Jeremy Enigk might not know exactly where his career will go in the future, but he certainly sounds way more open and giving than he used to.
For many years, as the frontman of Sunny Day Real Estate and the Fire Theft and as a solo artist, Enigk had a reputation of being extremely shy when he didn’t have a microphone in front of his mouth.
“It’s not that I was shy; it’s that I wasn’t interested in doing interviews,” he says. “It’s just an awkward thing to do. I’m a musician. That is the language I have always wanted to speak. Talking about such personal things all the time is strange to me. I want to keep my life to myself. I want to have control over what I give. Interviews are a strange social format that has always felt unusual for me.”
Enigk is playing his classic solo debut, Return of the Frog Queen, in full with a six-piece backing band. That's why he’s doing interviews these days, and when talking with the Observer, he doesn’t evade any questions.
Critics heralded Return of the Frog Queen at the time of its release in 1996, but it was overshadowed by the fact that two Sunny Day Real Estate bandmates, William Goldsmith and Nate Mendel, were in the Foo Fighters at the same time. The nine songs defined lush with the use of strings, acoustic guitars and piano. Enigk would have loved for Goldsmith to play drums on all of the songs on the record, but he only played on the album's opener, “Abegail Anne.”
Enigk would gladly have Goldsmith play drums on this anniversary tour, too, but things did not work out that way. Kaanan Tupper is on the drum throne for this tour.
“I don’t think it was really an option this time,” Enigk says. “It just worked out the way that it has worked out.”
He can only remember doing two U.S. tours when the album came out. He’s fuzzy on whether he ever came to Texas to promote it.
“I’m sure we did, but I do not remember,” he says with a laugh.
As happy as Enigk is with his backing band, which also features a keyboardist, a cellist, a violinist, a bassist and another guitarist, he’d love to do things on a bigger scale. People love Enigk’s work as a solo artist and with Sunny Day Real Estate and the Fire Theft, but the audience is not big enough for him to play symphony halls.
“If I had it my way, I would have a 21-piece orchestra on that stage,” Enigk says. “And it would be in a theater or something, but it is what it is.”
“If I had it my way, I would have a 21-piece orchestra on that stage. And it would be in a theater or something, but it is what it is.” – Jeremy Enigk
With a number of solo releases to his name, he doesn’t hide his appreciation for Frog Queen.
“It’s probably my favorite piece of music that I’ve ever done,” Enigk says. “It’s the one I’m most proud of because it was a time in my life where I took a gigantic leap of faith. When you do that — you jump and you don’t know if there’s a net — there is one in anything you do. If your heart is telling you something and you jump, you’re always gonna get caught.”
Although Sunny Day Real Estate reunited in 1998 and again in 2009, people will always want to know if the band will get together again, especially since it began work on a fifth album before things fell apart last time.
“I understand why people would ask,” Enigk says, “but my answer right now is I don’t know. I’m just doing what I’m doing right now, and I’m enjoying myself. If it’s in the cards in the future, I’m open to it.”
Enigk has new solo material in the works, but in order to stay financially afloat, he has to tour. Writing and finishing new material would take time. He hopes to record again in October in Spain, where he recorded his last solo record, Ghosts.
Wherever he’s doing in his musical career, he has the opportunity to do what he wants.
“At least I have a better perspective of my life,” he says, “whereas when you’re a kid, you’re just rolling in it. You’re just absorbed in the world. It’s hard to stop and take a look at where you’ve been and where you’ve gone because you haven’t had that much experience.”
Jeremy Enigk plays Friday at Club Dada. Tickets are $18.