In Conversation with Sunny Gang, Part III

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 off their album, Party/Animal. Recently the band took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions about their musical experiences. (See the first part of this interview here and the second part here.)

What was the most mesmerizing musical experience of your life?
CHRIS BACCHUS: The most mesmerizing musical experience for me was seeing Lamb of God in early August. I dislocated my knee the first time I saw them, so there’s that. I felt like I was in a trance, and, mind you, I was completely sober. I felt every guitar riff enter my eardrums, then resonate through my whole body. Randy Blythe’s screams gave me chills and held me in a state similar to sleep paralysis. I don’t know what it was, but it was probably the devil (laughs).

JOE SAP: I wouldn’t call it “mesmerizing”, but Marsh, Bacchus, and I went down to Bonnaroo in 2014, and we saw The Orwells perform in a small tent stage that was meant to hold maybe 150 people, sitting on chairs and bean bags and stuff. Five hundred kids showed up ready to mosh.

Everything that wasn’t bolted down was being crowd surfed around: people, beanbags, chairs, possibly even a table. Then people started climbing the rafters, and there was serious concern that the whole thing was gonna collapse. It was pretty awesome to see a raw display of destruction at what is otherwise a pretty chill, laid back, super friendly and respectable festival.

I also recently saw Death Grips on their last tour, and that was an incredible display of musicianship. The guys performed at 150 percent intensity for an hour and a half straight, barely even stopping between songs. There was no introduction, no stage banter, nothing but a never-ending assault on the senses. There was barely even any light on the stage; most of the show was just backlit with these harsh red lights so all you saw were three silhouettes going apeshit.

NASTY NATE: Probably the time I did acid and listened to Pink Floyd’s “Time” and the entirety of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” I was seeing sounds and hearing colors. Pretty intense. Then I took a shower in the pitch black listening to “Have A Cigar,” and I could feel the vibrations in the water.

Has anything funny or strange happened to you in the recording studio or on the stage?
CHRIS BACCHUS: The first would be one of our first shows in Newark. We played a place called Hell’s Kitchen. It’s a dimly lit rock bar that occasionally has burlesque dancers to entertain the crowd. Luckily, the night we played was burlesque night. we’re hammering through Bloc Party and the dancer comes on stage right before I rip my solo. The solo hits and She’s going nuts. It was about this time that I decided to grind on her while I was shredding a pentatonic lick. I’m pretty sure my headstock was lodged between her ass cheeks, but hey, I guess That’s what guitar polish is for.

The second funny instance wasn’t exactly funny at the time, but It’s definitely humorous now. We were playing the Afropunk Battle of The Bands semi-finals and we were very into smashing guitars on stage. So toward the end of our set I destroyed a guitar by jumping into the crowd and taking swings at the floor with it.

After a few swings the guitar was completely dismantled. I went to pick up the guitar’s remnants, and as my hand was under the guitar Nate jumped into the air and stomped right on the guitar. As a result, I ended up with a broken middle finger. Damn … lead singers always want part of the action.

JOE SAP: I thought Bacchus breaking his finger was pretty fuckin? funny at the time. I’ll share a more recent story. Last weekend we played a show at this new underground spot in Newark called The Cage. Before we started our set proper, Bacchus, Marsh and I reeled the crowd in with a quick improvised punk riff while Nate introduced us.

This was a hometown show, of course, so the place was packed with homies who were ready to go nuts, and nuts they went almost immediately. Before we started our first actual song, I looked out into the crowd and in the already-forming mosh pit, a rapper named Hoddy who had opened the show up was spinning through the crowd swinging a sledgehammer that he had found sitting in the corner.

The show only got more ridiculous after that, with people hanging off the 15 foot ceilings, a wall of death, topless chicks dancing, blow-up dolls being thrown around and promptly destroyed, and just about any other kind of rock ?n? roll insanity you can imagine.

NASTY NATE: During our last performance at Battle of the Bands I set the crowd up to do a wall of death and there was this little girl who couldn’t have been older than five years old, who had been in the front dancing the whole time and she was standing in the space between the two sides. At that point it was too late to stop what was going to happen so the two sides came together when the beat dropped.

I don’t know what happened to that little girl, but in my head some superman came and snatched her at the last minute and saved her. I know she didn’t get hurt or anything or else we would have heard about it, so don’t think a little girl died at our show. Nonetheless it was pretty crazy.

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