Those Sunny Day Real Estate Reunion Rumors

Tim Karan had an interview with former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk for Alternative Press posted the day after the release of his newest solo album, OK Bear. What’s interesting was the conversation at the very end of the interview:

Is there any truth behind the rumors that Sunny Day Real Estate are getting back together?
There’s a huge force behind Sunny Day Real Estate that none of the band members ever controlled. It took on a life of its own. It had nothing to do with us as individuals, and it created a lot of expectation from the music industry and fans. It became a gigantic beast. 

I imagine it’s like a pressure cooker right now.
A little bit. I’m already sensing this–not individually or personally within the members–but on the outside, suddenly all of these people are freaking out. And it’s like, “Woah! Pull the reins in a little bit here.” It’s a bit overwhelming.

As soon as there’s so much as a mention of the chance of a Sunny Day reunion, people go crazy. That must be a lot of weight on your shoulders.
Yes, and people want to control it, as well, which is the weirdest thing.

It should be just yours, right?
Apparently. It’s supposed to be just ours, right? But the thing is that it’s not. That’s the force that Sunny Day create: It’s everybody else’s. People love to own it for themselves and that’s very special. But as a person who’s actually doing the work, it’s like, “Okay, start swimming. Here we go!”

When you are talking about other people wanting to own it, are you talking about the music industry or the fans?
Well, especially the music industry. Our fans have a very passive ownership of it in that they own it in their CD player or their iPod and it’s very special to their hearts. But it’s the industry that is the most controlling. They see the potential explosion of it–and I’m not saying that they just want to profit off it– but they want to see it flourish. With Sunny Day there’s always been the question of why we didn’t get bigger than we were and people think, “Well, let’s do what we can to make it happen for these guys.”

So you’re saying it’s still a “never say never” situation?
What it comes down to is that I just fear getting fans’ expectations and hopes up. It would be just a major bummer to be like, “Hey, We’re doing this!” and then suddenly not do it. alt 

How oddly ambiguous… But, outside of the unknown future of SDRE, Enigk does have an excellent point to all this. Enigk deftly manages to explain the power of internet rumors and its ultimate impact on the fans. It’s something I ultimately agree with, and I too do not want to give up fans’ hopes, including myself: as much as I really want to see Sunny Day perform, I hope that my own words haven’t spurned definitive thoughts of a reunion in the minds of others.

Since I first wrote about the potential reunion/rumors back in March, my piece had been getting tons of traffic. It’s gotten picked up by Absolute Punk, Alter The Press, Alternative Press, Paste Magazine, an emo blog from Japan, and even the Sunny Day Real Estate Wikipedia page. While I was certainly honored to be written up in these fine places, I’ve been a little worried about folks reactions. Suddenly, the question mark at the end of the post’s title indicating some lack of veracity became an exclamation point, and this blog became one of a couple of “sources” claiming that the reunion was, in fact, true.

Now, as I said, I would absolutely relish the ability to attend an SDRE show, but until there is an official announcement concerning a Sunny Day show, it’s a little to early to call anything go. And yet, just the other day when Enigk released his album, there was a new wave of rumors cropping up, saying that the band might be playing this year’s Bumbershoot. However, many of these write ups were definitive.

There was Marco Collins, who’s original Twitter post for that day spurned the original Bumbershoot rumors. Marco was one of a couple of folks that the original reunion rumors were based on, and he’s known as credible considering his closeness to members of the band, or at least with Enigk, and at least for work. Collins originally had this to say:

Sunny Day Real Estate @ Bumbershoot? Fact or fiction?

He then took the post down and said this a little later that day:

Picture 17

And then there’s the Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s Ear Candy blog, written by Travis Hay, who’s last piece on the reunion said the eventual Bumbershoot set was all but inevitable. And though Collins, who retracted his statement, was all but definitive, questioning the very idea, Hay has been recklessly positive about the group’s appearance, calling Collins a credible source because of his insider knowledge and previous positive, potentially-educated, guess about a festival headliner. Though the outline of Hay’s piece isn’t definitive, the tone of it surely is, and the constant ambiguous Twitter-postings certainly show that Hay believes the reunion will happen. But, as Collins perviously stated that the band would be performing summer festival dates and the first two albums, and most summer festival announcements are coming to a close (Bumbershoot’s schedule isn’t finalized, but that’s in the beginning of September, so technically still summer… all that’s left is the Virgin Music Festival), I’m still a little suspect.

But, what might be most troubling about all of this is Hay’s attitude about his work. Take a look at this conversation over Twitter:

Picture 19

And the response:

Picture 20

It’s a little stunning if you ask me. Sure, it’s ok if you don’t take your job seriously; no one in that working relationship hurts more than the individual who thinks of their job as nothing serious. But music journalism, true music journalism, is like all kinds of journalism: it’s meant to inform the public about their interests. Readers, music fans, and people take this stuff seriously, and take it to heart, and it’s a damn shame when someone involved in journalism just doesn’t think anything of their words or their affect. 

To end things, I’d like to take something that Ian MacKaye said in an interview with Alex Cook for The Believer:

IAN MacKAYE: How could it be that someone under the age of twenty-one is not allowed to see a band? I mean, did you like music when you were under twenty-one?

THE BELIEVER: Of course.

IM: Did it mean anything to you?

BLVR: Yes, it meant everything to me, in fact.

IM: Of course it did. It is completely absurd and insane that because of the economic dependency that musicians have been faced with which maintains this status quo, that they are forced to say, “That’s the way it is.” And I think that’s a bunch of bullshit. I know music predated the rock club. I know music predated the music industry. I know music predates the alcohol industry. I know music predates it all. Music is no joke, and the fact that it has been perverted by these various industries for their own profit is discouraging to me.

While what MacKaye was talking about was strictly focused on age restrictions at rock clubs in conjunction with alcohol sales, it’s still a particularly applicable for this piece. Hay’s job is merely another part of the music industry if you want to think of journalism (especially music journalism) in terms of consumer writing, and so his preponderance over a popular broken-up band potentially reuniting is all good business for him (and that is very much an ugly interpretation of journalism and I partially apologize for that as I tend to view journalism as something greater than simply consumerist influences). But what’s most important about that quote is how serious both these individuals look at music. Music was, and is, an important part of their lives. And music journalism is a part of the culture of music today; it allows us to discover new bands, learn more about the humanity behind bands we love, and find out about potential reunions. And Hay’s strong focus on a Sunny Day Real Estate reunion and his positivity of it is potentially dangerous. And while Hay’s words certainly aren’t responsible for the Spanish-American War or putting individuals in harms way, they certainly are putting pressure on a group of talented individuals to do something they might not want to, and feeding into the hopes of many a passionate SDRE fan who are amorous about music and nothing else. And to let those people down on a whim would be unfortunate.

I’ve still got my fingers crossed, but we’ll have to wait and see. And if any member or friend of Sunny Day comes across this and wants to voice their opinion here or anywhere else, I (and so many others) would be completely supportive.

Sunny Day Real Estate – “Seven” (Live on The Jon Stewart Show, right before their first break up… interestingly enough, they were thought to have broken up immediately at the end of this set, but that claim is untrue… you’ll have to read Norman Brannon‘s Anti-Matter Anthology for the SDRE 1997 reunion piece originally featured in Alternative Press):

5 responses to “Those Sunny Day Real Estate Reunion Rumors

  1. You are jumping to way too many conclusions on Ear Candy’s quip on “rumors are half the fun.” He’s talking about the fun of basically sitting on a couch and speculating with friends about who may be coming to Bumbershoot. Except he’s also sharing his thoughts with everyone else, including you. What’s wrong with that? He’s thoughts aren’t that music journalism shouldn’t be serious. Not at all. You’ve made a mountain over a mole hill of a statement made in 140 CHARACTERS on a mobile messaging site, for God’s sake. Plus, his message wasn’t even to you, it was to that Crick dude. You’ve just contributed to the mess. congrats.

    • Hey Sam,

      Thanks for the comments; very valid points and they’ve all been noted. But I disagree that I’ve made a mountain over a mole hill – I’m merely stating an opinion on the nature of music journalism entirely. And there’s nothing wrong with having fun, but when folks take every word deliberately – including 140 characters – then it’s important to realize the consequences. If anything, I’ve indicted myself more than anyone else, and this was meant to be an apology to fans who took my words as a gesture of seriousness. I didn’t mean to say Hay’s comment was wrong, but simply misguided. And in a world where anyone can post anything online, you’ve really got to be aware of the actions of others… especially when made in public. Sure, the comment was just to Crick, but it’s visible to everyone.

      I have to wonder why you’re so angry over what is basically my opinion. I’m sorry if I wronged you in any way, but this entire post was meant to apologize for making a mess of anything and giving up individuals hopes…. and my commentary of Hay’s post was a reflection of how anything that goes online can be misconstrued, even in my own actions. I’m sure Travis is an exceptional journalist: they don’t hire just anyone to write for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, especially when they’re the first major daily to stop printing and have cut back on staff, and he’s done a lot of non-music journalism as well. But he’s also not just sitting on some couch speculating with friends – he’s writing for an audience of strangers who’ve entrusted themselves in his every word. And while a Twitter post isn’t a full-blown article, it’s still public communication that, in this day and age, provides even more focused newsworthiness for even a major media outlet (and, to be quite frank, that’s a shame). The major points of reference from all of this reunion rumor circulation have all come from Twitter to boot, so to say that 140 characters is meaningless is a little much. But I hardly think that my commentary on how people take music journalism serious added to any mess any worse than before – I mean, after all, you seem upset enough to comment.

      And there’s nothing wrong with sharing your thoughts to the world – in fact, that transparency is great… but internet commentary tends to lack accountability, and my fears are that many a fan will be let down because of 140 characters…

  2. I just stumbled across all the rumors about an SDRE reunion tour yesterday, and of course, as soon as I saw it, I freaked out. As I dug more and more into the story, I wasn’t so sure it was actually happening. I was fortunate enough to see SDRE on the “HIFTBSO” tour back in 1998…and “The Rising Tide” tour in 2000…followed by The Fire Theft tour in 2003.

    But for the past 14 years, SDRE has been my favorite band…really. There are dozens of other bands I love, but none have been able to bump SDRE from that top spot since I first heard them when I was 16. Their music spoke to me and I can’t tell you how many people over the past decade and a half I have turned on to their music. I thoroughly enjoy The Fire Theft and Enigk’s solo stuff, but nothing would beat seeing Jeremy, William, Nate, and Dan on stage, blasting through my favorite songs.

    If the band does in fact tour, I can guarantee I will see them at least once, possibly twice. As a mini fan/family reunion, my brother, sister, brother-in-law, and I plan on meeting in Atlanta, coming together from three states (GA, FL, and VA) to see them if they play in the city…all of us coming together to “relive” the night we saw them at The Masquerade in ATL back in late Oct. 1998.

  3. Pingback: Tracking the SDRE Rumors « Perfect Lines

  4. Pingback: More Sunny Day Real Estate Reunion Rumors « Perfect Lines

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