Love Dies, Music Blooms: Local ‘sad-boy’ alternative R&B trio deadflower makes live debut with EP release

Heartbreak has inspired some of the best songs of all time. It’s also pushed artists through some of the roughest moments and led to the greatest growth of their careers. 

So when the three guys in new Grand Rapids group deadflower found themselves reeling from the demise of their respective romantic relationships, they didn’t dwell on the end. They looked at it as a new beginning.

“We decided on (the name) deadflower because it hits close to home with our past relationships,” guitarist/vocalist Dustin Lantz told Revue. “They may be dead now, but you can still find the beauty in them.”

Drummer Caleb Gillis (also of hardcore bands Blithe and Discontent) joined up with former Drifter vocalist Mitch Stora-Quintanilla after the two met while having drinks with Gabe Barham of popular post-hardcore band Sleeping With Sirens. Stora-Quintanilla shared a demo he’d been working on, and Gillis dug the new sound of the lovelorn songs.

“This project is vastly different from what we have worked on in the past,” Gillis said.

Likewise, when Lantz (formerly of The Active Inspire and She Screams of Royalty) heard the demo on Christmas day last year, he wanted to be a part of the new project and help bring a new sound to the local music scene.

“We definitely wanted to stand out and shake things up a bit,” Stora-Quintanilla said. “I feel like what we are doing is different from a lot of artists right now and we’re pushing our music pretty hard to get as many eyes on us as possible.”

The group cites acts like emo rappers blackbear and Nothing,Nowhere as reference points, and takes influence from a long history of music, including John Coltrane, Big Gigantic, Mac Miller and Rage Against The Machine. With those shared interests, deadflower began to develop Stora-Quintanilla’s self-described “sad boy” aesthetic with a harder and more dynamic sound.

“It seems like a lot of bands these days are just trying to be as heavy as possible,” Stora-Quintanilla said. “We obviously love that music, but wanted to bring something new to the table that people could also enjoy.”

Stora-Quinanilla started piano lessons at the age of five and has been writing ever since. Now 23, he’s a scene veteran from his days as frontman for GR metalcore outfit Drifter. Gillis started playing drums at 12 years old, and has spent the past decade taking his music increasingly more seriously, while Lantz has played guitar since he was 10.

Now a brand-new band set to play its first show on Aug. 3 at The Stache, the trio hopes to blossom into its own with its live show and the release of its debut EP, XO

For the EP they started last December and finished in May, the group worked with producer Nick Scott, who helped develop the band’s sound in his home studio.

“He had a big part in making our sound what it is today,” Lantz said of working with Scott, who both produced and co-wrote the five-song EP.

“We’ve got a lot more ahead of us this year for sure,” Gillis said. “We plan on releasing more music, which is different than what we’re about to put out.  We’ve been in touch with some fairly well-known names to help us get the ball rolling. We’ve got another show booked at one of our favorite venues in Grand Rapids that we’re super excited for this fall. Don’t worry, deadflower is just getting started.”

XO EP Release Party
wsg. The Rays, The Native, CHOFF
The Stache (inside The Intersection)
133 Grandville Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Aug. 3, 6:30 p.m., $10