An unknown musician gives his band’s demo to the frontman of a major group. The singer actually listens to the demo and signs the band to his label. It’s a great story but it almost never happens. But when it does…

Theory Of A Deadman vocalist Tyler Connolly gave Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger a demo at an after-show party.

The next stop was Kroeger’s 604 label where the British Columbia based group released their self-titled debut in ’02. The group’s name originated from “The Last Song,” which appeared on the album. Connolly composed the tune years earlier about a man who wrote his memoirs before committing suicide.

Of the four songs released from the set, two “Nothing Could Come Between Us” and “Make Up Your Mind” made a significant impact.

Kroeger and Salvia’s Josey Scott performed the song “Hero” with Connolly playing lead guitar for the first “Spider-Man” movie. Connolly’s involvement in a major hit drew additional attention. Theory Of A Deadman were named New Group of the Year at the ’03 Juno Awards.

’05 saw the release of “Gasoline” with the single “No Surprise.” The group headed out opening for Breaking Benjamin and The Exies. Later that year, the Fahrenheit video game used four “Gasoline” songs on its soundtrack; “Santa Monica” (with Nickelback’s Daniel Adair on drums), “No Surprise,” “Say Goodbye” and “No Way Out.” The last track was also the theme for World Wrestling Entertainment’s No Way Out ‘06 pay-per-view event. A couple other Theory Of A Deadman songs were used in WWE promotions.

Theory Of A Deadman released their third studio album, “Scars & Souvenirs,” in ’08. Connolly was quoted saying he tried to keep the lyrics simple. “They don’t understand all the metaphors, but if you say, ‘I feel like s**t,’ they say, ‘I feel like s**t, too’,” stated the singer.

The band recorded “Head Above Water,” a song co-written by The Exies’ Scott Stevens, for the “Transformers: Dark Of The Moon” soundtrack which came out just days before the film was in theaters (06/24/11).

And just a few weeks later “The Truth Is. . .,” a Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, 3 Doors Down) production, dropped. Again, Connolly discussed his lyrics. “When I write, I either want to kiss someone on the lips or punch them in the face. Anything in between is boring.”

“Lowlife” and “Out Of My Head” were they initial singles. But it was “Bitch Came Back” (actually based on the children’s song, “The Cat Came Back”) that rattled windows and best illustrated Connolly’s point. Rarely has a song been that venomous while still being incredibly catchy.

The group’s fifth album, “Savages,” arrived in ’14. “We went back to where we belong on this record, back to the angst, back to the darkness,” explained Connolly.

It worked very well. “Savages” topped Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart went to #8 on the Billboard 200. “Savages” also marked the band’s second straight Top 10 debut on The Billboard 200 as well as their third consecutive #1 Hard Rock album.

Will the results of songwriting using a guitar be different than playing a piano? Apparently, the answer is ‘yes’.  Connolly composed the majority of “Wake Up Call” on the piano instead of the usual guitar which led critics infer that the album had a more “pop-infused sound” than previous releases.  The set garnered mixed reviews. The change in direction could also be attributed to the band’s collaboration with producer Martin Terefe. 

During this period, the band considered shortening their name to Theory. People unfamiliar with the band’s music found the name off-putting. No doubt the ‘deadman’ reference.

Theory Of A Deadman continued with Terefe for ’20 album “Say Nothing.”  The record contained lyrics about domestic violence and racism.  Like “Wake Up Call” which peaked at #5, “Say Nothing” failed to top the Hard Rock chart – landing at #14.  It also charted lower on the Billboard 200 and Alternative surveys.

The band released “Dinosaur,” their eighth album, in ’23. The set contained the title track plus Connolly’s favorite song from the set, “Ambulance.”

“It’s been a while since we had an up-tempo in-your-face track like this — and it felt good,” said guitarist Dave Brenner of “Ambulance.”

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