Long Beach, California based band Sunflower Dead is anything but ordinary with their stage makeup and theatrical music videos, and just as the interviews at The NAMM Show were winding down, Michael Del Pizzo, vocalist met up with us.
Del Pizzo is originally from Philadelphia but moved to Long Beach many years ago and the other members Jaboo (lead guitar), Jamie Teissere (guitar), Leighton “Late” Kearns (bass) and Jimmy Schultz (drums) have all of the combined talent to bring an impressive sound. With the release of their sophomore album It’s Time To Get Weird in October 2015 and upcoming shows in Costa Mesa, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, Sunflower Dead has planted the seeds to raise their careers to unprecedented levels.
When it came down to starting Sunflower Dead, Del Pizzo tells us “we all moved from different parts of the country to play music and we were all in other bands but if you notice how bands always have that one star, that one musician who stands out, we wanted to have an entire band of stars so we went out and cherry picked the members to bring on board.” They didn’t start off playing local shows, instead they went in and recorded an album with Christian Olde Wolbers from Fear Factory and had their album release party in Long Beach.
Sunflower Dead has already toured with some prominant bands in the rock and metal industry, such as Korn, In This Moment, Linkin Park and Five Finger Death Punch. Del Pizzo describes the first time they played with Korn and how it was a complete “wow” moment. A band that he would love to tour with is Evanescence. Since he is not only the lead vocalist for Sunflower Dead, he also plays piano, this would be one match-up that would not want to be missed. As a kid, he recalls seeing Twisted Sister’s music video We’re Not Gonna Take It and Dee Snyder turned around and said “I wanna rock,” he knew that is what he wanted to be when he grew up. The other instance is when he was sitting in the back of his parents car hearing U2’s With Or Without You, it was at that moment he saw himself singing in front of 20,000 people and he felt that this is what he needed to do with his life. He made the right choice because his vocals are raw, they are melodic and a good comparison would be to David Draiman from the band Disturbed. Influenced by hip- hop and pop music and artists like Jewel and Sarah Maclachlan, Del Pizzo says “any song has the same recipe. They all have verses and a chorus. It’s just the subtle difference in the guitar or the timing or some of the notes but overall, it’s all the same in the end so it has been good to have different types of music because they all contribute in some way to our style.”
The name Sunflower Dead was inspired by when Del Pizzo was driving on his street one day and the name of the street was Sunflower Avenue. “I had this vision” he describes. “I started thinking about Sunflower Dead and writing a short story about these kids who were murdered and rose from the dead and became vigilantes. So one day we were at rehearsal and we still didn’t have a name and we wanted something that was about the beauty and ugliness we were writing about. So I told them about the story and knowing we wanted to have Alice Cooper style shows, the one good thing is people can’t guess right off the bat what kind of band we are. Some people have thought we were like the Grateful Dead. We didn’t want our name to pigeonhole us into anything.” As for their writing process, “We work collectively on the songwriting which is amazing” Del Pizzo says. “It’s not just about one person or one element, we try different things and see what works.” Del Pizzo hints at another project but couldn’t reveal the details, so it looks like we will all just have to wait.
Photos by: Neil Zlozower