Theory of a Deadman releases its seventh album, Say Nothing on January 31st. It’s the follow up record to the 2017 release Wake Up Call and the next step in the evolution of the British Columbia band that always manages to stay relevant.
Their relevance in 2020 is a lot different than it was in 2007. Instead of making songs like “Bad Girlfriend” and “The Bitch Came Back,” the band is back into making music with meaning. The new direction was spurred on by the hit single from the last record “Rx.” The single tackled North America’s prescription drug crisis, which led to their latest single “History of Violence,” which hits on the issue of domestic abuse. The band has made their fair share of serious songs in the past and that was their initial claim to fame, but this is a return to that.
Alternative Addiction got the chance to talk to Theory of a Deadman bassist Dean Back about the band’s upcoming album, their current single and their new push to promote the serious side of their music.
“It’s a lot more rewarding,” said Back about making music that’s more akin to “Rx” and “History of Violence.” “As years have gone by, we’ve matured as musicians. It’s a natural progression for our band. We made a lot of party songs and a lot of fun breakup songs, but there’s a lot going on in the world today. Tyler, as the main songwriter, he’s always watching and seeing what’s happening. There are a lot of topics that people are afraid to talk about. We’ve grown a bit of confidence that we can talk about these things and maybe help some people who are struggling with some of these different issues.”
Yeah, they can talk about different issues and they’re more than comfortable doing so, but that’s thanks in large part to “Rx” being the hit that it was for a band that desperately needed some kindling to their creative fire with the last album cycle.
“With ‘Rx’ it was scary for us to do that kind of change,” added Back. “Then, we got such positive feedback from people coming to the shows and reaching out on social media. A lot of people told us how we helped them just by opening the conversation. There’s such a stigma, it’s helpful to start a conversation to know that other people are struggling with these same issues. On the new record Tyler felt there were more things to talk about. On ‘History of Violence’ he’s talking about domestic abuse. We want people going through that to know that they’re not alone either.”
A big part of the single’s early response has been the accompanying video for the song. The video was directed by Sam Sulam and produced by Eric Cook of Psycho Films with the guidance of the band. The result of the collaboration is a unique and powerful story that tells the story of a young woman affected deeply by domestic abuse.
“The video is amazing,” said Back giving his approval of the final product that the band was able to put together. “We were a big part of making that. We had discussions with the director about what we had seen and what we were thinking. We collaborated with him a lot. There weren’t very many edits. As soon as we saw it, we just thought it was nailed. It was exactly what we were thinking, and it delivered such a great video. We didn’t want to be a part of the video – we though that would be a distraction for the viewer. We wanted it to be impactful. We wanted people to feel something. We didn’t want people to see something happy, we wanted people to feel for the girl involved in that video. We wanted people to feel something.”
The big question with the rest of the new Theory album is if it’s a mix of what the band has put together in the past, or if it contains more serious subject matter. There are a variety of songs on the record, but for the most part, Theory of a Deadman took a serious approach to the album.
“A lot of the songs have serious subject matter,” explained Back. “We released a song called ‘Strangers’ that’s talking about the state of the world today and how everybody is so divided now. I think that people forget that we’re all trying to accomplish the same goals in the long run. We have another song that tackles depression and anxiety. The new record covers a lot of emotion and a lot of topics and there’s people out there who are going to relate a lot of it.”
Back continued to explain the lyrics to some of the songs while talking about his admiration of Theory of a Deadman frontman Tyler Connolly’s ability to write the lyrics that the rest of the band stands behind.
“I think the beauty of some of the new music is the lyrics and the words are at the forefront of the songs. Before there was lots of noise to distract. Tyler’s always been a smart songwriter. When you strip away some of the music you let the words and the lyrics shine,” he added.
Next up for Theory of a Deadman is a tour in their home country of Canada. While Theory has certainly played shows in Canada with every record, it’s still something they look forward to doing every year, and this tour is slightly different than runs they have done in the past.
“It’s super exciting for us because we don’t get to tour Canada a lot. It’s usually one tour in the record cycle. So, when we do, there’s a lot of enthusiasm for us and for our fans. This year we’re doing a lot of markets that we haven’t hit in a long time and some markets we’ve never been to. I’m really thrilled about it.”
In retrospect, Theory of a Deadman has had an amazing career that’s held up longer than most of their contemporaries. With the wave of mainstream rock that crossed over from Canada in the 2000’s only a few of those bands hold the same amount of relevance.
“I think a lot of it has to do with adapting and growing,” explained the Theory bassist. “When you look at our records through the years, they’ve definitely changed. You can’t write “Bad Girlfriend” over and over. There’s pushback from different people that love those songs and just want that to be Theory of a Deadman, but I don’t’ think that’s how you stay in the game. You have to adapt and mature and its part of our band. We’re at a point where we feel like we know what we’re about. We trust our gut. It’s never steered us wrong. We always go with that first gut feeling and it’s always worked out. It’s just about staying true to ourselves, that’s what’s worked for us.” -aa