It feels like family for Theory of a Deadman guitarist Brenner

Photo courtesy of Theory of a Deadman
Posted April 28, 2011, at 8:11 p.m.
Last modified April 29, 2011, at 9:56 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Ten years together, four albums, and countless concerts later, it finally feels like family for Theory of a Deadman guitarist Dave Brenner.

“Well, we finally have a drummer who can tour and record with us after all this time, so we’re pretty happy with the makeup of our band now,” Brenner said with a chuckle. “He’s in all of our publicity photos now, so it must be official.”

Brenner and his bandmates — fellow Delta, British Columbia, natives and original members Tyler Connolly (lead vocals and guitar) and Dean Back (bass) plus “new guy” and Winnipeg, Manitoba, native Joey Dandeneau (drums) — are performing on the road as part of the Avalanche Tour, which stops in Bangor Saturday as the headliner portion of an all-day Waterfront Concerts festival at the Bangor Waterfront Pavilion. The daylong schedule features 15 local bands performing as part of a revamped and relocated Bumstock before the main event (rock bands Theory, Skillet, Stone Sour, Halestorm and Art of Dying), begins around 5:30 p.m.

This is the second straight year Theory has played in Maine. Last year, the Canadian quartet rocked Caribou along with four other bands. They also have played Maine venues from Portland to Orono.

“The cool thing about this tour for us is it’s a chance to test some stuff, debut some new material, and play whatever the hell we want to play,” said Brenner, 33. “We like to consider ourselves road dogs. To me, the touring and the playing live is the reward. It doesn’t really go away, but sure, there are bad days we all have when we’re not happy to be on the road.”

That’s not to say it’s all sunshine, wine and roses on the road.

“It’s very much a love and hate,” said Brenner, who hails from Delta, British Columbia. “It’s hard to leave home and leave everyone behind, but it’s not a bad way to earn a living.”

The same thing can be both a blessing and a curse for touring bands, such as their hit songs. On the one hand, their popularity increases the band’s popularity and, therefore their earnings as well. But with popularity comes repetition … A LOT of repetition.

“Do we get sick of hearing some of our own songs? Sure, but we’re the ones who have to hear these songs more than any other person alive,” Brenner admitted. “I notice it more when we’re on the eve of releasing a new record. It’s not that you’re sick of the old stuff, but you’re more excited for the new stuff.”

Some of that new stuff, from the recently completed fourth album “The Truth Is …” will be shared with the Waterfront audience Saturday night.

“We try to rotate a lot of songs and we’re excited about the new stuff, but even with all that, there are still six to eight songs we play every single show,” Brenner said.

A prime example is No. 1 hit “Bad Girlfriend,” one of Theory’s five top-10 singles that have vaulted the band into the mainstream. Failure to play it might cause a riot.

“Yeah, that’s probably true,” Brenner said with a hearty laugh. “Seriously, even if you’re tired of hearing it yourself, you have to remember it may be the first time or even the only time some people are going to see and hear you play it.”

Make no mistake. Brenner and his fellow rockers care about the quality of their product.

“It was never about image and the way the performance looks with us. We just wanted to come up with ways to create and make the songs better,” he said. “You always want to grow and challenge yourself and push yourself all the time. Just like baseball players who put the pressure on themselves to perform.

“That’s a really good maxim for younger bands who think it’s all about wearing cool leather jackets.”

It was never about that for Brenner, who credits his affinity for music and playing guitar to his favorite band.

Alice in Chains is the band that made me want to play guitar,” Brenner said. “I started playing when I was in 11th grade, and as soon as I could play a few chords, I started playing in bands.”

Brenner’s musical aptitude was encouraged by his high school music teacher.

“He suggested I play ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ in class, but I wanted to play ‘Love Hate Love,’ so he told me to play it,” Brenner recalled. “He actually really liked some of the chords and encouraged me to play what I liked.”

A few years later, he hooked on with Connolly and Back.

“I was playing in another band in the Vancouver area, but it broke up and a few months later I called Tyler out of the blue and said ‘Hey man, I’ve got no band.’ He said he was jamming with some friends, so come on over.”

Since the self-titled Theory of a Deadman album debuted in 2002, the band has been accumulating a legion of fans with its mix of up-tempo, hard-rocking anthems (“So Happy”), soulful, sad singles such as “By the Way,” and virtually acoustic hits such as “Santa Monica.”

“We all contribute, but I’m not really interested in writing. I like what Tyler writes in terms of what we’re doing, and he should write them since he’s the one singing them every night,” Brenner said. “Musically, we don’t approach things with a formula because then you sound formulaic.

“I think we have a pretty good marriage.”

Tickets for the all-day Bumstock festival and Avalanche Tour concert are $37.75 plus service fees and are available online at www.waterfrontconcerts.com, by phone at 783-2009, or at Mark’s Music store in Brewer.

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