Interview with Sunny Rey

Joe Clarke’s interview with poet/writer/model/industry buff Sunny Rey 10/08/2012

Sunny Rey: How did you come up with the lyrics to ‘Heartbreaker?’

Joe Clarke: I was raised by a group of single women in their mid-twenties. I remember being six years old and they were all sitting around me, drinking wine and talking about what they saw me doing as an adult. I was always trying to get in front of a camera or sing or rap or tell jokes for people. I was a fat kid, and they always used to call me a “ham” which was confusing. I love ham. Anyway, one of my mom’s friend’s grabbed my face by the dimples and said “Look at this face. He is going to be T-R-O-U-B-L-E.” they loved calling me that, too. My mom stared into my eyes with the faraway fear of a single mother, saying “He’s gonna be a heartbreaker. Yes he is.” I remember that really messing me up, you know? Like in my little kid mind, I remember thinking I don’t want to break anybody’s heart! That stuck with me.

Sunny: How long have you been playing music?

JC: My late grandmother bought me my first guitar when I was eight. It was a huge adult-sized Washburn acoustic. It was probably as tall as me. When I was ten and I could finally fit my little arms around the damned thing, I asked my mom for lessons. This 20 year old college student named Kenny Duque used to come by and teach me 90’s rock songs and scales once a week until my fingers bled. I thought he was god cause he could learn songs by ear. That was when I started getting pretty obsessed with playing music. I played my first concert when I was 12. It was in front of about 800 kids at my catholic grade school. Everyone was in uniform and the nuns were there, patrolling the crowd. I was backstage and put my hair up in braids like the guys from Korn, wearing baggy ass JNCO’s and some obnoxious velvet shirt from Hot Topic, which was new then. My teachers were a little scared of me after that, and the popular girls started saying “Hi” to me in the halls. I was HOOKED. The 90′s were a strange time.

Sunny: Any hidden talents?

JC: No, I pretty much try to publicize them all… Shameless attention whore syndrome. I guess the one talent that people don’t know about is that I can fingerboard real well. I actually did a commercial for Tech Deck once, and they used to show it on Cartoon Network. Jesus, that’s embarrassing.

Sunny: How many months/years has King Legend been in the making?

JC: Wow. Well, I like to think that Blake and Ryan and I have been preparing for King Legend our whole lives in like a cosmic way, because of how well we work together. But, ha. I can realistically say that we’ve been a band since 10/10/10. I brought three old songs I used to play with a previous band to the mix, so there’s that, too, but King Legend has been “Facebook Official” since 10/10/10. So that’s pretty serious.

Sunny: Who are your influential bands?

JC: For me, it gets a little weird. I wasn’t really allowed to listen to much music growing up. I used to sneak into the basement and put on my stepdad’s records and try to find the dirty stuff. I would say George Thorogood was my first big influence. I loved the guitar sound, and the attitude was so big. Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Def Leppard, Molly Hatchet, to a lesser extent The Doors. That’s what I grew up with. I don’t think it really clicked that I could do what they were doing until I got a hold of Green Day’s Dookie and Primus’ Pork Soda. It may sound dumb, but those CDs changed me. They were raw and rich and had a weird sense of humor. I really related to all of that. It was just three guys being themselves and having a blast. After that, the 90’s rock scene captivated me. The album that I think King Legend’s first CD will most resemble? Offspring: Smash. Great fucking album, Sunny. Later on, I would get into a lot of different bands, Metal and West Coast Weirdcore, Rap, lots of singer-songwriter stuff too, but those are the guys that have stuck through the years as far as their musical influence on me.

Sunny: Who are your favorite artists? Dream artist to play with?

JC: I love Cake. Everything they’ve done makes me so mad I didn’t think of it first. We’re very different in style but they’re such a solid headphone band. I love that they started out as “Anti-Grunge.”
Elliot Smith is absolutely beautiful to me, like early Modest Mouse. They actually played at the same shows a few times, if I remember correctly. Lots of Dylan for lyrics, Stevie wonder for the soul, all that old Motown for style.
As far as singers go, I love Imogen Heap, and Harry Nilsson. Nilsson is dead now, but he wrote a lot of music we all love, and never played a live show his whole career. He wrote “(put the lime in the) Coconut” and “(I can’t live if living is) Without You” There’s a great documentary about him, actually. If you don’t know who Imogen is, look up some live videos. There are no comparisons in the world of pop-formatted singing. Rappers are sampling her more and more because she’s so original. Look up “Hide and Seek” live.

Sunny: I’ve definitely heard of Imogen. Dream artists?

JC: My dream artists to play with are: (counts on fingers) Hank Williams III, MotÖrhead, Cage The Elephant, anything with Jack White, Black Keys, Jet, Spoon, G-Love. If we ever go prog rock I think the whole band would love to play with King Crimson or Primus, our idols. We’ve got a way to go till then (laughs).

Sunny: Any good show stories?

JC: You know, we once formatted a Battle-of-the-Bands kind of thing… only it was NOT in the rigged bullshit battle-of-the-marketing-strategies kind of way that most exploitative promotional companies are. We set up our band and Jerry Olea’s band The Drifters at the same time on the same stage. It was at Jt’s Pub on Mission Gorge. It’s a floor show with lots of room, plus it’s outside. We played like three songs each and switched off all night, pumping up the crowd and yelling stuff like “Who thinks That King Legend is the best band here tonight?” and vice versa, hyping everyone up like a WWF match. We jammed out the last 20 minutes together, and just brought the place down. It was the sickest show, and really kept people excited and engaged. I got the idea from watching Purple Rain. Thanks, Prince.

Sunny: What is your favorite King Legend song?

JC: Whichever one I’m playing on stage to a sick audience is my favorite. The songs are all designed to get people pumped and kick off a good old time for crazy people. So, that’s a hippie dippie answer for you, but I really mean it. They’re all so special to me. Honestly, I really like the vocals and the effected guitar on “Regret,” even though it’s a slower song. It’s another true story and I feel connected to every note, every word in the damned thing. I lived in that song for months after I wrote it.

Sunny: Does King Legend have any bandaids?

JC: We’ve got a beloved group of about fifteen that help us with our gear, our merch and our…partying. We couldn’t do this without them. So yeah, I guess you could say that. I believe that there are no good bands on earth that don’t have some really strong aids.

Sunny: Favorite local place to play?

JC: Right now it’s got to be JT’s Pub on Mission Gorge by SDSU. It’s kind of a destination, but it’s the only live music around there for college kids and they go NUTS. It’s always packed and fun as shit. Bo from Dying to Wake does the booking for that venue most of the time, and it’s always rad. If your single and 21-35, this is a fun place to be Thursday through Saturday. Plus, you might see King Legend there.

*for more on Sunny Rey, check out her FB fan page at You can find awesome prose and verse from her newest collection there.

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