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Theory of a Deadman

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“Complacency is such a disease when you’re in a band,” says Tyler Connolly, singer and guitarist for Theory. “People are so afraid to progress, but you have to change—you can’t just write the same song over and over. So when I saw where this record was going, I said to the other guys, ‘We’re in a car and it’s going off a cliff. Do you want to jump out or ride it to the bottom?’ “

With their sixth studio album, Wake Up Call, Theory hit the reset button, diving into a new sound, a new approach, even a new location. The more melodic, intimate style that defines the project is a bold move for one of the leading rock bands in the world. Since forming in British Columbia in 2001, Theory of a Deadman—Connolly, guitarist Dave Brenner, bassist Dean Back, and drummer Joey Dandeneau—have placed nine songs in the Top 10 on the rock charts, including the Number One hits “Bad Girlfriend,” “Lowlife,” “So Happy,” and “Angel.”

Following the success of 2014’s Savages album (which reached the Top Ten on the Hot 100 albums chart, and topped both the Alternative and Hard Rock charts), Connolly began writing again, but he was frustrated by what he was hearing. “The songs all felt like they were in the same place as the last record,” he says, “and I wasn’t happy, I just didn’t like what we were doing.”

He bought a piano for himself, an instrument he had never played, and he soon discovered that it was unlocking something new. “I started writing songs that felt musically different,” he says. “It opened my mind to different ideas, and I think that was the catapult for where this album went.”

Tyler Connolly knows that the ambitions of Wake Up Call—from its more atmospheric songs to its most propulsive and beat-driven—may meet with some resistance from Theory’s fan base. “It might be a little awkward, but we were always a songs band, not a sound band—we’re not AC/DC,” he says. “We’ve also been seeing that rock music was becoming smaller, more of an invite-only clique, and we really wanted to make something big and very progressive for us. And hopefully, the rest of the bands will cheer us on, and maybe be a little less afraid to try something different.”

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