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- Posted on Sep 11th 2009 2:00PM by Dan Reilly
Though the reissues aren't out until Tuesday, Sept. 15, Spinner got a sneak peak at the liner notes for 'Diary,' in which the band discusses their formation, songwriting and signing to Sub Pop. Check out the exclusive excerpt below.
With the grunge explosion detonating right around them, Dan Hoerner (guitar/vocals), William Goldsmith (drums) and Nate Mendel (bass) planted the seeds for the band that would become Sunny Day Real Estate in Seattle in 1992. The trio went by three other names before settling on its permanent moniker, a decision that coincided with Goldsmith's high-school friend Jeremy Enigk taking over frontman duties from Hoerner, 23. Mendel, 23, had been on a European tour with another band while Hoerner and Goldsmith, 20, got musically acquainted with 18-year-old Enigk, and when he returned, it was clear they'd all stumbled upon something new and exciting. Enigk's yearning, high-register voice was a direct contrast to Hoerner's primal delivery, imbuing the music with a previously unrealized level of emotion.
DAN HOERNER: Nate went to Europe, but me and William didn't want to stop playing. We asked Jeremy to jam with us, with both of us on vocals, and we started writing several songs that ended up on Diary like that; just getting down the first sketches of them. It was instantly obvious that Jeremy is an amazing singer and musician, and that we needed him to be in the band. We sort of nervously planned and plotted. And when Nate came back, we pitched him with the idea, and he agreed. We picked those first few songs we'd started and they became 'Seven,' 'In Circles' and 'Song About an Angel.'
JEREMY ENIGK: When I joined, we played a couple songs they had previously written, with Dan still on vocals, but after writing a few songs with the new line-up, I remember the guys discussing that we should just be a new band with mainly all new material. The atmosphere was so inspired and electric. We felt we were tapping into something pretty special. We were a new band overnight.
Now a quartet, the band honed its material through epic practice sessions rather than testing it out in front of audiences.
WILLIAM GOLDSMITH: It was guys that played hardcore experimenting with actually writing songs. Hardcore is really fast and out of control. There was still songwriting and arranging, but this was a whole new thing, learning how to leave space. We had these melodies that were kind of triumphant; they matched what we were feeling.
DAN HOERNER: The core of what we created was pretty much intact probably from the first time all four of us played together. That thing that ultimately became Sunny Day, those 15 or 20 first songs, was born all at once, almost fully formed. But then the fight was to try and keep that thing real, in the face of all the other changes, which eventually tore it all apart.
In May 1993, at the behest of club booker Eric Soderstrom, Sunny Day plays just its second show ever at Seattle's Crocodile Café in front of several Sub Pop employees, including co-founder Jonathan Poneman and publicist Nils Bernstein.
JONATHAN PONEMAN: Imagine walking into a largely empty, small room at the Crocodile and this modest group of people is standing up on stage. Suddenly they roar into 'Seven' and it was so disarming. The thing that was so emotionally engaging about the music was that the songs were so beautiful and evocative. It was a riveting experience.
DAN HOERNER: I remember clear as day looking out into the audience and seeing Poneman and this guy Dave Rosencrans, this long-haired Sub Pop dude. We were playing 'Song About an Angel' and me and Jeremy exchanged this look. I looked and this guy Dave just had tears streaming down his face. That was the thing we were going for. That was it for us.
JEREMY ENIGK: I remember trying to give the most amazing performance I'd ever given. I screamed my face off, directed at Jonathan, almost like a crazy animal.
Suitably impressed, Poneman offers the band a contract shortly after the Crocodile show. But rather than put an album out right away, he suggests Sunny Day record a seven-inch on its own label before setting off on its first tour. He also flies producer Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair) to Seattle in an attempt to woo him to produce 'Diary.'