Conor Oberst has been making music under the Bright Eyes moniker since he was 15. But when the band released “The People’s Key” earlier this year, there was some buzz that it might be the last we’d hear from the formative indie rock group from Nebraska. Oberst says not to worry.
I’ve read that this is the final Bright Eyes album. Is that true?
No, not definitively. We don’t really have any plans for the future at this point, but ... that was something where someone took a quote that I said [out of context] and that was something that other people decided. We never made an official announcement. Even if it were our last record, we wouldn’t say it was our last record. As the rumor mill works, that’s kind of the way it goes. You can definitely quote me, this is not the last Bright Eyes, for sure.
What are some of your favorite songs to play live these days?
We keep adding on at sound check. The last one we learned was this one called “I Believe in Symmetry” which is on the “Digital Ash” record, and that’s always been a good one live. It has a sort of cathartic ending.
How often do you achieve catharsis when performing?
Night-to-night, the goal is always to be in the music and feel as connected to it as possible, and depending on the environment and the crowd and our states of mind ... I think on a good night we totally achieve that. Sometimes there are distractions or things that can take me out of the moment, but the goal is to reach that point where you remember, I guess, just remember the place, the feeling, that created the song, and try to get back to that.
Your voice sounds more secure, and less wavery, on “The People’s Key.”
I know what you mean. I never knew how to sing. I’ve never had any formal training or anything like that, so all my life has been one big trial-and-error as far as like learning to sing, and play guitar, and play piano, writing. ... Same with Mike [Mogis, producer] and how he records music. The whole thing has been a learning process, so I think it makes sense that my voice sounds different at 31 than it did at age 21 or 17. ... I just became a better singer just from doing it so much. We also experimented a lot more with vocal effects. There are delays and different things [that] can give the impression of a ... hi-fi, processed sound.