Styles: Atmospheric Rock, Singer/Songwriter, Emo
Location: Seattle, Washington
Label: Lewis Hollow Recordings
Christian label: yes
Category: The Light whats this?
Christian music artist Jeremy Enigk is the most influential rock musician of the last 20 years. His influence is more evident in today’s music than even Kurt Cobain.
In 1992, Jeremy Enigk filled in for the lead singer of a Seattle hardcore band called One Day I Stopped Breathing and rock music took another diversion. Jeremy Enigk’s anguished falsetto soared high above the guitar wash and his tortured, sometimes unintelligible lyrics became the blueprint for emo music. The band changed their name to Sunny Day Real Estate and for three years and one album Diary, Jeremy Enigk and crew revolutionized the underground rock scene.
The music of Sunny Day Real Estate laid a bridged from the hardcore and grunge scene’s of the early 90′s to the more expressive and towering music that is known as “emo” music. Here is an example of what emo music was all about at the beginning as Sunny Day Real Estate sings “in Circles”, one of the iconic songs from their breakthrough debut album Diary.
Here is the deal, though. For those three years, while Sunny Day Real Estate was leading a musical revolution, Jeremy Enigk was a tortured soul. During that time, Jeremy Enigk gave his life to Christ and was overcome with the insatiable desire to express his new found freedom in his music and the music of Sunny Day Real Estate. Enigk’s spiritual transformation lead to the break -up of Sunny Day Real Estate. The band was in the middle of writing and recording their feverishly anticipated encore to Diary when Jeremy Enigk declared his faith to the world.
In response to a distraught fan, Seth, Jeremy Enigk explained his conversion and the impact on his music:
To Seth and other readers. I’m sorry that you are disturbed about the rumor of us breaking up. It is amazing how fast these things travel. Now to begin with, I don’t know where you got the idea that I am displeased with the new album. The album is not even finished yet, so how could I dislike it? In January I begin my vocals. Already I love the music alone. When I finish my vocals and the final mix is done, then a decision can be made of whether I like it or not. If I did not like the new album, that would be no reason for me to quit the band. When I look back at our last album Diary, I look at it as a diary of our emotions at the time it all went down. The same will be with the next album. It may not make me freak out in joy, it may not be to the best of our abilities, but it is who we were then. Yes sir I have given my life to Christ. For along time I dwelt on a lot of pain in my life. Pain that I had tried to get rid of in many different ways. I watched myself slowly shrivel up into a hopeless, bitter and lonely person. Well one thing led to another and I could not take it anymore so I took a shot on calling upon God. He answered me. My pain was gone. I was full of joy. I had hope again. All the hope that was squeezed out of me was replaced ten times. I had tried this in many different ways. None of them succeeded in saving me from hurt. Well , I was so full of joy that I wanted all of my friends to feel the way I did. So I told all of them, and of course they couldn’t understand, since it was something that I had been going through myself. And also it is such a far thing to grasp, that it is easier to just blow it off. To give your life to Christ means to deny yourself, to completely live for him. Doing this will change your comfort zone that you had been trying to get since you can remember. You then are a new person desiring a whole different way then before. Most people definitely don’t want their comfort changed, so they stay away from the idea of Jesus. The funny thing is, when you sincerely call upon him, though you let yourself go, He fills you with a joy and peace that far surpasses any joy, peace or comfort that you could possibly feel from earthly pleasures. Now, how this applies to the band breaking up. Well now that this has happened to me, Naturally I want to sing about it. I want it to be what sunny day real estate is about, so that others out there will hear. But there are mixed feelings about what we could do about me wanting to sing about Christ. One of the members doesn’t mind me singing about Christ, another is very uncomfortable with the idea of singing about Jesus, and one didn’t mind but now all of the sudden does. Well I understand where they are coming from because I was there. Jesus isn’t anything that I want to compromise with for he is far more important then this music, financial security or popularity could ever be. So the idea of breaking up has been talked about. I have different intentions now. I want to take the band on a different path then they. It is no longer the financial freedom that once controlled me, but it is to expose people to truth for their sake and especially Jesus’ sake. But who knows what is going to happen in the future. Every time I make a plan it gets changed. The future is the future. I hope that we come to a decision about the band that everyone is happy with.
Well my friend, you asked a couple questions and I gave you the whole story. Why give you the quick dumb version when you can get the story where it is. I’m going to say that there is more than what you see. I think most people believe that. Most people believe in some sort of God. Some create their own to their own comfort. Creating a mirror image of themselves, only calling it God. I must say that the true God is the one who is in the Bible, Jesus Christ. He is the only one whoever claimed to be God and on top of it all he rose from the dead. He has showed himself to me so clearly that I couldn’t possibly believe otherwise. I would be a fool to say that he hasn’t worked miracles in my life. When I didn’t believe, there were no miracles. When I believed, the miracles still have not stopped. Call me crazy, for I’d rather be crazy and see what I’ve seen, then to ever go back to where I was. Now dear Seth, there is another reason that I write this letter. In it I hope you will let others who are interested read this letter to know where sunny day real estate and I stand, to clear up any confusion that is flying around. And especially to let you know of the intense change that Christ has put me through. I’m sure that you by now can see why. Maybe not through these words, but in the sincerity that I write this letter. I also intend for others to read this who are outside of your circle, Seth. These people would be, everyone in the band, and to all the people at Sub Pop. If my word is anything, this is the most sincere I have been in my life. Jesus Christ is Lord. There is a supreme truth to this world, and may your hearts search for it. Believe what you will. There is nothing more that I could do or say to show you. Believe me I have tried with many. Thanks for hearing me out.
With love, -Jeremy Enigk
Sunny Day Real Estate’s sophomore effort was officially titled Sunny Day Real Estate, but has also been called The Pink Album and LP2. But it was their break-up album. The group did not want to become a religious band singing of Jeremy Enigk’s new found faith, so they decided to go their separate ways. The rhythm section became the original rhythm section of the Foo Fighters and the lead guitarist moved in other areas of the music industry.
Sunny Day Real Estate did not include any lyrics to the LP2 songs nor did they write liner notes. As people deciphered the lyrics, Jeremy Enigk’s wish to use this music to express his love for Christ was revealed. Here are the lyrics to one of the best songs from LP2 called “5/4″
Rise and shine
Strange promenade with
I thought I’d write the book of
While my eyes
I now you’re coming back
I can climb without you
I spoke bad poetry
The wrong way, you said
Lay down in my hands
Where promises will never break
But I’ve lived through
Lay down my life’s broken
My lips feel
Incomplete without love
So I go on
And set my life before you
I’m lost in you
Open my eyes
You set me free
Won’t lift me up
You held me
I’m lost in you
Sunny Day Real Estate would later reunite and record two more albums. Jeremy Enigk’s vocals and lyrics not only spawned the secular emo music genre it also inspired a wide range of young Christian musicians to make some of the best Christian rock of the 21st century. Bands like Copeland, Further Seems Forever, Cool Hand Luke, Dashboard Confessional and 238 are directly influenced by Sunny Day Real Estate.
Over the past 12 years Jeremy Enigk has released three albums of solo material ranging from the heavily orchestrated and almost psychedelic Return of the Frog Queen to quiet singer/songwriter offerings such as The World Waits. We are expecting his new CD OK Bear to hit the market soon.
Here is Jeremy Enigk singing “Explain” from Return of the Frog Queen.
In 2001, Jeremy Enigk reunited with the original rhythm section of Sunny Day Real Estate, William Goldsmith and Nate Mendel to form the The Fire Theft, which issued a self-titled album in 2003. The sound was much like that of Sunny Day Real Estate but The Fire Theft gave Jeremy Enigk the opportunity to fully express his faith through the style of music he helped create. Here is The Fire Theft performing the beautiful song “Heaven” from their only CD.
Jeremy Enigk’s unique singing style and lyrical expression led to a musical revolution. Emo music, fashion and mindset has evolved dramatically to the point where is does not resemble the Sunny Day Real Estate revolution from the early 90′s. However, Jeremy Enigk spawned movements in both the mainstream and Christian music scenes that has generated some best rock music of the 21st century. Except for the incessant touring of Pearl Jam, grunge has pretty much faded as a rock music style, but emo continues to evolve and influence a broad range of today’s music.
Regardless of his influence, Jeremy Enigk has created a body of work that beautifully describes a man’s search and discovery of Christ and his subsequent maturation as a believer, living in these ugly times.
Amazon has the complete Jeremy Enigk CD catalogue in both Cd format and MP3.
Sunny Day Real Estate CDs
The Fire Theft debut CD