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Members include JeremyEnigk (joined band, 1993), vocals, guitar; WilliamGoldsmith(joined Foo Fighters in 1995, left Foo Fighters in 1997 to reunite with Sunny Day Real Estate), drums; DanHoerner, guitar; NateMendel (left in 1995 to join Foo Fighters), bass; JeffPalmer (joined band in 1997 to replace Mendel), bass. Addresses: Record company--Sub Pop Records, 1932 1st Ave, Ste. 1103, Seattle, WA 98101, phone Phone: (206) 441-8441 Fax: (206) 441-8245.
The re-formation of Sunny Day Real Estate in 1997 was regarded as one of the most unlikely reunions in the history of modern rock. After a furious split in late 1994, the band's bass guitarist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith joined the Foo Fighters, lead vocalist and guitarist Jeremy Enigk (who left Sunny Day Real Estate for religious beliefs) released a solo album, and guitarist Dan Hoerner left the recording industry all together. However, when Goldsmith left the Foo Fighters in 1997, Enigk and Hoerner, who had already made peace, persuaded the drummer to help resurrect Sunny Day Real Estate. Although Mendel chose to stay with the Foo Fighters, the remaining members, with bassist Jeff Palmer replacing Mendel, recorded their third and most highly anticipated album, How It Feels to Be Something On, in 1998.
Sunny Day Real Estate began to take shape around 1992 in Seattle, Washington, when Hoerner (also the group's initial lead singer), Goldsmith, and Mendel decided to form a melodic, punk-metal band. The group changed its name frequently, once dubbing themselves Chewbacca Kaboom as well as Thief, Steal Me a Peach, then finally Sunny Day Real Estate. In 1992, the trio released their first seven-inch single, "Flatland Spider," on their own label called One Day I Stopped Breathing Records. Two of the record's songs, "Flatland Spider" and "The Onlies," included driving guitars and tortured vocals set to turbulent drumming. While the precise drums and guitars brought forth the sound that the band desired, Hoerner's vocals failed to provide Sunny Day Real Estate with an appropriate balance. Thus, the band enlisted a young, yet talented 18-year-old musician named Jeremy Enigk to soften the group's edges with his introspective and distinctive vocalization. Critics compared Enigk's mystic voice and guitar technique to that of the legendary Van Morrison, as well as an emotive cross between Paul McCartney and Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. Though not considered as skilled as Morrison, Enigk nonetheless paid tribute to the latter musician's phrasing and repetition of key couplets.
With a new singer, Sunny Day Real Estate released a second seven-inch single in 1993 entitled "Thief Steal Me a Peach," which the band's official website dubbed "a masterpiece of post-hardcore melodic adventure." The eye-catching record cover, designed by Hoerner, featured a scene of ant-like humanoids standing on the brink of disaster, and the package included prints by Seattle artist Christopher Thompson to enhance a poem written by Hoerner called "A Non-Musical Accompaniment." Subsequently, Sunny Day Real Estate caught the attention of local audiences and the influential Sub Pop Records, also home to Nirvana and Mudhoney.
After signing with Sub Pop, Sunny Day Real Estate released their first full-length album, Diary,in 1994, which fared well in sales and included guitar-driven anthems such as "Seven" and "In Circles." Years later, the aforementioned singles remained two of the most popular audience requests during Sunny Day Real Estate concerts. Another highlight included "Grendel," while tracks such as "Song About an Angel" drew attention to Enigk's growing interest in spirituality.
Considering the band's acclaimed debut, their affiliation with Sub Pop, and Sunny Day Real Estate's rising popularity, commercial success seemed unavoidable. However, just as the quartet were on the verge of breaking through, Sunny Day Real Estate came to an end. The sudden success, combined with extensive touring, internal conflict, and Enigk's new devotion to Christianity led to a fallout among band members. In late winter, 1994, following a long, exhausting tour with Shudder to Think and Soul Coughing, Sunny Day Real Estate thought it best to dissolve the band.
Just weeks earlier, Enigk had completely devoted his life to Christ, believing that religion would help relieve his personal conflicts and the band's inner turmoil. "I watched myself slowly shrivel up into a hopeless, bitter and lonely person," he wrote in a letter sent by e-mail to close friends in December, as quoted by Magnet magazine's David Daley. "I could not take it anymore, so I took a shot on calling upon God. He answered me. All the hope that was squeezed out of me was replaced 10 times." Moreover, Enigk wanted the other members of the band to find the same sense of hope in religion he had. However, Hoerner, Goldsmith, and Mendel failed to understand, and Enigk opted to sacrifice his band for his beliefs. Gradually, communication almost ceased to exist within the band and on their small tour bus, as Enigk's band mates harbored feelings of betrayal and shattered dreams.
The strained relationships of Sunny Day Real Estate came to a boiling point during a show at the Black Cat club in Washington, D.C., shortly before the breakup. Everyone but the audience realized that this cold winter night would most likely mark Sunny Day Real Estate's last performance. (Michael) Doughty, Enigk started quietly praying. "This was exactly the big huge rift that made everybody feel so uncomfortable," Doughty told Daley. "Nate just threw his hands up, put his bass down and left the stage. Dan just started drowning everything in feedback. The club got so hot they'd opened a door behind the stage, and Willie, who had worked so hard during the show--as the cold air poured in, steam is pouring off his body. He was so pissed off, just venting this incredible rage, staring at Jeremy, the steam exploding off him." Despite the group's stormy ending, the members of Sunny Day Real Estate agreed to finish their self-titled second LP, unofficially known as The Pink Album because of the color of the album cover. Issued in 1995 by Sub Pop, the record turned out to be a poorly-produced, miscellaneous collection of B-sides and demos for new songs. Although fans welcomed another release from Sunny Day Real Estate, The Pink Album made less of an impact on critics. David Sprague and Ira A. Robbins in the Trouser Press Guide to `90s Rock described the record as "vexing for a band this dramatically inclined."
Shortly after Sunny Day Real Estate disbanded, Mendel and Goldsmith joined one of the most successful rock and roll bands of the 1990s, the Foo Fighters, led by former Nirvana drummer David Grohl. However, during the recording of the Foo Fighters' second album, 1997's The Colour and the Shape,in 1997. Goldsmith discovered that Grohl had recorded new drum lines without consulting him first. Irritated by the situation, Goldsmith decided to quit drumming for the Foo Fighters. "He [Goldsmith] got all his drum tracks recorded over after he worked his ass off to put them down," Hoerner revealed to Kevin Murphy in the Arizona Republic. "He made the choice and walked away from it and I am extremely grateful." Also during the three years Sunny Day Real Estate were apart, Hoerner left the music business all together, fleeing to his farm in eastern Washington state with his wife, while Enigk pursued a solo career. On his own, Enigk recorded one album, the ornate Return of the Frog Queen (issued in 1996 by Sub Pop), a collection of songs he composed which earned critical praise. His songs, according to Stephen Thompson of the Wisconsin State Journal, "have a stately, classical quality that somehow complements his passionate, strained-but-gorgeous vocals." And despite his transition into a born-again Christian, Enigk, backed by a 21-piece orchestra, revealed few insights into his personal beliefs with Return of the Frog Queen.
Around 1997, Enigk and Hoerner began to mend their friendship and collaborate together. Because of Goldsmith's departure from the Foo Fighters, rumors circulated that the members of Sunny Day Real Estate were contemplating a reunion. At first, the band agreed to come together to record another odds and ends and B-sides album. However, driven by their fans' desire for a complete reunion, Sunny Day Real Estate resolved their differences and announced that they would officially regroup in August of 1997. "When we played, it felt like this weight being lifted off my shoulders," Goldsmith, who retreated back to Washington state and started playing with various friends since leaving Grohl's band, admitted to Daley. "That's when I knew this is where I belong." According to Hoerner, Mendel also wished to play with Sunny Day Real Estate again, but ultimately decided to stay with the Foo Fighters. As Mendel commented to Daley, "That was an extremely difficult choice for me . I didn't know if the band would last. I really do love playing in the Foo Fighters. I think we're making great music, and I love the people involved."
Enigk, Hoerner, and Goldsmith recruited Jeff Palmer, a former member of San Francisco's Mommyheads, to play bass in Mendel's place. In March of 1998, the new lineup recorded an album entitled How It Feels to Be Something On, released in September of the same year. Daley described the album as "a beautiful, sprawling, life-affirming mess of power and prog rock that should make more than a few top-10 lists this year." Other reviewers commented on the group's evident maturity with tracks like the R.E.M.- influenced "Roses in Water" and the Beatles-inspired "Two Promises."
Because of Sunny Day Real Estate's unstable past, many fans as well as the music press questioned whether or not the reunion would endure. But Sunny Day Real Estate insisted that the collaboration was permanent. "We're totally going for it," Hoerner said to Murphy with enthusiasm. "We just really want to make music. I think we're all looking forward to getting into the studio and making the next record."
by Laura Hightower
Sunny Day Real Estate's Career
Goldsmith, Hoerner, and Mendel formed band in Seattle, WA, 1992; band enlisted lead vocalist Enigk, 1993; signed with Sub Pop Records, released debut album, Diary, 1994; group disbanded, late 1994; Sunny Day Real Estate reunited (minus Mendel), 1997; released How It Feels to Be Something On, 1998.
- Selected discography
- Diary, Sub Pop, 1994.
- Sunny Day Real Estate (unofficially known as The Pink Album ), Sub Pop, 1995.
- How It Feels to Be Something On Sub Pop, 1998.
- Robbins, Ira A., editor, Trouser Press Guide to `90s Rock, Fireside/Simon and Schuster, 1997.
- Arizona Republic,November 19, 1998, p. 39.
- Dallas Morning News, November 13, 1998, p. 67.
- Magnet,November/December 1998, pp. 49-91.
- Wisconsin State Journal,March 13, 1997, p. 10.
- Sunny Day Real Estate Official Website, http://www.sunnydayrealestate.com (December 24, 1999).
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