Sunflower Dead, formed in 2011 in Long Beach, California, released their first album, Sunflower Dead in 2012 and recently concluded a UK tour supporting Korn’s 20th Anniversary tour. Their new album, It’s Time to Get Weird, will be released on October 30th. Guitarist Jaboo, discusses his beginnings, image in Rock and many other topics in this installment of Korea Guitar’s 20 Questions. Enjoy!
Welcome to Korea Guitar. Great to have you here. When did you start playing the guitar and what inspired you to pick it up?
I was 12 years old. I started playing cause I heard Eddie Van Halen. Eruption was all it took to make me go “I wanna do that.”
- What was your first guitar?
My first guitar was a little old Harmony electric guitar. It was a really odd shape kind of a cross between a fender Jaguar and a strat.
- What do you play now?
I play Jackson King V’s. They are made great and sound awesome.
- Who are your main influences?
Man, that’s a tough one. Randy Rhoads, Yngwie, Eddie Van Halen. But, I love Hendrix, Page and Iommi too. Those late 60s – 70s bands really brought guitar and heavy music to such a cool place.
- What was the first concert you ever saw?
Yngwie & Dio @ the Philadelphia Spectrum. It was awesome. Dio had a huge stage with a giant rib cage in the side of the stage. It was really cool to see one of those epic stage set ups.
- Can you remember the first gig you ever played? Where was it and how did it go?
Well, first show no. But, I played a talent show in high school. I must have played a 15 minute guitar solo. I copied just about every cool solo I could from Eddie and Yngwie. It was a blast.
- When and how did Sunflower Dead first originate?
Well, me and Michael ( Del Pizzo, vocalist) were working on some new material and I got together with Jamie (Teissere, guitarist) who I’ve been friends for years. He was like “this shit is cool.” Since his old band Droid recently broke up I was like “dude, you should play with us”. Then things just started rolling.
- I’m a big fan of band name origins. Can you tell us how you decided on the name Sunflower Dead?
Well, we all wanted something that was contrary to itself. Something beautiful yet ugly. Oddly we all were talking about something with a flower in it. Michael told us about his short story “The Sunflower Dead”. We were like “that’s great! Let’s Call the band that!”
When and why did you get the handle of Jaboo?
If I tell ya I gotta kill ya. Lol. I kid, I kid.
- I’m also a big fan of the image artists choose to put out there. How important is image in Rock and Roll? Where did the makeup idea for Sunflower Dead come from?
I think it is real important. But, it helps when it’s organic. For example “the grunge” look just happened to be what they wore in Seattle. Then kids everywhere started wearing flannel and Doc. Martins.
With us we wanted to bring what Alice Cooper and Kiss brought to shows. Something a little larger than life and fun. A Spectacle so to speak.
- What did people think the first time you donned the face paint?
Well I remember our first show in Green Bay Wisconsin. We are walking around before the show and you can feel the stares and people going “great, who are these clowns.” But, after we played they mobbed us at the merch booths. No matter how cool or uncool you look I still believe the music is the deciding factor. But, I gotta admit the makeup is fun- everyday is Halloween.
- Can you tell us about the recording of the new album, It’s Time To Get Weird? How did it differ from the process on 2012’s Sunflower Dead album
The process was really fast. We came off tour and wrote for a month. Dave Fortman and Mikey Doling (co-producers)came in and did 2 days of pre-production with us and we hit the studio.
The recording process was great. We decided to get outta the Los Angeles area and go out to the desert to focus. We stayed in a nice cabin a mile from the studio. We would lay stuff down during the day. Then go to the cabin and think of layers or solos. Really our secret weapons on this record were Mikey and Dave. They had awesome ideas and just knew how to bring the best out of each individual in the band.
- 12. The album cover is an obvious reference to KISS’Rock and Roll Over. It’s a great cover. Have you passed this by Gene and Paul?
Haha it definitely is- I’m not sure who’s seen it yet. lol.
How important do you think KISS was in the image vs. music debate?
I remember driving in the van on tour and our drummer Jimmy is like watch this early Kiss video. It was Gene just singing acting like the demon he is… but, no fancy stage it was in black and white and raw as hell. It just all worked. I think image really just enhances music. Well it should haha.
- You just toured the UK with KORN for their 20thanniversary tour. How was it?
That was amazing! The Korn guys are great and their fans are unreal. They really welcomed us with open arms. Soon as we hit the stage it was sold out the fans where going nuts! Nobody in the band will forget those shows. Hopefully, we do some more touring with them. Jonathan (Davis, Korn vocalist) is on our track “It’s Time To Get Weird.” I’d love to get to play it live with him. That would be a blast.
- What are the tour plans for It’s Time To Get Weird?
There is a bunch of stuff in the works. I bet we’ll hit the road around November. But, we’ll just have to wait and see.
- For people who have never heard Sunflower Dead and want to hear the definitive Jaboo guitar song, what would you recommend?
On the first record it would be Point of Decision. It has an epic solo and live it just has a life of its own. Hits you like a hammer and then when you think you’re okay “whomp” that hammer hits you again.
On the new record there’s a bunch of flavor on that so it’s hard to pick. ‘Dead to Me’ & ‘Mother Mortis’ are two of my favorites to play live.
- What are the 5 greatest guitar albums you think every player should have?
- Zeppelin 4 (Led Zeppelin)
- Blizzard of Oz (Ozzy Osbourne)
- Van Halen
- Far Beyond Driven (Pantera)
- Appetite for Destruction (Guns N Roses)
- My brother owns a school of rock in Ottawa, Canada. He teaches a bunch of kids how to perform in bands. What advice would you give to these kids about being a musician?
Try and learn every style and technique you can. Go back and listen to blues or Hendrix and classical. The more you expose yourself to will help you have a style all of your own. That’s the Important thing “be you”.
- What are the three most important things every guitarist should know?
- Have a good vibrato. When you hit a note make that sucker sing.
- Learn some blues. Yes, know where the 12 bars is going. But, it’s what you do between those bars that matters.
- Try and play with as many musicians as possible. You can practice in your room all day. But, application is everything and you learn so much playing with other musicians.
- What does the future hold?
I have no idea. I can’t believe what gear has become. Those Kempers are from the future I swear.
- In your opinion, what is the greatest guitar song ever recorded?
Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry- probably one of the most important at least. That was first Rock & Roll riff that gave birth to all modern rock and guitar.
Thanks, Jaboo. This was fun. All the best on the upcoming tour and everything in the future.
Thanks, Ken. These where some fun questions.
Official Website: http://www.sunflowerdead.com/