[Exclusive] I recently spoke to Michael Del Pizzo, vocalist of the heavy rock band Sunflower Dead. Their recent release of single, Dance With Death has been making waves on American rock radio stations and gives a promising glance into the upcoming release of their new album, ‘It’s Time To Get Weird’.
The new album is also accompanied by new producers! ‘It’s Time To Get Weird’ is scheduled to release October 30th, 2015. Make a reminder in your phone, because this is one you’re not going to want to miss!
Ashton: Three years it’s been since the release of the band’s self titled album and now, Sunflower Dead has released a new single – Dance With Death. What kind of attention have you being seeing since the release of the single?
Michael: A lot of great attention, it’s our first time going to radio in America, actual active rock radio and we’re climbing up the charts pretty quickly for a band that’s never been to radio so that’s great and our fans, our Evil Seeds are loving it and you never know with new material what they’re going to think but they’re loving it and all the people we thought were going to react to it are reacting to it so the response has been great.
Ashton: You’ve also recently done some video shoots for Dance With Death. A lyrical video was released not too long ago on YouTube for the single – when can we expect this new video, and what can we expect to see?
Michael: We shot that a few weeks ago, and it’s being edited now, we’ve been getting edits all day actually; going back and forth with yay or nay and I would assume within the next month it’s going to be available. I don’t know how long it’s gonna take, you know? I don’t do that part of things, I just kinda approve it; yes or no.
I would assume you could expect something thats going to elude to the graphic novel that I’ll be working on over the next year with a really esteemed horror author and debut at Comic -Con next year.
Ashton: Would it be alright if I pry a bit on that? What more can you tell me about this graphic novel?
Michael: Absolutely, for sure! What it is, the name Sunflower Dead came from a short story I was writing and working on well before the band started. I actually I was driving one day and saw a street sign for Sunflower Avenue and Sunflower Dead popped into my head and I automatically thought of this theme for a short story and started writing it down. When the band needed a name, I brought it up and the guys loved it so we decided to go forward with it.
When we switched management for this new record, i told them, ‘You know, I’d really like to one day do the graphic novel for the band and maybe turn it into a movie’ and our manager said it was a great idea! He contacted, with our lawyer, a really really well known horror author. If I told you his name you’d be like, “oh wonderful!” but obviously it’s not Wes Craven cause unfortunately he recently passed. The guy said, ‘yeah!’ he’s totally into my pitch and wants to co-write it together, we’ll do the graphic novel, we’ll go to comic con together and debut it together. We’re just getting into the thick of that, and maybe one day we’ll turn it into a movie. Who knows?
Ashton: Will we see the same imagery in the graphic novel, that each member of Sunflower Dead presents?
Michael: The characters in the graphic novel will be based off what our characters look like, but taken a lot further. It won’t be about the band in itself it will be about these five characters and really, there’s no limits with where we can take it.
Ashton: For the band’s live shows, someone who has not yet heard of Sunflower Dead, they might be in for a bit of a surprise, in regards to the make-up and attire. Do you feel those persona’s on stage have an impact on the music and the way the band performs?
Michael: Yeah, probably. I think that we are completely free to, like the new record is called, It’s Time to Get Weird, we can get as weird as we want. I believe we can get away with a lot more than bands that don’t have it on [make-up, alternative attire] because certain things just come across easier when the band already looks like we do, with the make up and what not. I think it adds to the performance for sure.
Ashton: Sunflower Dead has shared stages with some pretty incredible acts; Korn, All That Remains, and SNOT to name a few. What do you feel you learn personally after every one of those experiences?
Michael: With each band, it’s completely different because every band we tour with is on a different level and I get to see how bands act off the stage, and I sit there and try to take mental notes, ‘i like how that person acts, it’s really professional’, or ‘I don’t really like what that person’s doing’ and I take notes on how you should really treat people around the venue, that work for you, that work for other bands, etc. It leaves a big impact on those around you. That’s the kind of things I like to take from it. The other thing I see with the bands, especially the bigger ones is their consistency in the performances. That’s something I take away from these experiences.
Ashton: In what way have those experiences affected your role in Sunflower Dead?
Michael: The biggest lesson was the one that lets me know how much people are paying attention to me. If I’m paying so much attention to others; they’re paying attention to me so I like to put my best foot forward. As far as on the stage, you get to a certain level when the band is delivering every night, and you have to deliver every night. That’s just the way it goes and I’m always trying to up my game because of that.
Ashton: You mentioned, It’s Time To Get Weird, what inspirations’s were considered when deciding the direction the band wanted to go in while writing the album?
Michael: A lot of things were considered, really this record is a combination of everything we’ve learned from the last two years of touring for the debut album. It was everything we learned from it, we learned what worked, what didn’t, what people liked, how we performed, who we were as performers. The first couple tours we went on, we were just going out there and throwing down. As each tour progressed we started letting ourselves, our natural personalities come out.
It seemed the more fun we had, the more fun the crowd had. We were like, ‘We have to start getting that across in our music’. When we wrote this record, we sat down and were like, “How can we get across our personalities, the fun, and still walk the line and be dead serious as to what we’re doing’? That’s the kind of things that went into writing this record.
Ashton: On the debut album, there is a cover of Every Breath You Take – The Police. It was what I think, is an extremely appropriate take on the song, considering the lyrics. The original has a very light weight tempo. Was it the darkness of those lyrics that drew the band to cover it and give it the twist that you did?
Michael: Oh yeah! There’s no doubt about it that the lyrical content of that song which is highly misinterpreted, especially by people at weddings. They want to make it their wedding song and I’m here like, ‘Really? Do you know what this song is about?’. It was the lyrical content but the original idea was to just do a cover. We don’t really do covers – but we thought, ‘Why not?’. We decided if were were going to do it we wanted it to be an amazing hit song. The song popped up and I thought it was absolutely perfect for the band, we knew exactly what we wanted to do. We slowed down the tempo, we actually had to re-write and put the song together so it made sense and just seemed a natural fit for us.
Ashton: Can we expect another classic hit cover on the new album?
Michael: No, (laughs) there’s definitely no cover songs on the new record.
Ashton: With, It’s Time to Get Weird, how do you think the record was impacted working with Dave Fortman?
Michael: It was incredible and it was exactly what I wanted and why we went after him to produce the record. I made a list of producers and people that I wanted to work with, and he was, if not the top definitely the top three on the list. It was a dream of mine to work with him so when the opportunity rose; Mikey Doling from SNOT came to us and said, ‘Look, I can get Dave to co-produce it [It’s Time to Get Weird] with me ‘ we thought it was great. Mikey’s ideas are phenomenal and then Dave brought in that whole, hit song writing, the harmonies, what really works for the type of record we wanted. He totally got it and knew where to push us. He’s a genius! He’s a mad genius, but a genius!
Ashton: What else was done different in the process of making the new album, in comparison to the self titled album?
Michael: The first record was done more in stages. We would record a little bit, then go away, record, go away, etc. This one was done in on full swoop. We got off tour, I think in September of 2014. We spent two months writing the record and sending demos to Dave and Mikey and then they flew to California and we did a couple days of pre production. We had a month booked in the desert to record the record and we ended up using 12 days of the month, tracked, and had an amazing record. It was very natural and flowed. It was quick without us rushing because we weren’t working hectic hours and we were never under the gun. The fact that we sat and wrote the record together as a band in the same room, there was no emailing tracks, we wrote together and decided what we wanted each song to be.
Ashton: Back to the single, it’s heavy, it is enticing. Is it a reflection of what fans are going to get from the rest of the album when it’s released October 30th, 2015.
Michael: Yeah, and the only way i can say that, is say that, to me Dance With Death is awesome and the rest of the record is awesome. So yeah, you’re gonna get – awesome! (Laughs) That’s how I look at it. All the songs stand apart but there’s a definite connection there, there’s a flow that works and it is a good idea of what’s coming.
Ashton: Mentioning your fans, earlier you called them your Evil Seeds. Some bands do give names to their fans; Slipknot has their Maggots. Do you feel that giving the fans a title involves them more, and makes them feel more personally connected and appreciated by the band?
Michael: You know, we got lucky because we didn’t name them… They named themselves! It was our fans that came up with the name. We thought it was really cool, we’ll call the people that like us, that [Evil Seeds]. As far as that personal connection, that’s something we didn’t plan it’s just something that happened. They’re very open to us, we’re very open people so we stay open to them; it works. We started calling them the Evil Seeds and they like it, so it’s all good! There was no, ‘We need to go hang out with the fans!’ it was just something we did.
Ashton: I’d like to add on to that by commending you for a recent post I noticed a while back on the band’s Facebook page. You shared a message from a fan, and you commented saying, “Our Evil Seeds are our life blood.” The post was a message someone sent you, saying that they were at a Sunflower Dead show in Texas, and that show was the last concert he was at with his friend before he lost him to cancer.
The post definitely pulled at the heart strings for a lot of people. Do you feel it is important making your fans aware that you see these things, and that you hear them?
Michael: We’re really active on social media with answering fans, and talking to them. We really try to make sure we answer every email, every post. When i woke up and I checked my email and saw that, I was really taken back. I looked at my girlfriend and said, ‘Check this out…’ and I couldn’t just post it on Facebook. I actually sent it to everyone that works with us, our management, our PR team, our radio people. I sent it to them all and said, ‘Read this and remember. I know that we’re really busy in the business of Sunflower Dead, but this is why we do it.
At the end of the day we’re trying to get on the radio and be successful for this! Not for the money, the fame… it’s for this.’ Everyone responded to me in agreance, and were super stoked. So i shared it with everyone on our page because I want them to know that we’re paying attention to what they write, to what they say and that we care. They’re not taken for granted in anyway.
Ashton: In the post, the person who wrote to you also said, “It may have been just another show to you, but for me, it meant everything.” Do you think that what he said will be ringing in your head a little bit the next time you step on stage?
Michael: That’s been ringing in my head since I read it. There hasn’t been a show that we’ve played that’s been ‘ just another show’. We made a pact that when we walk on stage, whether the show is a good show or a bad show for us, we have to at least attempt to do each show like it’s our last show. We give it what we have and give the people there everything we have. If we’re sick, we still go out and talk and hang out with people. It’s the attitude we have in this band. We can do it now, we’re not this huge band at the moment where when we walk out of a building we get mobbed so at this point we’ve been able to spend as much time with our fans as possible. I will always have that same attitude; when I walk on staged I’m not going to take any show for granted because you never know.
Ashton: For the fans, is there anything else the Evil Seeds should look forward to this upcoming year?
Michael: What’s really cool is on the title track to our new record, Jonathan Davis from Korn is actually sharing vocals with me.We’re doing a duet on the track and it’s really killer! He’s stoked about it to so it’s going to it’s going to be fun for the fans!
Ashton: Could there be a possibility for an upcoming tour with Korn?
Michael: We just did the stuff overseas with them. I know it’s talked about at times. Let’s hope in the new year we can link up and maybe we can all get lucky, i’m including myself in that, that Jonathan will come up on stage, and sing our song with us and we’ll all have a great time with it.
If you want more Sunflower Dead, you can check them out on their social media sites: