Heated Exchange

Sunny Day Real Estate's Jeremy Enigk and Will Goldsmith rise again—as the Fire Theft.

THE FIRE THEFT

VERONA

Graceland, 206-381-3094, $10 adv.

9 p.m. Tues., Jan. 21

Welcome to the lonesome world of Abel, where every brother's knife is set to slay you.

—Jeremy Enigk, from Sunny Day Real Estate's The Rising Tide, 2000

It's sweet, man. I love the trees. That's the best part: walking out on this porch, drinking a beer, smoking a cigarette, and just looking at the trees, watching the wind blow through.

—Jeremy Enigk, on life in Redmond, Dec. 21, 2002

All emo boys are given a special set of ovaries in their bodies. These ovaries allow them to harness the special powers of emo for good . . . or evil.

—Jeremy Enigk, video-game character, levitating on a cloud, from Emogame.com, 2003

YOU KNOW HIM as the enigmatic, openly Christian vocalist of an enormously influential Western Washington post-punk quartet that broke up after every two albums. I know him as all that and . . . a guy with a cool Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade T-shirt.

I spent two hours on Jeremy Enigk's sofa, petting Jeremy Enigk's napping kitten (Mr. Blue), staring at my reflection in Jeremy Enigk's Volkswagen-sized TV, but the only immutable truth I can relay about Jeremy Enigk is one you already know: He's a man with an absolutely beatific voice.

The preceding paragraph is mostly half-truths. Enigk's housemate, Will Goldsmith, has equal claim to the couch, cat, TV, and property. When Goldsmith wasn't laying unbelievable waste to his drum kit in Sunny Day Real Estate, he was pulling triple percussive duty for Mike Watt, Hovercraft, and the Foo Fighters nearly every night on a legendary eight-week tour in 1995, voluntarily "fucking myself up pretty badly" for the rock.

On days past and future, these men are indie-rock icons, but as you read this, they're just two friends who have a new project called the Fire Theft and not much else. No label, no money, no album title, no charted future; just 10 songs they play on their stereo for me that are an astonishingly vital, trippy, messy, explosive, frustrating, operatic, high-concept departure.

Sunny Day formerly shunned interviews and other press machinations, partially because there simply wasn't enough story to tell (unfortunately, when they loosened the reins on photo shoots, Goldsmith recalls, "that was when I looked like a bloated, green pile of shit"). Now these guys are living a novel, so they can handle the audio book.

AH, JUST DO A GOOGLE SEARCH ON 'PROMETHEUS'

Will Goldsmith: We were in hell trying to come up with a new band name. We were like, "Jesus Christ, band names are so hard to find." You wanna come up with something that doesn't seem too pretentious but isn't silly. Maybe the Fire Theft is pretentious.

Me: What would be unpretentious—the F-y-r-e Theft?

Jeremy Enigk: The Unpretentious.

THE FIRE THEFT'S DEBUT ALBUM, COMING . . . UH . . . NEVER

Goldsmith: We're in limbo. We made the record ourselves without the help of anybody else, except [producer] Brad Wood. We got a business loan from the bank to pay him, and to get some gear and for our survival, but that's been out for a long time. But we refuse to sign a deal because we're broke. We're very, very, very wary of record labels. The offers are there, the interest is there, but . . .

Enigk: We're seriously considering putting out the record ourselves, just trying to do it on a small level and hope that it can grow.

Goldsmith: In one sense, we're bobbing and weaving now with no support, but at the same time, we're not gonna drop ourselves.

MODS, ROCKERS, 'EMOS'?

Enigk: The Who was a huge inspiration on this new album. One of the goals was to create an epic story, although we didn't quite get there . . .

Goldsmith: . . . yet. The record's done, but it's not done.

Enigk: [Goldsmith] tried to turn me on to Quadrophenia a while ago, and I was just like, "Ugh."

Goldsmith: I slid it under his bedroom door. Like, "Enjoy!"

Enigk: And then he came in, and I was crying. He's like, "Blah blah blah blah blah," and I was like, [solemn] "Dude, I'm crying."

I DIDN'T SEE YOU AT THE CHA-CHA LAST NIGHT

Goldsmith: I'm almost completely withdrawn from society as a whole. I don't go out anymore. I rarely go to shows.

Enigk: Yeah, likewise. Kinda hard to be part of a scene when you're trying to create your own.

Goldsmith: I also have a problem with giving too much of my energy to people. I'm psychologically and physically healthier than I have been in 10 years. It'd be nice to have friends, and [points at Mr. Blue] there he is.

OUR BAND COULD BE YOUR LIFE . . . OR NOT

Goldsmith: I don't know how I feel about the emo thing, because I never quite understood how emotionally driven rock music became a new thing. But I was reading, I think in Rolling Stone, "The Inventors of Emo: Sunny Day Real Estate, Fugazi, and Rites of Spring." I couldn't believe that we were in the same little box with those two bands. Why us and not Slint? At the same time, I got shivers because they were our heroes, you know? So it's a pretty amazing thing to be lumped into anything with them, even though I'm sure there's people that look at that little box and see us and go, "What?"

Me: Just imagine 20 years from now on Emo-core: Behind the Music. Who knows what'll happen with this band that could potentially . . .

Enigk: Nothing.

Goldsmith: Yeah, nothing. We always seem to be the silent . . . whatever.

MINISCULE INSIGHT I: THE VOICE(S) OF GOD

Enigk: A lot of times [in Sunny Day] I would come up with an idea of what a song was about, but Dan [Hoerner, SDRE's guitarist] would sit down and take syllables of the music I was singing and put words to that. It was difficult writing without Dan, because he helped a lot with making lyrics seem cohesive.

Goldsmith: For the most part, I like the idea of Jeremy singing 100 percent all his own words, because I like the things he comes up with.

MINISCULE INSIGHT II: THE LAST TEMPTATION OF SUNNY DAY

Goldsmith: Jeremy and I have our moments where we're not getting along, but ultimately, big picture-wise, it's family. The conflicts with Dan went a little further than that. Deep down at the core, there wasn't this genuine love and respect for each other. With Jeremy and I . . . "

Enigk: " . . . it's workable. It's a marriage. But we can't have sex to make the tension go away."

Goldsmith: "The lack of sexual attraction has been a problem. But we can deal with it. We all masturbate, and that's fine."

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