Like all artists with a new record coming out, Jeremy Enigk was excited about releasing World Waits, his second solo album. But for the veteran musician, who fronted the highly influential Sunny Day Real Estate and its subsequent metamorphosis into the Fire Theft and had already released an acclaimed solo album on his own, there was more to it this time around.
"I was especially excited because it was the first official release on my label, and the exciting thing wasn't putting out my record, it was my first label release, and that's a whole new world to me," he explains. "I feel a sense of accomplishment from it."
For the once notoriously enigmatic Enigk, the release of World Waits seems to have opened up several new worlds. In addition to his releasing the album on his own Lewis Hollow label, this is the first time the lyrics have been included in his press materials and the vocals left unobscured.
From the minute Enigk's voice, soft and dreamlike, floats in on "Been Here Before," it stakes out a more prominent position in the mix. While that's most obvious on quieter numbers like "Damien Dreams" and "Dare a Smile," even more sonically dense songs like "City Tonight" don't swallow the words this time out.
Though the ambitious arrangements and sweeping dynamics of World Waits aren't miles apart from the majestic chamber-pop of his first solo album, 1996's The Return of the Frog Queen, Enigk does admit that the album—which he describes as much more polished than its predecessor—is more accessible, and the lyrics "a little more plugged in to the world."
"But it's my personal feelings about [the world]," he clarifies. "Before, I was really obsessed with love and getting my heart broken and whatever. I guess that's what Return of the Frog Queen was more or less about. This album, lyrically, is a little bit about that, but it's also about a state of the world and politics and this whole notion of war that's happening."
Starting his own label has also seemingly reinvigorated Enigk's enthusiasm and curiosity about the local music scene. "I've been pretty unplugged from it for a long time, but [seeing new bands] is something I want to start doing more when I'm out working my own record, because one of the exciting things about starting a label is going to shows and maybe signing a band who might want to be on a record label."
Lest you think Enigk's tastes are confined to acts like U2, John Lennon, and Bob Dylan, who have most influenced him, he sites the National and Kings of Leon as two of the records he's been listening to the most lately and raves about catching a recent Melvins show.
"I saw them at Neumo's, and I absolutely could not believe what I was seeing," he effuses. "I was actually screaming, 'YEAHHHHHHHHHH!' I think I even said, 'Fuck yeah!'" he giggles. "I turned into a total meathead."
The future looks wide-open for Enigk, who plans to continue to work World Waits as much as possible, with tours planned for next year in Europe, Japan, and Australia. Once that subsides, there's talk of a new studio album from the Fire Theft, the band he created with SDRE alumni William Goldsmith and Nate Mendel.
"I'm going to stay productive and keep putting things out there," he says of his musical projects. "Hopefully I'll have enough time off that I can record singles and various things that aren't for whole records. Hopefully try to collaborate with other artists. I don't know who would want to do that, but maybe put out a joint record with somebody."
With so many possibilities on the horizon and the means to turn them into reality at his disposal, it seems slightly strange to ask Enigk about regrets.
"Technically, I don't regret any of my choices because I follow my heart and I've got to stick with that," he says seriously, then pauses and laughs. "But I think that if I do regret anything, it was maybe holding on to a girlfriend or two."
In terms of his music, though, Enigk's excited about the choices he's made and the path he's followed.
"It's harder starting your own label," he admits, "but I think in the end it pays off, because I'm in control of my own destiny. I can do anything I want. I could put out weird concept albums or put out my friends' stuff. It's awesome."