Star Scene: Tyler Connolly ~ THEORY (Of A Deadman)

Tyler Connolly’s scene is chill. The THEORY (of a Deadman) frontman states: “My scene is just laid back, having a good time with my friends. Laugh a lot. My few close friends, and you know just saying, “Whatever, let’s do it”. You know, trying to be open minded and just have a good time. That’s my scene.”

Though Connolly is relaxed about his life and even the success of the band, he does not rest on his laurels. Theory – now without the “of a deadman” in their name, have recently released their sixth studio album, Wake Up Call, diving into a new sound, a new approach, even a new location. Since forming in British Columbia in 2001, Theory of a Deadman have placed nine songs in the Top 10 on the US rock charts, including the Number One hits Bad Girlfriend, Lowlife, So Happy, and Angel. To celebrate the success of Wake Up Call and the heavy radio play of the lead single Rx (Medicate), THEORY are making their maiden voyage to Australia. “Yeah, we always wanted to come down there,” states Connolly. “We’re so happy that we finally can. I think we’ve always kind of asked about the festivals down there and to get on one of those festival tours but we’ve never really gotten an answer. It’s expensive to go down there. We have to kind of tie it in. Just another tour. We’re going to Japan afterwards and then we found out our album was doing really well down there and you know, Ron actually got a call the next day asking about coming down. So we’re like, ‘Yes, let’s go’.”

A welcome addition to the Australian rock tour circuit, especially for those Influenced by the rock and grunge classics. For Connolly, his influences were similar. He states: “It started with a lot of guitar rock stuff. I was a guitar player to start. When I was probably around 13, 14. My dad had an old acoustic guitar. I had a couple of friends who played guitar and I guess I kind of picked it up, and think I learned how to play ‘Fast Cars’, Tracy Chapman. And then it was ‘Stairway to Heaven’. After ‘Stairway to Heaven’, that was it. So firs it was classic rock, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and then kind of U2. Big U2 fan. And then into the grunge scene. When I was in high school, grunge exploded, which was Nirvana, but I was more into Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam. I learned every song from those bands.”  Then, in 2001 THEORY (of a Deadman) began. Connolly states: “It was kind of an amalgamation of a couple bands. I worked with Dean the bass player, when we were in high school. We worked at this restaurant. He was a bussy, I was a dishwasher. And we started a band, which ended up becoming Theory. I was in another band with Dave the guitar player, and his band broke up. Which happens. And then he just called me and asked if he could join our band. When he joined it became pretty much what it is now.” Apart from the name change which Connolly felt was necessary. “We’ve had Theory of a Deadman for years, and honestly there’s multiple reasons. It’s just timing wise, when we used to work with the records that we made. I think this record sounds more like THEORY than Theory of a Deadman. I don’t know how to describe it, but there’s also something about having ‘of a Deadman’ in our name – if I was in an Uber or in a taxi cab and said, ‘What’s the name of your band?’ And I said, “Theory of a Deadman” to him, he would assume it’s some sort of heavy metal band and it’s kind of hurt us, and we’ve always thought, ‘Man, you know if we weren’t called Theory of a Deadman a lot more people would probably interested in figuring out what kind of music we do’. And then we’re always going to be called Theory of a Deadman. It’s just the THEORY thing we’re trying to spread to make more of a popular name shortening thing, like Chili Peppers or what not.”

The new album definitely goes in a new direction for the band. Connolly sees this process as a natural progression but also as a different approach. He states: “A lot of the songs were written on piano. Rather than guitar. A lot of our music has been guitar driven rock. A lot of riffs, we started out being like a riff band, more southern rock. Then country, you know lap steel, slide guitar, banjo even, a lot of guitar solos. This record is completely different just because a lot of stuff was written on piano. It’s completely changed the way the songs were written, which opens up a whole new creative path for us, which is really exciting. We feel like we’re a new band again.”

RX was definitely something that we knew was something special. In the studio we almost took it into this really rock direction in the bridge, and I couldn’t stand it. I was like, ‘It’s not right, it’s not right’. So luckily we were able to change that and take it out. I’m glad it is the way it is now, and I know people love that song. So that is definitely the most rewarding part. Seeing a song work.”

Importantly, RX has had many people connect with it and raise awareness with abuse of prescription medicines. Connolly states: “There’s always a reason why I write lyrics. Sometimes I can’t figure it out until afterwards. This one was kind of like, I put the lyrics together pretty quickly and it’s almost like I was just kind of telling a story about a kid in his bedroom. After the fact, after it was released, we saw it starting to react. We thought it’d be a good idea to kind of bring attention to the opioid problem. And bring attention to helping people. But that felt like the song was really connecting, and like well what else can we do? We didn’t just want to have a conversation with someone like you and be like, ‘I don’t know, it’s all good’. You know? So kind of after the fact we went and said, ‘Let’s go do some work on this”. And that’s when we partnered up with a non-profit organization to help people and now we feel like we’re doing more than simply making a song.”

Nevertheless, Connolly doesn’t think bands must have a voice in helping society change or in helping in other areas like religion or politics, though they can choose to do so. For him, music is a healing force on its own. Connolly explains: “Personally music is a part of everyone’s life. And it can be as little or as much as an influence on what you do. For me I’ve never really been influenced by music I listen to, and go and make a change politically and what not.  But with U2, Bono is definitely a huge influence with stuff that he’s done in the past, with Ethiopia or World Hunger. I don’t think it’s something they need to do. I think making music is a lot. I think on its own, music really, really helps people. I mean it has, for myself, I think listening to music has probably saved me quite a few times. It’s because in itself it’s almost like a drug. It really, really calms you down and helps with whatever issues you have, so I don’t know. To each his own I guess.”

Connolly uses music creation as a healing tool, with lyrical layers of angst, heartbreak, desire. He states: “I try to write everything from my perspective. There’s a few things that I can’t write that are about me. So it’ll be about my feelings or something. Like for example, Blow is definitely how I feel about certain things. Just like Rx is. I’ve never been addicted to an opioid drug so I don’t know, but it’s just my perspective. But yeah, a lot of the heartbreak stuff is definitely about me. Along the way I’ve learned from other songwriters that you really should write how you feel. If I wake up and I’m really happy it just makes no sense for me to write a sad song, so yeah it definitely is. ‘Bad Girlfriend’ is a completely true story. That’s literally how I met my ex-wife. She was that bad girlfriend, so yeah it was in a bar and they actually had a bell that they’d ring when you tipped the bartender, the whole thing about dancing on the bar and stuff. That’s all true.”

Lyrics should be taken with a grain of salt – not all are based on actual occurrences. Connolly laughs at the thought of him being that “innocent boy” in the song Straight Jacket. More so, he reminisces, “When I was a kid I was such a little brat. Aw! Man, I was a jerk. Yeah, no definitely, I’m not innocent.”

As for a loner, he states: “Yeah, I don’t have a ton of people that I can call and vent and bitch and say how I really feel and not worry that someone else is gonna listen in. There’s very few. There’s maybe one or two people honestly. But yeah, I’ve always been kind of a loner. I’ve always been kind of a weird kid. I’ve always had friends but I’ve always been kind of the outsider and kind of an odd duck. And to be honest, I think that kind of made me who I am today. So I think that song Loner is kind of an inspirational song for all the people out there that maybe feel bad about being a loner and being different, and being weird and people, maybe teens, feeling bad at school. There’s nothing wrong with that. You gotta figure there’s a reason they’re like that. When you get older you figure it all out and you’re like, ‘Ahhh okay, it’s all good’.”

Finally bringing their supportive, inspitational, rocking songs and performance to Australia, Connolly is still deciding on setlists. However, he states: “You know what’s great about streaming, is that we can instantly see in every country, in every city if we want, what fans are listening to the most. That’s kind of how we put set lists together in every country. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but we have so many songs now we can’t play them all. So we try to sort and stick together what everybody’s gonna want to hear, the most popular ones. So I’m not sure yet. But not just the new album. I’d still play something old. And Wicked Game is fun. I get to play piano while we do that one. Or Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah – we’ve done a couple acoustic tours and I got to do that”.

The band are excited about their first Australian tour. Connolly states: “We always are interesting in trying to have enough time to go see some stuff, so I’ve already started thinking about what we’re gonna try to have time to go do when we’re in Australia. Because we have one day off so- I don’t know how stereotypical it would be for me to say I want to see a kangaroo or a koala bear or something, but- I don’t know, maybe play with one of those… what are those huge spiders called that hide in people’s cars?” Connolly laughs, “Yeah, a huntsman.”

Check out Connolly and THEORY on their first Australian tour.

Theory Australian Tour Dates 2018

Friday June 22nd SYDNEY, Manning Bar

Saturday 23rd June BRISBANE, Woolly Mammoth

Sunday 24th June PERTH, Amplifier Bar

Tuesday 26th June MELBOURNE, Prince Bandroom


About Mary Boukouvalas 1645 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos,,,, She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.