreciate that a pilgrimage to Abbey Road Studios somehow inspired the song “Ted Bundy,” a song that will undoubtedly be required listening when it’s released.

Close to their fans

A close relationship with their fans has always been an important part of Theory of a Deadman’s mission, dating back to the beginning stages when the band hooked up with Nickelback’s Chad Koeger.

Koeger took the band under his wing and introduced them to an audience that craved well-written songs with an edge. The fact that the band’s early music was reminiscent of Nickelback didn’t hurt their cause either.

Frequent visitors to the Summit City, the band is a familiar sight in our city. They have steadily built of a base of fans so that every trip here has become a “must see” event. That’s because those fans know Theory doesn’t compromise the live experience and will always, without exception, put on one of the most energetic shows you’ll have a chance to see.

Asked to explain how his band had reached its current level of popularity, Connolly told AXS that he thought the main factor was the amount of time and energy the band spends on songwriting.

“We’re always trying to work on and improve our process,” he said. “We like to keep our music and our performances simple. We don’t dress crazy or wear makeup or anything like that. We’re just four regular dudes. It’s always just been about the music for us, so we always try to improve our writing by trying something new or different on each record. I think that’s made the difference.”

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