THE NAMM SHOW 2016 Interviews
Michael Del Pizzo of Sunflower Dead
The NAMM Show 2016 was shining upon the Anaheim Convention Center, and Highwire Daze Online’s first interview would be with Michael Del Pizzo, the wickedly charismatic vocalist of Sunflower Dead. On the verge of releasing their second magnum opus entitled It’s Time To Get Weird on Bloody Bat Records, Sunflower Dead is more than ready to take on the world with their wildly infectious tunes. In this interview, Michael Del Pizzo discusses the brand new album, working with Jonathan Davis of Korn on one of the songs, touring with the mighty SNOT, a case of paranormal activity while on the road, and other weird and wonderful topics of intrigue. Read on…
Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in the band.
My name is Michael from the band Sunflower Dead. I’m the lead vocalist. I play the accordion and the piano in the band.
Where did you learn the accordion since we’re at a NAMM convention?
I just went out and bought one years ago because I was bored. I figured it would be cool to play.
What are you doing here at NAMM and what are you looking forward to most about the convention?
Leaving. I don’t really come to NAMM, but I was told to come. I’ve got some interviews to do, I’m going to walk around and talk to some people, you know, the basic nonsense. There’s nothing I really want to do.
You have a new album about to come out on CD, entitled It’s Time To Get Weird, . How does it compare to your first album?
It’s a lot more polished, that’s because of the producers we went with, Dave Fortman and Mikey Doling. After two and a half years of touring the first album, it kind of helped us grow and really figure out what works and what doesn’t. You can hear that on the new record. We really honed in on what’s working for us.
Select two songs and tell me what inspired the lyrics?
The first single, “Dance with Death.” It’s about not letting any obstacle stand in your way by using the metaphor of dancing with death. So, if you’re not even afraid to die to get to where you want to go, there’s nothing that will stand in your way. Today’s music is extremely hard for everybody, big / small bands, everybody. So my attitude was, well, this is what I do naturally. This is my monttra, I’m willing to do whatever to do what I want to do. The second one would be, “It’s Time To Get Weird,” the second single, which comes out Feb 16. The video comes out Monday featuring Jonathan Davis. That one is kind of like the band manttra. It pretty much means be yourself, be honest and don’t worry about anyone else. Be yourself and be comfortable in your own skin. It’s really not about being weird, it’s about being accepting of yourself if you are weird. No matter who’s mocking you or anything like that.
What was it like working with Jonathan Davis of KORN on that song?
It was awesome. We went up to his studio in Bakersfield. I just sat there, showed him my lyrics and played him the song and he was like, cool, what do you want me to sing? We sat there, worked on some things and we laid it down and it was laid back. Super nice dude. Took us to his house afterwards, we hung out, it was great.
How did you meet him? I think you played some shows with KORN?
We played some shows in London with them over the summer for the 20th anniversary tour. Then, my guitar player Jamie, he’s been friends with the guys in KORN since before they were KORN. So, he actually took guitar lessons from Monkey. He’s just known them, dude. They’re like his friends, not musical friends. He called Jonathan and asked if he would sing on our new record. Jonathan was like, yeah, it was that simple.
I saw that you toured with SNOT. What was that experience like, were they all cool to hang out with?
Yeah, the SNOT dudes are great. Mikey Doling was a co-producer on “It’s Time To Get Weird.” He’s a great friend of ours, he said, hey do you want to come on tour with us in Europe? We’re like, yeah, why not? They’re all just down to earth dudes. What a nice bunch of guys, awesome on stage, so much energy! Just the nicest dudes, ever.
If Sunflower Dead could tour with any band either now or from the past, who and why?
I think right now, there are so many right now, from Slipknot to Evanescence. Honestly we’d make sense with Disturbed. I’d like to tour with KISS, of course with the whole show thing. Alice Cooper would be amazing. From the past? Hmm. I don’t know from the past. There’s artists I’d like to see from the past that aren’t alive anymore but, from the past? Twisted Sister maybe. I know they’re done after this year, Twisted Sister for me. Dee Snider is a big influence on me.
Any strange or scary happenings while on the road or at a show that you can talk about?
There’s a lot of strange things, people say strange things to you sometimes and you’re like, I don’t like to repeat what they say and you’re like, OK dude. You don’t even know me, but. Something weird happened, and it’s actually on our record. If you go to the end of the last track, there’s a recording of – we were in Pittsburgh and the guys were in a separate hotel room than me. We were there for two nights and the first night, Jaboo our lead guitar player, he kept feeling pressure on his chest and hearing breathing all night. He was like whatever, I must be sick. Then the next night, everyone in the band started hearing it, the breathing. They were freaking out so they turned on their phone and started recording it, they recorded this – it’s something ::breathing heavy:: they were freaked out. It’s funny on the recording, they were all scared so we actually put it as a bonus track on the end of our CD if you listen to it. If you crank it up, you can hear the breathing. It’s really odd. Is it real? I don’t know. We’ve been to a lot of venues that are haunted, and I always get a personal tour but I’ve never seen anything. I’m all into that kind of stuff.
Do you have any messages for Sunflower Dead fans or just people who are just discovering you for the first time?
Man, just be weird and stay weird. It’s all good. It’s about being yourself, that’s who you are, it’s all good. That’s what I say to our “Evil Seeds” is what we call them, it’s what I say to anyone that asks me advice on music, I say just be honest and be yourself. Stay weird. Don’t worry about any of this other nonsense, just do you.
Sunflower Dead is:
Michael Del Pizzo – vocals, accordion, piano
Jaboo – lead guitar
Jamie Teissere – guitar
Leighton “Lats” Kearns – bass
Jimmy Schultz – drums
(Interview and NAMM Photo by Ken Morton)
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