Knitting Factory Presents
Theory of a Deadman, Royal Republic, Ayron Jones
You know what they say, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
In Theory of a Deadman's case, they go right to the studio. In the middle of 2013, the platinum-selling Canadian quartet began working on what would become its fifth full-length album, Savages [Roadrunner Records/604]. However, everything in their lives rapidly and unexpectedly changed. Whether it be a shakeup at their label, waning interest in rock at radio, or the downturn of society at large, a myriad of issues weighed heavy on members Tyler Connolly [Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar], David Brenner [Rhythm Guitar], Dean Back [Bass], and Joey Dandeneau [Drums].
So, Connolly channeled it all into his songwriting.
"It's such a different record for us," he asserts. "I'm known as the guy who writes all of the 'breakup' songs. It would have been typical to write more, so I did just the opposite. There's something very brutal about our culture. I got nightmares from Terminator as a kid and, now, you can watch real murders on YouTube. We're so desensitized. I went from writing about crazy women to how screwed up we are. That's the theme. I'd spend twenty hours a day at my home studio. I became a weird recluse, and I even grew a beard. I dug in deeper than ever for these songs. I just said, 'Fuck it' and went for it."
Once again teaming with super producer Howard Benson [My Chemical Romance, Halestorm] in the studio, he tapped into the same robust riffing and primal power that coursed through the group's 2008 platinum-certified breakthrough, Scars & Souvenirs—which yielded the #1 Mainstream Rock Radio smash "Bad Girlfriend" as well as "So Happy" and "By The Way". Lyrically, Connolly turned his attention to the state of the world around him and churned out the band's catchiest and most crushing statement yet.
"This is Theory of a Deadman on steroids but not with the shrunken balls and b-acne side effects," he assures. "It's always been with us. This nodded back to our early material but with more musicality. I got to write about something other than relationships too, and I was excited to tackle new material. People seem surprised when they actually listen, but what were you expecting a fucking OneRepublic record?"
The band don't apologize for anything. The first single "Drown" ebbs and flows between a staggering wall of distortion and an infectious chorus from Connolly. The tide comes in with one of the group's biggest anthems.
"I tried to get up every morning and write a song, and that lasted three days before I quit," he chuckles. "I wrote 'Drown' during the second day. It's about being alone and finding contentment within that. It's a metaphor. No one cares if you drown or not. It's based on how I felt at the time."
Meanwhile, the title track functions as the album's clarion call, and it enlists a chilling spoken word and hypnotic harmony from none other than the legendary Alice Cooper. "I had never met him before," recalls Connolly. "I got to fly to his house in Phoenix and work on the song. He's a super nice guy. I stole the spoken word idea from Vincent Price in Thriller. Alice killed it. I was so happy to work with him."
The album does uphold a tradition for Theory of a Deadman, bringing another ballad to the fold, though it's not a "breakup song" per se. This time, "Angel" swings from a bright guitar into a heavenly refrain about a different kind of love.
"I thought about being in love with an angel and how bad of an idea that actually is," he explains. "Once you fall back to earth, you realize you have nothing in common, and you have to let her go."
"Blow" treads the tongue-in-cheek terrain that the band excel at. Connolly even slyly sings, "Sometimes, it makes me want to blow my fucking head off" with a swaying swing.
At the same time, they also stomp into new territory altogether with their first-ever proper "country" track. For "Livin' My Life Like a Country Song", the boys enlisted the guitar and vocal talents of Rascal Flatts' Joe Don Rooney. As a result, they collectively tell a rollicking and raucous little tale worthy of Nashville.
"We've always had a bit of Southern rock swagger," he goes on. "In this case, Joe Don Rooney countrified it, and it turned out great. We wanted to give our take on how all of these country songs are about losing your woman and your house. All you've got left is a case of beer, your dog, and your trailer. She's gone, and you're living your life like a country song!"
That songwriting prowess solidified Theory of a Deadman as a major contender in modern rock since their self-titled 2002 debut. Most recently, 2011's The Truth Is… landed in the Top 10 of Billboard's Top 200 Albums Chart upon its debut, while topping the "Top Rock Albums", "Top Alternative Albums", and "Top Hard Rock Albums" charts. In addition, it spawned the #1 radio hit "Lowlife", which ruled Rock Radio for three weeks straight. Along the way, the group has toured with everybody from Alter Bridge, Stone Sour, and Godsmack to Daughtry and Mötley Crüe. However, Connolly and the guys always have the same goal in mind.
"We want to give fans a great Theory of a Deadman record," Connolly leaves off. "We owed them this album. It's completely real, unrestrained, and unbridled. We want their acceptance above all. This is for them, and we're all extremely proud of it."
Savages is as tough as rock 'n' roll gets.
It’s been a year of intense creativity and many personal changes for the leader of the Seattle-based band, Ayron Jones And The Way. Their new album “Audio Paint Job” will be June 2nd, 2017. The chemistry of Jones, Ehssan Kirimi (drums) and Bob Lovelace (bass), truly exemplifies the euphoria and pain throughout the creative process of making an album. Called the “future of rock” by Sir Mix A Lot, this album is building an unstoppable inertia that is absolute.
“Audio Paint Job is a title that has multiple meanings for me,” Ayron says. “It’s a story about my mental and spiritual transformation through music.” That internal movement can be found in the dizzying array of styles and sounds through the album’s confessional narrative arc. Whether it’s a ferocious heavy rock or honeyed nuanced ballads. Audio Paint Job evokes a wide range of expression in songs that Jones feels will speak to the diverse musical taste of the current times.
Professionally, Ayron Jones and The Way have had a stellar past couple of years. They have built a passionate following as a result of his backing band hitting a stride “that only keeps getting stronger.” This has enabled Jones to craft an astonishing cycle of songs detailing his emotions through a painful divorce, a life inundated by the spotlight, and the painful loss of his mother to drug and alcohol addiction. “Audio Paint Job is the story of the personal struggles I had to endure to find my voice and define my identity.”
This helps explain the huge differences both lyrically and compositionally from their debut Dream. Jones credits previous producer Sir Mix A Lot with introducing him to professional songwriting and eventually moving him ahead to better compositions. It was co-crafting the sophomore release with Barrett Martin (Mad Season, Screaming Trees, Tuatara) and Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Gits) that elevated him to a musical level to match the seriousness of the song topics.
“I grew up in Seattle so I knew Jack Endino and Barrett Martin were Seattle Rock gods,” Ayron says. After he released Dream he sought out Jack to ask if he would be interested in recording his next album. In doing so he ended up recording a project with Martin and a band Barrett played in called The Levee Walkers. The Seattle super group is based on the Mad Season creative template, but has five different singers from around the world replacing Layne Satley — which included Jones. Barrett had also listened to Jones’ previous record and loved what he had done. He offered to record Audio Paint Job and Jones went for it. “Luckily for me he was best friends with Jack, who ended up doing the mixes.”
For fans of Jones And The Way, they are bound to notice some differences between their first and second record. Working with Barrett really helped Jones develop in crafting tracks, and his steady hand in collaboration is felt throughout APJ. The differences in production can be attributed to Mix A Lot working digitally, while APJ has that deep, analog-driven traditional Seattle rock sound. But sonic influences included Motown, Michael Jackson, and Dr. Dre, as well as grunge.
The first single is “Love Is The Answer” which Ayron urgently feels has a message of peace the world needs to hear right now. Next will be “Take Me Away” which epitomizes his band’s sound, a perfect mashup of blues, grunge, and hip hop. “It’s about my troubled upbringing and how music became my way out of the pain.”
APJ also explores Ayron’s hometown music scene, “Boys From The Puget Sound”: “For a while when we first started we were playing places that our band was way too loud for,” Ayron says. “I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve had the cops called on us because of a noise complaint. Being born and raised in the city of Seattle is super rare. I wanted to write a song that summed up my feelings on gentrification and gave people from my hometown a song they could call their own.”
If playing in city venues is sometimes a hassle, he gets a lot of thrills performing at festivals like SXSW, Sasquatch, and Bumbershoot, all of which the band has done. Ayron describes the feeling like no other, being on stage front and center with thousands of people watching and digging it. “It’s the kind of thing you dream of as an artist,” he says. It took him awhile, but he fell in love with it and especially found
Sasquatch a culture shock. “I’d never been gorge before. My first time there was to play on the Main Stage. The show went great and about halfway through the second day I realized what a big deal the festival was and I broke down crying. That was a really special experience.”
APJ itself was made as Jones and his band kept getting calls to open for major acts like B.B. King, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Rahkim, Jeff Beck, Robin Trower, Spearhead, and many more. Earlier this year Ayron Jones And The Way got picked up by the Agency for the Performing Arts and thus Ayron feels it will be a break out year for his music. “I’m extremely grateful and anxious to see what’s next.” So are a lot of music fans!