Q&A with Theory of a Deadman (X-Fest Preview)

Sep 15, 2011 at 11:42 am
Theory of a Deadman's Dave Brenner
Theory of a Deadman's Dave Brenner

Theory of a Deadman is a Hard Rock band that has made a dent in popular music with catchy hooks and sounds that appeal to the heartbroken everywhere. Together for over 10 years, they became hitmakers with their third album, Scars and Souvenirs, and the No. 1 hit “Bad Girlfriend,” along with other popular tracks like “Hate My Life” and “Not Meant to Be.” The band's fourth album, The Truth Is, was released last month and contains the hit single “Lowlife," currently lighting up airwaves on Rock and Pop stations across the country.

CityBeat recently spoke with guitarist Dave Brenner prior to Theory of a Deadman's set at the Kentucky State Fair, part of the Carnival of Madness tour. Brenner talked about the new record and hobbies on the road. Catch Theory of a Deadman and the Carnival of Madness at Dayton's X-Fest this Sunday. (Check the commercial below or visit here for details.)—-

CityBeat: I talked to Tyler two years ago at Rock on the Range in Columbus. I was looking back at that interview today. He made a comment to me that, “It is impossible to have a good marriage on the road in a Rock & Roll band.”

Dave Brenner: He is divorced.

CB: That is very apparent now in the new album. I think it is the most cynical album I have heard in quite a long time.

DB: I think he has some good material to write with.

CB: We have “Bitch Came Back” in addition to “Bad Girlfriend” from before and “The Truth Is” and “Love is Hell,” lines like “I’d rather be hit by a truck.” Really crazy shit.

DB: I think sometimes you use stuff like that to prove a point. You probably wouldn’t actually want to be hit by a truck or sprayed by mace.

CB: He told me some crazy stories about girls on your bus last time too.

DB: About girls on our bus?

CB: You don’t allow girls on your bus anymore because of certain activities.

DB: We have seen some crazy shit. One girl wouldn’t leave the bus.

CB: Like laid under the tire? That’s how rules come about.

DB: Well, you know, it’s your home. We have been on the Hinder bus and there is a party every night.

CB: They don’t treat it well.

DB: They don’t. Like your home. We live there more than we live at home.

CB: I love Hinder though.

DB: We do too.

CB: They are super fun to have around. It’s always good to have the party at someone else’s house.

DB: That’s exactly what I say. Any time I talk to any girl, they are like, “Where’s the party at?” I say, “Hinder bus” because I am so happy to invite them to their bus.

CB: You guys are coming up on 10 years together. Where do you see yourself in 10 more?

DB: Dead.

CB: No!

DB: I don’t know. I try not to think about it. Lately we have been sitting here reminiscing going, “I can’t believe how fast this time has gone by.” It’s Tyler’s birthday today and Dean’s birthday was a couple days ago. I’m 33 now, I was 22 when we started playing in this band.

CB: Do you feel like you have aged?

DB: Yeah, but I am a kid too. This job has allowed me to not have to grow up which is weird. I notice it more when I go on tour with Motley Crue and you start hanging out with Tommy Lee and you are like, ‘Ok, this is what it is actually like to not grow up.” I still have to go home and feel like I have responsibilities and take care of things. But when I come here I am like a kid that plays for six weeks straight nothing to do but have a good time and goof off with everybody. I’m not complaining. Ten years from now though, I don’t know, 43, holy shit, I don’t think I can picture myself doing this. It’s not cool to be a 45 year old rocker trying to rock on stage. You have to change it up. It can’t be the same. You can’t be 45 playing “Bad Girlfriend.”

CB: You could be Nikki Sixx at 52 or 50, however the hell old he is.

DB: I think I’ll just go and get into photography or work in a studio or something. At some point my life has to carry on from 22 what I left behind. I hit the “to be continued” button and now I have ten more years before I can unpause it and go on with life. What happened everyone is married with kids? Everybody grows up and I just keep growing the same.

CB: You guys have been on the road a lot with Alter Bridge and Black Stone Cherry too, you like each other I guess.

DB: We haven’t done a ton of touring with Alter Bridge actually. We have with Black Stone Cherry. We are starting to do a lot with Alter Bridge. We are doing a UK thing with Alter Bridge after.

CB: I hope you like them.

DB: We do like them. This tour is full of people I like.

CB: Have you pulled any practical jokes yet?

DB: We haven’t really yet. Usually that stuff happens at the end of the tour. We’ll fuck around with the Emphatic boys soon.

CB: I just talked to their guitar player. He just jumps and twirls the shit out of his guitar.

DB: Not me. I’ll be looking at my feet and you’ll be able to see my face. That’s how I roll. That’s the kind of guy I am. I love being on stage. I love playing. I love performing. As soon as I realize there are people looking at me, I’m like, “Oh shit! They are looking at me.”

CB: Well I guess my two favorite songs on the album are “What Was I Thinking?” and “Head Above Water.” Do you know the story there?

DB: Cool. “What Was I Thinking?” I have no idea. For me to learn the thought process behind the song I need to hear Tyler answer it in an interview. I am so new to this record, I haven’t learned all of his little stories. He would probably know the actual answer to this. I don’t know personally either of those songs. I know he wrote “Head Above Water” with the singer of The Exies. Tyler and he wrote a song not thinking they were writing it for our band just getting together in L.A. and writing. I guess they started recording it and Tyler thought it turned out great and wanted to use it for us. He would rather us use it than give it to some other band. I always loved that song right out of the gate too. When I first heard the demos of it, I thought this song sounds great.

CB: “Lowlife” has been a hit.

DB: No. 1 now three weeks in a row. That’s exciting. You never know what is going to happen.

CB: The song isn’t bad. I don’t “not” like the song, but I was so shocked at the reaction to it. Kid Rock has a song called “Lowlife.”

DB: It’s not my favorite either. I didn’t know Kid Rock had that song. I just heard that for the first time but apparently we ripped him off. Oh well.

CB: There’s a lot of songs right now with this theme.

DB: I think what everyone is realizing the people still into Rock music are the people that could be described as lowlifes, not in a negative connotation, but because they are the working class people, people that want to have fun and party and drink and listen to rock music. There are so few of those people left in this world and the economy is so shitty. It seems like people are looking at what’s happening in the world today and I think it’s why all the singers and songwriters are writing about the same shit because we are all on tour seeing the same situations. It sort of makes sense. I am pleasantly surprised about “Lowlife” going number one. We really wanted to be coming out of the gate with a number one. It feels good. We feel like we have better songs on the record.

CB: I know you do. I always like to try to pick the next one.

DB: Well, the next one is going to be “Bitch Came Back” for Rock and for Top 40 or Pop it’s going to be “Out of My Head,” which is not in your top two. “Hurricane” is the one I am looking forward to. I think that will be our biggest song. “Hurricane” and “We Were Men.” I like “We Were Men” because I think it’s fresh because it is not about a failed relationship. It’s about something different.

CB: I wanted something different after the many songs on failed love.

DB: For singers, they write about the stuff that is playing in their lives. I could see it. “We Were Men” was something we worked on during Scars and Souvenirs very briefly and so when we started jamming, we recorded eight or nine songs and then we started writing more and I said, "Let’s bring 'We Were Men' back because I have a feeling there is something with this song that could be really awesome , let’s jam it." I was trying to get something else that was trying to get him off of thinking about all that bad shit that was happening in his personal life. I thought it turned out great. “We Were Men” and “Hurricane” and “Gentleman” are my other favorites.

CB: I just had a reaction to this one.

DB: “Hurricane”?

CB: Yeah

DB: It’s, for me, just a relief. It’s really almost theatrical. It’s heavy but emotional.

CB: What’s been the highlight or best moment of the Carnival of Madness tour?

DB: Every day is a new best moment.

CB: Nobody has given me any good stories. I have now talked to every band on this tour.

DB: Well, it’s because everyone is afraid that people are going to read the shit that you write about them and people are going to find out about all the secrets of the bad shit that we do on the road. Well last night a bunch of us did magic mushrooms and smoked mad amounts of weed and played the sandbag game. Is that a good story? You don’t believe it though. You’re not buying it. It’s all true.

CB: You are right I am not buying it. You are in Kentucky so I assume you could get some magic mushrooms.

DB: I already had them. I got them from Michigan. Somebody gave them to me.

CB: It’s a good state.

DB: It’s a Rock state. There’s still some Rock going on there.

CB: Any fond memories of Cincinnati or Dayton in Ohio?

DB: Bogart’s in Cincinnati. I remember playing there a few times and always liking it. I like dirty Rock clubs.

CB: They painted it, they painted the back room. It looks like a different place.

DB: I’ll have to go back there. I have fond memories of everywhere I go. There is nothing better for me to be doing with my time. I have fond memories. I just have no actual memories I can draw right now because it is so much harder to come up with great answers on the spot.

What are you asking for, great memories? The first night of this tour, we had a big barbecue with all the bands. That was a good time. We are going to do Frisbee football tonight. It’s like a good party, at the end of the night everybody hangs out and drinks and does drugs and parties, just like 1977. There’s a lot of man love going on except for today because all the Black Stone Cherry guys brought out all the girlfriends and wives out ruining our fun. The bromance is over for one night.

CB: I know you are a photographer as well. What do you take pictures of?

DB: That’s part of my problem. I haven’t really discovered what I want to do. I don’t want to shoot bands. That’s not really my interest. I think my interest is, right now, I am sort of shooting everything in the hopes of figuring out and just learn how to do it. I haven’t really decided 100%. I just picked it up while on tour as another hobby. I felt like my last hobby was playing guitar and that became my job I love people and I love architecture. I love Europe and the UK. It’s a cool hobby.

It’s fun to do different artistic forms of expression. I try to challenge myself. I try to capture a shot. I try not to crop shots. Part of me is like, I think cropping is cheating. You take this great picture and all you really want is this little piece. I feel like I should be able to see it before I am taking it. I should be able to know what I want in my frame and now it is all digital and changed and different. I still cheat a lot too.