Check out all of today’s new releases in the music world! Continue reading
Check out all of today’s new releases in the music world! Continue reading
Masked industrial metallers Mushroomhead have announced there are heading into the studio to create their new album, their eight in all, this fall. The band has booked a fall tour of the USA as well, with Unsaid Fate, Sunflower Dead, Raven Black, and Death Division. Continue reading
Ghost Cult Magazine asked a bunch of artists “if you were getting into a space ship tomorrow and never coming back to Earth, and you only had one record to listen to or a handful of records to listen to forever, what records would you take with you?” 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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It has been over a decade since Southern California alt-punk-metallers Snot made noise within the heavy music world with their highly energetic punk driven alt metal sound and caught the LA scene by storm. Led by their charismatic frontman Lynn Strait, the world got their first taste of their music through their 1997 debut Get Some and they charged towards the world head on and made a name for them immediately.
Knotfest 2015 was the band’s first high profile show since several attempts at restarting the band in 2008 and again in 2014 since the tragic 1998 death of Strait in an auto accident. This time with new vocalist Carl Bensley, the band played their hearts out in front of their semi-hometown crowd and paying tribute to Strait, who was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1998.
Guitarist Mikey Doling shared his thoughts on their set. “Intense set. My guitar rig wasn’t working for a lot of the show. I played half the set. I figured I would play it out and then smash the guitar at the end and threw it away.”
So did he enjoy Knotfest? “This reminds me exactly of what we were doing. This is Ozzfest. This is the same thing. It feels exactly the same. It’s really fun.”
He also talked about their return and how much the band has changed since those days.
“Back in the day we were so young. We were so reckless. We were playing music just to have a good time and party [with] girls and drugs. Nowadays we play because we really love playing music together. I love playing music with Jamie Miller and John [Fahnestock] aka Tumor. Mike Smith is great. Sometimes Sonny [Mayo] is around. You know what I mean? We’re all family. That’s what’s different is that we appreciate it so much.”
Being away from the scene, the members of Snot spent time in other bands over the years to hone their craft and tour the globe. He also shared how different the band’s mentality was back then as well.
“Snot back then? We were young music fans. We loved punk rock music. We loved funk. I loved heavy metal. We were fans and we all picked up initially and mushed it all together and made Snot. It turned out we were good at it. Good enough to have a career. It turned into a passion. That’s it. It still is that way. It’s 20 year now. We’re still just as aggressive about touring and playing music as ever.”
Speaking of Mayo, he clarified his status in the fold, and where he stands within the band today.
“He has a non-profit thing for sobriety style rehab. He’s real busy with that and he doesn’t really tour as much. Mike Smith did a lot of touring with us back in the day. He wants to tour so whoever’s available…let’s go.”
Doling recalled the old days and leading up to the making of Get Some. Fans from that era were drawn to the record through songs such as “Snooze Button,” “Joyride” and “I Jus Lie.” While much of their songs gave listeners a taste of their chaotic lifestyle, he admitted that a lot of that reflected on the way they wrote their songs.
“Shit dude it was so fun. When we were writing it in our rehearsal space, it was right next door to a strip club. We all lived in the same house together right up the street. We’d right music, take strippers back to our house, party with them, bang them and that leaked into our music, which turned into our record Get Some. You can listen to that record and literally hear it – strippers and rock n roll and drugs. That’s what it was like making that record. We were just wild! It was fun.”
Was he surprised the record got done with all of the debauchery happening around them?
“Not really because we were very serious about writing. I like the way the record came out,” said Doling.
The shows they are doing now pay tribute to their fallen singer. Doling talked about Strait and the kind of person he was, considering many people discovering the band now never had a chance to see him person live or even meet him in person.
“I’m proud to say Lynn was my best friend. We were roommates. Lynn had a ton of charisma. If you ever watched Happy Days, he was the Fonz. That’s all I could say. I’ve never met anybody like him….James Dean you know. He was a cool motherfucker – that’s all I could say. I’ve never saw him get turned down by one girl. He was like ‘I’m gonna pick up that chick…’ and he did.”
“As an artist, he was always writing. He always had his book with him and his pen. He’s a unique, badass rockstar.”
In 2000, a record called Strait Up was released, based on incomplete songs originally aimed to become their never completed second album. What was released were songs with guest vocals by a number of their peers from the scene at the time, including Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Dez Fafara of Coal Chamber and Devildriver.
While the record was well received at the time, Doling had different feelings about the release since then and was never in favor of including those tunes in the current set list.
“Not really. I produced that record and honestly, if I could do it again I wouldn’t do it. At the time I thought I was doing something cool for Lynn. It turned into some bullshit record company thing. I don’t know. I think it lost its focus. Yeah it was about Lynn and it’s cool but I don’t think it was a necessity. I think we vented on that and…I don’t know…I wouldn’t do it again if I had a chance. With all due respect to Lynn, of course, but it turned into something I didn’t want it to be,” he said.
In terms of a much spoken about new Snot album, Doling admitted to writing new songs towards their upcoming second album. While material was written back in 2008 with then-vocalist Tommy Vext, he said those songs would not be included because they are not where the band stands today.
“We didn’t really attempt to write a record with Tommy. We just wanted to record a couple of songs. Those songs don’t count. We weren’t happy with those songs. I’m still not happy with those songs. Tommy did a great job but as the band Snot, I think we lost our identity at that point. I think we know where we’re at now.”
“I don’t think we didn’t know what we’re doing. Now I know. The record we’re going to write – it’s going to be funky, it’s going to be punk rock. I think we lost that edge when we tried to record before. We kind of got sucked into the whole, almost metalcore thing. I don’t know why we’re doing it [or] what was influencing us. We lost the recipe for what Snot does and we took a hard look at ourselves and know what we need to do now to sound like Snot.”
Aside from Snot, the various members of Snot had kept busy with various projects and Doling had kept himself busy also playing guitar with Belgian metallers Channel Zero and producing other bands.
“Producing records is going well. I just did a record with a band called Sunflower Dead. It’s getting really strong reviews. It’s getting a lot of radio play. I did the new Hemlock record. I’m getting ready to do a band from Japan called Gunship 666. I’m busy with that. That is fun. I love being in the studio.”
California rockers Sunflower Dead are releasing a new album on October 30th, It’s Time To Get Weird, from their own label Blood Bat Records. Produced by Dave Fortman (Evanescence, Godsmack, Slipknot) and Mikey Doling (Gemini Syndrome), the album features Korn front man Jonathan Davis on the title track. You can see the lyric video for first single ‘Dance With Death’ at this link or below:
It’s Time To Get Weird track listing:
1. Inhuman Lung
2. Dance With Death
3. It’s Time To Get Weird
4. Just A Little Kiss
5. You’re Dead To Me
7. My Mother Mortis
8. I’ll Burn It
9. The Rain
11. Through The Blackest Eyes
12. Anthem Of The Seeds