Burning It Down: An Interview With Sunny Gang

Another unsigned band we just had to introduce our readers to is Sunny Gang. They filled us in on what it was like creating their own genre, their two-part latest release, the EP they plan on releasing this year, and more.

Band members:

Chris Bacchus: Guitar.

Joe Sap: Bass.

Marshal: Drums.

Nate: Vocals.

Where are you from?

Bacchus: The band is based out of Newark, but I’m from Clarksburg, New Jersey.

Sap: I’m from Red Bank.

Marshal: Wallington, NJ.

Nate: Roselle, NJ        .

How long have you been a band/artist and how did you get started?

Bacchus: We’ve been a band since February 2012. I met Nate and Marshal at a Rutgers-Newark frat party where we were battle rapping. One thing led to another and we all realized we had a common interest in music. We recorded our first song, “Jack and Blunts,” in Marshal’s dorm room. The track lacked a bass line, so we recruited Lord Sapienza and the glorious (atrocious) Sunny Gang was born.

Sap: I’d been working in the campus recording studio with Nate on some music for his first mixtape when he brought Marsh and Bacchus in to record “Jack and Blunts.” I’d been playing the bass for a while, so when they said they needed somebody, I jumped at the chance to get involved. The rest is history, or something like that.

Marshal: Holy shit, we’ve been a band for five years?!? It feels like yesterday that I was fighting the Rutgers Housing Board over constant noise complaints…

Ok, so Nate and I lived one floor apart from each other in the freshman dorms at Rutgers. He rapped, I kicked beats, we both partied; we knew we had to make something together. Instead, we spent our whole freshman year talking about making music together but I honestly never really did anything about it.

That following summer I volunteered to help move the freshmen into their dorms so I could move myself back onto campus early. Sure as shit, I see this one freshman rocking a Snapback, a skateboard and a guitar, and just knew I had to talk to him about possibly putting some kind of band together with Nate and I. That same night, the three of us all wound up at the same frat party and… that’s just about where Bacchus’ and Sap’s stories pick up.

Bacchus: Damn… I thought Marshal was a creep the first time I met him. Now, I’m hearing that he was stalking me during my freshman move-in. Always go with that gut feeling, y’all!

Nate: I always wanted to be a rapper since I was like 12, but I’ve always been interested in all genres of music. Growing up, I never thought starting a band would be a possibility, but when I got to college I met some dope musicians and we were able to put everything together and make Sunny Gang.

How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard you before?

Sap: A less perpetually angry Rage Against The Machine with a drinking problem.

Bacchus: Sap hit this one on the head. We basically trim the fat and combine hardcore, punk, hip-hop and reggae. It’s laden with riffs and grooves; the music really gets your head bobbing.

Marshal: Ughhhh, this question…

I’m gonna go with “Punk Rap.” When you tell someone that you play in a Punk Rap band they’re either immediately turned off or wildly intrigued… Either way, we’ve never really tried to sell ourselves on a genre. We play what we play because WE love it. If other people are feelin’ it too and gettin’ down with the gang, well shit man, that’s the jackpot!

Nate: It’s aggressive. Everything from the riffs, to the rapping, to the drums. The instrumentation has a punk, metal, hardcore feel to it, but the vocal cadences usually gives our music a hip hop feel also. It’s also very eclectic, so every song is different and draws inspiration from different genres.

What was your latest release of music and can you talk about that a bit?

Sap: Our most recent release was our debut album Party/Animal, which came out back in April. It was kind of the culmination of everything we’d done as a band up to that point. The album is split in halves, almost like an A Side/B Side thing, with Side A being “Party”, all of the fun dumb songs about getting wasted and being a shiftless millennial and all that, while the “Animal” side is a bit darker and angrier in tone and focuses more on the politics and injustices that exist in modern society. We definitely learned a lot about the writing/recording process as we went through making that record, but more importantly it taught us a lot about who we are as a band and what works best for us, which is something we’ve constantly kept in mind as we’ve been working on our next release.

We also shot a video for the song “Burn It Down” from Party/Animal, which we were super excited to release through Hardcore Worldwide’s YouTube channel. We shot it in an abandoned warehouse/graffiti writer hangout right off Rt. 21 in Newark, and we had a friend of ours do a bunch of stuff on the walls that pertains to the lyrics of the song. And we had Marsh’s brother Matt breathing fire! So definitely go check that out.

Nate: I think Party/Animal did a good job of combining all of the musical elements that we’re inspired by. In the end we got this really dope unique sound. I haven’t found anyone out there who someone can point to and say “they sound like Sunny Gang”. It definitely feels like we’re creating our own genre or niche.

Bacchus: I see Party/Animal as an experimental record. We spanned many different genres in 30 minutes. After the initial release, we were able to pinpoint what aspects of Sunny Gang that people gravitated towards. The record truly showcased our strongest qualities; however, it also showcased some of our shortcomings. Each release is a lesson for the band.

What is your writing and recording process like?

Bacchus: I’ll bring in a few riffs that flow together and the band critiques them. Once, we get a cohesive mixture, we jam the song till we’re pretty much sick of it. As of recently, we’ve been coming up with songs right on the spot. At first, I was terrible at recording. I couldn’t stay in time and it was an immense challenge. Our recording process now is quick and easy. We start with a rough demo to make sure the song is ready to go before we head to a professional recording studio. Once we’re in the recording studio, we’re focused and know the ins and outs of each track.

Marshal: Our writing process is analogous to blindly shooting at a dart board with the intention of hitting three consecutive bullseyes. As impossible as it seems (and often feels), our secret in success is that we’re all actually master dart shooters with a virtually infinite supply of darts.

What are current projects you are working on? (Upcoming shows/tour? New music?)

Sap: Currently we’ve been kicking around ~12 new song ideas that we’re planning to distill down to a six-ish track EP called Ball Drop. That’ll hopefully be coming out this summer. We’ve also got a bunch of performances coming up. We’ll be playing at The Crossroads in Garwood on Saturday, February 4th, at Makin Waves’ “Super Bowl Of Bands.” We’re playing with a bunch of great bands from all over the state, and they’re raffling off a signed NFL jersey and donating a cut of the door to support the Embrace Kids Foundation, that should be sick. The other thing to keep an eye out for is our very first television appearance on BRIC’s B-Side, which will be airing live on February 16th at 8 pm. Check out http://bkindiemedia.BRICartsmedia.org/ for more info on that and where to watch it and all that.

Marshal: We dropped the ball, society has dropped the ball, our President-elect is actually handing the ball over to the other team? The New Year ball just dropped… How could we not name our next project Ball Drop?

I believe with this new project, our intention is to exhibit a unique but uniform identity for Sunny Gang. As mentioned above, we literally split our last album into two parts to best represent the inconsistent duality of combating societal shortcomings through reckless indulgences, something we feel is indicative to our generation’s overt disposition as a whole. With this go-around, I think we all feel the urgent need to send a more concise message that can unify and motivate not only ourselves, but our audience as well. The ball’s been dropped, so now is the time we truly need the team to rally.

What are your goals for the future as a band/artist?

Bacchus: As a guitarist, I want to take the necessary steps towards becoming a developed jazz player. I’m very interested in pursuing all different genres of music. For the past few months, some good friends and I have been working on a metallic-hardcore project called, Player Hater. We plan to record our demo during the last few weeks of January with our homie Len Carmichael at Landmine Studios in Ewing. As far as Sunny Gang goes, I definitely can’t wait to start recording our new EP. I’m also looking forward to playing a lot of shows this year. Hopefully, we can get out there and tour the whole country in 2017. For the Gang, progression is key and as long as we keep taking the next step, I’ll be hyped!

Sap: Getting this new music written and put out is priority #1. So mostly everything that goes with that, from writing and recording, to figuring out artwork, shooting videos to go with it, finding somewhere to release everything. That can be a really time consuming process. Once that’s all squared away, tour the hell out of it! I really want to do a run down south next. We just went out to California for the first time back in September, and we’re dying to go back and rage with all the awesome friends we made out there.

Marshal: Content. Content. Content. If we’re making new music, pushing boundaries and honing our talents, then the goal is being met.

Oh, and more free drink tickets.

On what music platforms can readers find your music?

YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, Google Play, you name it, we’re on there. Be sure to check YouTube for the video for our song “Burn It Down”! Shout out to Hardcore Worldwide! Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @SunnyGangMusic and Instagram at @sunnygang.


Sunny Gang will be performing at “The Super Bowl Of Jersey Bands” at Crossroads in Garwood, NJ on Feb 4.