Godfathers of Emo

Or maybe sunny day real estate are the godfathers of suburban soul

They're very silly, sort of mock children's stories infused with my own twisted brand of philosophy. It's a story about human nature as embodied by a very naughty little monkey and the trouble he gets into.

Is there a similar aesthetic in the book and Sunny Day Real Estate's music?

How could it not be the same as what I put into my writing? That's just who I am. And as far as aesthetics go, this book is illustrated thoroughly by the wonderfully amazing Chris Thompson, who did the album artwork for How It Feels to Be Something Onand Diary.

I don't even know how I would describe the aesthetic of the artwork—"twisted" and "creepy" come to mind, but they're not the best words for it. How deliberate was that at the time?

There was a connection to what Chris Thompson was doing and how it looked and how we all felt about it, and that's kind of obvious. You look at it, and there are many similarities to Sunny Day music; that kind of chaotic interplay of conflicting forces is at work in Chris' paintings. I think a lot of his humor is based on the kind of strangeness of it, the incongruity of it, and I think that that's also a theme in Sunny Day.

So what does rain, which pops up repeatedly in your lyrics, represent?

I don't know why I'm so drawn to that. Maybe because in eastern Washington; it's much drier, so in the spring and summer, I'm always praying for rain, and when rain comes, it's a huge deal, and it means a lot when it rains.

But you talk about wanting to "be" the rain in the lyrics.

That's probably speaking more to a desire to disappear into more elemental components. There's something pure about rain and something kind of confused about being a human being. I don't know—I mean, haven't you ever just wanted to disappear into the rain?

I was actually taking this personality test over the Internet the other day—


Hey, I was finding the keys to unlock the true me. So there was this question: After you die, would you rather be forgotten or hatefully remembered?

What did you say?

I said forgotten. And then I justified it by saying it's more natural because you're not hatefully remembered before you're born.

Ultimately, we're all going to be forgotten. Ultimately, even Hitler is going to be forgotten. The human consciousness is not an eternal. At some point, we'll get evolved out of the race.

So how do you feel about the idea that you guys spawned the emo movement?

I think that anybody who considers Sunny Day Real Estate as an influence on their music—I think that's awesome. I think it's the biggest compliment that you can get as an artist—that somebody thought that your music was good enough that they wanted to try something similar or incorporate an element of it or just really like to listen to it a lot.

Who are your influences?

Aw, jeez, I'm influenced by the Clash and U2—you know, all kinds of different bands and things like that. So if I ever got a chance to sit down with John Lee Hooker and say, "In some weird way, you inspired me to play guitar, thanks," you know, that would be great. I think it's fantastic that people consider Sunny Day a musical influence.

The Rising Tide feels more anthemic and majestic, and the songs are bigger than on previous albums. Is that anything you were thinking about?

We definitely weren't consciously trying to write anthems. I think we might be getting a little better at writing songs. You just do something long enough and you feel like you get a handle on how you want it to go. I wouldn't say that that means the songs on Diary are inferior to the songs on The Rising Tide. I just think they're different. We're evolving as songwriters, so I think our actual writing style is evolving, too.

Did you write the lyrics to "The Blankets Were the Stairs?"

Jeremy and I wrote a lot of that together. How come?

That song has just always haunted me.

Cool, cool. That was a big one. That's definitely one where there was a motivation there. Good, I'm glad it affects you.


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