Theory of a Deadman

Frontman Tyler Connolly and the band pulled out all the hits when they performed on the main stage at Louder than Life festival earlier this month. Connolly also used the opportunity to show off his new baby: a Snow Falcon Flying V. It’s a dazzler.

A few hours before he took the stage at Louder than Life, Connolly sat down with to chat about the group’s latest album of hooky, dark-sounding rock called Savages, his love for Jimmy Page and how playability is what really draws him to Gibson guitars.

Who inspired you to first pick up the guitar?

That would be Jimmy Page, who is a Gibson player! Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin, of course. I listened to Led Zeppelin records my dad had in the basement. I had a buddy of mine who played guitar, and he taught me how to play "Stairway to Heaven," and that was a first time I learned how to play. And that was it. I was hooked.

Theory of a Deadman

If you could come to age in any decade of music, what would it be?

Probably the '60s. I mean, there are just some great guitar players that came out of there. It would've been nice to meet Jimi Hendrix. Yeah, I would say late-'60s.

I really like the direction you guys took on your latest album, Savages. What are your favorite songs to play live off that album?

Thank you! "Drown" and "Savages," probably. We play both of those live, and I actually get a guitar solo in "Savages," which is nice. Dave gets the guitar solo in "Drown." Our new record has a lot of riffs. We kind of went back to the riff rock, so it's nice being able to play guitar through song and not display a G chord or D chord. It's nice.

Theory of a Deadman

You’re a big Les Paul Custom player and, more recently, Flying V. Tell me about your favorite Gibson models.

I've got a lot of Gibson models! I've got quite a few 335s that I love. I have a 175, which is kind of a jumbo body, hollow body, which is amazing. I've got all my Les Pauls. I've got some Classics. Some Customs. I just got a Snow Falcon, which is probably my favorite. It's a Flying V.

What guitars do you have on the road right now?

I've got a lot. We have two rigs: A and B rigs. So, what we do is that if we have to do a fly-in show, we use the B rig. We put half the guitars there and half the guitars in this one. Today, I have a "Bad Girlfriend" white 335 that I will use. I’m going to use my black 335 for one song and then the Snow Falcon in for three songs.

Are the Gibsons holding up on the road?

Oh yeah. It's great. The first Gibson I bought was a black Les Paul Custom, and I bought that maybe 20 years ago, and I still have it on the road. I broke the neck on it twice from shipping it on planes, and it actually sounds better now than it ever has. So, I think it's because of the age and the wood. Guitars just sound better with age. That's probably one of my best sounding guitars: my black Les Paul, the first guitar ever got.

As a guitar player, do you think it's more important to have a feel for what you're playing or pay attention more to the technical aspect?

I've always been a technical guy. I like Gibsons because of the characteristic sound. For me, it's always been the playability and just the characteristic of each guitar. No Les Paul sounds the same, and sometimes it's like finding a special car. So, for me, I don't have one guitar that's like, "Eh, this is all right." Every guitar sounds great.

Theory of a Deadman

What's next for Theory of a Deadman?

We’re finishing this American run with eight more shows. We go to Russia and then do a U.K. tour, and then we come back and do a headline Canadian tour, which will take us through December, and then we'll probably thaw out and go home and have a couple months off. We'll need it!

Photos by Anne Erickson. To stream the interview, go here.