Words by Mark Dalbeth
This Goes To 11 is a weekly column hosted by Mark Dalbeth. Mark was born in New Zealand and now lives in Los Angeles, and would be better known in Australia as having been part of the band Bellusira. Following his dreams, Mark moved to LA and has been working on Rav Medic plus an exciting new project he has in the works. As a performer, Mark has been the subject of many interviews and as a result of often being asked the same generic questions himself, has come on board with HEAVY and plans to conduct interviews with an edge.
No bullshit questions, no boring anecdotes and definitely no soft edges, This Goes To 11 is a column where the musician finally gets to turn the tables with hard-hitting questions you won’t hear anywhere else.
This week Mark catches up with Michael Del Pizzo from Sunflower Dead.
Let’s cut straight to it!
MD: Your biggest fear right now with the music industry?
MDP: Honestly, I can’t say that I really have one. The industry has always been extremely hard to navigate at any given time in its existence. I really just go with the flow of how it functions and put all my focus into what I can control the music. The industry will change ten times in the next ten years but my passion for music won’t.
Why do you think Rock Music is always the genre fighting for commercial acceptance?
I believe this is due to that elitist attitude that rock is the grunt work of music. Worse than that, it seems that only a few rock artists are deemed cool by the elite and the rest of us are dogshit and unworthy. Again, like the state of the industry, this is not something I can’t control nor have time to care about. The goal for me is to get across my emotion in the purest way I see fit at that moment. If the elitists react to it, awesome. If they don’t, awesome.
Was there a moment in your career that you thought about throwing it all in?
About every 35 seconds each day, haha. Truth being, exposing yourself through music or any type of art is a scary thing or at least it should be if you are doing it right. There is a freedom in that exposure because it is your truth but it comes with a price of immense negative feedback. Therefore you have to be completely willing to bare it all but also know when to use that calloused skin to survive the atmosphere. Thick skin is needed… that is an understatement.
What is your typical writing process?
We are so open to many completely different forms when writing. Whether it starts with a riff, a vocal line, a lyric, a jam, a theme with a goal in mind or whatever, we have done it. The objective is to let the process happen how each song is meant to happen and stay out of its way, in my opinion. I don’t believe there is one correct way to write a song but there sure are a million ways to fuck ’em up.
Is there still value in printing CD’s or do you believe the digital world has taken over completely now?
To me at our level no because of the expense. It still is a good collector’s item at shows for the fans that truly care and for those people, we will keep printing runs of physical product.
Are you prepared to sacrifice money and comfort in order to progress your career?
I have been doing just that for over 20 years. It is just the way it is. If you need music and to do music, you will sacrifice anything to express yourself and have it be heard. Truth!
Can you see modern Rock music returning to (commercial) radio in the near future?
I am sure it will. People say it over and over but everything is a cycle. At some point, rock or some form of it will be at the commercial forefront. If for some reason that doesn’t happen, that is fine too because even without that commercial kick, rock still is a very powerful thing.
Was Lars Ulrich right?
Yes… 100%. He was right.
Has Rock Music become too safe?
I don’t think so. If we are talking about artists trying to be successful commercially, that always comes with a price tag of watering the music down for mass appeal at some point in a bands career. With that said, there are plenty of artists all over the world pushing boundaries in their own way. Maybe no one currently who is groundbreaking but rock music is not a new thing and that is ok. There are still great melodies, great songs, great bands and great shows that will happen and who knows, maybe by accident someone will be so pure that their artistry will be groundbreaking. Time will tell.
Do you think it’s important to play in multiple projects or solely focus your attention into one?
I am not one to spread myself thin. I like to go all-in but that is me. I believe that is a question per each individual and what best suits their personality and needs.
What have you got going on or coming up that we should know about?
Sunflower Dead has been extremely busy behind the scenes here in 2020 due to the covid shutdowns. We are almost finished with our 4th full-length album with hopes to release it in 2021. This album is the next step in our growth as artists to be only one thing, ourselves. It takes a long time sometimes when on that artistic journey to learn from your influences but also be who you truly are. In fact, it is frightening sometimes. I think we are firing on all cylinders in that department as we are walking that tiny line between brutality, beauty, darkness and concise songwriting that makes what Jaboo (guitarist) and I do unique. That is what I feel at least. We already have tour dates booked for 2021 and are looking forward to showing people the new touring members and the next step in the evolution of SFD. The coolest thing about it is that we are proud of the entire journey so far and all the growth it has afforded us.
Watch “Victim” from Sunflower Dead below: