Sunny Day Real Estate
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|Sunny Day Real Estate|
Sunny Day Real Estate performing in Portland, Oregon, in 2009.
|Origin||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|Genres||Alternative rock, Punk, Post Hardcore, Experimental Rock|
|Years active||1992–1995, 1997–2001, 2009–2013|
|Labels||Sub Pop, Time Bomb|
|Associated acts||The Fire Theft, Foo Fighters|
|Past members||Jeff Palmer
Sunny Day Real Estate was an American alternative rock band from Seattle, Washington. While not the first band to be classified as emo, they were instrumental in establishing the genre. In 1994, the band released their debut album Diary on Sub Pop Records to critical acclaim. However, shortly after releasing their second album LP2, the band broke up, with members Nate Mendel and William Goldsmith joining Foo Fighters and Jeremy Enigk embarking on a solo career. In 1997, they regrouped long enough to record two more studio albums and a live album but ultimately disbanded once again in 2001. The band reunited once again in 2009. Bassist Nate Mendel, who chose to remain with Foo Fighters during the previous reunion in 1997, took part in this reunion. In a 2013 interview with MusicRadar, Mendel stated that Sunny Day Real Estate is currently inactive. According to Mendel, the band attempted to record a new full-length album after the end of their reunion tour, but the sessions "just fell apart".
In 1992, guitarist Dan Hoerner and bassist Nate Mendel met when they became housemates at the University of Washington. After jam sessions, they decided to form a band and sought a drummer, eventually deciding to invite William Goldsmith. Goldsmith played in many bands but decided to join the duo's project due to their tenacity and strong focus. They released a demo tape under the name "Empty Set". Post-release, the band changed their name from Empty Set to Chewbacca Kaboom, upon realization that a band with the name Empty Set already existed. However, when another demo tape was released, the new name earned them little attention, and it was yet again subject to change, this time to 'One Day I Stopped Breathing'. The band eventually settled on the name Sunny Day Real Estate. Mendel stated the band's name "was just a random thought that popped into my head that came from a Talking Heads song, '(Nothing But) Flowers'". He felt that since the band's outlook on the world saw that every possible thing was becoming a commodity to be bought and sold, it was possible that one day, people would even start selling sunny days. The lyrics made him ponder about what could be sold as property, and come up with the commercialization of sunny days.
The newly-baptized band started as an instrumental piece, but decided to add a singer. After testing with a female vocalist, Hoerner decided to start singing. The band recorded a self-released two-song 7" single called Flatland Spider. Afterwards Mendel took a break to tour with another band, Christ on a Crutch. Goldsmith called his high school friend Jeremy Enigk to play along with them in a new project, Thief, Steal Me a Peach, where Hoerner played bass and Enigk became the guitarist. Despite Mendel having some objections, Enigk became a full-time member, and before long, Enigk ascended to become the permanent frontman of the band. Where Hoerner's vocal style had been in the rougher, hardcore vein, Enigk's higher-pitched, somewhat strained vocal style arguably added a greater emotional depth to the band's songs. The musicians also decided to add slower tempos and more groove to their songs.
Diary and LP2
The band's debut album, Diary, released by indie label Sub Pop in 1994, was greeted with numerous positive reviews. That September, the band performed lead single "Seven" on an episode of The Jon Stewart Show. A few days later, they taped several songs for MTV's 120 Minutes. Through November and December, the band undertook a US tour with Shudder to Think and Soul Coughing in support of the album.
The band projected an enigmatic presence to the public. While supporting Diary, the band allowed only one publicity photo and granted just a single interview (though, strangely, the band posed for an advertisement for department-store chain Nordstrom). In a 1998 interview with Norm Arenas of Texas Is the Reason, Hoerner explained that the band made up a fake band name and brought in a fake lead singer for the ad shoot, only to have the store stick their real band name on the ad. For most of its early days, the band also refused to play a show in California, for reasons that were never fully explained. When the band was asked to perform at the 1994 Almost Acoustic Christmas in Los Angeles for radio station KROQ, Hoerner refused to join them, leaving Enigk, Mendel, and Goldsmith to perform the show as a trio.
After finishing their 1994 US tour, the band regrouped to begin recording the follow-up to Diary. While the events surrounding the sessions have not been publicly discussed, the band was clearly enduring internal conflict. Rumors abounded that the root cause was Enigk's sudden conversion to Christianity. In early 1995, the band announced that it was disbanding.
There was much talk but little really known about the reasons for the break-up. While many fans focused on Enigk being a reborn Christian, Enigk and other band members later downplayed that aspect. In a letter addressed "To Seth and other readers", Enigk responded to rumors regarding his faith. Dismissing the connection between his conversion and their break-up, Enigk wrote, "I took a shot on calling upon God. He answered me. My pain was gone. I was full of joy. I had hope again. I must say that the true God is the one who is in the Bible, Jesus Christ," and, "I would be a fool to say that He hasn't worked miracles in my life."
In November 1995, Sub Pop released the band's second album, bearing only the label Sunny Day Real Estate. The album was released without cover art or liner notes, and was distributed by Sub Pop as LP2. It has also occasionally been referred to as "The Pink Album", a reference to its solid pink cover. When Sub Pop contacted the band for artwork for the release, the band had nothing to offer, so Goldsmith suggested that they "make it pink". The album included the songs recorded during the brief sessions, as well as tracks such as "Rodeo Jones" that were recorded during the sessions for Diary.
Enigk confessed in an interview in December 2008 that because the band had already broken up during the recording of LP2, he and Hoerner never sat down to complete the lyrics; "We broke up and we just felt like we were done. We put no energy into the artwork or into anything. On a lot of songs, there aren’t lyrics! In a lot of cases, we never sat down to write them, because we just wanted to get it out of the way as fast as possible. So I just sang a lot of gibberish, which makes it really quirky. My favorite is the Japanese translations".
After the breakup, Enigk pursued a solo career, releasing his first solo album, Return of the Frog Queen, in 1996. Hoerner moved out to a farm in rural Washington, while Mendel and Goldsmith joined Foo Fighters, the band which Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl had formed following the death of Kurt Cobain. In 1997, following a dispute with Grohl during the sessions for the second Foo Fighters record, Goldsmith departed the band, but Mendel remained.
In 1997, Sub Pop began pressing Enigk and Hoerner about the possibility of releasing a rarities record of Sunny Day Real Estate material, including the band's early 7-inch releases and otherwise unreleased songs, such as the band's unused contribution to The Crow: City of Angels soundtrack. Given that the album with only this material would have been rather short, the band decided to regroup to record a few new songs. While working on the songs, the quartet realized that whatever had driven them apart was behind them, and decided to continue working on new material, eventually signaling to Sub Pop that they wanted to release a full new album. Initially, Mendel intended to quit the Foo Fighters to rejoin Sunny Day full-time, but hedged for several months on actually quitting. Just before starting the recording sessions for the album, Mendel turned down the opportunity, noting that he did not want to leave what he had with the Foo Fighters for a potentially tenuous reunion.
In September 1998, the band released How It Feels to Be Something On. For the album, the remaining trio replaced Mendel with Jeff Palmer, formerly of the Mommyheads. Palmer left the band after a short time, and he was replaced by Joe Skyward. Fans were surprised by the different sound presented on the record in songs such as the title track and "Every Shining Time You Arrive". These songs were intended for Enigk's second solo album, but later became Sunny Day Real Estate songs. On the album, Hoerner took the opportunity to write about his environmental concerns in "100 Million".
While supporting the album, Sub Pop approached them about the possibility of filming the band for a live release. Two shows were documented, one on video and one on audio, in the form of Live. In the weeks after their release, the band noted their displeasure with the video and CD, complaining that Sub Pop did not allow them final approval on the artwork or on the final mixes. Having fulfilled their contractual obligations, the band left the label.
The search for a new label was a long and difficult process. Several major labels were eager to sign the band, but the band members felt uncomfortable with signing to a major label. The situation resulted in the departure of long-time manager Greg Williamson. Finally, the band signed with Time Bomb Recordings, an independent label distributed by BMG. With Time Bomb, the band hoped to have the freedom of an indie label backed by the wider distribution of a major label.
The band joined with long-time Hüsker Dü sound engineer Lou Giordano to record The Rising Tide, released in June 2000. The band had high expectations for the release, and subsequently undertook a lengthy US tour. At the end of the tour, the band expressed its desire to finally reach out to its European fans by undertaking its first overseas tour. However, on the eve of the tour, Time Bomb pulled its tour funding, claiming that they simply could not afford to support the band overseas. It turned out that the label had invested a substantial amount of money in supporting Peter Searcy's Could You Please and Thank You, and the album had performed so poorly that the label was almost completely bankrupt. Not only could they not support Sunny Day Real Estate overseas, they could no longer fund the band at all. Some weeks later, the label ceased operations. Disillusioned and disappointed, the band retreated home, and subsequently announced their disbanding.
Post-Sunny Day Real Estate
In 2001, Enigk and Goldsmith reunited with Mendel to form a new band, called The Fire Theft, releasing their first self-titled album in 2003. While they had the option of retaining the Sunny Day Real Estate name, the trio decided that it was time to leave the past behind them and start fresh. Mendel remained with the Foo Fighters, joining The Fire Theft when his schedule allowed it.
In 2006, Enigk reignited his solo career by recording and releasing the LP World Waits on his own label, Lewis Hollow Records. Following the October 17 release, Enigk embarked upon a supporting solo tour of the U.S. using material from his 2006 release, as well as his decade-prior solo album, Return of the Frog Queen.
2009 reunion and unannounced breakup
After some speculation in 2006 and 2008, in April 2009, several web sites reported that the band had reunited with all original members. The reunion was confirmed in June 2009, by Seattle radio DJ Andrew Harms from 107.7 The End. The band toured the United States and Canada on September and October 2009, and Australia in February 2010 as part of the Soundwave Festival. The band's first show was a surprise secret show on September 16, 2009 at Hell's Kitchen in Tacoma, Washington. To coincide with the new tour, the band's first two albums were remastered and reissued with bonus tracks and newly written liner notes.
For their 2009 reunion tour, the band frequently played a newly-written song called "10".
On September 29, 2009, the band performed the song "Seven" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The band also performed at the 2010 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and went on to play their first ever European gig on May 29 at Barcelona's Primavera Sound. After that, they played at the HMV Forum in London for their debut UK gig on May 31. They were also scheduled to play at the punk festival Groezrock in Belgium as part of a European tour, but had to cancel their date due to the volcanic ash situation.
As of 2009, the band had been making statements from the stage implying that new recorded material might have been on the way. In early 2010, Dan Hoerner confirmed in an interview with Australian music website FasterLouder that the band were writing a new album, but as of 2013, no new material or tour dates have been announced, and Mendel has returned to recording and touring with Foo Fighters.
In a 2013 interview with MusicRadar, Mendel stated that Sunny Day Real Estate is currently inactive. According to Mendel, the band attempted to record a new full length after the end of their reunion tour, but the sessions "just fell apart."
As of 2008, Diary is the seventh best-selling album released on Sub Pop, having sold more than 231,000 copies. In 2013, Diary took the first place in LA Weekly's list "Top 20 Emo Albums in History".
- Diary (1994)
- Sunny Day Real Estate (1995)
- How It Feels to Be Something On (1998)
- The Rising Tide (2000)
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