‘Hang your balls out the window.'
Wake Up Call
It’s still another 30 minutes before we interview Theory of a Deadman at 604 Records - a studio on the fringes of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside that reps Carly Rae Jepsen and Nickleback.
We’re eventually led to a small backroom where the band is standing despite the couch and chairs; four plastic water bottles are untouched on the table. After some back-and-forth jokes about the name of our publication, they sit on the couch, elbow to elbow and completely at ease. Not surprising considering they’ve been making music together for fourteen years.
Theory of a Deadman lives in a box in my brain labelled “things worth forgetting from those angsty teenage years.”
It goes like this: It’s 2008 and I find out my boyfriend has cheated. I pick up a carton of eggs and toilet paper, pile into a friend’s Honda Civic, scream along to “Make Up Your Mind” on the radio, and hunt down his car to enact sweet, gooey revenge.
Sitting across from Theory in 2017, I want to know: Would there be songs on their new album Wake Up Call for such aggressive occasions? And, most important, do they believe they are as good now as they’ve ever been?
“Oh my god, this is terrible.” Those are the words that went through lead singer Tyler Connolly’s mind while sitting in his car listening to a demo of the album. He didn’t even send it to the rest of the band; bassist Dean Back, guitarist Dave Brenner, and drummer Joey Dandeneau; but instead, deleted it.
You deleted it?
Tyler: Rock music as a whole didn’t feel like it was progressing. It was stagnant, and we started seeing it with our own band. You want to keep progressing creatively but the fans don’t want you to change, and that’s the hardest part.
So, who are you making music for?
Tyler: You always have to make music for you. It’s the whole reason we do this. Before the fame, when you’re just in your basement jamming, and there is no record label and no one to write music for, that’s cool. But when you get a record label and a fan base, everything changes.
The glaring risk of Wake Up Call was that Connolly wrote most of the pop-rock album on piano instead of the guitar. When they brought the new sound to Atlantic Records, the initial reaction was apprehension.
Dave: You have to hang your balls out the window.
Dave: From the movie Jerry Maguire: “That's how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there.” We were Jerry Maguire at that point, going back to our record label with this new material.
But you knew you couldn't stay the same?
Tyler: We were starting to look at where we belonged in the music world, and where we were getting placed wasn’t where we wanted to be. We were playing festivals where we were the lightest band on the bill and that’s not what you want. We were on at 5:00 p.m., and you don’t want to be a 5:00 band.
Hence the ball check?
Tyler: Exactly. We felt like the outcasts. The irony is that rock has always been a bunch of outcasts, but now we were the outcasts of the outcasts, so it was like, where do we go? We created what we think is our best record.
Any songs to egg an ex-boyfriend's car to?
Dave: Oh, definitely Straightjacket.
Anything you can teach us in the last minute of this interview?
Tyler: Think outside the box - and you can take that in both ways. After all, you’re Females That Say Shit.
It's Girls Who Say Fuck.
Whether you love or hate them, find all things Theory here.