It’s safe to say that one thing Theory Of A Dead Man’s Tyler Connolly and Co don’t do when they release a new record is scan the reviews in Canadian media. They know it’s a foregone conclusion that anything they put out is going to get trashed.
Whether it’s because their records are released on 604 Records, a Vancouver label operated by much maligned Nickleback frontman Chad Kroeger, or whether the band’s supposed formula, American friendly commercial rock is just too unhip for Canadian ears, Connolly is at odds to address why they are targeted in the press. Yet calling in from Duluth, Minnesota to discuss his band’s fifth record release, Savages, Connolly says he is puzzled why the band is treated so negatively by his own country’s music media.
“It’s embarrassing and kind of insulting,” remarked Connolly. “I can count on one hand how many Canadian bands are currently succeeding in the States so you’d think we’d get some kind of recognition in Canada. We know the fans in Canada like us and we’re touring continuously in the States where our records get strong support on radio and sell well. We’ve toured the U.K and we are going back there to play eight dates with Airborne and Black Stone Cherry along with two dates in Russia in October, yet it seems the Canadian media don’t want to know about us.”
It’s a backlash that’s quite surprising, especially with a radio friendly album that boasts a vocal collaboration with Alice Cooper on the title track and a tongue-in-cheek , “Living My Life Like A Country Song” track featuring vocal support from Rascal Flats’ Joe Don Rooney.
“I always liked that Vincent Price talking bit on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” song so I came up with a spoken part for “Savages”,” explained Connolly. “Even my record company thought initially , that bit was a little cheesy but through contact with Alice’s manager, Shep Gordon, we got Alice to do the spoken part and I think it sounds great. When we got him I thought I’d won the lottery.”
As for the faux country track, Connolly is trying to prove his band has a sense of humour. “You hear all the rock and roll cliches about rock being all about sex and drugs and the country cliches seem to be about `my girlfriend left me and all I have is my truck, my dog and a case of beer’ so we thought we’d write this song for fun and not to be taken too seriously. So we got Joe Don involved, because all country singers want to be rock stars, and we just did it for a laugh.”
Connolly believes ‘Savages’ is a return to the band’s hard rock roots after admitting that the band’s fourth album, their 2011 “The Truth Is” strayed away from a sound that had made them initially successful. “The truth is, we needed a face lift after the last album,” allowed Connolly. “It’s kind of like U2 going from “Rattle And Hum” to “Achtung Baby”. “Savages isn’t as much a progression as it is a return to more familiar territory.”
Returning to those negative media comments, Connolly claims the domestic media were on the band’s side when they became Chad Kroeger’s first signing for his 604 label In 2001, supposedly discovered after Connolly slipped a demo tape into Kroeger’s back pocket at a party they both attended.
Kroeger produced and co-wrote some of the tracks for the band’s eponymous titled debut, the record was well received and the band won a Juno award in 2003 as best new group. “I don’t know at what stage the media turned against us, they initially were quite supportive,” pondered Connolly.
He acknowledges a lot of the negativity stems from the association with Kroeger’s label but notes both Kroeger’s band Nickelback and his 604 imprint continues to be successful despite a domestic backlash. “You couldn’t find a better label to work for,” acknowledged Connolly. “The label lets us do what we want to do, there’s next to no interference”.[youtube width=”600″ height=”338″ video_id=”DKZ2PLTPYP8″]
And so Connolly and band mates, guitarist Dave Brenner, bassist Dean Back and drummer Joey Dandeneau have built up a strong following stateside with the release three more records; Gasoline 2005, Scars And Souvenirs in 2008 and The Truth Is in 2011, touring consistently with the likes of Motley Crue, Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge and Airbourne. They have also appeared on a number of Wold Wrestling Entertainment broadcasts and even performed on the half time show of the 2008 Grey Cup final with Blue Rodeo and Lenny Kravitz.
“There’s nine-tenths of the population in the States than in Canada,” explained Connolly. “So we have spent a lot of time down there. But I regret we haven’t spent more time in Canada and we aim to fix that. We’ve played some festivals in Canada this summer, we just played with The Sheepdogs, Monster Truck and Sass Jordan so there are some great bands up here and we are going to be touring across the country in mid-November.”
Their 15-date Savages tour launches November 11th at the Vancouver Commodore and includes dates at Hamilton Place November 24th and Toronto’s Danforth Theatre November 25th before concluding at Belleville’s Empire Theatre December 2nd (go to the band’s website for complete tour information).
At the end of the day, Tyler Connolly just wants to be given credit for fronting a successful rock band. “We’re not trying to cure cancer; we’re all about playing rock n roll. You think about all these new kids with their electronic sounds that are popular for about two minutes. But ultimately it’s the likes of AC/DC, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath who still dominate, and that’s what we want to do. Rock n Roll’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.”