Photo by Butch Hogan
This month the 28-year-old singer-songwriter behind Bright Eyes releases Conor Oberst, his first solo album since 1995, when he was a teen growing up in Omaha. It's a project with a rough, roadhouse vibe—the sound of Oberst cutting loose with a few friends.
Q: Do you write songs with a specific project in mind?
A: I don't think about which is a Bright Eyes song or which one is for me. The Cassadaga record [Bright Eyes' 2007 effort] took so long and it took so many people—it was stressful. For this one I knew I wanted to record over the winter and I wanted to go somewhere.
Q: You ended up at a mountain retreat in Mexico. Was it your spring break?
A: It was. We'd sleep in, wake up, eat, record for a while, then drink beer and make fires at night. The piano was on the porch and there were crickets at night—you can hear them on the album. There were a lot of extra sounds. I don't know what the deal was, but in town they set off fireworks every night, one neighborhood trying to outdo another. It was wild.
Q: You vowed not to play any venues owned by Live Nation. Still sticking to your guns when you tour?
A: I haven't changed the stance on that. It's not so much a problem with them, but I want there to be competition. If there's a local, independent promoter and we can play for them rather than a huge company, great. It's like shopping at your favorite corner deli versus Wal-Mart. Matt Hendrickson