Jeremy Enigk | Patience Is a Virtue

"I'm a lot more comfortable in my skin than I was as a kid. I let go of a lot of the baggage and the demons that haunt me. So this album allows me to start fresh."

 

"So I turned myself to face me/but I've never caught a glimpse" (David Bowie, "Changes")

profile_enigkSunny Day Real Estate appeared on the Seattle scene at a time when the city was still reeling from the loss of icon Kurt Cobain and the leftovers of grunge were washing away in the Puget Sound. A breath of fresh air, SDRE became seminal figures in the movement that a decade later would be known as emo-core.

In the center of it all, frontman Jeremy Enigk's tortured lyrics brought to mind the glory of grunge, and his delicate pitch contradicted it. The band's debut Diary earned Enigk critical accolades and heaps of respect, but the aftermath found him in a purgatory of happiness and misery prompted by follow-up pressure, infighting, and creative energy.

Enigk turned to spiritualism.

He attempted to explain his born-again spirituality and other god stuff in an open letter entitled "To Seth and Other Readers," which addressed fans en masse but also alienated SDRE's hardcore audience. "Yes sir I have given my life to Christ," Enigk wrote. "For along time I dwelt on a lot of pain in my life…I took a shot on calling upon God. He answered me. My pain was gone. I was full of joy. I had hope again."

An artist who has repeatedly redefined himself, Enigk feels he's come back with World Waits, a searing epic that is both introspective and extroverted. There is passion, emotional fuel; a feverish cerebral overload, as if Enigk spent so much time in his head, he's boiled over. This is meant in an artistic sense, not in the "I'm a half step from cutting off my ear or finding a reclusive campsite next to JD Salinger for the next 40 years" way.

"It has been ten years since I did a solo record," Enigk says in explanation of World Waits taking over where 1996's Return of the Frog Queen left off. As an album, as a person, the concept may be summed up with the opening track: "A New Beginning."

"I'm a lot more comfortable in my skin than I was as a kid. I let go of a lot of the baggage and the demons that haunt me. So this album allows me to start fresh."

Simply put; there are artists who have thinner skins than most, and for this reason, shun the limelight. Bowie was one of them; he literally believed he was Ziggy Stardust. In '73, he quit music.

Enigk enjoys the low profile he has maintained. "I live a pretty quiet life," he reveals. "It's the best of both worlds, as I have a chance to get my music out there, but as a person I can sort of exist under the radar."

In the decade-long lull between solo works, Enigk wasn't cramming for creativity or experiencing writer's block. Instead, outside influences intervened. SDRE reunited, for what was to be "one little thing" and turned into a few tours, after which they made it official: SDRE was kaput. Then, the always omniscient moniker legalities; three-fourths of SDRE were reborn as the Fire Theft, with whom Enigk recorded and toured. He also scored the soundtrack for 2003's dark, cult indie film, The United States of Leland. A constant companion was the Frog Queen follow-up.

"I went into this thing, wanting it to be more accessible to a wider audience. I had five drummers, a couple different guitar players, four bass players, making it more universal, more of a democracy."

Wavering in pitch over the course of the clean and massive-sounding World Waits, Enigk flexes his pipes on "Been Here Before" and "City Tonight," opting for more subtle pitches on "Cannons" and the Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds-esque "Wayward Love." With psychedelic orchestrations and multilayered melodies, the songs are grand, conceptual, and epic without sounding overproduced. The intro to "Damien Dreams" rings so clear, it is as if Brian Wilson helmed the project and turned a crystal-clear mountain stream into a string arrangement. The humble Enigk attributes this near-perfection to his production staff. "I definitely wanted this disc to be more produced and less raw," he says. Co-producer "Josh Myers is a pretty meticulous engineer."

With an appearance at Lollapalooza and a late summer tour in the bag, he's coordinating a fall/winter tour to coincide with the October 17 release of World Waits. His fans have coined a colloquial adjective for him: Enigkmatic. "I have faith in my fans who believe that whatever I do, they will like," Enigk says thankfully. "I've got a pretty open fan base who've seemed to like whatever I've done."

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