Theory of a Deadman Say Nothing World Tour 2020
When: Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, 8 p.m.
Where: Commodore Ballroom, 868 Granville St.
Tickets and info: $42.50 at livenation.com
Strangers is the second single from Theory of a Deadman’s seventh album Say Nothing. The new song addresses the dystopian state of social and political affairs in America today, mentioning such realities as Kids afraid of being shot up/Shooter drills are how they brought up.
Lead singer/songwriter Tyler Connolly calls from Los Angeles on Nov. 14, 2019, to talk about the sharply focused tune. At the same time as the interview takes place, Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, Calif., is under fire as a student with a gun shoots five schoolmates, killing two, before killing himself. By the end of the week there will be two other mass shootings leaving the death toll at 10.
Par for the course, Connolly says.
“Strangers was the very first song written for the new album, and it clearly set the tone that the rest of it was going to take being about politics, gun violence and polarization,” said Connolly. “The worst we had growing up in Vancouver was earthquake drills, so this is something I don’t even understand that these kids accept as normal. I feel like I grew up in a completely different time and it’s not getting better; it’s scary and it’s bad.”
Speaking to America’s political divisiveness might not seem standard subject matter for the hard-rocking Theory of a Deadman — ironically now known as Theory, as the “Deadman” in the name was upsetting to some sensitive sorts in its U.S. fan base. But the single Rx (Medicate) from 2017’s Wake Up Call was platinum certified and it carried a clear message.
Rx (Medicate) was about the prescription-drug abuse epidemic sweeping North America and produced a hit video as well. The band partnered up with Shatterproof, a non-profit group focused on alcohol-and-drug-dependence education initiatives, to spread the message.
History of Violence, the leadoff single from the new record, directly tackles domestic abuse and advocates fans contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline in the event that they, or someone they know, is dealing with abuse. Having built its reputation on pretty straightforward hard rock, this new direction in lyrical content is matched by a progressing pop-rock sound.
Connolly says he’s cool with the transition to more topical subject matter in songs. It’s where he is in his life.
“It’s different, but I find it very easy to write more from my opinion and perspective,” he said. “Of course, I am very careful with that, as our fan base can be left or right wing and I don’t want to be saying what’s correct or not to anybody. What I’m trying to do is be in the middle and say, ‘Why don’t we look at all of this together.’ ”
There are 10 tunes on the new album.
Among them is Affluenza, influenced by the Texas court case of Ethan Couch in which his attorney argued that the privileged white teen shouldn’t be charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter because his “affluenza” led him to not having the same moral boundaries as non-rich people.
White Boy is inspired by the first-degree murder of 32-year-old Heather Heyer by a neo-Nazi domestic terrorist in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. The song begins with a chilling sample of one of the news reports coming out of the city on that day.
Say Nothing says things.
“In a sense, it’s kind of an ironic title,” said Connolly. “But isn’t that how everyone is nowadays? They want everyone to shut up, but they also have too much to say and want all to listen.”
Connolly hopes that he, David Brenner (guitar/backing vocals), Dean Back (bass) and Joey Dandeneau (drums) can engage audiences on the coming tour with a mix of classics from the back catalogue and a healthy dose of the new material. Say Nothing is very much a product of the band once again working with producer Martin Terefe (Jason Mraz, Yungblud) to achieve the anthemic pop that it wanted.
How does Connolly see the group recreating the grand, orchestral hooks of songs such as the opening track Black Hole in Your Heart live?
“I do play piano live quite bit more now, but for the full deal we will use tracks,” he said. “Everybody does it now, and it sounds like it should be there, so we’ll go with that. That song was really largely Martin’s idea and, wow, it totally turned out fantastically as did the rest of the record.”
With the exception of History of Violence, none of Say Nothing has been proven on stage. Connolly looks forward to delivering the new songs in concert.
“History of Violence is great to play; some nights you get a little emotional thinking of the woman in the story,” he said. “It’s fun doing older songs such as Bad Girlfriend and stuff, but getting onstage and telling this really sad story is powerful and I expect the other new songs will be as well.”
Connolly says ending Say Nothing on a positive note was essential to balance out the album’s gloomier topics. It’s All Good closes the record with a message that the singer says reflects his final outlook on life. The acoustic-guitar-driven song also suggests that Theory might have a new country record waiting in the wings.