Rock Band SUNFLOWER DEAD Discusses New Music, Their Biggest Inspirations, Their Touring Schedule and More!
Posted On 24 Mar 2016
Tag: #godsmack, (Hed) PE, Active Rock, All Access, All Access Music Group, Amy Lee, Artist Interview, Axl Rose, Chuck Shuldiner, Dance With Death, Dave Fortman, Death Division, Dee Snider, Dio, Doug Pinnick, Evanescence, Gemini Syndrome, It's Time To Get Weird, Jaboo, Jamie Teissiere, Jimmy Schultz, Jonathan Davis, Journey, King X, Korn\, Las Vegas, Leighton Lats Kearns, Michael Del Pizzo, Mikey Doling, Ozzy, Radiocontraband, Rock Radio Convention, SFD, Slipknot, Snot, Steve Perry, Sunflower Dead
Sunflower Dead is active rock with a combination of heavy riffs and infectious hooks that are both melodic and hard-hitting. Their anthems of chaos, disruption, life, beauty and rage, are both tragic and beautiful delivered with the passion that can only come from someone who has lived it.
The band is made up of Michael Del Pizzo, Jaboo, Jamie Teissiere, Leighton “Lats” Kearns, and Jimmy Schultz.
Their new album “It’s Time To Get Weird”, produced by Dave Fortman (Evanescence, Slipknot, Godsmack) and Mikey Doling (Gemini Syndrome) is a healthy dose of intense rock energy combined with honest and heart-felt lyrics that has been missing in rock radio for quite some time.
Learn more about them in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So, how’s 2016 been treating the band so far?
My pleasure, thank you for having me! 2016 for SFD has been off to a great start. We are getting such an amazing reaction to our animated video for our new single It’s Time To Get Weird featuring Jonathan Davis. SFD crushed our Album Release Show in front of a capacity crowd in Southern California. Then we brought the WEIRD to what I can describe as everything going WRONG and in return everything going RIGHT with our performance at the 2016 Radiocontraband Rock Radio Convention in Las Vegas. And hey, after just one week at radio, our new single cracked the Top 50, so right on!!!
What were some of the highlights of 2015 for you guys?
2015 was supposed to be a set up year for our new album and ended up having so many highlights. First, I got to spend time with the amazing Jonathan Davis of Korn in his studio in Bakersfield, CA and we tracked his vocals to our single It’s Time To Get Weird. How rad is that?!?! Even better, he didn’t just throw some vocals down in a chorus, we did a full on rock duet. We trade back and forth in the entire song and I love it.
Jon is one of my favorite artists so spending time creating with him was fantastic. In the summer of 2015, we took the WEIRDNESS to Europe for the first time with our friends in Snot that capped off with a UK tour opening for Korn. It was quite a way to get introduced to that part of the world and a huge success for the band. Lastly, going to radio with our new album’s first single Dance With Death was also a highlight because it was our first attempt. We got to #59 on the Active Rock Charts and were able to introduce ourselves to the radio community which we respect so much.
What’s it been like getting such positive feedback from rock radio these days?
Like I said, SFD has the utmost respect for the Rock Radio Community. These people are working tirelessly to advance a genre of music that the pundits are consistently bashing. Their belief and dedication to it is unwavering. SFD, from the start was a band built to go to the masses and that included lots of radio. So to say we are happy about the positive feedback would be an understatement. Rock Radio rules, SFD is music made for the masses, it’s a match made in heaven.
Can you talk about how Sunflower Dead was first formed?
SFD was put together by myself and my lead guitarist Jaboo. Basically, we were tired of being in bands and not having 5 guys who wanted to be rock stars. So, we made a list of the people from other bands in Southern California that we knew were the driving force behind their respective bands and we stole them. (Laughter) It was the right thing to do apparently.
How did you come up with your band name? What other names were you considering?
The band name was based off a short story I wrote years ago called The Sunflower Dead. I actually lived off Sunflower Ave and came up with the title looking at the street sign one day. This happened years before the band came together. When we did form the band and it came time for a name, Jamie, our rhythm guitarist, said to me, “We need a name that encompasses both the beauty and ugliness of our music and I keep hearing something with a flower or tulip”. So I started telling the guys about my short story of these five boys who were murdered in a field, eyes torn out and dead sunflowers placed in their eye sockets. The boys would then rise from the grave and become undead vigilantes to seek revenge on all that are evil. It’s straight horror nerd comic book stuff. (Laughter). Everyone was like, that is RAD. Since we knew from the start that we wanted to entertain people as opposed to just wearing the fad of the week clothes on stage, we decided to take on the look of the characters. BOOM… SFD was born!
The only other name we considered was Dorian Grey. Kinda glad we went with SFD.
What was it like working with the producer, Dave Fortman on your newest record, “It’s Time to Get Weird”?
Dave was on my list of dream producers that I always wanted to work with. The album’s co producer Mikey Doling from Snot got Dave involved and he was everything I wanted him to be and more. You see, I love what he did with Evanescence, especially the vocals.
Well, from pre-production to tracking to vocal harmonies to mixing, Dave was amazing and going with him and Mikey was the right choice. I had certain criteria for the album, how I wanted it mixed, where I wanted the vocals to sit and Dave and the way he does things was the guy for that. In no way did we ever want this record to be the heaviest thing ever. On the flipside, great songs with amazing hooks and huge vocals mixed for radio was the goal. We got that because of Dave and Mikey. Thanks dudes!
How do you the band’s sound has grown on your latest collection?
After spending 2 and a half years on the road supporting our debut album that came out in 2012 we learned A LOT about who we are as a band, what works and what doesn’t. Our first album was a set up. It was laying the foundation in a very raw way to allow the band to grow.
This new album, it’s focused and polished and encompasses everything SFD became on the road to our Evil Seeds. From the album title to the final track paying homage to our fans, this album is their album and we are going for the gusto with it. Who knows what we will learn from this album’s touring cycle but I have a feeling it will be grand and the third album will be a big statement.
What groups have been inspiring you since you started making music? Who would you love to work with in the future? Do have any dream collaborations?
I am a music lover and that includes everything from rock , metal, hip hop, classical, country, pop, underground, etc. I love it all and find inspiration from all of it. Vocally, my hero is Steve Perry of Journey. I also take influence artistically from Dee Snider, Axl Rose, Jonathan Davis, Dio, Ozzy, Chuck Shuldiner and a slew of female artists. I love the female vocalists so the one collaboration I would love to do is with Amy Lee of Evanescence.
I would be stoked to create a few songs from the ground up with her, maybe a dual piano/vocal duet. Like a HUGE ballad or something to that effect. You never know, maybe I will get lucky. I have already gotten to work with Dave Fortman and Jonathan Davis so anything is possible.
In February, you appeared at a few rock festivals. What next up for the band as performing goes? Do you hope to go on tour?
Up next we are doing a benefit show for a great cause for a friend of ours who passed last year. His family and friends have created this amazing foundation to raise money for those suffering with addiction and looking to get out of it but are afraid to follow through because of expenses, etc. We are headlining the show in Orange County, CA with a slew of other great artists from bands like Hed PE, Death Division and I believe Doug Pinnick from King’s X is coming. Touring wise, YES, we are on the hunt and you will see a tour announced shortly. The WEIRDNESS is coming to town.
How important are you outfits and elaborate makeup to your shows? How do you think it all reflects on what kind of band you are?
We are a band about putting on a show and entertaining people. It’s true that I balance out that portion of SFD with very weighty and personal lyrics but at the end of the day, I want people to be taken out of their world for the time when they see us perform. The outfits help add to that and allow us to have so much fun on stage. It is a choice to do it, some people love it, some hate it but I can guarantee, you can’t take your eyes off us and it tricks you into listening to what we are presenting. On the same note, we are not trying to be all mysterious and evil and keep our identities secret. SFD is a very accessible band of real guys that likes to put on a show for people. The bigger we get, start expecting things to blow up on stage. LOTS OF FIRE!!!!
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
We have one message and it’s the title to our new album It’s Time To Get Weird. It means “be yourself, no matter what and enjoy the time you are given”.
Michael – SFD