I had the chance to sit down with THEORY’S singer/rhythm guitarist Tyler Connolly just before the world went all to Hell thanks to Covid-19. Various tech issues have reared their ugly heads since then, but I am now happy to bring you my chat with Mr. Connolly. We talked about some of the lyrical themes from the band’s new album Say Nothing (out now, Atlantic Records), and more. Have a look:
Maestro: Tyler, how’s it going? Thanks so much for taking time out to speak to A&GS.
Tyler: Hey Damian, how are you doing? No problem, I read your scathing review of the new record. Absolutely terrible (laughs). I’m kidding! But yeah, I appreciate that, man. It was great. Thank you so much for that album review.
Maestro: Still resonates with me on so many levels. I fire it up at least once a day. I wish we had hours to get into it because there’s so many layers to this onion. I just it blew me away from the very first listen, the lyrical themes and just the way they meshed with the tunes. It was a perfect album.
Tyler: I mean, we’ve changed a lot. You know, I went for a band that started with riffs. I literally write a riff and then then I have to figure out what I want to talk about to a band that knows what they want to talk about. And then encapsulate it with some music that works with the lyrics. So, I think we’ve kind of come into our own, I think after all these years, kind of figured out what we really want to do.
Maestro: I like this shift musically. “Affluenza”. Oh my God. It’s my absolute favorite song on the record. And I can listen on repeat all day, I just. That one actually I’m not going to lie to you. It made me cry when I first heard it. Love the chorus. It’s nostalgia, right?
Tyler: You know, it just reminds me of my childhood. I used to ghost ride our bikes down to hill at our school. I remember one time I ghost-rode my bike and cracked the frame in half. I took it home and my dad was like, “What happened?” Dad was so mad. We took the bike back to the store and he was so angry and got me a brand new bike. I didn’t ever come out and admit that I was ghost riding my bike down the hill and crashed it.
Maestro: A big thing with me with albums is the closers. And “It’s All Good” is the perfect way to close that. Some top notch work there.
Tyler: Thanks, it was Martin, the producer’s idea. He spent a lot of time on sequencing and he wanted to have these things going in between the songs are kind of tied together. It’s a great way to end the record because it kind of puts everything into perspective. Like, hey, look, this is a really dark, heavy record. But, at the end of the day, you’re alive. Well, it’s all good, man. Just don’t worry about it. We’ve never done that before. We’ve never, ever sat down with a producer and gone through a track listing and figured out what needs to go where.
Maestro: I’m fiercely anti-shuffle. I hate it. The band/artist has taken the time to put this album in this order. It’s supposed to be the journey. Did you find out putting the track list together was a pain in the ass this time around?
Tyler: No, I think with the different songs we knew where they wanted to be, I think we just had to listen to it and tell what worked. Going into work I think we had our bookends. Martin was adamant about “It’s All Good” and “Black Hole” opening and closing and then we just kind of put the pieces together. But I agree. I grew up on vinyl and cassettes, and there was no shuffle.
Maestro: I’m sure some bits are autobiographical, but others you’re telling a story like with “A History of Violence.” Are you just getting out and looking around at the world we live in and life in general? Because the state of the world kind of sucks right now.
Tyler: Yeah, it came from a true story about this lady who killed her sex trafficker, and she went to jail for life. All these celebrities advocated on her behalf to get her out. And I guess they let her out of jail. I don’t know how long she was there. We get a lot of fans who reach out with amazing comments on social media. So, I mean, these are the kind of stories that we’re happy people are digging.
Maestro: How often are you writing? Is it just whenever the mood strikes or is something always coming?
Tyler: It’s both. When the record is done, I never look back. I rarely listen to our music. It’s kind of weird. But like once we track down. It’s like I don’t really listen to it. Some of this stuff, especially stuff that’s autobiographical, I want this out of me. It’s like therapy. It’s like, all right. I don’t have to talk about this anymore. I can go on tour and watch. When the tour is over and everyone’s agreed that we need to get back to work, then I kind of go into writing mode and then I’ll write the whole record in a short period of time, like a few months.
Maestro: The biggest thing about this album is the stories that are being told. I love that you guys aren’t afraid to touch on some stuff people don’t want to talk about.
Tyler: Amen. Well, I mean, we’ve been so good at staying out of stuff. Always very unbiased Canadians. I mean, somebody asked me a question. “Do you feel it’s okay to talk about American situations like the Charlottesville rally?” I’ve lived in America for years now, it’s where my home is.
Maestro: What do you like to do to relax and unwind away from music?
Tyler: Me? Golfer in California, I golf quite a bit, golf multiple times a week. I’ve got a bunch of golf buddies. We were just in Florida in December. There’s some U.S. tournaments and my team won. I was pretty happy about that. So, that’s what I like to do.
Maestro: What would you like listeners to take away from this record when the last note of “It’s All Good” rings out?
Tyler: I think maybe the same thing you’re saying. Getting attached to a certain song and have that nostalgia or that connection. I think that we went from being a band that had fun songs like “Girlfriend” or “Hate My Life” to where you can see that we’ve kind of matured lyrically. We’ve got some thought provoking stuff that may not work with some of our fans. I’m seeing some responses that are really bad. You know, it’s almost like Tiny Music…from STONE TEMPLE PILOTS. There was such a great album, and people were miffed. I don’t know if that record’s a masterpiece, or if ours is, but it’s definitely different from the rest.
Maestro: What do you want to say to all the THEORY fans out there in the world?
Tyler: Hopefully this is something good, an album that people listen to for years to come. Yeah, we want to have an album that can stand up next to some of the greats. You know, it’s interesting how people still go back and listen to LED ZEPPELIN, PINK FLOYD or GUNS N’ ROSES and go, “Wow, this is classic. This is so good.” You know, we’re always trying to be there.
I have to say, Tyler Connolly is a very engaging person to sit and talk to. This was also a great way to spend my lunch break at the day gig. I cannot say enough good things about Say Nothing (see what I did there?), and it is still my frontrunner for Album of the Year. If you haven’t picked it up already you should first reevaluate your life, then make the purchase.
PHOTO CREDITS: JIMMY FONTAINE (1, 3, and 4)/MATT CHRISTINE (live shot)