Conor Mullen Oberst (born February 15, 1980) is an United States singer-songwriter best known for his work in Bright Eyes. He has also played in several indie rock bands, including Desaparecidos (band), Commander Venus and Park Ave., and is co-founder and executive partner in the independent record labels Team Love and Saddle Creek Records.
Musical career and personal life
Oberst was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He was born to Matthew Oberst, Sr., an information manager for Mutual of Omaha, and Nancy Oberst, an elementary school principal. He grew up with two older brothers, Justin Oberst, a lawyer, and Matt Oberst, a musician best known for his band Sorry About Dresden. Oberst's mother claims that he was banging on the piano and singing since he was two years old. Besides his brother Matt, Oberst's father was also a musican who played guitar and piano for various cover bands in his youth, and together they began teaching Conor to play guitar at the age of 10. By the time he knew two chords, he was already writing songs. Around that time, he also found the Antiquarium, a record store in Omaha that served as a mecca for other musicians.
Oberst began his musical career at age 12 while attending 7th grade at St. Pius X. He was in the showchoir and other musical groups at the school. One night in 1992 in music, Ted Stevens (musician) (of Mayday (American band) and Cursive (band)) invited Oberst onstage to close his set. Bill Hoover, who was in attendance, invited Oberst to come back to play a set of his own a couple of weeks later. In that short amount of time, Oberst wrote enough songs to fill out the set, establishing himself as a songwriter and performer. http://www.timmcmahan.com/brighteyes.htm 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 in music, Oberst self-released his debut album Water (Conor Oberst album), on cassette tape. The release of the album was financed by Oberst's brother Justin on what they called Lumberjack Records, the very same indie label that would become Saddle Creek, making them Entrepreneurs and present day corporate officers of the label. Six months later in early 1994 in music, Oberst released his sophomore album, Here's to Special Treatment, on the Omaha-based Sing, Eunuchs! label.
Shortly after his two solo recordings, Oberst began playing with Tim Kasher (of Cursive (band) and The Good Life (band)) and Matt Bowen (of The Faint). The three 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. Although he was very pleased with his output at the time these recordings were made, he has since passed them off as "laughable." http://www.timmcmahan.com/brighteyes.htm.
Norman Bailer (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 managed to produce nine songs to perform. These songs were more oriented towards light rock, rather than the then-popular aggressive rock.
Allegedly, Oberst quit the band shortly after their establishment, and was not allowed back in, despite his attempts to re-join. Todd Fink would later state in an interview, "He's always been a good songwriter, but it just wasn't a good fit. He was real sloppy and he would scream all the time when we would be sitting down and trying to play mellow music."http://www.splendidezine.com/features/faint/ Contrary to the band's explanation of this, Oberst claims he was kicked out, although that did not stop them from touring with Conor as an opener during Bright Eyes' Digital Ash in a Digital Urn tour in 2005.
Oberst formed the rock band Commander Venus in 1994 with Tim Kasher, Todd Baechle and Robb Nansel. Kasher later went on to form Cursive, Baechle became the vocalist for The Faint and Nansel was the co-founder of Saddle Creek Records. Comparisons to The Pixies and Sunny Day Real Estate were often made. They recorded two albums: Do You Feel at Home? (1995) and The Uneventful Vacation. The latter is considered by many to be a seminal work in the emo (music) genre. Kasher left the group as they were about to go in to the studio to record their second album, and was replaced by Ben Armstrong. In 1998, just as the band was beginning to receive some attention, Commander Venus broke up.
In January 1996, Oberst began flexing his multi-instrumentalism by playing drums in a group named Park Ave., alongside Baechle, Jenn Bernard, Neely Jenkins (now in the band Tilly and the Wall), Jamie Williams (also in Tilly and the Wall). Although Conor and Clark were both in their early teens, the rest of the band was well in to their college years. 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.
Oberst's television performances with Bright Eyes have included a spot on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he performed "When the President Talks to God" in May 2005. The performance drew notice for the song's political overtones. Oberst has also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, where he performed "Bowl of Oranges", and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, where he sang "Road to Joy".
Newsgroup postings linking Oberst to a Memphis recording studio have some speculating that his next Bright Eyes album, due Spring 2007, may be in the country vein.
Aside from his Tonight Show performance, Oberst has made other political statements as the frontman of Bright Eyes. A longtime opponent of Clear Channel Communications, Oberst in September 2005 cancelled a show the band was scheduled to play at The Pageant in St. Louis, Missouri due to the venue's ties with the media giant.http://www.aversion.com/news/news_article.cfm?news_id=5026 Before the last presidential election, he took Bright Eyes on the road with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. (band) as part of the "Vote for Change" tour in 2004.
Oberst is also guitarist and singer for the band Desaparecidos (band). The music and lyrics of Desaparecidos differ greatly from Bright Eyes, having more in common with punk rock than folk music. The lyrics are generally social commentary on the state of affairs in United States and the pitfalls of suburban lifestyle, as opposed to the more introspective lyrics of Bright Eyes.
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, Rilo Kiley (who left to start their own label Brute/Beaute Records), Bright Eyes, Son Ambulance, Azure Ray, The Good Life (band), Sorry About Dresden, among others.
Oberst founded the record label Team Love record label to release projects that didn't appeal to others at Saddle Creekhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111700475_2.html, such as Tilly and the Wall, 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's penchant for bands like The Cure. He has cited their first singles collection, Staring at the Sea as the first record he ever bought, as well as 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 (musician)'s voice. It just sounded good." http://www.rollingstone.com/news/myfirstalbum/story/8857226/conor_oberst_of_bright_eyes_on_the_cures_standing_on_a_beach?rnd=1141186879185&has-player=true&version=22.214.171.1240
He was also heavily influenced by the 1960's Folk Revival and lists Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and country singer Emmylou Harris. Oberst worked on the I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning album with Harris and covered Bob Dylan's "Girl From The North Country", collaborating with Jim James and M. Ward in concert. He also performed the Bob Dylan section of The Traveling Wilburys' Handle With Care (song) on the version featured on the Jenny Lewis album Rabbit Fur Coat. When asked about being compared to Bob Dylan he responded that "there are worse things to be called." He also throws a reference to Dylan's "Only A Pawn in Their Game" in "Let's Not Shit Ourselves."
His biggest influence and his favorite songwriter is local musician, Simon Joyner. http://cwas.hinah.com/interview/?id=30 Joyner also wrote the lyrics to the song, "Burn Rubber", which appeared on the Take It Easy (Love Nothing) single. The two also used to do minitours together, usually on weekends due to Joyner having a family.
Extended play with Bill Hoover
. Spent three semesters at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, until his booking agent told him the best time to tour was when college was in session. He was a vegan for a few years and stated in a PETA interview that he didn't enjoy the idea of "chewing on flesh." He is now a pescetarian. He smokes Parliament (cigarette) cigarettes. He was satired in The Onion Onion Article Has an innie belly button Is (as of November 2006) romantically involved with fellow Saddle Creek artist Maria Taylor.
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/