THEORY OF A DEAD MAN AND SKILLET
THEORY OF A DEADMAN
Rock ‘n’ roll needs to hit all the right spots. With sky-high hooks, riffs as thick as a 2x4, rumbling grooves, and a razor-sharp sense of humor, Theory Of A Deadman have quietly persisted as an unapologetic, unbreakable, and undeniable hard rock force with major multi-platinum hits and countless sold out shows in each of the past two decades. Picking up the pace for the next chapter, the award-winning quartet—Tyler Connolly [lead vocals, guitar], Dave Brenner [guitar, backing vocals], Dean Back [bass], and Joey Dandeneau [drums, backing vocals]—once again deliver a barrage of anthems on their eighth full-length offering, TBD [Roadrunner Records].
“It feels fresh, but it also feels like home,” notes Tyler. “We were trying to amalgamate the old Theory of a Deadman with a new approach. Our last two records were really dark. This one is tongue-in-cheek and banging right out of the gate. It’s a lot more fun. That’s what I’m personally looking for in life, and I think people need it as well.”
“With this album, we wanted to get back to our roots,” agrees Dean. “For as much as we’ve grown, we’re still a rock band.”
“We essentially took what we’ve learned from the journey and applied it to what we’ve always done,” Dave elaborates. “We’ve been playing for over twenty years, but we’ve got the same excitement we had on the first day.”
Jamming together in basements throughout high school, Theory of a Deadman burst out of their small hometown of North Delta, British Columbia with the self-titled, Theory of a Deadman, during 2002. In addition to the double-platinum breakthrough album Scars & Souvenirs  and gold-certified The Truth Is… , they have notched a procession of hits, including the gold-certified “All Or Nothing,” “Bitch Came Back,” and “Lowlife,” platinum-certified “Angel,” “Hate My Life,” and “Not Meant To Be,” double-platinum “Bad Girlfriend,” and triple-platinum “RX (Medicate).” As the biggest smash of their career thus far, the latter marked their third #1 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart and garnered a nomination for “Rock Song of the Year” at the iHeartRadio Music Awards. Not to mention, they have logged two Top 10 debuts on the Billboard Top 200. In 2020, Say Nothing landed at #2 on the Billboard Alternative Albums Chart and #3 on the Rock Albums Chart. Plus, it earned praise from American Songwriter, Billboard, and Classic Rock Magazine who awarded it “4-out-of-5 stars.”
The global pandemic saw tours canceled and plans for Say Nothing irrevocably changed, so the boys refocused on Theory of a Deadman in 2021. After sharing ideas remotely, the group crossed the pond to once again record with producer Martin Terefe [Jason Mraz, YUNGBLUD] in Sweden at Atlantis Studios made famous by ABBA. On the heels of a year of social distancing, there was nothing like being in the same room again.
“We all recorded as a band,” recalls Tyler. “You’d hear Joe’s drums in Dave’s guitar, because they were literally ten feet away from each other. We kept all of those touches too. What you hear on the record is the four of us playing together. The guitar was so raw. It was awesome.”
“You can feel the history of Atlantis,” adds Dean. “I even got to play the ‘Dancing Queen’ piano. Benny from ABBA came in one day.”
“Benny totally wasn’t interested in playing with us, but he did eat all of our snacks,” laughs Tyler.
Theory Of A Deadman returned in true form with the single “Dinosaur” in October 2022 to introduce this new chapter. The riff lumbers ahead with all the swaggering force of a T-Rex and the grace of a Brontosaurus. Tyler sinks his teeth into one of the band’s biggest and boldest choruses yet, “Hey kids, boys and girls, now we’ve really done it, it’s the end of the world…Now, we’re going out, going out like the dinosaur.”
“The song essentially says, ‘We’re all fucked, so let’s have fun and blow it up rather than be all dismal’,” the frontman goes on. “It’s a ‘Hello, we’re back’ tune. I literally picked up the bass and tried to write a riff that would sound like a dinosaur. Usually, I come up with lyrics first and the music after. On this record, I started going back to the riffs. If you watch the news, it sounds like we’re done, man. So, let’s have another wild ride.”
“Rock is where we made our bed for all these years,” adds Dave. “It’s been a while since we had an up-tempo in-your-face track like this—and it felt good.”
Evocative of the band’s signature wit, “Just The Two Of Us” takes a hard left from the refrain of the Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Weathers classic into a breezy piano-laden breakup bop, “Just the two of us…we couldn’t make it if we tried!”
“I heard ‘Just The Two Of Us’, and I thought, ‘How cool would it be to make it about a COVID breakup?’,” Tyler recalls. “This guy and girl love each other, but they’re confined to a small apartment for 24 hours a day and hate each other now.”
Meanwhile, strings wrap around gritty guitar on “Medusa” where a little double entendre goes a long way.
“It’s about being attracted to someone who is bad for you,” Tyler reveals. “It’s a very sexual song. It’s not about a woman being evil, but there is an idea of her turning a guy to stone, you know what I mean?” he grins.
Cut front-to-back in one take, the aggressive “Get In Line” deals with how “people seem to get in line for whatever someone tells them to believe in religion.” Then, there’s the recklessly raucous and righteously catchy “Ambulance.”
“It’s a club song about getting fucked up and ending up in the ambulance,” Tyler says. “When you first start getting drunk with your friends, it’s like they’re literally trying to kill you with alcohol poisoning. It’s almost like ‘Bad Girlfriend’ in a way.”
Ultimately, Theory of a Deadman give rock ‘n’ roll exactly what it needs once more.
“I want Theory fans to know we haven’t become complacent,” Dave leaves off. “We’re always pushing ourselves, and we’re driven by the fact we get to play live for them. We write with a lot of intention, and this was no exception.”
“I hope you listen to this and say, ‘Fuck yes’,” Tyler sums it up. “This record is a U-turn back with a little more knowledge and experience. With any luck, fans will say it’s exactly what they needed too.”
Not every rebellion gestates in darkness. As one of the best-selling rock bands of the 21st century, Skillet continue to rebel against conventions, doubts, expectations, and rules with the intent to uplift in light. The two-time GRAMMY® Award-nominated Pandora Billionaires Club members and multiplatinum Kenosha, Wisconsin quartet—John Cooper [lead vocals/bass], Korey Cooper [guitar/keys], Jen Ledger [drums/vocals], and Seth Morrison [lead guitar]—never compromise their integrity. Instead, they’ve traveled their own path to unprecedented heights with an urgent sound, undeniable energy, and unbreakable spirit.
On their eleventh full-length album, Dominion [Atlantic Records], Skillet encourage a different kind of revolt when the world could really use it…
“I call it positive rebellion,” exclaims John. “It’s a rebellion against those internal elements such as fear and anxiety. It’s a rebellion against external forces wanting you to be something you don’t want to be. It’s a celebration of the freedom we have in our lives. It’s very anti-establishment. It’s a rally call to stand up for what you believe in and not be silenced. It might be unpopular in certain places, but there’s nothing more rock ‘n’ roll than that,” he smiles.
Skillet have embodied rock ‘n’ roll’s evolution from day one. Selling 12 million albums worldwide to date, they’ve earned over a dozen RIAA certifications in recognition of gold, platinum, or multiplatinum status. Landmark album Awake notably went 3x-platinum and picked up a Billboard Music Award. Plus, it housed the 2x-platinum track “Awake & Alive,” 3x-platinum track “Hero,” and 4x-platinum track “Monster.” The latter stands out as “one of the most-streamed rock songs in history” with over 1.2 BILLION global audio streams. 2019’s Victorious marked the group’s fourth consecutive Top 20 debut on the Billboard Top 200. The album concluded the year on LoudWire’s “The 50 Best Rock Albums of 2019” and yielded the Top 10 rock radio smash “Legendary,” racking up north of 100 million streams. The band’s music also resounds throughout culture, landing syncs from WWE, Marvel, ESPN, MLB, NHL and NFL. As a touring phenomenon, they regularly sell out arenas worldwide, playing in over 26 countries and 6 continents, and have earned acclaim from Billboard, USA Today, The New York Times, and many more. Not to mention, their debut graphic novel, EDEN: A Skillet Graphic Novel with Z2 Comics, emerged as the publisher’s best-selling book of all-time and launched a fan favorite series, with their second graphic novel releasing the fall of 2020, EDEN: The Aftermath.
As the Global Pandemic brought 2020 to a halt, Skillet creatively pushed forward. The musicians logged on to ZOOM and recorded what would become Dominion with producer Kevin Churko [Papa Roach, Disturbed, Five Finger Death Punch] and co-writer Kane Churko over the course of the year. The Churkos inspired the band to stretch their sonic palette once again.
“We recorded the entire album together, and we were never in the same room at the same time,” recalls John. “We’d write together and discuss the direction. Kevin and Kane would send us tracks; we’d send them tracks. I’d record on the bus or at home. It made the process go extremely quickly. Once everything opened up a little more, we could’ve flown to Las Vegas, but it was going so well remotely. It made us willing to try some new things that I don’t think we would’ve if it was in person.”
Speaking of, the first single “Surviving Game” opens with a spoken word intro before snapping into a jagged sidewinder riff encased in an electronic hum. Right out of the gate, the track reacted with audiences, generating millions of streams.
“The song is about defiance towards fear,” he goes on. “Even though it’s hard, you’re going to survive. Each day is another day to keep that oath to yourself and not give up. Surviving connotes both optimism and realism in the same word. You’re acknowledging things are difficult, but you’re going to make it through.”
The title track “Dominion” upholds this theme. Harmonic squeals pierce a chugging distorted riff as John’s aggressive delivery collides full force into the pre-chorus, “Our rebellion has begun.” It culminates on the screeches of a fiery fret-burning solo.
“For me, it’s lyrically powerful,” he continues. “You’re not going to bow down to what anybody says. When people try to act like God, they need to be put back in their place. It’s a rebellious rock song.”
Elsewhere, “Destiny” slips into a trudging groove as John and Jen lock into a call-and-response tempered with a head-nodding bounce.
“The line ‘This darkness ain’t my destiny’ is important,” he reveals. “You have a say over your own life regardless of outside forces - you have a say over your own life regardless of outside forces - you can choose forgiveness instead of anger, and life instead of death. Musically, it’s fresh for us, because the bridge and programming have this hip-hop flavor.”
Delicate piano and strings underscore “Valley of Death” as John delivers one of his most emotionally charged and pensive vocal performances. “The message is even if you feel like you’re alone, you’re not,” he elaborates.
“Beyond Incredible” tosses and turns between an anthemic arena-ready chorus fueled by hummable shredding.
“We’re living in a world with so much hatred and anger,” he observes. “Sometimes, you don’t know how to move forward. The song is about raising yourself up to a higher plane.”
Then, there’s “Standing In The Storm.” It swirls around a key line, “I’ve still got some life in me,” culled from one of Korey’s journals. A slow trap-inspired beat gives way to sirens and syncopated guitar as he declares, “Time to be defiant.”
“We’re getting older, our kids are getting older, and the world is falling apart, so there’s a part of me that’s like, ‘Do you really want to go back on the road in the midst of a Pandemic?’,” he admits. “Do we want to keep this business going? Then, I saw that passage in Korey’s journal. I was really impacted. I started to think, ‘Yes, there’s a lot of crazy things going on, but I’m not done!’”
In the end, Skillet’s greatest rebellion begins now.
“I hope this album strengthens you to be steadfast—even in the face of unpopularity,” he leaves off. “Maybe it will inspire you to say something you haven’t had the strength to say. We love playing music, and we’re very blessed to be doing it still. We’ve carved a very tiny little niche in rock music for ourselves by going against the grain, and we’re not going to give up. This is another new era for Skillet.”
By turning inward, Saint Asonia amplify every element of their signature sound. Skyscraping hooks soar higher, while arena-ready rhythms rattle harder. The guitars cut deeper, and the lyrics resound louder than ever. The quartet—Adam Gontier [vocals, guitar], Mike Mushok [lead guitar], Cale Gontier [bass], and Cody Watkins [drums]—find power and strength on their aptly titled 2022 EP, Introvert [Spinefarm Records].
Saint Asonia initially united two hard rock luminaries under a new banner. Respectively, Adam and Mike had each reached stratospheric heights in Three Days Grace and Staind, toppling charts, packing venues, and selling millions of records. As such, their union captivated audiences worldwide. In the wake of their 2015 self-titled debut Saint Asonia, Loudwire christened the band its “Best New Artist” at the Loudwire Music Awards. The 2019 follow-up, Flawed Design, yielded the blockbuster single “The Hunted” [feat. Sully Erna of Godsmack], generating over 15 million Spotify streams. In a “4.5-out-of-5-star” review, New Noise Magazine declared, “Any fan of hard rock (whether they’ve listened in recently or not) should give Saint Asonia a spin.” Plus, Loudwire applauded it as one of the “The 50 Best Rock Albums of the Year.” Not to mention, they toured with everyone from Disturbed, Breaking Benjamin, and Seether to Alter Bridge and Mötley Crüe.
Unfortunately, Flawed Design never received a proper tour due to the Global Pandemic. However, the musicians buckled down and wrote what would become Introvert during the downtime.
“The title was fitting with the way the songs were written,” observes Adam. “We wrote and recorded individually. It’s a weird situation to make a record and not be in the same room as your band. I felt like an Introvert when I was working on these songs.”
This time around, they recorded with producer Anton Delost [Cleopatrick, Seaway, Hollow Coves] outside of Toronto. The producer injected a fresh perspective into the project as did recently welcomed drummer Cody (who played in Art of Dying with Cale). Meanwhile, Mike recorded remotely from his home studio in Connecticut.
“We had a blast with Anton,” Adam goes on. “He played a big part in the sonic changes. It’s a little different for us, but it’s still pretty heavy. He understood what we were hoping to accomplish. It’s Saint Asonia.”
The guys initially teased out this phase with a heavy and haunting take on The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” tallying millions of streams. However, they properly introduce Introvert with the single “Above It All.” Airy electronics brush up against clean guitar as Adam declares, “It’s time to take a stand and save our lives.” A chugging verse gives way to an irresistible hook punctuated by a hummable guitar lead.
“It’s the first one I actually wrote,” he recalls. “I wrote it about standing up and paying attention to what you’re told to do as a society and then making your own decisions. You’re not necessarily acting or reacting as people want you to. We’re all told so many things about what’s right or wrong. There was a lot of misinformation. ‘Above It All’ is about making the right decision for yourself.”
Then, there’s “Chew Me Up” [feat. Johnny Stevens of Highly Suspect]. Johnny’s bluesy timbre serves as the perfect counterpoint to Adam as the slow burning track builds towards a catharsis with teeth.
“We’re big fans of Highly Suspect, so we were really excited to have Johnny on the song,” he goes on. “Our styles are a little bit different, but he did his thing. It turned out amazing. Lyrically, it’s about cancel culture. People are influenced by things online and try to be who they’re not on social media platforms. There’s a lot of pressure. The song is a realization it doesn’t matter. The internet and social media can chew you up pretty quickly and spit you back out before you even know it.”
Elsewhere, “Left Behind” culminates on a scorching guitar solo, while “Bite The Bullet” hinges on a thick bass line and candid lyricism.
“My dad passed away about a year ago, and ‘Bite The Bullet’ hits home,” he admits. “He always used to use the phrase ‘Bite The Bullet’ when I was growing up. The song remembers him and how he told me you can’t change things that are out of your control. It’s a good reminder of my dad.”
In the end, Saint Asonia connect closer than ever on Introvert.
“This band means a lot to me,” Adam leaves off. “It’s been an incredible outlet, and it’s become a family. I love the guys and the freedom we have to create. I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I hope people dig it and love the music. If you relate to it and drive down the road blasting it, that’s the most I could ask for.”