Members of the band Theory of a Deadman in a promo photo. Pictured from left to right are Tyler Connolly, David Brenner, Joey Dandeneau and Dean Back.

‘Rx (Medicate)’ the biggest song of Theory of a Deadman’s 16-year career, North Delta bassist raves

Rock quartet left its ‘comfort zone’ for new Wake Up Call album, recorded in London

Dean Back is happy to be home in North Delta for the holidays, with a hit song on the radio and big tour plans for 2018.

After Christmas, the Theory of a Deadman bass player will fly to Michigan for a pair of casino shows with the band, but the trip will be a quick one.

“I get to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home this year, which is good,” said Back, a founding member of TOADM along with singer/guitarist Tyler Connolly and rhythm guitar player David Brenner; drummer Joey Dandeneau joined in 2009, eight years into the band’s playing days.

It’s been an exciting fall for Theory, who released a change-up of an album called Wake Up Call, which includes “Rx (Medicate),” a song that seems to be hitting the right notes with fans of rock/pop music.

“It’s looking like it’s the biggest song of our career right now,” Back said in a phone interview this week.

“I mean, it’s been 16 years and here we are with probably our biggest song.”

The official video for the song has been viewed more than 18 million times on Youtube, and the track is getting played on several Vancouver-area radio stations, among others around the world.

The song, which deals with prescription drug addiction, was written by Connolly following his divorce, he told Billboard.com in an interview posted in July, when the video was released.

“I went and saw a therapist and the first thing she said was, ‘I want to put you on some Beta blockers or some sort of anti-depressant stuff,’ and I’m like, ‘No! No way! What? How is that the first thing you want to do?’ Connolly told the website.

“I just feel like something’s wrong and I felt like the song needed to be written and people needed to hear it. It seems like every week something terrible is happening. I mean, Chris Cornell…and when we shot the video for it, all these directors we talked to were like, ‘Oh yeah, I had a huge prescription drug problem, so this hits home,’ and all that stuff. So it’s a really important song and I’m so happy we get to release it first.”

• READ MORE: New Theory of a Deadman song deals with prescription drug addition, from July 2017.

Wake Up Call was recorded at London’s Kensaltown Studios with Swedish producer Martin Terefe, who has worked with Jason Mraz, Mary J. Blige, Train and other hitmakers. The band spent close to seven weeks in England’s largest city early last year, in a departure from their normal way of doing things, on several levels.

“I think Tyler was starting to feel a little bit stale writing songs on the guitar, because he’d explored so many avenues on that (instrument),” Back said. “So a lot of the focus for this record was piano for the songwriting, because he’d bought a grand piano a couple years ago and he’s been slowly teaching himself to play piano, so that had something to do with the change, too.”

With finished demos in hand, Back and the others knew the songs represented a new direction for the band.

“The last four records were all recorded in L.A. with Howard Benson, the producer we’ve used, and I think we all collectively decided we needed something different,” Back explained. “We sent the demos out to a wish-list of producers, and (Terefe), who’s done a lot of stuff we’re fond of, he came back excited to do it. We got on a call with him and we didn’t know much about him, so we asked him about coming to L.A. but he was telling us about this studio in London where he worked a lot, and asked if we would consider going there. We were all like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, let’s totally get out of our comfort zone, go to London and work with this new producer, a new team, and try something different.”

Theory of a Deadman took a liking to the comfortable Kensaltown studio, and it shows on Wake Up Call, loaded with the sounds of a confident, veteran band that took some chances this time around.

“Recording there was a really cool experience,” Back said. “Most studios we’ve worked in are dark and dungeon-y and you don’t know if it’s ten in the morning or ten at night, with no sunlight, and there’s always an isolated vocal booth and everybody has their sort of area, but that studio was all windows, a huge giant room. The drums were isolated, but we recorded while sitting on couches, in kind of this real organic atmosphere.

“When we got over there,” he continued, “I think (Terefe) was excited to do a rock n’ roll record, because he writes a lot of singer-songwriter, more pop-leaning stuff and not a lot of rock stuff. But we get there and said to him, ‘No, we’re doing what you do, we’re looking for your influence here.’ And it was great, he was so hands-on. We’d jam the songs in studio and he’d pick up the guitar, a bass, a piano, whatever, and he got in there, rolled up his sleeves and joined us.”

This time in studio, TOADM also did away with its usual pre-production routine.

“Traditionally, before we’d go in the studio, we’d spend two weeks together working on the songs, making sure they’re tight and arranged exactly how we want them, and then we go in, press record and play,” Back noted. “But (Terefe) did not want that at all, and the fact that we had never played any of these songs together – everything was via email just sending ideas back and forth – he was like, ‘Nope, you guys aren’t playing any of that until I’m there, and we’re going to hit record as soon as everything starts, and everything is going to be recorded.’ So that was really cool, and allowed us to flesh out the sounds of the songs, the arrangements, with everything being recorded. That was a leap of faith for us with Martin, that he knew what we he was doing, because it was definitely not the way we were used to doing things.”

These days, Back remains the only “local” resident among members of Theory of a Deadman, which began life in basements of North Delta at the turn of the millennium. Brenner now lives in Tennessee, Dandeneau in Las Vegas and Connolly in Los Angeles.

“My roots are down here pretty good, and all my friends and family are still in the area,” Back explained. “It helps a lot, when I’m away and travelling as much as I do, that my wife and kids have a strong support structure here. So if we just up and moved somewhere, that wouldn’t be as easy. Everyone is close, it’s great. It’s familiar and it’s what I know.”

• READ MORE: TOADM once ‘locked out’ a room at Newton studio for eight days, from September 2016.

In 2018, Theory of a Deadman’s plans include a tour of Western Canada that begins at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom on Feb. 25, following some U.S. dates and, probably, followed by concerts in Europe and the U.K.

“We found out that with ‘Rx,’ our strongest market for streaming is Paris, France, so there’s a huge demand for us there and in Germany,” Back said. “So we’re going to go there, and we haven’t been there in probably 10 years, I would think. It’s pretty neat what this song has started to do for us, opened up a lot of doors in markets that we haven’t been to in awhile.”

As for getting together with the band, that’s not always easy, Back said, with the musicians living in different corners of North America.

“There’s not much rehearsing with us anymore,” Back noted. “You just make sure you know your parts. If it’s a tour, we usually get a day or two of pre-production before we kick off, but we’ve been playing these songs for so long now that there’s not a lot of rehearsing that’s needed. And with the new songs, we’ll get out on the road and start jamming those during soundchecks, to get them all tight, and then we’ll start playing them live. That’s how it is now.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UFV to launch Peace and Reconciliation Centre in Abbotsford

Online event on Sept. 24 features keynote speaker Bob Rae and Steven Point

UFV wrestler Jason Bains receives four-year suspension for using banned substance

Surrey native tests positive for oral steroid Turinabol, silver national medal removed for violation

Fraser Valley foursome to hike 70km over mountains in memory of friend

Friends from Abbotsford and Langley to hike from Hope to Tulameen for Brook Morrison

PBR Canada cancels Abbotsford event

COVID-19 concerns end multi-year run for event at Abbotsford Centre

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

PHOTOS: One injured in shooting on South Surrey-Langley border

Shots reported near 194 Street and 34 Avenue, burned-out vehicle found in 18100-block of 12 Avenue

Report raises questions about COVID outbreak that killed 25 seniors at Langley Lodge

CEO defends leaked document that’s igniting queries about BC’s most deadly COVID outbreak

PHOTO: RCMP escort beaver across busy Chilliwack road

Motorists had to exercise patience as the slow-moving creature crossed several lanes of traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

Most Read