Formed in 2001, Theory of a Deadman hails from Delta, BC and was the brainchild of highschool friends Tyler Connolly and Dave Brenner. With Dean Back on bass and drummer Tim Hart, they began writing some songs, one of the first of which was initially called “Theory of a Deadman” – about a man contemplating suicide. The title was eventually changed to “The Last Song,” but inspired the name of the group.
They played the local area venues and were noticed by reps from 604 Records while doing a date in Vancouver, and signed a deal with them that fall. They were shipped off to the studios that November with Nickelback‘s Chad Kroeger, who helped write lyrics and produce the sessions. Four months of recording later, the band’s self-titled debut was on the shelves and amid much hype, steadily climbed the Canadian charts. Instant comparisons (or criticisms – depending on who was speaking) to Nickelback were made, and although it made almost no dent whatsoever south of the border, the album’s mix of post-grunge and new age metal produced four singles – “Point To Prove,” the top 10 “Make Up Your Mind,” “Nothing Could Come Between Us,” and “The Last Song,” pushing the album to #4 on the Canadian chart and to platinum status (100,000 units).
After winning the 2003 Juno for Best New Group and a North American tour that kept them on the road for the better part of a year and a half and that saw them opening for Black Stone Cherry and the Parlor Mob, they settled down to writing their follow-up album. They switched labels to Roadrunner Records and after Hart was replaced on drums by Brent Fitz, whose resume already included KISS’s Bruce Kulick and Vince Neil, among others. Expectations were high and pressure was on new producer Howard Benson to deliver.
They released GASOLINE in March 2005, almost a full month after the lead single, “No Surprise.” Five more tracks followed over the next year – “Say Goodbye,” “Santa Monica,” Hello Lonely,” “Better Off,” and “Since You’ve Been Gone.” Although the album only peaked at #10 in Canada, it still reached platinum, and did fare better than the debut in the US, peaking at #58 – a full 27 rungs on the ladder higher than the debut. Fuelled by a nearly two year-long world tour that saw them on the road with the likes of Shinedown, No Address, Breaking Benjamin, and The Exies, “No Surprise” also made a dent in the Australian charts.
Also helping keep their name at the forefront was the fact they got in big with the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), doing the theme songs on the 2006 No Way Out and SummerSlam PPVs, as well as a cover of CEO Vince McMahon’s theme song “No Chance In Hell.” All of their wrestling theme songs were ultimately released on the company’s various compilation albums.
Four tracks from the album were also used for the video game Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy in the US) – “Santa Monica,” “No Surprise,” “Say Goodbye,” and “No Way Out.” The band also found itself nominated for a Juno for Best Rock Album, but didn’t win, and a WCMA (Western Canadian Music Award) in the same category for the second time, but lost that one too – for the second time.
Returning with producer Harold Benson, their next album wasn’t for almost three years to the day, with SCARS & SOUVENIRS in April, 2008. Instantly heralded by the critics for the band’s maturity as songwriters, the lead-off “So Happy” was already on the airwaves, and led the parade of singles. By the time “All or Nothing” (co-written by new drummer Robin Diaz), and their first #1 single “Bad Girlfriend” followed, the album reached platinum at home. Five more singles hit the airwaves over the next year and a half, and the band was in the middle of a world tour that saw them supporting Motley Crue when it was certified double platinum in Canada and platinum in the US.
The band also performed during halftime at the Grey Cup festivities in Montreal, and once again aligned themselves with wrestling, when TNA Impact used the song “Got It Made” for their special ‘year in review’ video. Sun Sports then also used the song for Miami Heat post-game video recaps a few years later.
Customers who bought SCARS & SOUVENIRS through iTunes and other online digital services were treated to an additional four tracks, and a special edition of the album and DVD combination was released in October ’09, this time with the four bonus tracks and four more – including covers of Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider,” Alice in Chains’ “Got Me Wrong,” and Lynyrd Skynryd’s “What’s Your Name?,” as well as the making of videos, behind the scenes footage, and bonus videos.
The album won the band a WCMA, and once the tour bus was put away, everyone set out on their own to rest and recharge their batteries, and Connolly took the opportunity to help out with Belgian DJ and friend Regi Penxten, recording the dance song “Loaded Gun” with him.
When it was time to return to the studios, Harold Benson was called upon once again, and with new drummer Joey Dandeneau, THE TRUTH IS… was in the stores in July, 2011. Ahead of it by two full months was the first single, “Lowlife,” which became their second #1 hit. Overall reaction to the album was mixed, and yet it debuted at #2, and #8 in the US. Three more singles followed into 2012 – “Out of My Head,” “Bitch Came Back,” and “Hurricane.”
When the album was re-released in time for the 2011 Christmas rush, six bonus tracks were included, including acoustic versions of “Out of My Head” and “Easy to Love You.” The album also featured the first time the band utilized outside writers more than on an occasional basis, with Connolly’s wife Christine, Kara DioGuardi, and prominent country writer Brett James all lending a hand. Also helping out was The Exies’ Scott Stevens, who the band had toured with a couple of times, with “Head Above Water” finding its way to the “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” movie soundtrack.