Tyler Connolly Talks About Theory Of A Deadman's New Sound

Since their self-titled debut album in 2002, Theory of a Deadman has shown it has a knack for pumping out fun rock songs, mostly about love and heartbreak.

So, last year’s “Rx (Medicate)” – a song inspired by the opioid crisis – came as a bit of a surprise to some who follow the Canadian band.

“There’s definitely been some pushback from fans,” frontman Tyler Connolly told iHeartRadio.ca. “They either love the song or they hate the song.”

Connolly, sitting in front of a fireplace in the lobby of the Hotel Nelligan in Old Montreal, takes comfort in knowing the song is polarizing. “You never want to be in the grey area,” he explained, “where it’s ‘meh.’”

“Rx (Medicate)” has resonated with enough people to join songs like “Bad Girlfriend,” “Lowlife” and “Not Meant to Be” on the list of Theory of a Deadman’s hits. It topped the Billboard U.S. Mainstream Rock Songs chart for three weeks and earned a nomination for Rock Song of the Year at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, which will be handed out on March 11.

“I came up with the chorus first. I was bored and sitting around,” Connolly said of the song’s origins. "There were a few things I was reading in the news. There was someone I knew whose wife passed away. I thought I really could take this song now and turn it into something more serious."

The song comes from the Juno-winning band’s sixth studio album, Wake Up Call, which was released last October. Recorded in London and produced by Martin Terefe (James Blunt, Shawn Mendes), the aptly-titled collection has been described as Theory of a Deadman’s most mainstream.

“We knew there would be some backlash,” Connolly said. “We do a lot of heavy rock festivals but we struggled with those. You never want to be the lightest band on the bill and we were every night. We’d be playing shows with Slayer, and Judas Priest, Korn, Limp Bizkit, Rob Zombie… and we’d still play ‘Not Meant To Be”’ or ‘Santa Monica.’ It’s who we are.”

Connolly said the songs on Wake Up Call feel “more comfortable” to him as a vocalist. “It’s much different,” he explained. “Some of the subject matter, but also even the style of writing, the style of my lyrics, even how I sing some of the songs… my phrasing and the way I rhyme.

“Everything is very different than the way I used to do. It’s not a lot of stuff that I’m trying to sing at the top of my lungs.”

Collaborating with a music veteran like Terefe brought new energy to the process.

“It was almost kind of like dating someone for a long time and then you break up and then you meet someone new and you’re like, ‘Wow, they’re so different in so many different ways.’ Not better, just different,” said Connolly.

“So it was really cool. It was so refreshing. It was what we really needed.”

Connolly is acutely aware of the new ways people find and consume music as well as the role social media plays in everything the band does. “Now the fans have all the power,” he acknowledged.

Still, Theory of a Deadman might have a love-hate relationship with social media. “It’s almost like this narcissistic thing, where you have to put selfies on there,” he said. “It’s not just an update on next tours, they want to see the inside of your house, they want to know what you’re doing in the bathroom.

“It’s a necessary… I don’t want to say evil because it has helped us so much. You can rely on the fans to tell you the truth.”

Fans across Canada will be able to weigh in on social media when they catch Theory of a Deadman live this year. After doing a string of shows south of the border, the band travels to seven cities between Vancouver and Thunder Bay, Ont. from Feb. 25 to March 6. On May 2, they pick things up in Niagara Falls, Ont. and hit another seven cities before finishing in Halifax on May 13.