2016 Sunflower Dead interview with Michael Del Pizzo
Theatrics and rock and roll make intriguing bedfellows. Add in a heavy dose of strange and you’ve got the formula for something magical. That something would be Long Beach, California’s Sunflower Dead. The quintet came together in 2012 with the idea to do something exciting and theatrical to help bring their music to life visually as well as sonically. For the five members of Sunflower Dead, making music is about larger-than-life entertainment rather than gimmicks, which is why they have more in common artists like KISS and Alice Cooper than Slipknot or Mushroomhead. Not that the band doesn’t have profound respect for all of these bands.
Former Droid guitarist Jamie Teissere initially connected with friends and fellow musicians Michael Del Pizzo (vocals, accordion, piano) and Jaboo (guitar) to get the creative wheels turning. Bassist Lats Kearns (Memento) and drummer Jimmy Schultz were eventually absorbed into the collective. The guys eschewed the traditional club circuit route to focus on developing their visual and musical ideas. Sunflower Dead always knew it wanted a theatrical feel, but it turned out to be frontman Del Pizzo’s experience at a KISS concert that inspired the idea of taking on individual characters from a story he had written. Metalholic recently caught up with Michael Del Pizzo in the midst of the band’s tour with Avatar, to talk about all things Sunflower Dead, including the origin of the band’s name and the band’s imagery.
“Before we even knew what the look was,” shared Del Pizzo, “we all sat down and said let’s do something different that’s just us, where we cannot be those guys who just get onstage with whatever cool clothes. We just wanted to do something cool, and that’s how the whole Sunflower Dead thing came about. We knew we were going to have some kind of look before we were Sunflower Dead and when we were coming up with the name, Jamie said ‘I kind of hear something with like a flower in it and something that gets across the beauty and ugliness of the music, like the yin and yang of it all.” And I said well that’s interesting because I wrote this story called The Sunflower Dead, and I started telling them about it, and they were like, why don’t we just kind of look like those characters looked. Not that we’ll sing about that story but we’ll take on the look of that and have some fun with it, and it just kind of worked.”
Once the band hit the road in support of its debut album, they began to evolve a bit, which led to the creation of the Sunflower Dead’s second record, It’s Time to Get Weird:
“We started touring with national bands all across the U.S., and by doing that we got to know what worked on stage, what didn’t work, what the people were reacting to, and all of a sudden we went from this band that started out maybe a little bit angry to this more fun-loving band that was smiling and having a good time. I was getting weird on stage, and the fans started doing that, we started to say ‘It’s time to get weird!’, and they started saying it and it became this thing. When we went to write the second record we kept that in the back of our minds. We’re more serious lyrically, but a fun band who is there to entertain people so they have a good time when they come to see us.”
You can check out the full interview below as Del Pizzo talks about playing his inhuman lung (the accordion), working with producers Dave Fortman (Evanescence, Slipknot, Godsmack) and Mikey Doling (Gemini Syndrome), and working with Jonathan Davis of Korn on the band’s latest video for “It’s Time to Get Weird”. He even gives a hint for fans to figure out what the third single and video might be.
All photos © 2016 Katarzyna Cepek Photography