Left to Right: Jaboo, Brett Weir, Jamie Teissere, Christian Olde Wolbers, Michael Del Pizzo
They say the third time is the charm. In 2018, Sunflower Dead will put this theory to the test after two independently-released albums, six years of constant touring, charting at Active Rock Top 40 radio and most importantly, embracing the full nature of what the SFD beast has become. The result is their third album C O M A coming on October 19, 2018 through David Ellefson’s EMP Label Group brimming with confidence that taps into what Sunflower Dead 2018 is – something stripped down, raw and unashamed of both its roots and its strengths as a heavy rock act in today’s ever-changing musical climate.
The band’s genesis crystallized in 2012 when Michael Del Pizzo (Two Hit Creeper - Vocals, Accordion, Piano), Anthony “Jaboo” Amen (Two Hit Creeper – Lead Guitar) and Jamie Teissere (Droid - Guitar) had the idea of starting a new band, much different than their previous outfits for the sake of entertaining the masses. The initial plan was to write an album’s worth of heavy yet catchy material, have a larger than life visual appearance, put the album out and start touring the U.S. independently. The trio solidified their touring outfit by adding Luis Gascon (Buckethead – Bass) and Jimmy Schultz (Drums).
As part of that initial blueprint, Del Pizzo informed the band of a short story he’s written titled ‘The Sunflower Dead’ about a group of boys who were left for dead in an empty field with sunflowers placed over their eyes only to be resurrected as a group of undead vigilantes. This struck a chord visually for the band in terms of a theme and potential angle to tour around. In August 2012 Sunflower Dead self-released their debut album through their own Bloody Bats Records imprint, with production by Christian Olde Wolbers (Fear Factory, Powerflo). Upon initial release, the self-titled album would garner the accolade of being Revolver Magazine’s Album of the Week through independent music fan voting.
The band would spend the next two years on the road, completing six U.S. tours in support of or alongside In This Moment, All That Remains, HellYEAH, Nonpoint, Powerman 5000, Hed (PE), Ill Nino, Soil, Smile Empty Soul and Hurt. The debut album moved over 6,000 units and helped establish a loyal fanbase dubbed ‘The Evil Seeds.’
In September 2014, the band returned home. Gascon exited on good terms and Leighton ‘Lats’ Kearns (Memento) joined the fold on bass. With a new level of growth that comes with touring material and experiencing what works in a live setting, the band began to write and record their second full-length album. It’s Time to Get Weird, produced by Dave Fortman (Evanescence, Slipknot) and Mikey Doling (Snot), showcased a more polished sound while leveraging a more playful side that live audiences were just beginning to get a taste of. This was done to balance out the more serious musical and lyrical themes presented by the band. The ‘Weird’ album, as the band refers to it, was a step forward on multiple fronts. From the production team, to a slicker stage look and photos with Neil Zlozower, to guest vocals on the album’s title track by Korn’s Jonathan Davis. The band realized the stakes were higher this time around and pulled out all stops to present themselves as an act to be taken seriously. This included their first foray into the waters of active rock radio.
Before releasing the new record, Sunflower Dead were given an opportunity to embark on a five-week trek across Europe as direct support for Snot in July of 2015. This tour concluded with two shows in the United Kingdom opening for Korn and gave SFD an opportunity to road test the new material. The band returned stateside and released lead single, ‘Dance with Death’ from the ‘Weird’ album in August 2015. This was the band’s first attempt at establishing goodwill and traction at Active Rock radio. The single would go on to reach #52 on the Mediabase Active Rock charts just as It’s Time to Get Weird was released on October 30, 2015 independently once again through Bloody Bat Records.
The band closed out 2015 and the start of 2016 by setting up a second single, the title cut for “It’s Time to Get Weird (featuring Korn’s Jonathan Davis),” for success. In February 2016, the band performed in Las Vegas at the annual Radiocontraband Rock Radio convention and released an animated video for the track. In just a few months’ time, “It’s Time to Get Weird,” would be the band’s first Top 40 hit on the Mediabase Active Rock charting (#40). With the success of both singles, Sunflower Dead once again returned to the road supporting the release throughout 2016 and 2017. The band would tour with Avatar, HellYEAH, both legs of In This Moment’s ‘Hellpop’ tour and serve as direct support on two runs with Mushroomhead – leading to an even more rabid response and support from the bands growing legion of ‘Evil Seeds.’
Something interesting happened during the touring behind It’s Time to Get Weird. Del Pizzo, Teissere and Amen felt a need to push everything to a new level. In September 2017, the trio returned to the studio with Dave Fortman and recorded their most heartfelt, aggressive and lyrically soul-bearing songs to date. The music on this third album C O M A is more focused, vicious and emotionally dialed in than any of their previous work. Newly signed to David Ellefson’s (Megadeth) EMP Label Group, the band is chomping at the bit to unleash themselves to the world. Amen summarized the new album in this way: ‘This record is like the rebirth of the band similar to what Christopher Nolan did with the Batman saga.” This rebirth is now 100% complete with the addition of Christian Olde Wolbers (Fear Factory, Poweflo) on bass and Brian “Brett” Weir (Downplay, Starset) on drums.