The past 15 years have seen the ever present ebb and flow in music. From the ashes of the grunge movement and its crunchy guitars and angst filled lyrics has come the club-banging electronic dance movement, and the hip-hop/pop/country crossover, where artists feat. other artists is the call du jour.
Delta, B.C.-born band Theory of a Deadman have managed to weather through that electrical storm. Since they officially became a band in 2001, they have had eight top-10 hits on the mainstream rock charts, have earned a fervent fan following, and have managed to stay out of that negative spin cycle their Canadian comrades Nickelback seem to be stuck in.
The band has also learned to embrace those quieter moments in between the mayhem.
So when it came time to acknowledge their decade-plus-five-year landmark, the band decided to do things a little differently – with an acoustic album and a new tour, which takes them to theatres across Western Canada, including Vernon, starting in the new year.
“It was our agent’s idea to so something unique that we hadn’t done before,” said Theory frontman Tyler Connolly. “We usually do big rock shows with the lights and smoke. This time we thought ‘let’s do something different.’ We should do more acoustic material, but instead of just a song or two, let’s do a whole tour like that.”
The last time the band was in Vernon was to play a big outdoor show to solo cup wielding ball players and rock fans on Canada Day, 2013 as part of the Funtastic Music Festival.
This time, band members will find themselves indoors in the 750-seat Vernon Performing Arts Centre, which has seen other rock artists, such as Bryan Adams, perform acoustically.
“We’ve done a lot of rock shows in theatres, some where the ushers get people to sit down. It’s weird when people can’t stand up. It’s like they’re watching a movie. They’re segregated from the band. We like that human interaction with us,” said Connolly.
However, unplugging to such rock heavy songs as Bad Girlfriend (off Theory’s 2008 album Scars and Souvenirs), No Surprise (from 2005’s Gasoline) or Lowlife (off 2011’s The Truth Is…) gives the listener a different experience, added Connolly.
“I don’t go to a lot of rock shows myself, where people are drunk and you’re in this crowded room. An acoustic-themed show in a theatre is a way they can enjoy the lyrics and hear the instruments,” he said.
It’s all a long way from when Connolly and fellow Theory of a Deadman member Dean Back (bassist) served up steaks, and rocked out after hours, while working at The Keg restaurant in Delta.
“There were four of us from the restaurant that played together and the staff would come and watch us. We weren’t that serious and some people got bored and left the band,” said Connolly. “Dave (Brenner, guitarist), the brother of a friend, played in another band at the time and he later joined us.”
Getting their name from a song Connolly wrote for the band’s first album, Theory of a Deadman would go through three drummers before Joey Dandeneau joined in 2008.
The band’s catalyst for success differed from country to country, said Connolly.
In Canada it was Gasoline. In the U.S. it was Nothing Could Come Between Us, a song Connolly wrote with Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger for Theory’s eponymous debut album, produced by Kroeger’s 604 Records label in 2002.
“All of our success has been song based. We are not famous or known for wearing makeup or having a flashy stage presence,” said Connolly, adding, “Bad Girlfriend is when we started playing shows with rock bands like Train and Uncle Kracker. We also started getting more attention from women.”
More mainstream hits would be released, but in 2014, for their album Savages, Connolly and company went back to that grittier, harder-edged sound from their beginnings.
“After 10 years as a band, we had started writing away from our fans, so this time instead we went a little heavier and more introspective,” said Connolly. “Our label wanted us to do a pop record, so we did the opposite on Savages.
“That’s what being in a rock band is, being a little rebellious, and our label has been amazing in supporting our decisions.”
Theory of a Deadman also decided to go in another direction with its Angel Acoustic EP, a five-song album which came about earlier this year while the band was on tour in support of Savages. The EP contains four previously released songs – Angel and The One from Savages, Santa Monica from Gasoline and Not Meant to Be from Scars and Souvenirs – as well as the Tove Lo cover Habits (Stay High).
The band is about to start work on their sixth studio album, followed with a tour of mainland Europe and Russia, but before all that Connolly says he is looking forward to having that closer connection with his home province fans.
“(Recording and touring) can become repetitive and you can get burned out, especially after doing it for 14 years, so doing something like this is refreshing,” he said.
Theory of a Deadman’s Unplugged 15 tour arrives at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Opening is Age of Days. All tickets are $48, available at the Ticket Seller box office. Call 250-549-7469 or order online at www.ticketseller.ca.
The concert is presented by the Kootenay Concert Connection.