Indie Favorites Reborn As The Fire Theft

Excerpted from the magazine for

Having stormed the underground rock scene with its 1993 Sub Pop debut, "Diary," Seattle's Sunny Day Real Estate abruptly broke up two years later at the height of its popularity.

The group re-formed in 1998 but splintered again in June 2001 after the jump to Arista-affiliated Time Bomb failed to nudge it further into the mainstream.

On Sept. 23, SDRE vocalist/guitarist Jeremy Enigk, bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith added a new chapter to the saga with their self-titled Rykodisc debut as the Fire Theft. It entered Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart at No. 11.

Mendel joined Foo Fighters after SDRE's original split and is playing with his old bandmates for the first time since 1995's "LP2." He is also on board for the Fire Theft's North American tour, which kicked off Sept. 26 in Vancouver.

Enigk and Goldsmith quickly began to work on new material after SDRE's most recent breakup, recasting five or six songs that had been written since the release of 2000's "The Rising Tide."

But the project shifted into high gear once Mendel came aboard, as he made immediate contributions to such album tracks as the uplifting "It's Over," "Summertime" and the largely instrumental "Rubber Bands."

"It's such a rare thing to actually find a musician who locks into you right away and understands where you're going," Enigk says of Mendel. "He makes choices we would make yet still surprises us."

"I think they're making the best music of their careers," says Ryko Group president Joe Regis.

The group's newly redesigned official Web site ( has featured album demos since late last year and streamed the full set prior to its release.

While retaining the emotionally arresting drama of SDRE's best work, "The Fire Theft" heralds a newfound clarity of intent from Enigk, who wrote all the lyrics for the first time since his 1996 solo album, "Return of the Frog Queen."

"A lot of the times, the lyrics are extremely blunt," Enigk admits of such unabashed love songs as "Heaven" and "Waste Time." "But I felt that is what makes a lot of my favorite records my favorite records: the honesty and the fact that somebody could potentially relate to it."

Excerpted from the Oct. 25, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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