Sunny Day Real Estate - Biography
Sunny Day Real Estate is one of many influential bands to emerge out of the rich music scene in Seattle in the early 1990s — but unlike a lot of the most notorious groups to come out of Seattle at that time, Sunny Day was not a grunge rock band. Instead, they were inspired by 1980s hardcore, and set out to infuse the hardcore edge with melody.
The battery of Sunny Day Real Estate began in 1992 with singer/guitarist Dan Hoerner, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith. They played and recorded off and on under the name Empty Set, but never released a full-length album. About a year later, they added singer/guitarist Jeremy Enigk, who had gone to high school with Goldsmith. Eventually, Enigk became the frontman and the band solidified under the name Sunny Day Real Estate.
Their debut album Diary (1994 Sub Pop) immediately created a buzz locally, and the band landed a tour spot opening for Soul Coughing and Shudder to Think. The album blended a dense guitar sound with Enigk's thin, high-pitched voice. Critics initially categorized them as "emo-core," but the band also had an obvious rock vibe.
And with that, it was almost over. While recording a follow-up album, they had a severe falling-out and decided to break up. There was some speculation that Enigk's sudden conversion to Christianity played a role in the band's dissolution, but Enigk later dismissed those rumors. The band never gave an explanation for the break-up. They did manage to record enough to finish the album, which was self-titled-- Sunny Day Real Estate (1995 Sub Pop). (The album is sometimes referred to as "The Pink Album," since there is no cover art, it was just solid pink.)
After the split, Enigk recorded a solo album, Return of the Frog Queen (1996 Sub Pop), Hoerner went back to a farm he had in Washington, and Mendel and Goldsmith founded the Foo Fighters with former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl.
But Sunny Day Real Estate's "end" turned out to be merely a hiatus. All four members reunited in 1997 to record a few new songs to supplement a proposed rarities album. During the process, they decided to re-form and record a brand new LP. Enigk and Hoerner were on board, as well as Goldsmith, who'd recently quit the Foo Fighters after a disagreement with Grohl. After some deliberation, Mendel, however, opted out of the reunion to remain with the Foo Fighters. In his place, Sunny Day brought in Jeff Palmer to play bass. The result was How It Feels To Be Something On (1998 Sub Pop), which featured more subtle melodies and ventured beyond the perimeters of their pre-hiatus sound. While they were out on tour, their label decided to record a live Sunny Day album, which was cleverly titled Live (1999 Sub Pop). It ended up being released without Sunny Day's final approval, which upset them. Consequently, they decided to look for a new label.
For what would end up being their final release, Sunny Day Real Estate signed with an independent label, Time Bomb Recordings, distributed through Sony/BMG. The album, The Rising Tide (2000 Time Bomb), maintained the integrity and intensity of their previous work, with an even more polished, radio-friendly sound. Halfway through their subsequent tour, Time Bomb folded, which ultimately caused Sunny Day to disband.
Afterwards, Hoerner returned to his farm, while Enigk and Goldsmith reunited with Mendel to form a side-project called The Fire Theft. Enigk also recorded another solo album called World Waits (2006 Lewis Hollow Records). During their 10-year run, Sunny Day Real Estate served as trailblazers for a significant emo-indie rock movement that began in the late '90s and stretched into the new millennium.