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An Interview with Michael Del Pizzo of Sunflower Dead

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Costumes...rock...spikes...accordians? Yes.

Sunflower Dead takes veteran musicians Jamie Teissiere (formerly of DROID), Michael Del Pizzo and Jaboo (former members of Two Hit Creeper), Luis Gascon (touring member of Buckethead) and Jimmy Schultz (touring drummer of In This Moment) and turns them into walking corpses who just happen to play some in your face music for the living public. With their debut self-titled album ready to hit shelves on August 21, we are in for a natural and yet hard hitting sound feeding over the airwaves as Sunflower Dead takes their place on the metal music circuit. With expansive vocal range, tight instrumental and contagious rhythm combined with a truly unique brand of stage performance, the band is promising to be a favorite.

I had the opportunity to speak with vocalist Michael Del Pizzo about what we can expect from Sunflower Dead.

Jenn: How did you decide to get together on this project – what was the idea behind it and how did you go about selecting the right combination of musicians for what you want to do?

Michael: How we came together was very natural and we were extremely lucky. We’ve actually all known each other for 10-12 years now from playing the Los Angeles music scene, being in bands together before or playing in the same shows. The idea came about because we really wanted to give the audience something to look at. I went to a KISS concert a couple of years ago and it’s really about putting on a show. We wanted something that was like that, but a little more modern and serious. We have had a lot of really happy accidents. It really has all happened with nothing planned, but its worked.

Jenn: What do you think sets Sunflower Dead apart from other bands on the metal scene right now?

Michael: A really dynamic sound – but natural. We’re not over-processed or over-harmonized – we took a Guns n’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction” kind of approach to this album. I do all my own harmonies and the music isn’t too altered. You’d hear on the cd pretty much the same thing you would hear in a live show. We’re also doing everything ourselves. We decided not to wait around for someone to help us get it done and we went out and made the cd, started looking at shows and everything on our own.

Jenn: What is the story behind the band name?

Michael: I live on Sunflower Ave and one day when I was going home I came up with a story (I am a writer too) about these five men who were murdered. The killer, who was never found, placed dying sunflowers into their eye sockets. The spirits came back to right the world’s wrongs and became known as the Sunflower Dead.

One day we were all sitting around trying to come up with a band name and everyone had some really lame names. We made fun of each other’s ideas for a while, and then it was suggested that we find something that was both beautiful and dark like our music represented, maybe with a flower in the name. I said, 'oh that’s funny – I wrote this short story called the Sunflower Dead' – everyone really liked it; it really couldn’t have been more perfect.

Jenn: You have a very unique look as a band – who came up with this look? Can we expect to see this at every show?

Michael: The look really came out of a conversation that me, Jamie and Jaboo were having – we had been wearing the suits and did the black eyes and Jaboo suggested we take it even further. So we thought about that. We had a horror movie makeup artist come in and play with some of the ideas we had. They really nailed it right away. When they showed us a picture of the result, there was our look. Yes, we will be in costume at every show – it will give something for people to look forward to seeing when they see we are playing.

Jenn: How does the image of the band differ from how you are every day – is it truly a stage persona or are there similarities?

Michael: The costumes and makeup are definitely just a stage thing. We don’t walk around like zombies all the time and we’re not in The Walking Dead (although I wouldn’t mind that at all, its a great show). We aren’t going to be doing interviews telling people we are these characters, etc. Lyrically though it’s me – the more rabid and ravenous side of my personality.

Jenn: You have some really sick ink – which is your favorite one and why?

Michael: I’d have to say the one on my right forearm – it’s a collage from my old band before Jaboo and I moved to California from Philadelphia. It really means a lot to me and to the people there. Plus, I have a kind of a charicacture of Jaboo in it so anytime I need anything and he gives me a hard time I can say “dude, I tattooed you on my arm!”

Jenn: So you guilt trip him with it?

Michael: Definitely.

Jenn: You also play the accordion – whatever made you get into that and how long have you been playing?

Michael: When I was around 20 years old I wanted to try something different. I grew up playing piano. One day I was just bored and decided I wanted to try and play something that no one else was really playing, so I went to the music store and bought some crappy accordion for $200. I taught myself. I don’t play polka or anything like that, but I use it more as an “inhuman lung” or make it sound kind of like an eerie keyboard.

Jenn: Tell me about the album – what can we expect from it?

Michael: This is a really dynamic album with a lot of peaks and valleys through it. There are a lot of catchy riffs and musical themes and we really set a vibe. We’re taking people on a journey, but sticking to the core of what we are trying to do. The sound we are bringing doesn’t necessarily go with what we appear to be, so if someone just heard our song on the radio they may expect something completely different than if they saw our picture. It keeps it interesting. There are a lot of layers to this music, its like peeling the onion.

Jenn: Are there any tour plans for promoting the record that you can share with me?

Michael: We just started looking into tours for the fall, but we haven’t booked anything yet. We do have a private CD release party in August over in Long Beach – its going to be crazy with a deejay, go go dancers, zombies and werewolf belly dancers.

Jenn: Wait – what? Werewolf belly dancers? You need to tell me more.

Michael: Yeah we have a friend who works for a company that does this. They are made up to look half human and half like they are changing into a werewolf, pretty awesome.

Jenn: Anything else you would like your current and future fans to know?

Michael: I like food. If you bring me food, delicacies of any kind, I am a happy camper.

Look for Sunflower Dead's debut CD in stores and on-line on August 21, 2012 - visit their website: www.sunflowerdead.com and check out the EPK teaser video right here.

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