Locals Only: Jukai

Hardcore is a wild concept that very few people rarely ever grasp. Typically, this genre’s viciously driven music and the general sentiments against reality is more than enough to stray the common listener. Who’s to blame though? Fuck, the first hardcore matinee I ever went to resulted in one’s fist fist sending my face well into next week. Oddly enough, that feeling was enjoyable in such a sadistic manner. Pain is but a gift of our humanity. Yes, torment and enduring misery may contest against that notion but without it, how could one ever feel joy, happiness, or love?

That four point blow only solidified my decision to keep pushing towards a selfless acceptance based on my own individualism while developing an understanding of what is often a mysterious and clouded genre. Respect, integrity, and free expression are common attributes within hardcore and because of those simple beliefs, it has housed generations of artists, musicians, writers, and people to openly express themselves. An expression that liberates the individual from the negative implication of one’s own existentialism. This is an outlet that allows both an escape and solution to much of our world’s problems.

For those that frequent dingy basements, commutative halls, and even the occasional theater or venue, this is a place where one can seek both asylum and peace from life’s woeful misery.

There is no age gap or requirement in order to be a part of such a community. As cliche the notion may be, a person’s gender, race, nationality, religion or political affiliation is of no concern within this impassioned taste of music. In fact, it acts genuinely as a haven or sanctuary for those that have a difficult time in accepting or conforming with society’s constantly depraving standards. So long of course, that an individual’s affiliations or character is not aligned with opinions of hate or indifference against others. The point here is this; there is no age restriction or prerequisite to get into hardcore so long as your interest and involvement is purely an honest attempt that only betters you and the ones around you. This is hardcore baby, and there ain’t no fucking winners here.

Take for example, the Long Island based hardcore unit, Jukai. A prominent act within the New York circuit that has toured extensively while developing a prodigious fan base through their sinister style. Each one of these members has to balance both the demanding aspects of their day to day life and a hardcore project that requires everything from their heart and soul.

These are but young men starting their adult lives as teachers, engineers, civil leaders, and hard working, boots and nails members of society. They are all dedicated to their professional roles and personal devotions that lead in prospering the community around them. At the same damn time, these gents sacrifice their spare time to write, record, and tour on the unremorsefully subsumed music better known as Jukai.

Devoid of Hope was their latest release and pays true testament to their influences of Long Island hardcore such as Cipher or Silent Majority. The darkened sensibility and nefariously gritty tone is what should stand out the most upon first listen. Jukai is in itself its own entity that plays as an easily identifiable sound that leaves very little room of confusing.

This is a band that knows how to perform a set that captivates the viewer in believing they are a goddamn train hell bent on ruination. Why not? Speaking that is of course the resentful anger inherent with any one person that sees humanity for what it is truly worth. War, famine, genocide, and the overall sense of destruction, death, and despair is the very evil nature of our species. Yes, we are all capable of producing communities based on morally sound and ethically well built ideologies. The only problem is that it seems we leave more of a stain on this world than we do cleaning it up. Shit, the fact that we are playing clean up verus maintaining or even preventing is beyond comprehension. These facets of humanity’s wicked presence is congenital within Jukai as their vocalized demeanor but only proclaims life’s tragedies towards its audience.

Right now you can stream or download their latest endeavor which is a split record with Recycled Earth that was dropped thanks to Reconsider Records, a L.I. based record label focused on hardcore, punk, and metal bangers from bands such as High Card and Separated have been dropped by this label. Anyway, we had the chance to grab a few words from Zach Barnett (frontman) on the nature, status, and overall future of Jukai in an intimate interview below. Check it out and be mindful of the stream of gigs they will be performing this summer.

Interview with Frontman, Zach Barnett

HW: Jukai has been on one hell of a run within the last year. Since Devoid of Hope was released, how has the project grown?

Zach Barnett: Since Devoid of Hope has dropped, we’ve been lucky enough to play many different places and some really cool fests. Thanks to Mass Movement and Reconsider Records, our music has been exposed to more people. It really baffles me that we get to play out more and experience new opportunities as a band. We’ve played with bands that I’ve never imagined playing with and have been to places I’ve never thought we’d go to as a band.

We started in 2012 just to play music and have fun. We’ve all been going to shows for probably ten or more years now so we never pictured being able to do any of this stuff. Being able to do all of this with your best friends is the most amazing feeling in the world. We’d love to tour more often, but unfortunately we all work a lot. I’m the only person who gets long breaks from work because I teach in NYC. Steve is in a labor union and always works nights, Fee is a social worker, Beshaw is a mechanic, and Ian works and goes to school doing some crazy engineering shit. I have no clue what he’s explaining to me half the time. He’s a superhuman. Kind of scary.

HW: On a personal level, the lyrical and musical pairment of One Life Not Wasted, a blistering track off of the Recycled Earth split, rings as an emotionally conquering jam. The lyrics upon a fan’s impression is that of comprehending loss and love. Death is but an uphill battle between hope and the will to continue on without. Would you care to explain this track’s meaning?

ZB: One Life Not Wasted is about Danny from Cipher, a Long Island hardcore band that’s been together since the late 90s. He was a karate instructor, surfer, and teacher. He was edge and a great role model. We both lived in Long Beach, NY, which is a city that is south of Nassau County towns on Long Island. He was my math teacher and growing up, I’ve always listened to Cipher.

He asked me to join the band in 2009 and we did a bunch of shows with a tour in 2010. He took me under his wing and was a real role model to me. Getting to the point, the song is about losing someone who had a real impact on the world. I think real wealth and happiness derives from being able to make the world a better place and influence others in a positive way. That’s something that Danny did. Amazing people die all the time, but somehow the shittiest of the shit people wind up living until they are 100 years old. So the song is a mixture of emotions. It’s an ode to him and a fuck you to all the garbage humans in the world.

HW: This Long Island based outfit has had the opportunity to grace various
festivals and scenes throughout the country. What has been one of the more memorable experiences for you while fronting Jukai?

ZB: There’s been so many amazing experiences we’ve had in such a short period time. It’s really difficult to choose one. We played FYA twice and it was amazing each time. Bob Wilson is the man for getting us down there. Being able to play with Indecision, Merauder, and Billy Club was insane.

Blistered took us on a tour last summer and every show was a blast. Playing in a 300 degree room on top of a tire shop in Miami with them and Drawing Last Breath was pretty memorable.

We just got back from UB and that was crazy. So we’re really grateful for that as well. I guess if I had to choose one experience that really struck me I’d say it would be going out to California to play. We got to play at the Program, which is a sick skate shop/record store. We also played For the Kids Fest, which was incredible. I think just the fact that we got to play on the other end of the country and people actually seemed to enjoy our music enough to watch us was memorable enough. We played a library in Ventura with Dead Heat, Vamachara, Iron Curtain, Hands of God, and Year of the Knife. It got pretty wild. I think that was the best gig we had out there!

HW: Long Island has consistently delivered phenomenal acts throughout nearly every range of music. What is it about your scene that just separates itself from other walks of life?

ZB: Three of us grew up in Long Beach, NY, which is a barrier island off the coast of Nassau County. There was nothing in our city, except for a really small punk scene. Other than Cipher, the only other hardcore band from Long Beach was Blood on the Horizon. In middle school we’d play in basements and firehouses with bands like The Ergs!, John Stamos Project, and Solidarity Pact.

When we first started going to shows, we didn’t really know anyone other than each other for the most part. I think that after going to shows for a while, people warm up to each other from seeing one another around all the time and knowing that they aren’t bullshit kids who attend shows for a year and then fall off the face of the earth. I think that Long Island has an amazing scene as it stemmed from bands that played years ago and kids have been carrying the torch ever since.

Huge bands like Brand New, Glassjaw, and Taking Back Sunday came from LI, but I think it’s all stems from hardcore. Bands that have been playing when I was still shitting my pants and watching Barney are responsible for making this place what it is today in terms of music. We’re blessed to have a rich history of musical acts like Gorilla Biscuits, VOD, and Kill Your Idols.

I’d say that the one band that really embodies Long Island is Silent Majority. They are my favorite band to ever come out of Long Island and one of my favorite bands ever. I was lucky enough to catch their reunions last summer that they did for Rob from Capital (another amazing Long Island band). I never thought I’d ever get to see them. I may be dramatic but I think it was nothing short of magical and anyone who attended would agree. But honestly, I think what the real underlying cause for Long Island having amazing bands is the water. New York has some of the best tap water in the United States.

HW: How would you say Jukai views humanity? Is this a negative or positive reflection upon our world?

ZB: I don’t think we all have one agreeable view of humanity. We can’t even agree on when to practice or what the set list will be without yelling at each other. We’re all best friends and I think that’s what makes it tough. The lyrical content varies in terms of experiences I’ve had and how I feel about certain issues. I guess our view of humanity would be more negative than anything.

HW: Where can people catch you this spring and summer? Plans to tour or just going to keep it local?

ZB: April 29th in Wallingford, Connecticut with Laid 2 Rest, Trail of Lies, Recycled Earth, Forced Out, and Mourned. That’s gonna be a wild show. Connecticut gets pretty crazy.

May 9th in Farmingdale at Theatre 294 with King Nine, Regulate, God’s Hate, and The Fight. It’s a pretty awesome, new venue that Paba was able to lock down.

May 20th: The Bowery Electric with CRO MAGS, Retaliation (a Carnivore tribute), Lion’s Cage, Egodestroys, and Sid Da Kid. It’s a pre show for BNB. We’re stoked.

May 27th: Wild Fest, a benefit for Rob from Capital’s family. It’s gonna be a blast. We get to play with Somerset Thrower, which is one of my favorite Long Island bands out right now.

July 28th: THIS IS HARDCORE at the Electric Factory. The whole day is packed with amazing bands like Racetraitor and Martyr AD. That whole weekend is going to be bananas. As friends, we’d travel to Philly during the summers to watch the bands and party. We never thought we’d have the chance to actually play this fest. It’s unreal and we’re beyond grateful to Joe and everyone who is putting it together.

Also, the Thursday of TIHC, catch the Cipher reunion and all of Long Island, Pittsburgh, Albany, and other random older gentlemen flipping their shit.

HW: Last words before we close this one up?

ZB: Shout out to Long Island Hardcore, pizza, bagels, that big ass Duck, Scanlon, Christopher Albin, and H8B

Threat 2 Society Premier Music Video for “Merchants of Death”

Upon returning home from the military, Threat 2 Society was one of the first local acts that I have had the privilege of becoming both a fan and friend with. All possible bias opinions aside, Threat is a band that is quite underappreciated within hardcore as of late. This is an impressive act that centralizes its philosophies on life towards the social and political injustices that are inherent throughout our country. Instead of vocalizing individualistic concerns through their music, they yearn to help liberate their listeners perspectives from all the clout and misinformation that our society produces.

The featured song, Merchants of Death, is the very essence of claiming the title of being a “punk hardcore” band. It addresses varying concerns through our problematic society, as much of what we are told is both inherently used as oppressive gains by the elite and clouded by a veil of harrowing mystery. We are living in turbulent times and because of that, only specific groups within our overall population will ever see their rights fully upheld. This society has placed us within a specific social contact where one either has signatory rights or beneficiary privileges. Should neither of those be inherent within your life, than you’d be thrown to the wayside due to marginalized contentions.

If you haven’t already, check out T2$’s latest record, Ground Zero, over at their Bandcamp. Once, again thank you to the boys in Threat and be sure to catch them live this spring!. Until next time…

Interview with Frontman, Chris Russo

HW: This video is filled with symbolism and meaningful thought about our inherently corrupt society. Generally speaking, on the governmental level. Would you care to explain the nature of Threat’s first music video?

We decided to do a video for Merchants of Death, and I was trying to show a story of how shit really started to change after 9/11. Everyone is so quick to brush it under the rug, or believe the official story. That’s why in the video I am walking around observing people being in a state of slumber, so to say. I went to a bunch of places in the city to get shots including the stock exchange, Trump Tower, and the 1 World Trade Center. Then we had live footage, and incorporated war footage into the video. The song is about politicians and people in power starting wars based on lies. I wanted to show that no matter who is, or was going to get in office, the same tyranny was going to continue.

No matter if it was a republican or a democrat, there’s always going to be false flag attacks and fabrications to try and gain control, cause that is the endgame for these evil people that are responsible for all this chaos around the world.

At the end of the video I rip the blindfold off to represent an awakening to all the bullshit.

HW: What’s on the agenda for Threat this spring and summer?

CR: As far as the spring goes we have a few shows lined up. April 19th we are playing with Incited, Dismal Dream, Bruise, and Push. We have a short tour in the works for memorial day so as far as summer goes, we are looking to do a week or two either down to Florida or over to Texas.

Other than that, we have been writing. We will be incorporating a new song into our set list at our next few shows.

We take our time writing so nothing sounds forced, and we put out stuff that we think is good, so as far as any new recordings? Look for something mid-summer.

HW: Anything else before we let you go?

CR: Thanks as always!

Locals Only: Grievance

The New Jersey hardcore scene is in a prolific state these days. Everyone and their mother wants to start a project and to hit the circuit with everything they have. All in hopes that they have some talent that either breaks the mold or leads to cheap popularity. As much as I’d love to sit here and say the artistic expression people cultivate into creating music is a great thing, it is also bares a fair share of annoyances. This can be due to a plethora of reasons. For one, the egotistical and “rock star” driven need for fame, money, and cheap popularity that some people desire could easily ruin what ever talent or credit they deserved or had. Especially when it comes to hardcore, there’s no winners in this game baby.

Furthermore, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing bands rush or half ass their projects. Don’t get it twisted, get in the basement and start whatever the fuck it is you wish to do. Just take the time and due diligence to create something worthy of your true self. Dig deep through the heartaches and pleasure within your soul in order to give it what you have. These convictions were exactly what the boys in Grievance had in mind when forming this project.

Grievance is a four piece hardcore unit out of New Jersey that features members of several long standing acts including; Hold Your Ground, Existence, and even Depreciator, which is currently active and slated to tour this spring. This project isn’t here to change the game so don’t expect these guys to give a damn about your expectations. However, should you happen to expect violently discharging riffs and hauntingly passionate lyricism? You’ll be pleased to know those prerequisites have been properly met.

Let Grievance’s first demo stand as a promising first release filled with aggressive timbres and vengeful themes of self loathing and social distaste of one’s environment. It’s not easy living where we are from. This is not to take away from other walks of life that may be subjected to worse standards of living but it is to say that New Jersey most definitely has the capability to chew you up and swallow you whole.

Grievance is but a collection of lives that have all been through torment and despair. Only through listening to this demo can one have a chance to understand or relate to these guys.
If you haven’t already clicked play or took the time of day to listen, than do it. Especially when life feels meaningless or in ruins.

All photography is courtesy & all rights reserved: Trevor Novatin

Interview with Charlie (Bassist)

HEAD WALK: This heavy hitting act has not one, but two well seasoned vocalists. When it comes to writing lyricism, is this a joint task between Ryan and you? Furthermore, can we expect a bigger dynamic of you two screaming on Grievance?

Charlie: First and foremost thank you for reaching out to ask if you questions. Anytime you have even a small group of people interested in what you have to say, it’s always a good feeling. As far as the lyrical content goes,I really wanted to let Ryan breathe on this. At least for this first EP. Really wanted the lyrical content to be his own brain child. Throughout the recording process I tweaked words and played with vocal placement, but that was about it.

Everyone has a lot to say so I was excited to hear what Ryan had to say. As far as the future, you can 150% expect more of a dynamic between the two of us…shit, even the three of us. If anyone knows me they know I dabble with vocals a little so it would be a blast.

HW: The beatdown style of hardcore is making a swift resurgence as its popularity is high on the rise. Why would this be and how does this project separate itself from the others?

C: Oh God, the dreaded genre question. This is the type a question you can answer and you are going to piss off at least 50% of the people reading it. If anyone has listened to my previous band Existence, they would know that we were well-rounded as far as styles when it wasn’t a matter of trying to come out in a specific genre. We wrote music on how we liked the chord progression or the riff, we went with it and if we didn’t, we kept writing until we did. This project follows the same math.

Now, about that the resurgence you were talking about, I think there’s one giant misconception about the beatdown/slam resurgence that people are talking about. Mostly being that the bands they are referring to as beatdown/slam aren’t actually either of those. Just because you use “” in a “breakdown”, does not make you beatdown nor does riding the bell make you slam.

But, I do appreciate that vibe of music coming back. I think it has a lot to do with other bands doing reunions while allowing younger cats in being introduced to music they normally wouldn’t. I would NOT, let me repeat, NOT consider us a “beatdown band.” Those elements might show up in our songs simply because the main creator of our music (Moke) tends to listen to that stuff on the regular. As far as what separates us, I don’t necessarily think we are trying to separate ourselves. There is a vibe to our songs that touches base on a few different genres. We want it to flow. That’s about as much thought pertaining to how we sound..

HW: At best, hardcore houses a controlled state of chaos. Violence is inevitable and pain is expected. There was a time when nearly every venue would either get shut down or end up refusing to host hardcore gigs. Now that we are older and have seen the best and worst outcomes of shows, where do you see the line being drawn? Or should there even be one?

C: I’m going to speak for myself here and by no means am I condoning someone going into a venue with a chainsaw or doing windmills cutting off people’s limbs. But hardcore was about no lines, except obviously things like racism and homophobia and ignorant things of that nature. Yet, it was a place that you could come and go as you please. Like you have a really shitty work week or a really shitty week at school so you just show up to a venue and let loose.

Be yourself, breathe deep, let it out, go home, and do it all over again. Are there people who take it too far? I’m sure. So, instead of making a shitty Facebook post about it or a lame tweet, pull the person aside and have an adult conversation. In my years of doing this I have seen some wild shit (laughs). “Hardcore” is for anyone but at the same time it’s not for everyone.

HW: The five track self titled EP is a solid demo that seems to captivate the overall idea of Grievance. How was the production of this record?

C: This is the easiest question to answer, our guitarist Moke is an animal. Besides dealing with the real life and day-to-day stuff, he balances multiple bands alongside this project. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that music is saving this dude’s life. I could only imagine what not being able to get these thoughts out must feel like and the fact he is able to balance three bands while having enough material that sounds different between the three of them shows to me he’s got a lot going on. I’m glad that I can be a part of one third of his creative and liberating process.

HW: What’s on the plate for the rest of the year? Any plans for a full length and if so, what studios are you looking at?

C: Hell yeah music, music, music. That’s really what this project is all about. We are all getting a little older so it’s just nice to have an outlet. I always joke about being like a hip-hop artist for the fact Moke is constantly writing and sending new material. It’s almost as if he has an endless well of material.

The last part of this question is a tricky one as it’s kind a hard to justify going to a studio when you have members who have the capability of delivering an end result of solid quality. But, with that being said, we definitely have friends in the industry that put out amazing work as well and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in taking some roughs and letting them polish those up.

Locals Only: Sunny Gang

We often look at the world through a lense of transgression influenced by both anger and rage. Yes, these words may be synonymous in nature but they do in fact draw parallels. Anger is a feeling that is only instigated when frustration, confusion, or stress is presented. Rage on the other hand is but a passionate cry of burning resentment towards the one particular that threatened the existence of what you loved or held dear. Regretfully to say the least, much of the world we live in is nothing more than despair and melancholy. To stay hopeful when nothing but doubt is present would be quite the tasking task. Still, the ability to have all of our senses succumb to depressive states is to mean that a level of goodness must have first been present at one point within our lives. To say that one has truly reached nirvana without feeling misery, trouble, or any form of badness. For with only one is to know nothing and to know nothing means to neither understand the difference between pain and pleasure.

The fine city of Newark has been founded on the need of a strong central community and as so, through the ever diverse and cultured population it houses, it has survived. Survival more than thriving or any other form of existing as this long standing community has dealt with varying woes. Crime, poverty, and the overall state of Brick City’s fatiguing infrastructure only serves to perspectives of survival than one of prospering and harmonizing community. Like survival and harmony, rage and anger are quite distinctive. However, unlike the popular opinion of those who look from afar, Brick City is not as bad as one would come to find. In fact, through recent years, parts of Newark have been on the rise. Of course, no matter where you travel, it is keen to always have your head on a swivel while maintaining situational awareness. Instead of concerning this fine standing city with notions of fear or doubt we should view it for what it truly is; a city invested in art, music, and culture that is being harvested by the youth. Such is the role of the very band we are focusing this article on, Sunny Gang.

Sunny Gang is an infusion of genres rather than a mixture of influences. I remain specific on this wordplay because this band of misfits has infused styles of punk, blues, jazz, and even hip hop within the construction of this inherently hardcore outfit. Elements of music that only the rich and longstanding city of Newark could ever produce.

Yes, the anticipated outcome of incorporating hip hop with hardcore or metal and vice versa can be a sensitive matter. This is the thin line of being regarded as E-Town Concrete or being known as Korn. Fortunately, neither of those references are the case here. Sunny Gang is but a union of musicians who first familiarized themselves as friends first and inhabitants of a historic city second. Because of these preconceived notions, the end product of this unique project would inevitably become a congregation of blues, jazz, hip-hop, and punk.

As of now, you can stream their most current full length, Party Animal, via their SoundCloud channel. They are currently slated to hit the studio this spring, so any and all questions can be read below. Really stoked to see what these young men are able to achieve within the coming years, so keep those eyes focused and ears peeled y’all. Until next time.

Interview with Sunny Gang

HW: How did this project come to be? Is Sunny Gang named after group the musicians that collectively make up this project or is there another meaning?

Chris Bacchus: The name Sunny Gang started about a year before we actually started making music as a collective. We all went to Rutgers of Newark and partied a lot. The crew we’d party with would call themselves Sunny Gang. Our homies, Chris Harrison and Klaine Gazze started the movement. It’s based off of the gang from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

HW. It’s not the first time someone decided to mix elements of hip hop and punk rock together in order to make something unique. A process that can be tricky as there is a grey line in either sounding like Limp Bizkit or E-Town. What influences from hip hop and punk did you find yourself deriving from to make Sunny Gang’s sound?

CB: Without a doubt, the fusion of hip hop and punk has been going down since the 80s. Shout out to the Beastie Boys. We definitely tried to stay far away from sounding like Limp Bizkit, E. Town, and any other band that fuses these two genres. Although I love a lot of the Nu-Metal I grew up on, we really try to stay far away from that as well. Plus, Nasty Nate has bars, not a lot of the fusion bands can say that.

From a Punk/Hardcore perspective, I draw a lot of guitar influences from Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Kennedys, and Bad Brains. From a Hip Hop perspective, I draw a lot of influence from The Roots and Beastie Boys. We don’t limit ourselves to punk and hip hop though. Our sound takes elements from the blues, reggae, grunge, metal, and pretty much all of these genres we listen to. We take these different elements and combine them to make something that I believe is somewhat unique.

Marshal: To add to what Bacchus was saying, I think a lot of your proto-typical rap/rock groups really try as hard as possible to jam the two genres together, often taking the best aspects of the genre but forgetting to include the subtleties of the genre and/or the culture that often make the genres so brilliant. With us, we have this amazing opportunity of having a lyricist who is firmly planted in hip hop and musicians who grew up almost exclusively on rock, so when we make a song we can keep each other in check. It’s very often that Bacchus, Sap, and I will come up with a song and Nate will ask “how do you realistically expect me to rap on this?” Or he’ll write some bars and we’ll be like “C’mon man, we’re a rock band, get aggressive.” Truly understanding the foundations of our roots enables us to pioneer our own comprehensive but unique genre.

Sap: The back and forth that Marsh is describing is what’s making work on the new records so exciting. Our previous records saw us trying a lot of very disparate things, and in doing that we’ve learned a lot about what we do best. So the new material all sounds much more focused, without sacrificing our ability to play with different influences and genres.

Nate: Rage Against the Machine, One Day as a Lion, and Badbadnotgood’s collaborations with artists like Ghostface Killa and Black Rock, just to name a few.

HW: How does hailing from Newark help define this project? People are quick to judge a city or place they have never lived in so what is it about your city that you’re proud of or think people have no clue about?

CB: The Newark music scene is a very diverse place. A Newark show can consist of rappers like the NJ Rebels, Jersey Club DJ’s like Nadus or Uniiqu3 and even soul bands like The Jack Moves. You can find a little bit of everything in this music scene. I believe our musical peers influence our creativity. The Newark scene is free from barriers and I believe that’s what defines Party/Animal. Too many people have the wrong impression of Newark. It’s not New Jersey Drive, it’s not the car-jacking capital of the world. It’s a city full of people that are willing to bust their ass to leave their mark in history. Sure it has its dangerous spots, but when you stay out of this city because of fear, you are really doing a disservice to yourself. Newark has a rich history full of culture, food, and jazz music. We truly care about this city. Fuck New York City, Newark is where it’s at.

M: You know that saying any press is good press? Well with Newark it’s like any identity is a good identity. None of us are originally from Newark, but we adopted the city’s culture and subsequently the city embraced us. I may [begrudgingly] not live in Newark anymore, but it will always feel like home away from home to me.

S: Nork, good yeh.

N: People forget that Newark has a long history of jazz and blues music so I don’t feel pressured to sound like anything because this city has such an eclectic past. Currently, Newark really has a lot of artists that have unique sounds so we fit in as far as bucking the mainstream stuff.

HW: What’s the skate culture like over in Newark and Essex county? Think I heard something about Shorty’s closing down not too long ago actually.

CB: The skate culture in Newark and Essex county has given me purpose since I was about 18 or so. It’s comprised of skaters of all different ages and ethnicities. Everyone knows each other and pushes each other to be the best skater they can be. There’s an incredible amount of street spots like the Peach Ledges and NJPAC. Some of the best days of my life were spent drinking 40s, puffing some spliffs and shredding with the homies till we physically couldn’t skate anymore. Shorty’s is an awesome DIY spot and is right up my alley because I love cruising on tranny. Apparently, there was an illegal demolition at Shorty’s and those dickheads tore the walls down. Most of the ramps are still intact. Shout out to those dudes who built that park from the ground up. They pushed for what they believed in and were able to stop the demolition.

Shorty’s is here to stay. Shorty’s is teaming up with Vans for a fundraiser on April 22nd. Go out and support those dudes, their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed!

S: One time we saw a fiend ride a shopping cart down the giant hill on Central Ave.

HW: How was the recording process for Party/Animal and what was the intention behind that record?

CB: Party/Animal is basically the first 3-4 years of Sunny Gang. It’s a sonic culmination of all our musical, social and political influences. We really tried to be as unrestrained as possible in order to say what we wanted to say. The majority of these songs are based off of riffs that I came up with from more or less noodling around on the guitar. We’d pick a topic, pick a mood then we’d pick a message we were trying to convey. Next thing we knew? We had a full album.

This was the first scenario where I felt comfortable recording. We worked with our bro Jeremy Eger at Rojo Sound Studios in Kenilworth. Jeremy does a lot of audio work for This Is Hardcore, alongside my dude Len Carmichael who plays in Dissent, Bottomfeeder, and a bunch of other bands. We recorded Party/Animal during the Summer of 2015. Our intentions with this record were to break free from genre boundaries. We wanted to play what we wanted, when we wanted. Some of the songs were rushed in my opinion but you know, recording and writing is a learning experience. As cliche as this sounds, there’s a lesson in everything. Everything is about forward progression. As Jacob Miller would say, Forward Ever/ Backward Never.

N: The message behind the album was that we love to party and fuck around but, we also have a socially conscious side. The flip side to that is that we aren’t preachers so we try to keep the social commentary light.

HW: What’s on the plate for the band this summer?

CB: We have a bunch of new material that I’m really excited about. We’re planning to record two EPs this summer. The first EP is called Ball Drop and the second one is called American Carnage. I think we have totally found our sound and I am stoked to share this with those who support our movement.

S: Besides working on the record, we’ll also be looking to get out and gig as much as possible, especially once the first one (Ball Drop) is done and out. We’re all super excited about the new material and can’t wait to get up and play it for everyone

HW: Last words before we finish this conversation?

CB: Music and Skateboarding is about being an individual. Don’t let others dictate your creativity. Push for what you believe in. Don’t settle and never tailor your creativity to appeal to everyone.

Hardcore shouldn’t play the games other music scenes play. It’s about standing up for what you believe in and not taking shit from anyone. It’s not about your vintage Earth Crisis shirt or those new Air Maxes you have. I gotta give a major shout out to Joey Bottino who runs a zine called Breaking The Common Era. Shout out to Nadus who has supported us since day one. Shout out to all my homies in hardcore who are making great music like Dissent, Time Spent, Threat 2 Society, Garland Greene.. I can go on for days. Keep it real, keep it raw. PLAYER HATER!

M: Shout out WallyHood. Shout out day-ones. Shout out Seagrams. Shout out Family.

S: Big ups to the boy Shandy Lam. No particular reason.

N: Shoutout to all the true fans that support us. You motivate us to put out quality music.