We recently spoke with Michael Del Pizzo, who is the vocalist of Sunflower Dead. SFD originated in Long Beach, CA and has been thriving for that last 3 years as a very theatrical band. Since their beginning, Sunflower Dead has had a very infectious hard rock sound, which they own very successfully. When asked about why they go through the troublesome task of stage make up, Michael replied “All 5 of us simply wanted to be in a band that brought some fun to the table and entertained the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, SFD strikes a great balance between entertainment and being dead serious, especially lyrically. To me though, it just seemed time for a band to hit the scene that had something more to offer the music fan than just the fad of the week clothing. Times are tough right now and people need an escape. On the flipside, I am not going to sing about dragons or strippers or fast cars. The lyrical concepts are always very weighty about my journey through life and learning how to get through the muck.”
Coming up with a Band name, isn’t always as easy as some may think. Usually all of the good ones are taken. What really makes SFD stand out is their backstory for their name.
“I live off of Sunflower Ave in Southern CA and years before the band started, the words Sunflower Dead popped into my head one day driving down the street. Automatically, the back story of SFD came to me about these 5 boys who were murdered in a field, eyes torn out and dead sunflowers put in their place. The boys would return from the dead as undead vigilantes to prey upon all those that are depraved in this world. Years later, when the band started and we needed a name, my guitarist Jamie suggested something that reflected both the beauty and ugliness of our music. He also kept thinking of something with a flower in it. I then told the guys about my Sunflower Dead story and they loved it. Since we had already decided that we wanted to have a look, we ran with the idea of becoming the characters visually.”
While most people would jump at the opportunity to brag about all of their touring activities, legal and illegal. While this would be most groups PR’s nightmare, Michael takes a different route on it. “The funniest thing we do on tour? Sleep, ha-ha. Seriously, I have to sleep a lot to make sure my vocals are ready to go. I do like to find great places to eat wherever we go. I definitely love to eat. Of course, the band tries to take advantage when we can and go site seeing. “
Sunflower Dead Recently released a new single, “It’s Time to get Weird”, which featured Jonathan Davis of Korn.
“He (Jonathan) was very gracious to accept our invitation to sing on the title track to our new album. I went to his studio in Bakersfield, CA and we worked on the song and what he would sing for a short time and in JD fashion, he knocked it out. Then we went back to his house and spent some time with his family. Jon is such a nice, down to earth person. The 18-year-old me was freaking out. Korn’s debut album is one of my all-time favorites so this was a treat. Getting to tour with Korn in the UK later that summer on their 20th Reunion Tour where they played the first album front to back was even cooler! The truth is, when you see a band like that connect with a crowd, you understand the difference between them and others who haven’t gotten to their level.”
Do you have any particular writing methods when writing new music?
“Everyone in the band approaches songwriting differently, but for me everything happens in my head first. Then, I sit in front of a piano and put down the root notes of a song that is in my head and write out a structure with vocal melodies. As a band, we definitely focus more on the vocal hooks first, then the music. Not that it is the best way to do it but for what SFD wants to put forth, it is.”
Do you have any preshow rituals?
My ritual starts about 4 hours before we play. I steam my voice, do a half hour of vocal warm ups, then handle my contacts and makeup which takes about an hour, then do another vocal warm up session. Finally, and this is a must, I always text my girlfriend that it’s time to go before I walk on stage.
Who are some groups that inspire you?
“Musically, I am all over the map from metal to classical to hip hop to a perfectly written pop song. My main vocal influence is Steve Perry from Journey (no explanation necessary). I also am influenced by Dee Snider, Dio, Jonathan Davis, and a bunch of amazing female vocalists. I love female vocals. A goal of mine would be to write and record and duet with Amy Lee from Evanescence.”
Does “It’s Time to Get Weird” have a central theme, if so what is it?
“It’s simple, it means be yourself at all costs and forget the naysayers. It seems easy but it’s a very difficult thing for most people to do. For us, it all started on our first album’s touring cycle. Being an unknown band that has makeup on AND uses the accordion, it was a bit nerve racking every night for my guys to walk on stage. Jamie started saying, well, It’s Time To Get Weird before we would take the stage and it stuck. Our fans, the Evil Seeds, caught on and began repeating it and it became our mantra. Obviously, we had to title the second record that and better yet, have Jonathan from Korn on the track. I mean, if anyone is all about being himself through all the naysayers, it’s JD.”
What is one piece of advice you would give to a band or group just starting out?
“The best advice I have to offer to anyone in any genre of art is this: There are two words you have to consider… WANT and NEED. If you WANT to be in band or be on stage or tour, etc, QUIT. It is too hard, especially nowadays to WANT to do this. If you NEED to do this, no matter what the cost, sacrifice or pressure, then this is for you. You have to NEED this like an addict NEEDS their drugs. It really is that simple. Me, I NEED this.”
If you could have any super power what would it be and why?
The ability to stop time so I could relax when things get too overwhelming, which is about 10,000 times a day.