Former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk returns to the heavier rock sound of his old band on his third solo album, tentatively titled "OK Bear" and due in February via his own Lewis Hollow label.
The album was recorded outside Barcelona with a group of musicians introduced to Enigk by a mutual friend from Seattle and produced by Santi Garcia and Standstill's Ricky Falkner. "These guys are Sunny Day Real Estate fans and the moment they got their hands on my songs, whether they were mellow or not, they turned them into heavy rockers," Enigk tells Billboard.com.
"OK Bear," whose title comes from a phrase Enigk accidentally said while stringing together what he thought were nonexistent Spanish words, includes rockers like "Late of Camera" and "Find Idea," alongside "April Storm" ("That's on a Ryan Adams/"Love Is Hell"-type of kick," Enigk says) and the Gram Parsons-inspired "Same Side Imaginary."
"This is probably the first time I've ever dabbled with a country feel. Because it's me, it doesn't sound like a country song too much, but you can hear the influence," Enigk says of the latter.
The artist is playing a handful of new songs on a just-started U.S. tour, which also features a second guitarist. Fans can expect a mix of solo tracks, including the rarely played "Call Me Steam" and "Burn," alongside precious few Sunny Day Real Estate tunes.
"Some songs were written on piano, like 'Canons' and 'Burn,' and although the arrangements are the same, I'm playing the piano lines on guitar," Enigk says. "I'm also using distortion on an acoustic guitar. There are moments where it sounds like a band, minus drums. It has that intensity."
Enigk is hoping to tour with a full band next year, but concedes the cost may be prohibitive in the States. "I think I can do a full band in Europe, because the guys who played on the album are willing to go," he says. "I wouldn't have to fly them out. We could start in Spain and go from there. My goal is to tour as much as possible. In what incarnation, I have no idea."
As for his musical past, Enigk has resisted offers to reunite Sunny Day Real Estate, whose influence over the so-called "emo" subgenre of rock seems to grow with each passing year. Also on ice is the Fire Theft, his post-SDRE band with bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith.
"We never really broke up -- we just said we'd take a break and that we'll get back to it when we're ready," Enigk says. "But we've just not talked about it since. It may happen one day."