This little Gulf Coast town of ours has a big, big music culture. There is no denying that. On any given night, you can catch almost any kind of act performing on various stages around the city. There’s country, blues, reggae, punk, rock, pop, heavy metal, hip-hop and everything in between, right there at our disposal. It’s amazing to live in a town where music is such an integral part of its community structure. And let’s not forget about some of the fantastic bands that we have the pleasure of claiming as our own.
There is definitely something for everybody, as far as music goes, and no matter how many different types of shows you’ve gone to in Pensacola, especially over the past few years, there’s a pretty good chance that you have had a proverbial wrench thrown into the gears of your concept of what type of bands should play with who and where. Yes, whether you were out trying to mellow out with some reggae, or charging the pit at the heavy metal show, you have probably had your night turned upside down by the music of Unnatural Soundz.
UNS, as their fans affectionately dub them, are very hard to categorize, if you happen to be one of those who need a label to better understand what you’re getting into. Are they a band? Are they comedians? Are they serious? The answer to these questions are Yes, sort of and most of the time. You see, Unnatural Soundz are just as their moniker suggests—unique and outside the box. Part hip-hop, part heavy rock, all business, UNS have quickly earned themselves a large local following through a barrage of late-night shows with any and every act that will let them play.
“We’re not picky at all about who we play with,” says DJ BodySlanga (Weston Wilkerson, if you’re nasty), as I sat down with the group after a photo shoot at Revolver Records. “We’ve played with punk bands, rappers, hardcore and country acts, you name it. When you start trying to reach one specific audience, you can only get so far. The way we look at it, we’re going to see how far we can push the envelope and break people out of their shells a little bit. We don’t just play one style of music, so it wouldn’t make sense to play with any certain type of artist, or at any certain venue. At first, people are wondering what the hell is going on, but it doesn’t take long before the ladies are dancing and the guys are rocking out. We’re very easy to get along with.” (laughs)
BodySlanga, along with his two partners in rhyme, Chucky T. (a.k.a. Black Jack), the father of the flow, and Nathan Barry (a.k.a. Nasty Nate), the voice of glory, have been leaving music fans around the area suspended in shock and awe with their uncanny sense of humor and ability to command a crowd for the past few years, since Barry’s transplantation from Pittsburgh. “I am the metal guy in the group,” Barry explains. “I moved to Pensacola from Pittsburgh and was sort of feeling out the local music scene. I was used to being in metal or punk bands, so I went out looking to find that crowd. A friend of mine from Pittsburgh and I had a few funny little novelty raps that we messed around with, and when he came to visit, we got talked into doing a show for fun. I had been introduced to Chuck, and asked him if he wanted to join in. What was supposed to be anything but serious went over quite well. My friend went back up north and Chuck and I decided to keep it going. We met BodySlanga through mutual friends and everything was set.”
Since making the decision to pursue the project further, performing their quirky brand of what-have-you has paid off. Not many who witness UNS are ever the same afterwards. They have legions of dedicated fans who will shirk off sleep to dance and sing along all night long, be it on a weekend or a work night. Crowd participation is always welcome, and these dudes’ fans love them for loving them back. The guys’ style, which is chock full of fat beats, sing-a-long hooks and sharp satire, usually sits well with people of all sorts. Of course, the subject matter in your typical Unnatural Soundz tune isn’t always meant to please. There have been those who have gone out of their way to show how much they don’t appreciate UNS exercising their right to free speech.
Chucky T. explains, “When you’re in this business, you have to understand that you can’t please everyone. You also have to take into consideration, as a fan, that you may not always like what the bands are playing or talking about, but it is meant to be fun. We have a song called ‘Love Tap’ that usually stirs up a little controversy when we play it, and we’ve had a few run-ins over it. We have had people try to cut our sound, take our mics, or even come close to fighting us over our music, but it’s not supposed to be too serious. It’s just having fun. Now, we usually let the crowd know right off the bat that we aren’t pulling punches, and anybody with a weak constitution should exit if they can’t take a joke.”
However, UNS haven’t had too much of a problem turning new listeners over to their side. Unless you’ve seen them live, you just have no idea. The venues love them because they bring in massive crowds. The fans love them because they are just so awesome, and the other bands love them because they are out there waving the flag for our local scene on every front.
Although the three-piece outfit has been working out splendidly, UNS has recently undergone some changes. With help from some friends from local acts and good UNS friends The Spanx and Mad Love, long-time fans and those discovering UNS for the first time will be in for a treat, as they have upgraded to a full band, minus guitars.
“It’s nice to have that bass and drum element to make our music sound fuller and more aggressive,” Barry adds. “We are a heavy act, no doubt about it, and now we can really show that. We’re still going to be the same old sarcastic and disturbing UNS we’ve always been, just on a more serious note musically. We’re excited to see how far we can push the boundaries, you know?”
The local favorites have earned themselves a spot opening for another envelope pusher in the form of Grammy-nominated hip-hop/folk sensation Afroman on Feb. 17 at The Handlebar. Expect the unexpected, and prepare to bask in the organic feeling of a truly unnatural experience.
AFROMAN, UNNATURAL SOUNDZ, OTHER SPECIAL GUESTS
WHEN: 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17
WHERE: The Handlebar, 319 N. Tarragona St.
COST: $12 in advance, $15 at the door (18 and over)
DETAILS: handlebarpensacola.com, myspace.com/unnaturalsoundz, facebook.com/pages/unnatural-soundz