Sunny Day Real Estate

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Sunny Day Real Estate

Considering their relatively brief existence, Sunny Day Real Estate have racked up enough dramatic twists and turns to rank with some of the great rock soap operas. Its key members have seemingly engaged in just about every rock clichT imaginable, including finding religion, refusing to work with the media, breaking up and joining a big-name group, and even recording an ambitious full-orchestra pop album — all before reuniting in 1997. Although they formed in 1992 amid the burgeoning hard rock scene in Seattle (and later signed to Northwest power label Sub Pop), the group could not have been more different from their flannel-clad contemporaries. Originally conceived as a three-piece (guitarist/vocalist Dan Hoerner, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith), Sunny Day Real Estate garnered attention when it added enigmatic lead singer Jeremy Enigk, whose high-pitched, constantly ascending voice complemented their melodic songs. The group was shrouded in mystery from the get-go: they released only one picture to the press, conducted one interview and, for some still-unknown reason, never played a show in the state of California with all four members intact. With the release of their 1994 debut album, Diary, Sunny Day found newfound fame (at one time posing for an ad for department-store chain Nordstrom), while Enigk converted to Christianity. In 1995, the group broke up, but not before releasing that year’s LP2 (which, because of its single-hue layout design, is usually referred to as “The Pink Album”) and prompting speculation as to whether Enigk’s born-again status was behind the breakup. Goldsmith and Mendel quickly found work with the Foo Fighters, while Hoerner retreated to a farm in Washington (and, it’s rumored, a gig with Atlantic Records). One year after the breakup, Enigk released Return of the Frog Queen, a set of acoustic songs recorded with a 21-piece orchestra. In the meantime, the group maintained a steady fan base on the Internet, and continued to sell copies of their first two albums. In 1997, after months of speculation, the group reformed, minus Mendel (who stayed with the Foo Fighters and was replaced first by former Mommyheads bassist Jeff Palmer , then by ex-Posie Joe Skyward), and in September 1998 returned with How It Feels to Be Something On, which was met with critical accolades from fans and critics, prompting more media attention than ever as well as a new tour. The dates also yielded 1999’s Live, which helped whet appetites for the second studio album of the reunion. The Rising Tide was released in 2000, marked by a gentler tone and a stronger prog-rock influence.

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