A lot of good things have happened in the past two years for Dead Flowers. They've played many well-attended shows since their formation, and frontman Corey Howe had the honor of opening The Revival Tour last year at Trees.
This past Tuesday, Dead Flowers' debut album, For You, came out digitally, and they will play twice on Saturday to promote the physical CD. With a noontime set at CD Source and a headlining set at Three Links later in the evening, this is only the beginning for this promising four-piece.
Reflecting on the road the band has taken to get here, Howe and bassist Evan Johnson (who share a small East Dallas house with guitarist Vinnie Tuley) talk with a lot of smiles and laughs. The band's distinct sound has drawn a large and dedicated following. Neither confined to the boundaries of traditional country or blues, the band fits in well with brethren like J. Charles and the Trainrobbers, Quaker City Nighthawks and Somebody's Darling. "I feel like we're a part of a community of bands in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex where that's applicable," Johnson says. "They're rock and roll bands, but they have these great, blues-y country undertones that are there. They don't hide it; they don't try to shy away from it."
"The best thing is, this band is four completely different musicians," Howe says. Johnson has played a lot of jazz and hip-hop before, drummer Ed Chaney has played metal for a couple of decades, Tuley grew up playing jazz and the blues, and Howe is heavily influenced by Bob Dylan's early material. "I've been playing an acoustic guitar for so long, I don't know how to play quiet," Howe says.
And though the band's name is also a title of a Rolling Stones song, that's not where the band came up with the name. Howe has never gone on record with this before, but he was kind enough to share with us. After his grandfather passed away in 2006, Howe saved some flowers from the funeral in the visor of his car. One day, Howe was driving around Chicago and thinking about his grandfather. Randomly, he opened his visor and dead flower pedals came down on him. A little while later, Howe went to a show and saw a vase filled with dead flowers on the stage. Then and there, he thought Dead Flowers would be a perfect band name.
What really helped Dead Flowers get to where they are was a successful Kickstarter campaign that happened last September. Raising a little over their $7,000 goal, Howe and Johnson talk candidly about how they felt as the clock ticked towards their deadline. "The last few days of it were a little nerve-wracking," Johnson says. "We had some people who had come through with some pretty major contributions."
"All in all, it was certainly a positive experience," Howe adds. "I almost threw up when it finished."
Offering rewards like digital and physical copies of For You, koozies, recording exclusive songs, an exclusive T-shirt, and cooking a meal, Dead Flowers have treated their fans right. (After this interview, Howe was going to whip up a supper for some kind folks who contributed more than $150.) The Kickstarter fund paid for the recording, mixing, mastering, and manufacturing of For You, as well as their merch. They even had some leftover money for a van they hope to buy in the near future.
Helping with getting the band's name out there with For You is Erv Karwelis, owner of the acclaimed local label, Idol Records. Howe and Karwelis had been in contact before the band formed and Howe was just a solo act. Karwelis was impressed by a Dead Flowers' set at the Prophet Bar one night and he wanted to help with the release of For You. Since the band already paid for the printing of their CDs and establishing their digital presence, Idol is helping spread the word through licensing for commercials and TV shows. "That's what he's good at," Howe says of Karwelis's proven track record. While Howe doesn't want to say where you'll hear their songs in commercials or TV shows, there is considerable interest from people in charge of licensing.
The songs on For You sound just like live because they were played live before they were recorded. Whiskey-fueled twang with ripping blues shuffles, songs like "I Won't Go" and "My Love" are some of the stand-outs. "It's definitely the meat of our live shows, currently, and kinda the heart of what we've been playing for the last year and a half," Johnson says.
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And if you've seen the band as a five-piece in the past, let it be known that former guitarist Tony Webb is still a friend of the band and welcome to join them onstage anytime. "He couldn't tour, essentially, [because] we want to be a touring band," Howe says. "He's got a career and we wish him the best," Johnson says. "He's been an integral part for getting us where we are."
Touring is definitely on the band's mind right now and they regularly play new songs in their set. Their second record is almost halfway written, and they want to play more out-of-town shows, as well as play bigger shows in the DFW area. They've played Tulsa and Austin to great crowds, and they're trying to set up shows in Los Angeles. Essentially, enjoy this band while they're here in town. "I would die if we're not on the road in the next six months," Howe says. "I think I will die. If not, I will be in jail."