In Conversation with with Sunny Gang, Part II

Sunny Gang is a lively thrash-punk-rap outfit based in New York, known for inspired (and inspiring) rap with a zealous rock ambience. Fronted by rapper Nasty Nate, other members include Chris Bacchus on guitar, Joe Sap on bass, and Marshal on drums. Sunny Gang just released “Godzilla“, a single from their album, Party/Animal. Recently the band took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions about their instruments, musical educations, and Nasty Nate’s real degree of nastiness.

What’s your favourite instrument to play and why?
CHRIS BACCHUS: My favorite instrument is my 2005 Paul Reed Smith Custom 22. It’s got a super-fast fretboard, which allows me to shred with ease. It’s great for live shows because It’s light and doesn’t feel like you have a cinder block on your shoulders. It’s an extremely versatile guitar that has me set from deathcore to reggae.

JOE SAP: My main weapon of choice is a black Ibanez Gio SoundGear GSR200. It’s a pretty cheap bass with active pickups, solid tone control and a bass boost built in that comes in handy when I need to give my sound a little more oomf on stage. I’ve played Gibsons and Fenders but I really like the way this thing sounds; I get a real nice mid-range punch out of it and the highs feel warm and fuzzy without sacrificing any power on the low end. Ibanez makes some really solid instruments, especially for live use, and I run into a lot of other bassists using this exact same model. I’ve thrown this bass at the end of a few particularly wild shows and It’s held up surprisingly well.

MARSHAL: I could care less about drums. As long as they’re strong and loud, I’m happy. However, I’m definitely a cymbal snob. I exclusively play Zildjian cymbals (my first cymbal was a 16″ Zildjian Scimitar Crash). Twelve years later my whole cymbal setup consists of 14″ Zildjian Rock Hats, a 20″ Zildjian K-Ride, both 19″ and 20″ Zildjian A-Custom crashes, and even an 18″ Zildjian ZXT China that I use to record. Above all else, my 20″ A-Custom is my favorite. It’s so dynamic and has so much character. I’ve had it for 10 years and even though It’s all cracked and chipped, It’s still the best sounding cymbal in my arsenal. I truly treasure that cymbal and loathe the day of its final performance.

NASTY NATE: I don’t play too many instruments nowadays but my favorite guitar that I ever played was a ?64 Gibson SG. The action was as low as it could go without buzzing and the double cutouts make it fun to play in the upper octaves.

What was your most beneficial educational experience? What or who in your training had the most?and best?influence on you, as a musician, a composer, and a human being?
CHRIS BACCHUS: My dad has definitely given me the most beneficial educational experience. In the early days of my guitar playing I always used to tell him how I wanted to play on stage and make a name for myself. He put it into perspective for me and said, “Stop with all the hypotheticals; actually go out and conquer it. Stop saying you want to be this and you want to be that, go get it or you’ll never achieve it.” Those stern words helped me in the world of being a musician and composer. If you want something you have to put forth full effort to get it. Hoping and wishing won’t get you anywhere; this goes for any scenario in life.

JOE SAP: GG Allin was a man with a dream, and dammit, he did whatever it took to achieve it! But in all seriousness, I’ve learned a lot from my dad, and our boss and mentor at the Rutgers-Newark recording studio, Eric Johnson.

MARSHAL: For me, there have been a couple of significant educators along the way. Firstly, there’s David Grace. Dave is a long-time friend and former roommate of mine who is a couple years older than me. So when I first joined the marching band in middle school, he was the drumline captain. He was a great drummer, leader, and instructor, but more importantly he taught me the invaluable lesson of how to have fun with my instrument. He’s since slowed down with the drumming, but every time I get behind the kit, I just try to have half as much fun as Davo has.

Second off, there’s Mark Griffen. Mark was my drum teacher at Sweetest Sounds all throughout high school. Unlike any other teacher I had, Mark liked to concentrate more on dynamic techniques rather than showmanship. I’m a definite reflection of that kind of learning.

I’m not a “great” drummer and my parts are relatively simple, but I’ve learned to intuitively create “awesome” drum arrangements by simply concentrating on dynamic control over something that I may find intrusive? yeah, he made me a music snob. Most significantly though, are my parents Walter and Cheryl (aka C-Nigs). They’ve not only taught me how to conquer the fears and doubts I’ve experienced, but also provided me with the confidence necessary to embrace those same uncertainties and seize them for their infinite opportunities. I truly can’t thank them enough. Oh, and Satan! He taught me how to be Gnar; big ups to Satan.

NASTY NATE: Probably my HS band teacher. He drilled me a lot with reading music and understanding rhythmic patterns as I was mostly a snare drummer, but That’s helped a lot in rapping in terms of coming up with different rhythms for my deliver and being able to ride the drum beat.

How Nasty is Nasty Nate, really?
CHRIS BACCHUS: He’s pretty nasty. He used to share a room with Marshal and all hell broke loose. One night, Nate was sleepwalking and whipped his wiener out on a mortified Marshal. Nate was about two seconds away from pissing on Marshal’s face. Marshal hopped out of bed and pushed Nate in another direction. I’m like 90 percent sure that Nate ended up pissing all over his room that night. This dude really gave his room a golden shower. But if we’re talking hygiene I think Sap is way “nastier” than Nate. Sorry Sap.

JOE SAP: There is a reason I call myself Puke Ellington on Twitter?

MARSHAL: Dude’s a savage.

NASTY NATE: I think I’m pretty nasty on the mic. I got it from Nasty Nas so it doesn’t have to be literal. So IDK how nasty I am literally, but I do know that I can rip a mic. I’m also a pretty nasty chef but That’s like an oxymoron cuz by that I mean I make bangin? ass food. It’s like when you see a pitcher throw a nasty curve ball or a RB make a nasty juke move. It just means like, “that was so good. You don’t see that a lot.”
(To be continued.)

Wanda also writes the blog The Mindful Bard:The Care and Feeding of the Creative Self.