THEORY — formally known as Theory of a Deadman — have undergone a transformation overt he past few years. Transitioning to the shortened THEORY has been accompanied by a change of sound — starting with 2017’s Wake Up Call — but one that is not unfamiliar to fans of the band, which currently consists of Tyler Connolly, Dave Brenner, Dean Back, and Joey Dandeneau
For THEORY, they have their high-energy tracks like “Bad Girlfriend,” “Hate My Life” and “Nothing Could Come Between Us,” but they’ve also made a name for themselves with slower songs like “Not Meant to Be,” “Angel,” “Santa Monica,” and many more. The success of the latter singles certainly influenced their newer material, as Connolly tells me in our interview, “We don’t really know what a song’s going to do, but once a song becomes successful, you kind of look at each other and go, ‘You know what? We could continue to do this.'”
Today, THEORY dropped their brand new album, Say Nothing (via Atlantic/Roadrunner) and it is, according to Connolly, “a continuation of the last record.” It’s one that is more pointed in what the band hopes to accomplish, which mainly revolved around continuing to evolve as people and creators, while being honest with their music. It’s a record that is certainly more mature, and touches on topics such as current events, politics, domestic violence, and things that are a bit more serious in nature that popular Theory tracks like “Bitch Came Back” and “The Truth Is..,” for example. “I think with the last record with [RX (Medicate)’] — I think [it] gave me some courage to talk about some things I never had the courage to talk about before,” Connolly says.
This confidence to try new things was one that was important for the band, as Connolly tells me that a lot of their favorite bands growing up had that same confidence. He explains that he thinks one of the worst things a band can do is get too comfortable within themselves and their sound — for Say Nothing, even aside from lyrically, that includes featuring a tuba on the record. “Theory’s never really been stuck in a box — I think our songs have always kind of spoken to our fans. We’ve never been one of those bands that’s been kind of a sound band,” Connolly shares.
A lot of the changes in sound can be traced back tone specific moment for Connolly: writing songs on piano instead of guitar. “A friend of mine kind of dared me to get a Grand Piano for my house, so I kind of gifted myself with one. I just started playing it every day and really enjoyed it and started writing songs on that,” he says. This new instrument opened up a whole new world for Connolly and co., admitting that it was like opening up a whole new avenue of creativity. For THEORY, they feel like they’ve written nearly every riff possible already, having been writing tracks with a guitar since 2001 up until 2017’s Wake Up Call. “It’s kind of stifled creatively because you’re trying to think of something that hasn’t been done before by yourself or other bands,” he begins to explain, “With the piano, it felt like it was wide open, we could just create new [material] and it opened up a lot of new melodies for me vocally, which was also really cool.”
Connolly admits to me during our interview that it’s “always fingers crossed” when you try something new as a band — again highlighting the factor that, as a band, you never know what will succeed and what fans will latch onto. “It makes it easier when you have good content, good stuff to talk about,” he says. He mentions that it “got old” writing about being bitter, women, and even some of the tongue-in-cheek stuff that was prominent in their music previously. Another layer of this comes in the form of not necessarily wanting to write those same type of songs as they get older. Connolly specifically points to “Bitch Came Back” and, while proud of all of their older material, didn’t want to necessarily writer new material in that same vein. “We understand that songs take you back to a memory, a place, a time in your life, whether it’s high school, and that will always be there. So I think us trying to replace that for fans [would be] a mistake,” he tells me. “We’re not trying to replace ‘Bad Girlfriend’ with something else. We can’t do that. So we’re trying to, now, create new memories with fans.”
I pose to Connolly if he had any trouble writing about some of the lyrical content, when compared to the more light-hearted type things, to which he mentions that it was “very difficult.” Expanding non the notion, he shares, “It’s easy to be a goof and kind of make fun of things, the tongue in cheek thing, that’s fun to do because you really don’t have to defend it.” He goes on to compare this to a more recent song like “Strangers,” which touches on the politics of America. “It’s a bit of a dangerous song, it’s very unbiased, I made sure strategically it wasn’t pushing left or right, it’s just all messed up at this point. You have to be careful, you have to be smart with some of the stuff you talk about, becuase you’ll have to defend it down the road,” he says on “Strangers.”
Today, Substream is thrilled to be teaming up with THEORY to be bringing the premiere of their new music video for “World Keeps Spinning,” which is one of the more personal track for Connolly on Say Nothing — dealing with his own personal battles with anxiety and depression. “I think a lot of people will be able to relate [it],” he says on the meaning behind the song. “I was reading something as how they’re looking at social media as being a drug, as being an addiction. In 10 or 20 years they’re going to have addiction centers for social media. It’s getting insane. People are obsessed with getting likes and positive comments as if perfect strangers are going to put smiles on your face. It’s just not healthy. So I think people are going to hear this song and really vibe with it and understand and be like, ‘Man, that’s a day in the life of what I go through.’ I’m really excited for people to see that video. It’s really heavy, it’s really, really heavy.
Watch for yourself below.
The video was directed Sam Sulam, who perviously worked with the band on “History of Violence.” Together with Sam, THEORY came up with the story behind the video, and that worked on bringing it to life — and even tying in the “RX (Medicate)” video. “I really wanted to include kids in schools in this, something that’s affecting America right now with the shootings. I wanted to put something in there that the label’s probably really scared of, [but] it turned out really cool,” he says.
“World Keeps Spinning” is the song that Connolly tells me he’s most excited to have fans hear on the record, so it was important to bring it to life in a way that did it justice. This is something that he feels like sometimes bands miss the mark on — having the opportunity to say something with a video, or to add a visual to the meaning, and not executing it fully. “Not to diss performance videos, we’ve just done so many of them. I don’t think we want to see another performance video of us just jamming in an empty warehouse that’s dripping water from chains,” Connolly explains, stating that at this point, with the things they are writing about, they want to make the most out of them.
THEORY have a lot of touring in support of Say Nothing, including their current Canadian tour, an upcoming spring U.S. tour, and then more summer plans for the U.S. When it comes to adding these newer songs to the setlist, Connolly tells me that fans have nothing to worry about. “We tend to be quite a bit heavier live with all the stuff,” he begins, “I think that’s worrisome for some people, ‘Well, are they gonna kick into new stuff, is it gonna be a pop show?’ No, it’s gonna be a rock show for sure. It transitions well, it sounds a little more [rock] live. Obviously it’s probably just a lot of adrenaline, everything’s just cranked to ten, it’s just loud.”
Pick up your copy of ‘Say Nothing,’ and view all of the upcoming tour dates for THEORY here.