Canadian rockers Theory of a Deadman have topped the charts with radio hits such as “Santa Monica,” “Bad Girlfriend,” “So Happy,” “By the Way,” “I Hate My Life” and, most recently, “Drown.”
While the group is known for its party-happy rock jams, Theory of a Deadman’s latest album, the just-released Savages, showcases a more serious set of songs that offer high-caliber songwriting and a very guitar-driven approach.
A few hours before the band’s New York City gig this week, Theory of a Deadman frontman Tyler Connolly spoke with Gibson.com about the new album, what it was like working with Alice Cooper on the song “Savages” and his new favorite toy: a Snow Falcon Flying V.
Congratulations on your new album, Savages. I really like the lead single, “Drown.” What’s the song about?
“Drown” is about just being left alone and having the feeling that everyone has just left you to die, which we all feel at some point in our lives. At that point, I felt like the current was taking me out to the middle of the ocean. So, it’s a little dark, but it’s just how I felt when I wrote it. It’s one of my favorites off the record. It’s a very personal song.
Theory of a Deadman are known for party-happy songs, but this record goes in a more serious direction.
We made a conscious effort to take a little bit of a turn on this album and try something different, so it’s darker, and it’s actually closer to our first record. It’s more riff-driven, and there’s more musicality on this album and less of that fun, humor, tongue-and-cheek stuff for which we have become known. We felt like we were finished with it. There are a couple songs that kind of have that fun feel, but the rest is very much where we needed to go and aggressive and more guitar-driven.
You’re going on tour with Fozzy (fronted by WWE star Chris Jericho) this summer and fall. What makes touring with Fozzy a good fit for you guys?
We put together a tour and were looking for a direct support band, and our agent mentioned Fozzy. We had never toured with them before, but we did a festival a few weeks prior with them called Rock on the Range, and we just ran into them, so it was fresh in our mind. When they said, “Want to tour with Fozzy?” We said, “Hey, sure, we just met those guys!” They seem really cool and bring a different perspective for us. We usually tour with the same bands, and we’re all friends, but then it becomes too much of the same. Lots of people seem excited about Fozzy touring with us on Twitter.
The track “Savages” features Alice Cooper. What was it like working with the Coop?
He was super nice and super professional, and he looks great. When I met him, I expected for a guy that works as hard as he does and has seen as many years of touring as he has to look worn out, but he was full of life and looked like he was about 38 years old. He loves music and loves what he does, and it gave me motivation. Being able to meet him and see how he tours like crazy and still loves to make music motivated me to keep going. Hopefully I’m somehow be where he’s at when I’m his age.
Last time we talked, your go-to guitar was a Les Paul Custom. What’s in your rig now?
That one is still one of my favorites. I got a new one, which is my favorite now. It’s a Snow Falcon Flying V with an all-white fretboard. It’s awesome. It sounds great and is easy to play, and it’s my newest guitar, so it’s my baby, and I want to play it all the time.
What are some of your other favorite Gibsons?
I’ve got a ton. I’ve got four Les Pauls: one is a standard, and two are customs. One is a deluxe. I also have an ES-175, which is amazing. I have four ES-335s and also a SJ-250 acoustic that I play. I’ve got quite a few Gibsons, and they all sound different, play different and are all unique.
What makes Gibson guitars special?
I’ve played a bunch of different guitars over the years, and my first Gibson guitar I got was a black Les Paul custom, and it just had its own characteristic sound. Nothing else sounded like it. As soon as you plug in a Les Paul, nothing else sounds like it, and that’s what motivated me to want to play Gibsons. Of all the guitars, the Les Paul has that signature sound that’s just rock ‘n’ roll. When you think of some of these people who play Les Pauls, like Slash and Jimmy Page, they epitomize rock ‘n’ roll. A Les Paul is just rock ‘n’ roll.
Tell me about your work with Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity (HFHFH).
We just got back from building a house down in Lynwood, Calif. Habitat for Humanity raises money and builds houses for people who can’t afford them. So, we sold wrist bands over our summer tour and raised money to do two builds, it was a great experience. The cool thing is that you personally have to put in 500 hours and build the house, so it was great for the band to go in there and literally hammer nails. It really felt like we were doing something for someone else. It’s easy to just donate money, but it felt great to actually act.
What are Theory of a Deadman’s plans after the Fozzy run?
After Fozzy, we go over and do shows in Russia and the U.K. and then do a Canadian tour in November that takes us into the end of the year. We’ll start making plans for next year soon!
Promo photo by Christian Lantry
Live photo by Anne Erickson