INTERNET BULLETIN board accounts of breakups, born-again hearts, solo projects, and Foo Fightin'—Sunny Day Real Estate has had some tough years. Back in 1996, all you could do was shrug your shoulders, press play on track two of Diary, and listen to "In Circles" one more time. You kinda figured it was over, that the best times had come and gone, that the only Sunny Day Real Estate you'd hear from then on would be the stain of their influence on any song that employed the soft-loud sonic expression and raw, intelligent emotion that was their hallmark. But in 1997, a reunion yielded the watered-down How It Feels to Be Something On and later the much lamented (by the band and the fans) Live, which fueled the band's split with Sub Pop. Scroll through to Sunny Day's recent union with BMG-distributed Time Bomb Recordings, and you're almost up to date.
Sunny Day Real Estate
Showbox, Tuesday, June 20
Co-songwriter and guitar man Dan Hoerner says the band's still together and they aren't splitting up any time soon. Hoerner points out that they've been back together now for three years, longer than they were together for the first go-round.
"Granted, we've had a very sketchy history, [but] me and Enigk and Goldsmith are down for the count," promises Hoerner.
And if any doubts linger, the newly released album The Rising Tide should squelch them. Hoerner exclaims, with a confident and friendly voice that makes me think of him as some lucky girl's older brother, that Sunny Day Real Estate is poised for greatness.
"This record is going to blow doors. Oh, yeah—it's the rising tide," he says.
I ask if he thinks Jeremy would say the same (that's if Jeremy did interviews, which he usually doesn't), and he replies, "I think I can say without fear of contradiction that everyone in the band knows that we've done something that has totally outstripped anything that we've done before."
What is it about The Rising Tide and the current climate of the band that has inspired such momentum and fervor? Hoerner says it's a combination of getting out from under the thumb of Sub Pop, having the opportunity to write and record as a three-piece (bassist Nate Mendel has elected to stay with the Foo Fighters; Enigk has switched to bass), and having the perspective of a totally committed and talented producer, Lou Giordano (Tanya Donnelly, Sugar, Paul Westerberg).
"We've never got such great sounds before," Hoerner says. "Never been able to kick ass quite so hard. We all just played really well. A lot of that is due to Lou Giordano. We've never experienced anything like this guy."
The enthusiasm in Hoerner's voice is infectious. "I remember sitting back in the booth while Enigk was tracking the vocals for 'Snibe'"—he emphasizes the title of the song as if it's the name of an ancient empire or a superlative synonymous with heaven—"and this total wave hit me when that was happening, that it was so fucking good, that I didn't care if anybody else liked it or what anybody thought of it. This is the best thing that I've ever done."
The song that he refers to is seminal Sunny Day stuff: The thick bass line, clean drums, and eerily resounding guitar notes introduce Jeremy's unparalleled vibrato, "We stand in the marketplace/with cold September eyes on the hungry people/we passed the interrogation/signed our names at the bottom of the government paper." Guitar fuzz kicks in and a creepy distorted vocal track wanders around the corners of the song. This is like Yes in 1974. This is like vintage King Crimson. This is the logical and inspired progression of the band that created the emo-core blueprints for bands like Juno, the Promise Ring, and the Drop.
Where How It Feels . . . was encumbered by the cloak of reuniting, The Rising Tide is colored by freedom and hope. The trio that began with a jam session in 1992 is once again experiencing dynamic, spiraling interaction; it's working like it did before, but even better because the three of them have garnered the maturity and strength that come with learning to take what you want from this life. Jeremy got to have his solo projects and explore his faith, Dan got his farm in Eastern Washington, and William enjoyed commercial success with the Foo Fighters. The assurance and confidence is felt at the close of the album; at the end of the title track, you will understand what Hoerner meant about blowing doors: "It's my heart that speaks this time: We will ride the rising tide."
Check out the band's official site.
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