The Sundays: Wikis


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The Sundays

Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Alternative rock
Dream pop
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Drums
Years active 1988–1997
Labels Rough Trade
Associated acts Jim Jiminee
Departure Lounge
Star 69
David Gavurin
Harriet Wheeler
Patrick Hannan
Paul Brindley

The Sundays were an English alternative rock group. The band, formed in the mid-1980s, released three albums in the late 1980s and 1990s. Their music is characterised by singer Harriet Wheeler's dreamy voice, David Gavurin's rich and jangly guitar sound, and suspension-rich harmonies.



The band's genesis came with the meeting of Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin at university in Bristol. Wheeler had played gigs with 'Cruel Shoes' an early incarnation of the band Jim Jiminee.[1][2] The duo soon augmented the band with bassist Paul Brindley and drummer Patrick Hannan.

When The Sundays hit the British indie scene in the summer of 1989, they were heralded by the press as the next Smiths. The Sundays were lauded as one of the most original and innovative bands of the 90's and they quickly became indie heroes. Their sound is airy, ethereal, driven by shimmering melodies and jangling guitar atmospheres. Harriet Wheeler's high-flying sorprano is loose, boundless and beautiful, and her husband David Gavurin's gleaming guitar work boasts a similar soaring feel, free to glide across the songs' laid-back energy. Their presence has been completely personal and unconcerned with passing trends and fads in the highly flakey U.K. music market. Despite releasing only three full-length records since their 1988 formation, The Sundays have maintained an international fanbase. Their influence is apparent in acts such as The Innocence Mission and Sarah McClachlan.

David Gavurin was attending university in London, England in 1988 when he met fellow student Harriet Wheeler. Both sharing a passion for music and a mutual ambition, they became lovers and began rehearsing in David's bedroom with his 4-track. By that summer they'd teamed with the rhythm section of Paul Brindley (bass guitar) and Patrick Hannah (drums), making their debut in London as The Sundays. They were spotted by a number of writers, who swooned at Wheeler's angelic vocals and Gavurin's Johnny Marr-esque guitar jangle. Word quickly spread and as the year closed a label bidding war commenced, ending with The Sundays' settling on U.K. indie label Rough Trade. The debut single "Can't Be Sure", with its shuffling, almost stuttering beat, mournful guitar echo and free soaring vocal delivery by Wheeler thrilled the press and listeners alike winning The Sundays an instant following. They were praised as The Cocteau Twins meets The Smiths, as the songwriting team of Gavurin/Wheeler resembled a more ethereal take on the Marr/Morrisey unit.

The debut album, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was a youthful, energetic collection of downtown London lullabies driven by tight rhythms, loose melodies and a distraught, but never despairing, self-reflective lyrical outlook. It was released in 1990 along with the single "Here's Where the Story Ends", a cynical tale of love-lost draped in strumming acoustic guitar. The single enjoyed major sales, chart success and a lucrative (if sparse) tour. Already The Sundays had won an international following.

With Rough Trade's financial troubles and the band's decision to manage themselves, The Sundays' next single, "Goodbye" did not emerge until 1992. It revealed a slightly more intense guitar sound, and an even gloomier atmosphere made whole by Wheeler's still stunning vocals and the band's trademark gleaming overtones. Again, The Sundays were both critical darlings and the delight of indie fans everywhere. The next album, Blind, revealed a more grown-up Sundays, with Wheeler's vocals and Gavurin's guitar more free and soaring than ever. The moods were darker and just as ethereal, certainly Blind is just as essential as its predecessor. A second single emerged in 1993, a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses". Again, the band's touring schedule was sparse, although they were met with nearly salivating fans, starved for new material. Despite the obvious thirst the band dropped out again, and this time they wouldn't be heard from for five years.

In 1997 The Sundays released their third full length album, Static and Silence and the single "Summertime". Although the record retained the band's trademark jangling guitar and utterly beautiful vocals, it revealed a more traditional folk rock feel (apparently Gavurin and Wheeler had taken a liking to Van Morrison). The melodies were more concise, less free-spirited than in the past which reflected in both Wheeler's vocals and Gavurin's guitar playing, both of which now operated within a more planned, orderly fashion. Mournful crooning gives way to straightforward pop melody, tight guitar/bass/drums approach gives way to string and horn arrangements, ethereal gives way to folk. The Sundays had changed quite a bit,and although the album was fantastic, it wasn't the stunning innovation they'd showcased in the past. Gavurin formed a friendship with the comedian David Baddiel when growing up in North London, which would lead to the Sundays providing the song "Another Flavour" (sans vocals) from Static and Silence as the theme music to the Newman and Baddiel in Pieces TV series.

The band has been on a lengthy hiatus since the release of Static and Silence. Wheeler and Gavurin are focusing on raising their two children.

Band members

  • Harriet Wheeler - Vocalist - born 26 June 1963.
  • David Gavurin - Guitarist - born 4 April 1963.
  • Paul Brindley - Bassist - born 6 November 1963.
  • Patrick (Patch) Hannan - Drummer - born 4 March 1966, Lymington, Hampshire.



Year Details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1990 Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic 4 40 39
1992 Blind 15 103
  • RIAA: Gold
1997 Static and Silence
  • Released: 23 September 1997
  • Label: Parlophone/Geffen
10 45 33 33
  • BPI: Silver


Year Single Peak Chart Positions Album
U.S. Mod
1989 "Can't Be Sure" 45 74 Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
1990 "Here's Where the Story Ends" 1
1992 "Love" 2 Blind
"Goodbye" 27 11
1997 "Summertime" 15 41 48 10 Static and Silence
"Cry" 43

B-sides/unreleased songs

  • "I Kicked a Boy" (b-side of "Can't Be Sure")
  • "Don't Tell Your Mother" (b-side of "Can't Be Sure", eventually appearing also on DGC Rarites Vol. 1)
  • "Noise" (b-side of "Goodbye")
  • "Wild Horses" (b-side of "Goodbye", appearing also on US copies of Blind)
  • "Here's Where The Story Ends" [Black Session] (b-side of "Wild Horses" U.S. cassette single)
  • "(The) Turkish" (only performed live, and at almost every live gig on the Blind and Static and Silence tours)
  • "Something More" (unreleased)
  • "So Much" (only on the U.S. version of Static and Silence)
  • "Skin & Bones" [live] (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "Here's Where The Story Ends" [live] (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "Nothing Sweet" (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "Gone" (b-side of (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "Can't Be Sure" [demo] (b-side of "Cry")
  • "You're Not The Only One I Know" [demo] (b-side of "Cry")
  • "Through The Dark" (b-side of "Cry")
  • "Life Goes On" (b-side of "Cry")

In popular media

Their version of the song "Wild Horses" from the "Goodbye" single (and US copies of the album Blind) was used as the last dance song at the Prom in the popular '90s TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was also featured on the first released soundtrack for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and in the movie Fear with Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg during the roller coaster ride. It was also featured at the end of the season 3 CSI episode 'Crash and Burn'. It was also used in a long-running Budweiser television advertisement in the early 1990s, featuring slow-motion footage of galloping Clydesdale horses.

On the song "Nate and Matt" on the Cigarette Beach EP, Matt Kukla of Grand Buffet proclaims that he is a "compulsive gambler/consulting Ayn Rand" and that he "digs the Sundays/big slowcore fan".


  1. ^ Larkin, Colin, ed., Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, vol 3, New England Pub. Associates, Chester, CT:, 1992, page 2416.
  2. ^ : The Sundays : The Sundays' Harriet Wheeler - Rhapsody Music Downloads
  3. ^ a b "UK chart positions". Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  4. ^ "Australian album positions". Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  5. ^ "New Zealand album positions". Retrieved 17 July 2009.  
  6. ^ "US Static and Silence position". Billboard. Retrieved 15 July 2009.  
  7. ^ "US album position". Billboard. Retrieved 15 July 2009.  
  8. ^ "Australian Single Position". Retrieved 3 May 2009.  
  9. ^ "Canadian Summertime Position". RPM. Retrieved 3 May 2009.  
  10. ^ a b "US Single Positions". Retrieved 3 May 2009.  

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