HomeInterviewsExclusive Interview – Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate

Exclusive Interview – Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate

Sunny Day Real Estate are hitting the road, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of their seminal and highly influential album, Diary. In this exclusive interview for 360°Sound, we had the opportunity to ask vocalist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Enigk a few questions, as the band get ready to kick off their U.S. tour this month.

Sunny Day are arguably the godfathers of a style that came to be known as “emo,” a refinement of more aggressive, less nuanced forms of hardcore punk rock. The release of Diary in 1994 had the kind of seismic impact on hardcore that the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind had on glam metal a couple years earlier. Both records were released by Seattle’s Sub Pop label, and both records pulled the rug out from under their predecessors.

Sunny Day brought a dynamic sensitivity that hardcore lacked. With their introspective lyrics, Jeremy Enigk’s soaring vocal range, and William Goldsmith’s jazz and funk influenced drumming, Sunny Day Real Estate created space for a broader range of emotions. As a friend of mine put it, “Sunny Day gave us hardcore kids permission to feel something other than anger.”

30 years wiser, Enigk, Goldsmith, and guitarist Dan Hoerner are together again. And with the addition of Greg Suran on guitar and Chris Jordan on bass, they’re breathing new life into Diary. They’ve re-recorded that song cycle for their upcoming release, Diary – Live At London Bridge Studio, which also includes a new track, “Novum Vetus,” that they’ve already released.

360°Sound: It’s been 30 years since the release of Diary. What does “emo” mean to you now?

Jeremy Enigk: It’s a word people keep throwing at us. We cannot escape it. Forced to embrace it.

Sunny Day never considered ourselves Emo, but over the years, we have been consistently considered a part of the genre. Honestly, I never preferred it, but when we get accolades in The Rolling Stone magazine and mention in South Park, I cannot help but appreciate and embrace it and even see the humor in it.  Not to mention appreciating a number of great bands considered the same genre of music. I would like to consider it rock music, but I guess the jury decided.

Given that Diary topped Rolling Stones’ best emo albums list, its legacy seems well-established. It’s still fierce and it still sounds great. Tell me about your motivation to re-record that collection of songs.

Our primary motivation to re-record Diary live in-studio was to capture where we are at with these songs now, live in a studio setting. We’ve grown as musicians and people. We also have an extra guitar with Greg Suran which makes the sound full and more polished, as well as Chris Jordan on bass. We wanted to take a snapshot of this moment in time with them.

Diary is very special to us, but this is just another representation of it, which is really exciting. Celebrating it and revisiting it for the 30th anniversary seemed a lot of fun. Also, it gives a fresh perspective for the fans. One of my favorite records is The Who’s Quadrophenia, but often I prefer to listen to their live version because it is different and new. Lastly, we get to sell more records.

The new 5-piece Sunny Day Real Estate

Tell me about the band dynamic now, with some years behind you, minus a founding member but with the addition of Greg Suran on guitar and Chris Jordan on bass.

Chris Jordan is a great bass player, but also brings much more to the band with his musical insight and overall positive vibes. Not to mention his willingness to help in any way. Greg Suran is a long-time friend and live member of Sunny Day. His skill is incredible and reliable. His extra guitar adds polish and really rounds out the sound. I think the band sounds much fuller now.

You recorded your latest song, “Novum Vetus,” while you were working on the re-recording. I’ve read that the new song’s roots go back to the ’90s. What connections does “Novum Vetus” have to the songs on Diary?

“Novum Vetus” was originally a demo recording made in ‘97, before the recording of How It Feels to be Something On. I was going through old recordings and re-discovered it. While it wasn’t written in the time of Diary a few years prior, it still had the Sunny Day vibe with our original bass player Nate Mendel. I played it for the guys, and it just stuck. They pushed re-writing it and recording it for the live record as a bonus track.

We also asked Jeremy where he stands on the format debate, and how streaming is impacting Sunny Day and the careers of new artists. He declined to answer that question, which is more than fair. I take it to mean that he’s trying to figure out the shifting landscape of the music industry, just like everyone else.

Their tour includes a stop in Austin (SXSW adjacent) presented by SPIN magazine at Stubb’s BBQ on March 16, where they’ll be joined by Get Up Kids and Austin’s Die Spitz.

click here to check out Rolling Stone’s list of the top 40 emo albums of all time

Keep up with Sunny Day Real Estate here, and pre-order Diary – Live At London Bridge Studio ahead of its May 3rd release datesunnyday.realestate

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