Sunny Day Real Estate
Sunny Day Real Estate

Seattle's Sunny Day at Soundwave

NATE MENDEL is best known for plucking the thumping bass lines for the Grammy Award-winning American rock phenomenon Foo Fighters.

But before he joined Foo Fighters, Mendel was a member of Sunny Day Real Estate – an underground Seattle band credited with forging the ‘emo’ music genre of the early nineties.

Sunny Day Real Estate imploded in 1995, leaving Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith ripe for recruiting. Dave Grohl snapped them up to form Foo Fighters the same year.

Mendel would go on to play with Foo Fighters for the next 15 years, declining a brief Sunny Real Estate reunion in 1997. But after a gruelling decade of touring and churning out back-to-back albums, Foo Fighters went into hiatus, leaving Mendel free for the 2009 reunion.

Sunny Day Real Estate will visit Australia for the first time to play Soundwave Festival, kicking off in Brisbane next Saturday.

“I love going to Australia,” Mendel says. “Jeremy (Enigk) has never been over there and it will be the first time the band will play a festival so it’s going to be big.”

Touring Australia as part of the Soundwave Festival line-up is a long way from the Seattle basement where the beginnings of Sunny Day Real Estate can be traced. “Dan (Hoerner) and I lived in a house together with a bunch of other college students,” Mendel says. “We would take acid and write songs in the basement … then we started to realise we liked the stuff we were producing. We decided not to take things too seriously but to see what happened. Then we found the perfect drummer when we saw William Goldsmith play … things developed from there.”

Sunny Day Real Estate would go on to release two albums, building up a cult-like following with their post-hardcore indie pop sound. But the band broke up shortly after their second album, LP2, was as released, under speculations that Enigk’s sudden conversion to Christianity was to blame.

Mendel and Goldsmith were recruited by Grohl to form Foo Fighters. They had known Grohl from the days when Nirvana were on the make, playing around Seattle. Goldsmith would leave Foo Fighters but Mendel went on to enjoy a 15-year career with the band.

“It’s hard to pick the biggest highlight from playing with Foo Fighters,” Mendel says.

“If I had to pick something, it would have to be playing Wembley Stadium (in 2008). The scale and scope of those shows was phenomenal. To see how the band has grown from doing a college show and being built up to this thing that plays venues meant for sporting events has been amazing.”

But the bump and grind of constant touring and recording left Mendel and the remaining members of Foo Fighters needing a break. All members have taken the opportunity to explore other projects, with Grohl going on to form Them Crooked Vultures and Mendel jumping in to regroup Sunny Day Real Estate.

“Getting back with Sunny Day Real Estate has been incredible,” Mendel says. “It’s been years since we have played together but the chemistry is still there.”

Catch Sunny Day Real Estate when Soundwave Festival rolls into Brisbane next Saturday, February 20. Tickets are available through The line-up includes rock legends Faith No More, Janes Addiction, Placebo, and Jimmy Eat World plus many more.

• Weekender is giving one lucky reader the chance to win a double pass to Soundwave Festival in Brisbane. To win, write in 25 words or less why you deserve the tickets. Send your answer to Weekender Competitions, PO Box 423, Lismore, NSW, 2480. Competition closes on February 17. Entries judged by Northern Star staff.

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