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definition - Conor_Oberst

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Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst in August 2009
Background information
Birth name Conor Mullen Oberst
Born (1980-02-15) February 15, 1980 (age 32)
Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Genres Indie rock, indie folk, indie pop, alt. country
Occupations Singer-songwriter, musician, multi-instrumentalist
Years active 1992–present
Labels Saddle Creek Records, Merge Records, Wichita Recordings, Team Love Records
Associated acts Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, Desaparecidos, Commander Venus, Park Ave., The Faint, The Magnetas, Monsters of Folk
Website Conor Oberst
Bright Eyes
Monsters of Folk

Conor Mullen Oberst (born February 15, 1980) is an American singer-songwriter best known for his work in Bright Eyes. He has also played in several other bands, including Desaparecidos, Norman Bailer (The Faint), Commander Venus, Park Ave., Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and Monsters of Folk.


  Musical career

Oberst began his musical career at age 13 while at St. Pius X/St. Leo School in Omaha, Nebraska. He was in the school choir and other musical groups at the school. One night in 1992, Ted Stevens (of Mayday and Cursive) invited Oberst onstage to play. Bill Hoover, who was in attendance, invited Oberst to come back to play with him a couple of weeks later. In that short amount of time, Oberst wrote enough songs to fill out the set, establishing himself as an artist.[1] Shortly thereafter, Oberst began committing his new repertoire to tape in his parents' basement with his father's four track cassette recorder and an acoustic guitar.

In mid-1993, Oberst self-released his debut album Water on cassette tape.[2] The release of the album was financed by his brother Justin on what they called Lumberjack Records, the indie label that would become Saddle Creek Records, making them founders and present day executives of the label.

Shortly after his two solo recordings, Oberst began playing with four friends; they formed Commander Venus in mid-1995.

Here's to Special Treatment was followed by 1996's The Soundtrack to My Movie, a cassette only released on Sing Eunuchs!. Kill the Monster Before It Eats Baby, a split 7" vinyl with Bill Hoover, was also released around this time.

  The Faint

In 1994, following a Slowdown Virginia show, Oberst, along with friends Joel Petersen, Todd Fink (formerly Todd Baechle) and Clark Baechle, formed a band called Norman Bailer, later known as The Faint. A few days later, Oberst told the other members of the band that they had a show in two weeks at Kilgore's. Despite having never performed together, they produced nine songs to perform. An album, Sine Sierra was released on cassette only in 1995.

  Commander Venus

Oberst formed the rock band Commander Venus in 1994 with Tim Kasher, Todd Baechle, Ben Armstrong, and Robb Nansel. They recorded two albums: Do You Feel at Home? (1995) and The Uneventful Vacation (1997). Kasher later went on to form Cursive, Baechle became the vocalist for The Faint and Nansel was the co-founder of Saddle Creek Records. Kasher left the group to focus on Cursive as they were about to go in to the studio to record their second album, and was replaced by Todd Baechle. Commander Venus disbanded in 1998.

  The Magnetas

The Magnetas were only active for a very brief period of time in 1996 in Omaha, Nebraska. Along with Oberst, band members included Todd Fink (The Faint) and Chris Hughes (Beep Beep). They recorded three songs, only one of which ("Anex Anex") was released on Ghostmeat Records' Parts compilation album. Two other confirmed recordings exist: "Clatter" and "Science Fiction in Schools."

  Park Ave.

In January 1996, Oberst began playing drums in a group named Park Ave., alongside Baechle, Jenn Bernard, Neely Jenkins (now in the band Tilly and the Wall), and Jamie Williams (also in Tilly and the Wall). The group only played between 10 and 15 shows and made a handful of recordings (several of them with Mike Mogis as producer). The group disbanded in 1998 when Williams, the singer and primary songwriter, moved to London, England. In 1999, Urinine Records released their only album, When Jamie Went to London...We Broke Up, which has also now been re-released under Team Love.

  Bright Eyes

  Bright Eyes at Kulturmejeriet in Lund, Sweden. July 16, 2005

Oberst originally founded Bright Eyes as a solo project in 1995, and after the disbanding of Commander Venus, released A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997 in January 1998.[3] This was followed quickly by Letting Off the Happiness, released in November of the same year. It featured members of numerous bands and was recorded in the Oberst family basement. One year later, Bright Eyes released its first EP, Every Day and Every Night. Bright Eyes' third album, Fevers and Mirrors was released in May 2000; it was ranked 170 on Pitchfork Media's list of the top 200 albums of the 2000s.[4]

With the release of 2002's Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, Bright Eyes received national attention and Oberst was proclaimed a breakthrough artist by several notable magazines. On January 25, 2005 Bright Eyes simultaneously released two new albums: the folk I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and more electronic-pop Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. Time listed I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning as one of the top ten albums of 2005.[5]

The Four Winds EP was released in March 2007, followed by their seventh album, Cassadaga in April. The song Four Winds was named a top 100 song of 2007 by Rolling Stone. Oberst spent the next two years focusing on other music projects, and in June 2009 told Rolling Stone he wanted to make one final album with Bright Eyes before retiring the group. The band subsequently released The People's Key on Conor's 31st birthday, February 15, 2011.


Oberst was a guitarist and singer for Desaparecidos. The music and lyrics of Desaparecidos differ greatly from Bright Eyes, having more in common with punk rock than Oberst's usual folk rock. The lyrics are generally social commentary on the state of affairs in America and the pitfalls of the suburban lifestyle, as opposed to the more introspective lyrics of Bright Eyes. Desaparecidos was active as a band between 2001–2002 but have regrouped to play shows in the Omaha area. They have two releases: a single for "The Happiest Place on Earth" and the full-length "Read Music/Speak Spanish".

  Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band

In November 2007, it was reported that Oberst would work on a solo record with Jake Bellows, and that he and M. Ward would start a band[6] and perform two late December shows in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[7] Contrary to what was believed, the shows were not played with M. Ward, but rather with Nik Freitas and Jason Boesel.[8] They also played a show in February in Mexico City, Mexico.

On March 31, 2008, it was announced that Conor Oberst would play at the 2008 Reading and Leeds Festivals. In addition, he also performed at the Electric Picnic, in County Laois, Ireland on August 31, 2008, the Cains Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Austin City Limits in late September 2008, shows across Australia in early October 2008, and the Warfield Theater in San Francisco October 24. Conor also headlined the Friday night slot of The End of the Road Festival at the Larmer Tree Gardens in Wiltshire, held over the weekend of 12–14 September 2008.

Conor Oberst released the self-titled album Conor Oberst, which was recorded in Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico with Taylor Hollingsworth on guitar and Macey Taylor on bass, on August 5, '08 on Merge Records.

In about mid October, the band sold a new EP, Gentleman's Pact. It was limited to 1000 copies and was only available on tour. The band placed limitations on how many were sold at shows. It has four unreleased tracks. Three of them are pre-album songs while "Corina, Corina" is a cover of a traditional folk song.

Conor and the band released their second album, Outer South, on May 5, 2009 on Merge Records. They have also released a documentary, One of My Kind.

  Monsters of Folk

Conor Oberst is one of the four members of the band Monsters of Folk. Other band members include Jim James of My Morning Jacket, M. Ward and fellow Bright Eyes member Mike Mogis. The band members swap instruments and share vocal duties. The quartet released their self-titled debut album on September 22, 2009.[dated info][9]


He was named the best songwriter of 2008 by Rolling Stone magazine.[10]

  Saddle Creek and Team Love

Oberst is one of the founding members of the independent record label Saddle Creek Records, which hosts and has hosted bands including Cursive, Desaparecidos, The Faint (who left to start their own label Blank.wav), Rilo Kiley (who left to start their own label Brute/Beaute Records), Bright Eyes, Two Gallants, Son, Ambulance, Azure Ray, The Good Life, Sorry About Dresden, among others.

Oberst co-founded the Team Love record label (along with Nate Krenkel long time manager of Bright Eyes) to "do different things, or smaller things, that we couldn't get everyone to be into at the same time" at Saddle Creek.[11] such as Tilly and the Wall, Willy Mason, The Felice Brothers, David Dondero, Taylor Hollingsworth and Jenny Lewis' solo album with The Watson Twins.


Oberst was drawn to music at a very early age, due in part to his older brother Matt's penchant for bands like The Smiths, R.E.M., Fugazi, and The Cure. He has cited The Cure's first singles collection, Staring at the Sea, as the first record he ever bought, as well as being one of his favorites. "It must have been third grade...I bought the cassette at a local record store chain called Homer's in Omaha. I just loved the sound of Robert Smith's voice. It just sounded good."[12]

Some of his biggest influences and favorite songwriters are local musicians David Dondero and Simon Joyner.[13] Joyner wrote the song "Burn Rubber", which Bright Eyes covered on the "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)" single. The two used to do mini-tours together, usually on weekends due to Joyner having a family.

Oberst has also been heavily influenced by the 1960s folk revival, mentioning Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and country singers Emmylou Harris, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.[14] He covered Neil Young's "Out on the Weekend", collaborating with Mike Mogis, Jim James and M. Ward in concert. He performed the Townes Van Zandt song "Rex's Blues" live with fellow musician Steve Earle. He has also performed two of John Prine's songs live, "Crazy as a Loon" and "Wedding Day in Funerville". Harris sang on a few tracks on Bright Eyes' I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.

Oberst was also greatly influenced by Daniel Johnston. A cover of "Devil Town" is featured on Noise Floor (Rarities: 1998-2005).

Oberst was also profoundly influenced by the work of Elliott Smith, saying in an October 22, 2003 All Things Considered interview that "sometimes when you're not feeling good, you have to listen to really sad music like Elliott Smith's" and that [Smith] "wrote the sweetest, saddest, most gentle songs". Oberst also said he liked to "listen to Elliott Smith's songs when he [couldn't] find anyone to talk to on the phone" and thought that it was sad that, "through his music, [Smith] had the ability to answer feelings in others that he was unable to answer in himself".[15] A live cover of Smith's "The Biggest Lie" is featured on Motion Sickness.

  Personal beliefs

Oberst has publicly supported PETA.[16] On January 1 and February 7, 2008, Oberst performed at a rally in Omaha, Nebraska for 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama.[17][18] While he was raised Catholic, Conor Oberst holds no specific religion, claiming he has not found one that "hit the mark" for him yet. He expresses disappointment in the narrow-mindedness of major religions, and is fascinated and frustrated by "eternal" concepts.[19]


  As Conor Oberst

Title Year Label Format(s) Notes
Water 1993 Lumberjack cassette
Here's to Special Treatment 1994 Sing, Eunuchs! cassette
The Soundtrack to My Movie 1996 Sing, Eunuchs! cassette
Kill the Monster Before It Eats Baby 1996 Sing, Eunuchs! 7" Split EP with Bill Hoover
Conor Oberst 2008 Merge Records cd, vinyl
Gentleman's Pact 2008 no label cd, vinyl
Outer South 2009 Merge Records cd, vinyl

  In bands

Monsters of Folk The Sun Society

  Guest work


  1. ^ Lazy-I Interview: Bright Eyes (December 1998) Retrieved on January 4, 2008.
  2. ^ Norris, Chris" (June 25, 2009), "CONOR OBERST'S MYSTICAL AWAKENING". Rolling Stone (1081):
  3. ^ McMahan, Tim (December 1998). "Growing Up in an Alt Rock World". http://www.timmcmahan.com/brighteyes.htm. Retrieved 2005-04-14. 
  4. ^ Pitchfork staff (September 28, 2009). "The Top 200 Albums of the 2000s: 200-151". Pitchfork Media. http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/7706-the-top-200-albums-of-the-2000s-200-151/4/. Retrieved October 1, 2009. 
  5. ^ Time Magazine (2005-12-16). "Best of 2005: Music". http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1142059,00.html. Retrieved 2006-08-05. 
  6. ^ Hildy Johnson. "Waiting For ‘Free Life’". Omaha City Weekly. http://www.omahacityweekly.com/article.php?id=4286. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  7. ^ Matthew Solarski (2007-11-27). "Bright Eyes' Oberst Forms Band With M. Ward?". Pitchfork Media. http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/news/47290-bright-eyes-oberst-forms-band-with-m-ward. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  8. ^ Chris Riemenschneider (2007-12-30). "Indie rock's Conor Oberst still bright at 400 Bar". Star Tribune. http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/music/12926476.html. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  9. ^ "Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket and M Ward launch Monsters Of Folk | News". Nme.Com. 2009-06-12. http://www.nme.com/news/bright-eyes/45304. Retrieved 2010-08-28. 
  10. ^ Best Songwriter: Conor Oberst : Rolling Stone
  11. ^ Richard Harrington (2005-11-18). "A Musical Vision Comes Into Focus". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111700475_2.html. Retrieved 2007-05-23. 
  12. ^ RollingStone.com – Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes on the Cure's Standing on a Beach. Retrieved on January 4, 2008.
  13. ^ Comes With A Smile – Interview: Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst) by Mariko Sakamoto Retrieved on January 4, 2008.
  14. ^ Conor Oberst. Interview with Craig Ferguson. The Late Late Show. 
  15. ^ Singer Elliott Smith Dead in Apparent Suicide Retrieved on May 30, 2009.
  16. ^ "Conor Oberst — Exclusive Interview". PETA TV. http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/Prefs.asp?video=conner. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  17. ^ "Bright Eyes man supports US presidential hopeful". NME. 2008-01-03. http://www.nme.com/news/bright-eyes/33418. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  Kim Davis (2008-01-03). "Bright Eyes Shines for Barack Obama". Spinner. http://www.spinner.com/2008/01/03/bright-eyes-shines-for-barack-obama/. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  Fred Mills (2008-01-03). "Oberst Stumps for Obama in Iowa". HARP. http://harpmagazine.com/news/detail.cfm?article=12105. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  "Conor Oberst sings for Obama". TV3. 2008-01-03. http://www.tv3.co.nz/News/Story/tabid/209/articleID/42815/cat/41/Default.aspx. Retrieved 2008-01-27.  "For The Record: Chris Brown Sued For Breach Of Contract; Plus Nate Dogg, Bright Eyes, Barack Obama, Foo Fighters & More". MTV News. 2008-01-04. http://www.mtv.ca/news/article.jhtml?id=6040. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  18. ^ Charles Babington (2008-02-09). "Obama: Rockin' in the USA". Associated Press. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hm1KHbQ9mDb5fx-TiTYXZ2g2lOrgD8UMPU0G0. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  19. ^ Josh Jackson (2008-07-22). "Conor Oberst on Religion and Politics". Paste Magazine. http://www.pastemagazine.com/high_gravity/2008/07/conor-oberst-on-religion-and-politics.html. Retrieved 2009-10-21. 

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