Tyler Connolly of Theory of a Dead Man - Interview

To kick off one of the best days of my “Zoiks! Online” life I sat down with Tyler Connolly of Theory of a Dead Man to interview him about the Carnival of Madness tour as well as their new album “The Truth Is…” He was a blast to talk to. He was a lot of fun, very goofy, but open and honest at the same time. You can love or hate Theory of a Dead Man, but one thing you can’t deny about that band is that they have a lot of fun.

Zoiks!: How’s the tour been so far?

Tyler Connolly: It just started so it’s been fucking awesome.

Z!: How’d you guys get involved in the Carnival of Madness?

TC: Last year was the inaugural, whatever the hell you call it, it was the first year they had it, and then about over a year ago our manager was like, ‘hey you guys are gonna headline it next year man.’ I guess we’ll see. If we have a record out, we’ll see if it helps. And then the manager was like, ‘yeah we’re putting it together. The timing’s perfect.’ It is perfect cuz we got that new single out and our record just came out a few weeks ago. So it’s been great.

Z!: Are any of the new songs off the new record making the set list?

TC: Yeah we’re playing four new songs from our record. We only play an hour and four out of the twelve songs are from our new record.

Z!: How are festival tours different? At least preparation for the festival tours different than the regular Theory of a Dead Man tours?

TC: Yeah they’re a little different. I guess the difference is you’re out in some field and you got porta-potties and there’s no Starbucks, but from a fan’s point of view it sometimes can be a little cooler cuz they’re outside, you’re drinking beers, it’s summer so you don’t want to be in some sweaty club or something. So from a band point of view it’s you know maybe it’s a little different, but I think it’s more fun for the fans.

Z!: Do you get a chance to check out some of the other bands on the tour? And if so who are you looking forward to seeing?

TC: Yeah, well we played shows with everybody except Emphatic so we checked those guys out, and Alter Bridge they are really good. So I’ve seen them all play before. It’s a long tour so I’ll definitely see them all at some point.

Z!: When you’re headlining a tour like this and you have really good live bands is it more exciting to play after them or do you know you have to step up your game to make sure to…

TC: Well the good thing about this tour is every band is different. So we bring to the stage something that the rest of the bands don’t. You know Alter Bridge’s guys are technically really talented, so I don’t think I want to go on stage and do a guitar solo like Mark Tremonti so I think we just bring a certain different personality. So we play our songs, we also bring something that maybe Alter Bridge doesn’t and Black Stone Cherry doesn’t so that’s what makes the tour so good is that there’s such a dynamic. With each band you get something different.

Z!: Is there a competition at all where you try to one up each other or is it just everybody does their own thing?

TC: Nah, we just do our own thing. Like I said, you know, everyone’s working on, building on their strengths, you know every band is where they are because of you know, there songs or their talents you know what I’m saying? You just go up there and don’t even think about competing, it’s more just having fun.

Z!: You guys have been on a tour where I know ego was brought up like the Crue Fest Tour. When it comes to festival does ego generally play a role? Have you noticed anything like that or is it more just everybody does that own thing?

TC: Yeah well the Crue Fest Tour was awesome. We were probably the lightest band on that tour, but you know the fun thing was what we brought to it that was a little different was the diversity I think. It was funny because we played after Drowning Pool but before Godsmack. These two heavy bands were like these book ends between us. But we would play and there’d be all these hardcore Godsmack fans, but then we would play and I would sing “Not Meant to Be” and all the girlfriends would stand up and sing along, all these chicks, and all the boyfriends would sit down, the Godsmack fans would sit down and watch. And I was like you know, I wish they’d all stand up, but it’s cool, it’s nice to see the girls standing up and smiling so that’s what we brought. It was awesome, and it was just cool being able to be on the same stage as all those awesome bands. Godsmack is amazing. So is Motley Crue.

Z!: You guys seem to be touring non-stop between your last album and this album. When did you find time to record it and what was the process like this time around.

TC: We didn’t have a lot of time. We went into the studio with seven songs and wrote and recorded the rest while we were there. We just literally were like, Bruce was like, ‘so when do you want to write the rest? I was like, ‘right now,’ literally while Dave’s tracking guitars I was in the other room writing lyrics. It was that fast. We’d never done a record like that really so it was a lot of stress, but we came out, we seem to work really well under pressure, so we came out and our label was super happy with the results.

Z!: Year after year you guys have gotten bigger and bigger, was there any level of anxiety like we really need to have a hit?

TC: Nah we’ve always done it for the same reason. It’s just to have fun. I think what’s just kind of happened is that our level of contentment is finally lined up with the fans cuz you know in the beginning we loved what we were playing, we loved being on stage every night, but the mass of people maybe wasn’t there, but now we’re kind of feeling it. It’s almost like we’re finally at the right time. The timing is perfect for us. The fans seem to be digging it. So there wasn’t a lot of anxiety. It’s almost as if the dream, timing for any band. There are some bands like Metallica, they really didn’t have their break through success until like their fifth record or something. I mean the black album was that their fifth? Fourth or fifth? Same thing with U2, same thing, the "Joshua Tree" was their big kind of huge hit and that was their fifth record or something. So for us it’s kind of bad ass, I mean there’s a lot of bands who seem to go out there on the first album and sell millions of albums and then their second record comes out and sells like a tenth, and the bands like okay now what the fuck do we do? And we’re like the opposite, So it’s all good. It feels like everything’s working.

Z!: Did you know you had something special with this album because there’s a lot of potential hits on there.

TC: I don’t know. Time will tell. I keep trying to relate it to the last record which did really well and keep trying to remember where I was when our first single came out. I was so happy and how the record was selling, and how the fans were responding to certain songs. I honestly can’t remember that it was so long ago. I was trying to think when we played “Bad Girlfriend” before it was a single if the fans were like singing it, I can’t remember. So it’s hard to tell. It’s too early, ask a year from now and see where we’re at.

Z!: You seem to have a lot of fun songs on the album and then a lot of pretty catchy ballads, but they all seem to have a common theme. Was that intentional or is there something behind that?

TC: Yeah I mean I write from experience so a lot of that shit is just something that happened to me in the last year or so. We like having that dynamic. I think we’re one of the only bands doing the tongue to cheek. I kind of fell into it. Our last record was the first record I started writing some songs like “Hate my Life,” some fun rock songs. I think that’s what kind of missing these days. I think there’s been a lot of insecurity. Rock doesn’t sell, doesn’t sell tickets. There’s no rock stars anymore. It seems like a lot of this pop stuff is really big and suddenly a lot of rock bands are like okay so what the fuck do we do? How do we sell records? It’s kind of going the wrong direction. Too serious. Rock and roll was supposed to be fun. If you look at one of the biggest rock and roll bands of all time, the Rolling Stones, they’re fun. I mean look at, I mean Mick Jagger couldn’t be more flamboyantly feminine. I mean that guy is not gay, but he could be you know? Look at that guy, that guy is the epitome of rock and roll. The Beatles. The Beatles probably had some of the biggest hits ever in rock, but it’s almost like kid songs you know? Shit look at those bands and it’s kind of gone. There’s just all these bands nowadays that are too, I don’t know, too aggressive or too angry or something. So we thought let’s just be ourselves, be fun, and think more like the Rolling Stone and the Beatles and have these really catchy fun songs whether or not they’re about break-ups or being in love or whatever.

Z!: As a fan is there ever a concert moment that stands out above the rest for you? Like a band you saw that really just blew you away?

TC: A band I saw. I mean one of the greatest front mans I saw, STP, I still love Scott Weelan, Weiland, however you say his name. He’s still one of my favorite front men. He’s just fucked up. It’s almost like I don’t feel like a great front man because I’m not fucked up enough. I need to do more drugs or go to jail or something, but it’s just like in his personality that seems he was destined to be in the middle up on stage. The guys pretty good. Jim Morrison too. Obviously, I’ve never seen the Doors, but there’s another guy, great front man. Really awesome band. I like bands with great front men. You know, Led Zeppelin.

Z!: When did you know that music’s what you wanted to do?

TC: Well I was always doing it when I was a kid, but until we got signed I don’t think I knew what was going to happen. I wasn’t one of those bands where we were handing out demos and getting in the van and touring. We just played music for fun. We never did covers, we just did originals always. So we didn’t really play that much and we tried to get our music out there and people didn’t really seem to be interested so we were like alright whatever, we’ll just play in my basement, play locally, but once we got signed it was kind of like alright things are happening now. I remember I told myself when we got signed I’d quit my job. The day before we went in the studio was the day after Christmas, and when I quit my job I told myself, ‘I go this is it, I’m gonna stay in music forever now. Whatever it is, even if our band fails or just drops, I’ll become a something, I’ll becoming a producer or a song writer, you know a session guy.’ I don’t know. Once we got signed I knew that was it for me in music for a living.

Z!: That feeling you get when you create something new, that excitement, does that ever go away or does that fade a little bit?

TC: No, no. It doesn’t. Our song, it just went number one last week in the states, and it was like fucking winning the lottery. I
couldn’t believe it. It was just like, I remember getting an e-mail on Sunday saying you’re number one congrats. I was like fuck yes! I was in a movie. I was like fuck. It never gets old. We’ve had a few number ones, and it just never gets old. When a song comes together and you listen to it in the studio you’re just like this sounds so huge it just never gets old. Once it gets old man I don’t know. That’s when you move on I guess.

Z!: Does that fan on you ever come out when you’re playing with Motley Crue are you like, ‘there’s Nikki Sixx,’ or whatever, does that ever come out anymore now that you’ve kind of made it?

TC: Yeah, there’s definitely still some surreal moments you know? When you first meet those guys you’re like holy shit this is kind of weird. It’s almost weird, seems like you’re in a movie. But then after you get to know them you realize they’re just fucking normal dudes, they really are. Like Nikki Sixx is just a really fucking, he’s a genius, he’s just a really smart guy. And everything else is just, it’s not real you know the hair and it all, it’s just a gimmick, he just does it cuz he’s a smart ass dude. It’s just like Alice Cooper same thing. The guy puts on the makeup and it’s just a gimmick. Underneath him he’s just a really smart fucking guy. So it’s cool meeting these people and realizing they’re not some wacko fucking guy with tattoos, they’re really smart guys who have engineered their careers. I look up to them more than I think I would if I met some fucking, like maybe if I met Scott Weiland and it turned out he was just on drugs and that. That’s too bad you know.

Z!: That’s all I had for you. Thanks for taking the time

TC: That’s all you fucking get, (too his tour manager), get this guy out of my trailer.

BYLINE:

Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at bob@zoiksonline.com.

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