Vancouver, Canada’s Theory of a Deadman are anything but a monotone rock band. The group’s latest full-length, 2011’s The Truth Is…, serves up everything from softhearted ballads to angst-y hard rock nuggets to party-rock anthems.
According to frontman Tyler Connolly, that variety is the heart of TOAD.
“We’ve always pushed for the dynamics,” Connolly exclusively told Gibson.com. “You have to be smart and know that you can’t always write the same songs. We’ll never write another ‘Bad Girlfriend.’ It would be stupid of us to think about it. To have a career, we couldn’t keep writing party songs, or we would just become a gimmick. We’ve always pushed to have an ebb and flow on our records, and now it feels natural to make a record that’s more dimensional.”
Connolly chatted more with Gibson.com about the band’s latest chart-topping rock ballad, “Hurricane,” and why he believes the Gibson Les Paul “sounds like rock and roll.” Check out the discussion below, and find tour dates for Theory of a Deadman’s summer run here!
Your new single, “Hurricane,” is topping the active rock charts. I heard that you had the idea for that song a long time ago. Is that true?
Yeah! I don’t know how many years ago, but it’s something I had the chorus for a while, and I still have some songs laying around that I think are great songs that I just haven’t gotten around to finishing, and sometimes, it’s almost meant to be that they don’t get finished right away. Maybe there’s a time for everything. So, yeah, it was just something I wanted to bring back and finish, and it turned out to be a great song.
It’s really weird. When we were recording the song, the guy who was in the studio adding the string was Japanese, and it was right when they had that huge earthquake happened in Japan, and he had a bunch of family there, and he was having a really hard time with it. So, it’s kind of weird to say, but when the strings were put on the song, I felt like a lot more emotion was put into it. With the song being called “Hurricane,” it was just a very sad moment when we were tracking it, and you can hear that in the song.
Why do you think people have responded so well to “Hurricane?”
I think because it’s the simplicity of having the metaphor of a hurricane. I think it’s something people enjoy with relating that to something in their life. We’ve all had something, whether it’s a relationship or having someone in your family die, it’s just anything that happens to you that’s bad or negative, you can say, “Well, it’s a metaphor for some sort of natural disaster. It came through and ripped my life apart.” People can listen to the song, and I think it’s very easy to understand and people can relate to the lyrics.
Let’s switch gears to guitar talk. What Gibsons are in your arsenal right now?
I’ve got a ton! I was using 11 guitars in a set on the last tour. I had four 335s, four Les Pauls, a 175 and a J-200 acoustic, and it was just ridiculous that I had so many guitars. I had a guitar for every song. For our current tour, we cut it down. I’m using four guitars now, and it’s pretty much all Les Pauls. I’ve got this Gold Top that I’ve been using for quite a few songs now, and it just sounds badass. And I have a couple customs, too, that sound great.
What is it about Gibsons that make them a good fit for your playing style?
You know, we used other guitars, and when we record all our records, it’s predominantly all Gibsons. You go into studio and have all the Gibsons lined up, and it’s just the character of those guitars. There aren’t a lot of guitars out there that have been built over the decades that have as much character as a Les Paul. For me, it’s one of the most distinguished sounds. When I bought my first Les Paul, it sounded like rock and roll. Something about it. I would pick up another guitar, and it didn’t sound like rock and roll until I picked up a Les Paul.
What Gibsons did you use on Theory of a Deadman’s latest album, “The Truth Is…?”
We’ve always used single-coil Juniors. Those always sound amazing. Just a lot of Les Pauls and Les Paul Juniors. I know we had a double cutaway Junior that we used for almost every song. Once you get a guitar that just sounds awesome, you want to throw it on everything, so that was one of my favorites.
What acoustic guitars do you use for songwriting?
I have a J-200 at home, and that’s what I’ve written most of my songs on that guitar. I got it way back in the early 2000s, and I’ve written almost every single one of songs on that guitar, so that’s kind of my baby. That’s my kid I like the best. [Laughs]
Thanks for chatting, Tyler! What final advice would you have for someone who is starting to play guitar?
I would say you have to love it. I started playing drums, that was my first instrument, and I hated it. I couldn’t stand doing patterns all day on a pad, but when I picked up the guitar, I just fell in love with it. I didn’t care about chicks. I didn’t care about watching TV. I didn’t care about any of my friends. I fell in love with the guitar. So, I would say, you have to love it. And, just learn it inside and out. Learn everything you can about the guitar itself.
Band photo: Travis Shinn
Live photos: Anne Erickson