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The term "emo" didn't always have a negative stigma attached to it. What was once shorthand for music that was emotional and heartfelt has since been marginalized and applied to mainstream acts like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy. Seattle's Sunny Day Real Estate was at the vanguard of the early emo movement. The group derived its name from something said by bassist Nate Mendel, who quipped that since everything had become a commodity, eventually some opportunistic type would figure out a way to sell sunny days. Mendel, who left the band to join the Foo Fighters in 1996, has rejoined his old bandmates for the first time in over a decade. We spoke with guitarist Dan Hoerner about Mendel's re-emergence and whether selling a sunny day is still a marketable idea.
Westword: What made the reunion happen?
Dan Hoerner: I'm always ready to play Sunny Day music. I think all the stars aligned at the right time. Nate had a little break from his Foo Fighters schedule, and he actually called us. What was I gonna say — no?!
Time has seemed to validate some of the music. The fact that people are still listening to it in any capacity is exciting to me. The opportunity to play with Nate again is just unbelievable. I never thought we'd get this chance to play with him ever again. He's an immensely talented musician, and he really completes the unit. [When he plays with us], the sound is just so powerful. I'm psyched to bring it, because it's so loud and heavy.
Has Nate changed in any way as a result of being in the Foo Fighters?
You tell me if I'm wrong, but it seems like the Foo Fighters are really successful.
They seem like they're doing okay.
[Laughs.] Gosh, they're doing okay? They've got Grammys! Nate has been honed playing amazing music and putting on incredible live shows. He's a thoroughbred; he's a trained champion. I think it's incumbent on the rest of us to try and match him. William [Goldsmith] and Jeremy [Enigk] both seem to bring it pretty strongly themselves. When I look around the practice space, it's a daunting challenge to try and step up to the levels of those guys. Nate is still the same, though; he still plays the same thunderous bass that he always has.
The theme of the band was a theory stating that everything, at some point, can be bought and sold, even a sunny day. Considering the state of the economy, does the name of the band still resonate the same?
If anything, I think the concept is being validated more and more every single day. All of us are living lives of economic slavery to a petrol imperialistic system. People's freedoms are being stripped away, and the U.S. military is being deployed around the oil trade routes. It's all kind spooky and scary and very dark and ominous, at least to me. You'll have to forgive me, by the way. I literally just read the last page of this book called The Tyranny of Oil. I just realized I was spouting all of the rhetoric. I totally apologize for that!