Black Metal has become such a multi-faceted entity with insane levels of creativity, particularly in recent years with bands pushing extremities and dynamics to all new limits. Amongst a fast-growing Dutch scene, the trio of Laster have been a shining beacon of mesmeric and near absurdist songcraft. An unshackled approach that has hit an even greater peak of greatness on latest effort Het Wassen Oog (Prophecy Productions). Continue reading
Ghost Cult is pumped to debut the brand new video from The Earthly Frames, ‘She Waits For Yesterday’. The track comes from the new album Light Reading, releasing tomorrow January 11th, 2019. This delicious piece of off the wall alt-pop/post-punk weirdness comes from the brain of solo auteur Gabriel Walsh, for which The Earthly Frames is just one of many guises worn by Walsh in twenty-five years of art making. In addition to the hook-laden track of droning synths, glitchy samples, and buzzing bass; B movie aficionados may recognize the Invasion of the Bee Girls clip, now in the public domain as the visual component. Check it out! Continue reading
Recent years have seen UK progressive art rockers The Pineapple Thief hit a sweet spot of a niche between explorative and catchy songwriting. With the likes of All The Wars and Magnolia leaning either side respectively, 2016’s Your Wilderness straddled both thresholds and resulted in their most successful album and, arguably at that point, their creative peak. Poised for their biggest European tour, both in terms of dates and venue capacities, their latest album, Dissolution (all Kscope), once again continues this trend. Continue reading
Nearly twenty years into this twenty first century of ours, and retro is once again the chicest tone in town. Fuzzed, bluesy guitars, seventies licks and threads, and an aching earnestness for a sound of yesteryear is where the coolest of cats are chilling. And down such alleyways we find Belgian quartet Black Mirrors and their impressive full length debut Look Into The Black Mirror (Napalm). Continue reading
In the era of DIY, the music industry has seen a lot of success from self-made acts. When you can run your own record label and put out a very highly praised debut, the bar is set pretty high for anything that follows. The UK’s own Asylums have done just that. They released their debut in 2016 with rave reviews and two years later they are following up with Alien Human Emotions (Cool Thing). This sophomore drop from the Southend natives uplifts the alt./art rock genre in a direction that intrigues a younger audience from the second it’s turned on. Continue reading
It is often found that from tremendous despair comes profound and reflective art. It is such a tragedy that seems to hang over the current works of one Mariusz Duda; that being the unexpected death of Riverside guitarist and close friend Piotr Grudziński in 2016. Outside of Riverside, Duda took his own personal grief to creating last years phenomenal Lunatic Soul release, Fractured (Kscope), a release that saw the ambient outfit to new experimental heights across an emotional spectrum from pure desolation to showing signs of hopefulness. Continue reading
Over the course of, up until now, nine studio albums Norwegian band Gazpacho have resided in a musical plane entirely of their own, and have consistently shown to be one of most captivating and spellbinding bands of today as a result. Trying to define their sound or vision aside from describing them as an art/avant-garde rock outfit is near impossible with each passing release giving different movements and colours; what is usually a definite however is that the music will be densely packed, complex and often shows an embrace for the dark and melancholic; either vividly or perhaps beneath the surface. Continue reading
Palaye Royale – 3-20-2018
The Gramercy Theatre, New York, NY
All Photos By Julia Sariy Photography Continue reading
In Part 2 of chat with Michael Del Pizzo of Sunflower Dead, we discussed what is on tap next for the up and coming band, cover songs, writing album number three, and how do they see the climate right now for bands trying to be successful in the music industry.
We’re thinking about a lot of things. We’re trying a couple of songs with radio programmers right now to decide if were going to go to radio with the next single, and if we do, then there will be another music video and we’ll go to radio in the fall with the third single. We actually also are writing for the third record in our downtime, because you never know. We might decide to do the new record in the fall and get it out right away, or we might tour this record for another year. We’ll see what the demand is. I know there’s also been talk of, because we’ve been doing these acoustic tour shows, maybe doing the other three or four acoustic songs Sunflower Dead style, like a little EP for fans to download. We’ll see if that happens.
I know you guys have done covers before that were fun, but I don’t know if that’s something else you would do in the future or not. I think the first thing never heard from you guys was the Police cover.
We’re definitely not a band that does a lot of covers because we’re just lazy in the sense of learning other people’s songs, but we’ll do a cover thing on a whim, like we’ll just work it and reload it to make it fit us. I don’t knowing we’ll do any covers. Maybe. You never know. Like I said, I do think the album still has legs under it, so we’re just, like everything we do, we’re just going to see how it goes and make decisions when we get all the facts. That’s it. We’re just starting to tour the record now. We did press and media without touring for a year purposefully, and radio to just build the awareness. Now we are finally touring the record so it’s all coming together.
That was definitely an interesting choice. Do you feel like it’s tougher than it used to be to break a band? This is not your first rodeo with a band and this environment is brutal for rock music.
All I can say is that the music industry unfortunately is the Wild West right now. You have to make up your own rules. I would say that Sunflower Dead takes advantage of that. We make up our own rules and we see the current climate, and we use it to our advantage. I could see how the current climate would be discouraging to most people because at the end of the day whether you’re on a label or completely independent, it all comes down to not only does the talent and skill and desire you have, but you need to have financial backing. It costs money to make money in any business, and in the music business, it probably costs $2 million to make $1 million. Do you know what I’m saying? Its a difficult time, and for us we are taking advantage of it and it’s working. I think that I was personally disappointed that the first single didn’t go higher on the charts than it did in radio, even though it did well, and I believe that’s because it’s the first time we’ve gone to radio. We are a new band in their eyes, but It’s Time To Get Weird single hit the top 40, which was good. We’re just like everyone else. We’re working and cresting awareness, ans at the end of the day, a bands job is to create awareness of their sound and their product so people will come around to it. You have to beat people over the head with it over and over again until they finally go “Oh, I get it.” That’s just how it goes.
I heard a really great thing on a podcast recently: for a new band to make it, you have to reinvigorate your fan base every couple of years with new blood, and really stay consistent for the first five years of your career. If you can do that over a couple of releases and bring awareness, then you get that sustainability factor kicks in when you get that recognition.
It’s a constant building process, and then when you reach a certain plateau, then you think “Okay, I’ve gotten somewhere.” Then you realize “Oh my god. There’s another huge amount this time.” then when you acquire that one, then you’re like “Oh my god. There’s another huge mountain.” It just keeps going and going and going. It’s why you have to keep in your mind, I would tell myself to enjoy the small victories, enjoy the process. You never know how long we’re going to be here in life or as a band, so just keep enjoying it and working to get better and spread that awareness. It’s working for us at a nice steady pace, and I believe that the groundwork that were laying, if we put out the right song, so the right things, when it does really connect, it’s going to connect big. That’s definitely the hope.
Catch Sunflower Dead on tour this fall with Hellyeah and Escape The Fate.
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Sunflower Dead have spent this summer on tour, much like they have the last year. Supporting their 2015 release It’s Time To Get Weird, from their own label Blood Bat Records, the band has gone from unknown to underground sensation in a few short years. Just off the road from the tour bus, we spoke to frontman and leader Michael Del Pizzo about the bands’ recent tour with Avatar, breaking an “art rock” band in today’s climate, and the fun challenges of being a “different” kind of band than people are used to.
With Avatar and Sunflower Dead being like-minded bands and talents, we asked first how the tour went:
The Avatar tour was great. The way it happened was we had not signed onto a booking agent for our first album, and then this album, we were picking up so much steam that their booking agent came to us and said “Look, we want to pick you guys up and then we’ll put you with Avatar to get it going.” We were like ” That’s perfect.” It’s a perfect match. Those guys are very theatrical like we are, but they are a little more metal than we are, and I think we’re a little more rock than we are. The fans, in my opinion, really got their money’s worth. It was a great show and I know people have been emailing me already being like ” Are you guys going to tour with Avatar again? We’d really like to see that again.” I’m like “Hopefully.” We definitely got along great and the show, every night was just phenomenal.
In addition to the recent tour, Avatar played dates with Hellyeah and In This Moment, and have another leg of the Hellyeah tour booked, along with Escape The Fate. As a relatively new band in the last few years, we wondered how the band deals with trying to convert new fans all the time?
The live thing has been great for us since day one. The weird looks we get, they are purposefully weird. We usually start with me just playing the accordion by myself for the crowd, and for people that don’t know or haven’t heard of us, they are just bewildered that a guy in makeup would walk onstage by himself with an accordion at a metal show, but I’ll tell you what, it gets everyone’s attention and makes them shut up. The camera phones start coming out. They start filming and then when the band joins me, we start our set, and by the end of the night, we’ve made a whole slew of new fans.
Michael is a well-known multi-instrumentalist and singer, but the accordion is his main weapon of choice. We asked what drew him to him to a non-traditional instrument and when did he figure out if it could work in rock context:
When I was younger, I played the piano. I play the piano in Sunflower Dead and we haven’t been able to bring it out on the stage alone yet. I play the piano, so I just wanted to pick something up that was challenging. I never has any kind of magnetism towards the guitar or the bass or drums. I just wanted to challenge myself, and I went to a used music store when I was a kid and bought an accordion. I picked the thing up and it felt like eerily right. I just started writing on it. I don’t know why, it just worked. I showering it to my guitar player at the time when I was a kid and he was like “Wow that is really cool.” I showed him how I was playing and he was like ” Wow. That is he creepiest thing I’ve ever heard.” I don’t know how it worked for me when we started Sunflower Dead. Jamie, my guitar player in the band said ” Why don’t you play that instrument you play, the accordion. It’s just so visual.” I was like “Cool.” It’s coming to the band, and when you put it together with the band and the makeup and the music, it just fits.
Do you use a special custom microphone? How do you mic that for a live a club setting, a club PA?
I have a mini accordion. It’s made by Roland. It’s made completely different from an acoustic accordion. The mic actually plugs directly into the accordion itself and I go direct into the PA system. It’s all MIDI. It’s like this little keyboard thing I have. It’s crazy! Roland did a really great job with mocking what an accordion does, but giving something with the versatility to create sound and just have it be very simple work. If I had the mic and the acoustic accordion with the band, that would be terrible.
There is a tactile thing about accordions, if you’ve ever played one. There’s a pressure and a feeling like a real piano. Does your instrument simulate that well or did you have to get used to it?
It worked really well. The feel is there, it’s amazing what you can do with these things. There’s no doubt about it, what Roland did and the feel of the instrument is incredible. I love it. I actually love it more than the acoustic accordion because of other things I can do with it. It’s quite an instrument. They’re not cheap, but I’ve beaten it up. I’ve broken it a couple of times already because I’m a little violent with it onstage, but hey, it’s all about a show, right?
It is all about the show, and that’s the thing. I know there’s an audience of people who appreciate theatricality, not just makeup and costumes. It’s putting on a show. It’s a display of performance art really. It comes from art. I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that and just making your music as art, not a band with a gimmick.
Sure. The thing about having an image, it’s funny. There are a million bands who try to be the whole image thing and if you really don’t have the art part of it to back it up, people just see through it very quickly and write it off. They’re like ” Oh, it’s a gimmick.” In fact, I believe we do have the art to back it up, but we still have to fight in Sunflower Dead to show people that no, it’s not just a gimmick. They are actually challenging you to pay attention with this image and what I’m doing artistically. It’s easy to write people off when they have makeup or look, but I believe that what we’re doing is challenging people a little bit to have fun with them, and then when they get it, they’re like okay cool. I see what’s going on here. That’s just my personal feelings on it.
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