Menu

Backstage News, Front Row Pics

FlashWounds Interview: Jimmy Schultz of Sunflower Dead

Jimmy, photo by Francois Poulin for FW

Jimmy Schultz, photo by Francois Poulin for FW

 

By Alyce Hayes

 

Sunflower Dead has been around for barely two years, yet they’ve already toured with some major names in the industry: Hellyeah, Nonpoint, Ill Niño, and now Powerman 5000 along with (hed) p.e. Call it luck, call it the Robert Johnson Crossroads curse, or just pure talent, but two facts are cannot be ignored: A) this band is on the rise, fast, gaining more fans with each passing day and B) they’re completely shattering the mold of the hard rock and metal scene. Of course, we at FlashWounds just had to know their secret.  Luckily, Jimmy Schultz, drummer of Sunflower Dead, was kind enough to make time during their nonstop schedule (our interview literally took place while the entire band was in the tour van on their way to a show in Maryland that evening) to give me a little insight into what’s rapidly becoming a musical phenomenon.

Based out of Long Beach, the members had already been friends for a while, playing in bands of their own. It wasn’t until guitarist Jamie and vocalist Michael (also talented on piano and accordion) decided to start a new project ~ something different from their previous work ~ that the five came together. Adding lead guitarist Jaboo, drummer Jimmy, and bassist Lats to the mix rounded out the lineup, and Sunflower Dead was born (read our “Watch Sunflower Dead Bring Heavy Music Back to Life” article here).

 

Jimmy MakeupJimmy: We definitely wanted to do something different ~ a sound going back to arena rock. Still heavy, but melodic and catchy.  We have a little mixture of everything…we’re not just doing the “super angry pissed off stuff” as much. And with the makeup, we wanted to be more visually entertaining.

FW: Yeah, how did that come about?

Jimmy: We all grew up listening to Kiss, Alice Cooper, Twisted Sister…bands that put on shows. We wanted to do something more visually interesting, and now we’re all in the Kiss band that we wanted to be in.

FW: And right now you’re touring with PM5K and hed…

Jimmy: Yeah, this is actually our third time touring with (hed) p.e. They’re really cool, great guys. And it’s our first time with Powerman. It’s been great so far. A lot of people are showing up to the shows, and it’s a cool tour because we have three bands that are all heavy, but with three different styles.

FW: It seems like you guys have been touring for almost as long as you’ve been together. You must love it.

Jimmy: The best part for me is playing onstage. It’s tough to be away sometimes ~ we have wives, children and girlfriends back home ~ and the drive can be a little boring, but the band is like family, and once we get onstage, and have people coming up to us after the show, it makes it all worthwhile.

FW: So talk to me about the writing process. How does it work?

Jimmy: Normally, Jaboo and Michael start out with riffs and a melody, then they’ll give it to the rest of us, and I’ll add drums. Then Lats and Jamie add their pieces, and we work on it from there. There are a few songs where Lats and Jamie have both brought in guitar riffs, and we’ve created songs out of that. It usually starts off with riffs and then we go from there.

Jimmy, photo by Francois Poulin for FW

Jimmy, photo by Francois Poulin for FW

FW: When did you start playing drums? Who were some of your drumming influences growing up?

Jimmy: I started when I was 16, and had grown up listening to Motley Crue, things like that. But I’m one of those guys that’s influenced by every generation’s drummers. I really liked Vinnie Paul of Pantera, Scott Rockenfield of Queensryche, Morgan Rose [from Sevendust], and Deftones’ Abe Cunningham.  Then I also started getting into more technical drumming, like Dream Theater.  I even listen to the new guys coming up, younger than I am. I also have a few side projects ~ one that has a thrash sound mixed with Lamb of God, another that sounds more like Testament, and another one that’s more basic rock. So when I come back to Sunflower Dead, using my influences, it’s really refreshing.

With All That Remains & Hellyeah @ In The Venue, photo courtesy of David Millard

With All That Remains & Hellyeah @ In The Venue, photo courtesy of David Millard

FW: Was there a moment when you realized, “Hey! I’m living the dream.”

Jimmy: It was our second tour, and we were playing with HELLYEAH, All that Remains and Nonpoint. And we were watching them play every night, and then Vinnie Paul would be on the side of the stage watching our set, and I’m thinking, ‘Wow, Vinnie Paul is watching me play. Oh no!’ But because of that lineup, we were playing large venues, in front of really big crowds. Around then I was just like, ‘Wow, this is what I’ve been trying to do all my life. And we’re finally doing it.’ It was pretty awesome.

There’s no doubt that pursuing the career of a professional musician is tough and often thankless. Those seemingly glamorous tours we all hear about are often filled with long hours of driving, followed by setting up and playing a show, and then immediately packing up to head to the next show without much time in between for rest, food, or anything not involving preparing for that next gig. Despite the occasional stage mishap ~ playing a song with a drumstick stuck in his hair, or a drum pedal making an escape from its correct position ~ Jimmy knows that performing will always be a part of his life, no matter the success level. In the six tours Sunflower Dead has been on, they’ve encountered bands that have been there one day, and gone the next, but abandoning music is not in the cards for SD.

Jimmy: We’ve been doing this for a long time, and I would never stop playing drums. We’re touring a lot ~ trying to do the best we can with this band, and make something of this while we can. But ya know, a couple of us are married with kids, and we’ve gotta keep bread on the table. So far, things have been really positive with this band, and we want to keep it going. I know nobody in this band would quit what they’re doing. I know I wouldn’t; even if ~ 10 years from now ~ I’m in some bar band making side money in a cover band or something. But we’re hoping that if we keep moving forward like we are, we can make this our sole source of income.

FW: Do you have any dream festivals that you’d love for Sunflower to play?

Jimmy: We actually just did one called Dirt Fest in Michigan. It was pretty cool, and included (hed) p.e. and Powerman 5000. I would love to do Mayhem Fest, or Ozzfest ~ if it ever came back. They have a lot of great festivals in Europe that I’d love to do, too.

FW: There are many elements of the music industry that outsiders and new bands tend to misinterpret or about which they have unreasonable expectations. What have you learned since being in the business?

Jimmy: The main thing is that it’s not as glorious as many people think. There’s a lot of hard work to put in ~ grinding. It can be tiring at times, but you’ve gotta work your butt off, help everybody, and be courteous to other bands ~ like getting on and off of the stage quickly. When I first started, at the end of a set, I’d get up, give people in the audience high fives, leaving the stage, but I learned pretty quickly that I couldn’t be the Rockstar, we actually had to immediately start packing things up.

Photo by Pure Sin Photography (cropped)

Photo by Pure Sin Photography (cropped)

 

FW: Any parting words for your fans?

Jimmy: Definitely. Thanks to everybody who keeps believing in us, all the fans cheering us on every day, writing all the positive messages to us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’ve had little contests for fans to win items, and they’ve really shown up and participated. Thanks to everyone out there for all your support.

 

Be sure to check out Sunflower Dead’s self-titled album and if you can, catch them on their tour with Powerman 5000 and (hed) p.e.

 

sunflowerdead.com

facebook.com/sunflowerdead

twitter.com/SUNFLOWERDEAD

 

One Comment

  1. I remember when we first seen you guys play in Idaho with In This Moment and met you. Very cool guys!!! Then you invited us to see you with Hell Yeah in Salt Lake City. Both awesome shows.. Sunflower Dead were awesome and stage present was high and intense…. Love you guys, you guys are awesome!

Leave a Comment