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  • January 18, 2017

    Conor Oberst's album Salutations, a companion piece to 2016's lauded Ruminations, is due March 17. Salutations comprises full-band versions of the ten songs from that solo album plus seven additional songs. It was recorded at the famed Shangri-la Studios in Malibu and Five Star Studios in Echo Park with The Felice Brothers and the legendary drummer Jim Keltner, who co-produced the album. Guest performers include Jim James, Blake Mills, Maria Taylor, M. Ward, Gillian Welch, and Jonathan Wilson. Nonesuch Store pre-orders include instant downloads of "A Little Uncanny," "Tachycardia," and "Napalm."

  • January 17, 2017

    Conor Oberst begins a non-stop, three-week tour of Europe and the UK, featuring music from his 2016 solo album, Ruminations, in Munich tonight. From there, the tour heads to Stuttgart, Vienna, Zurich, Cologne, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris, Utrecht, Brussels, London, Manchester, and Edinburgh, culminating with a concert at Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin on February 5.

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About Conor Oberst

  • On Ruminations Oberst returns to the unselfconscious intimacy and revelations of his earlier works. “It was just time, I think. I just let go of some of that stuff. I stopped caring about the outside world, and realized that this kind of writing is what I’m supposed to be doing right now and I really can’t let anything else get in the way of that.”

    But having said that, he didn’t actually realize he was making an album when he started.

    “It wasn’t premeditated at all. I don’t know if you know what Omaha is like in the winter, but it’s just paralyzing. You’re stranded in the house. [My wife] Corina goes to bed a lot earlier than I do, so I was basically alone. Every night I was staying up late, making a point to play the new piano I had just bought and watching the snow fall outside the house. Everybody would be asleep and I would just go into this one room, make a fire, and play all night.”

    “In November I had a whole pick-up truck full of firewood delivered and I thought, ‘I’m never going to run out of it.’ Before I knew I had gone through half of the firewood and I had five songs. By February I had burned through it all, and I had 15 songs. I had just spent the whole winter making fires and playing music.”

    And he found that he was writing autobiographically once again, revealing small parts of what had happened to him over the last few years, and slowly allowing his audience back in, without even realizing that was what was occurring.

    “I think what happened is I sort of forgot about the world, the audience, everything, and kept writing. And writing. And writing. It was unexpected but obviously it had been brewing subconsciously for a long time. It’s hard not to say the culmination of the last couple of years is clearly embedded in these songs. But I just put that whole part of my brain on the shelf for a while, because I felt I had to.”

    But once he reclaimed it the words just began to tumble out. “It just all kind of spilled out. And I think because I wasn’t expecting anything there was a freedom there. This record was not constructed, and there was no grandiose idea of the kind of record I wanted to make. On a record like Cassadaga the songs were written over a couple of years. These were written over a couple of months.”

    And in the same kind of immediacy with which the songs were written, Oberst realized he needed to record the songs right away, in order to capture the kind of raw intensity and rough magic behind them.

    “I knew I wanted to record them quickly to get them down. They seemed to demand that,” he explains. He enlisted the help of his longtime friend, engineer Ben Brodin. The two of them entered Omaha’s ARC Studios, which Conor cofounded several years ago with Bright Eyes cohort and producer Mike Mogis, and emerged 48 hours later with the completed solo album. Recorded sparsely with a quiet hushed grace, and using only Oberst’s acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica as instrumentation, Ruminations has none of the sound collages or found sounds of records past.

    “I felt that I needed to just leave the songs alone,” he explains.

    Interestingly, Oberst usually requires some form of transportation to write, but not on Ruminations. “Once I have a melody solidified in my mind, then I can slowly work on the lyrics wherever I am, like just walking around,” he explains. “I find that motion helps my brain. Cars are good. Planes. Motion always seems to be involved. But not this time. There was definitely less traveling—more of a stranded feeling.”

    The only traveling that seemed to have occurred was time traveling, revisiting old concerns and then attempting to resolve them. “Some of these songs were very therapeutic for me. With 'Counting Sheep,’ for instance, there was definitely a draining of the poison. If you’re able to put a name to something, all of a sudden it has a little less power over you,” he says quietly.

    Making and playing music has always been a healing balm for the sometimes troubled musician. And this time it especially seemed important. It was if he was writing himself back to himself. Back to sanity. Back to understanding what is really important and has meaning for him.

    Songs like “Mamah Borthwick (A Sketch),” inspired by iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s lover who was murdered, is perfectly constructed like a Lloyd Wright edifice, each paragraph anchored by the name of one of his famous buildings that has endured despite adversities, fire, and earthquakes. It contains the phrase that the album takes its name from, and it’s a testament to creating art that withstands times and changing tastes, or as the lyrics explain: “build something that’s sacred till the end.” Something that Oberst is fully capable of doing himself.

    “The title of the album comes from a psychological term for a thought that keeps repeating. The only way I knew to stop the thought was to make music,” he says.

    “I have always believed there’s salvation through music and love. At least for me. It’s gotten me through the worst of things. But I want it to be that way for the people who listen to it, too,” explains Oberst. “I feel I always make an attempt, even when writing what is a pretty depressing number, to sew some silver lining into it. I think the secret to happiness is making yourself believe that happiness is possible. The first step in overcoming anything is to believe that you can do it. So in my songs there’s always a point where something pulls you out of the hole you’re in.”

    —Jaan Uhelszkil

Conor Oberst

Tour

Mon, Feb 27
Sydney
Sydney Opera House
Mon, Feb 27
Sydney
Sydney Opera House
Thu, Mar 9
Omaha, NE
The Waiting Room Lounge
Thu, Mar 9
Omaha, NE
The Waiting Room Lounge
Fri, Mar 10
Kansas City, MO
Madrid Theater
Fri, Mar 10
Kansas City, MO
Madrid Theater
Sat, Mar 11
Memphis, TN
Minglewood Hall
Sat, Mar 11
Memphis, TN
Minglewood Hall
Sun, Mar 12
Tulsa, OK
Cain's Ballroom
Sun, Mar 12
Tulsa, OK
Cain's Ballroom
Tue, Mar 14
San Antonio, TX
Paper Tiger
Tue, Mar 14
San Antonio, TX
Paper Tiger
Thu, Mar 16
Spicewood, TX
Willie Nelson's Ranch
Thu, Mar 16
Spicewood, TX
Willie Nelson's Ranch
Fri, Mar 17
Houston, TX
Warehouse Live
Fri, Mar 17
Houston, TX
Warehouse Live
Sat, Mar 18
New Orleans, LA
The Civic Theatre
Sat, Mar 18
New Orleans, LA
The Civic Theatre
Sun, Mar 19
Macon, GA
Cox Capitol Theatre
Sun, Mar 19
Macon, GA
Cox Capitol Theatre
nonesuch's picture
on February 6, 2014 - 6:47pm
Sort Name: 
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Biography (Excerpt): 

Singer-songwriter Conor Oberst's Nonesuch Records debut album, Upside Down Mountain, was released in 2014. Oberst has been a recording artist for more than two decades, starting with raw, acoustic guitar-based bedroom tracks he cut as a young teenager and initially released on cassette. After his early Omaha-based band Commander Venus broke up, Oberst recast himself as Bright Eyes, an umbrella name for Oberst, producer-keyboardist Mike Mogis and multi-instrumentalist/arranger Nathaniel Wolcott, and a shifting group of collaborators. He’s also recorded and toured with Mogis, Jim James, and M. Ward as Monsters of Folk; his own Mystic Valley Band; and Desaparecidos. Ruminations, an unexpectedly raw, unadorned solo album, was released in October 2016.

Biography: 

On Ruminations Oberst returns to the unselfconscious intimacy and revelations of his earlier works. “It was just time, I think. I just let go of some of that stuff. I stopped caring about the outside world, and realized that this kind of writing is what I’m supposed to be doing right now and I really can’t let anything else get in the way of that.”

But having said that, he didn’t actually realize he was making an album when he started.

“It wasn’t premeditated at all. I don’t know if you know what Omaha is like in the winter, but it’s just paralyzing. You’re stranded in the house. [My wife] Corina goes to bed a lot earlier than I do, so I was basically alone. Every night I was staying up late, making a point to play the new piano I had just bought and watching the snow fall outside the house. Everybody would be asleep and I would just go into this one room, make a fire, and play all night.”

“In November I had a whole pick-up truck full of firewood delivered and I thought, ‘I’m never going to run out of it.’ Before I knew I had gone through half of the firewood and I had five songs. By February I had burned through it all, and I had 15 songs. I had just spent the whole winter making fires and playing music.”

And he found that he was writing autobiographically once again, revealing small parts of what had happened to him over the last few years, and slowly allowing his audience back in, without even realizing that was what was occurring.

“I think what happened is I sort of forgot about the world, the audience, everything, and kept writing. And writing. And writing. It was unexpected but obviously it had been brewing subconsciously for a long time. It’s hard not to say the culmination of the last couple of years is clearly embedded in these songs. But I just put that whole part of my brain on the shelf for a while, because I felt I had to.”

But once he reclaimed it the words just began to tumble out. “It just all kind of spilled out. And I think because I wasn’t expecting anything there was a freedom there. This record was not constructed, and there was no grandiose idea of the kind of record I wanted to make. On a record like Cassadaga the songs were written over a couple of years. These were written over a couple of months.”

And in the same kind of immediacy with which the songs were written, Oberst realized he needed to record the songs right away, in order to capture the kind of raw intensity and rough magic behind them.

“I knew I wanted to record them quickly to get them down. They seemed to demand that,” he explains. He enlisted the help of his longtime friend, engineer Ben Brodin. The two of them entered Omaha’s ARC Studios, which Conor cofounded several years ago with Bright Eyes cohort and producer Mike Mogis, and emerged 48 hours later with the completed solo album. Recorded sparsely with a quiet hushed grace, and using only Oberst’s acoustic guitar, piano, and harmonica as instrumentation, Ruminations has none of the sound collages or found sounds of records past.

“I felt that I needed to just leave the songs alone,” he explains.

Interestingly, Oberst usually requires some form of transportation to write, but not on Ruminations. “Once I have a melody solidified in my mind, then I can slowly work on the lyrics wherever I am, like just walking around,” he explains. “I find that motion helps my brain. Cars are good. Planes. Motion always seems to be involved. But not this time. There was definitely less traveling—more of a stranded feeling.”

The only traveling that seemed to have occurred was time traveling, revisiting old concerns and then attempting to resolve them. “Some of these songs were very therapeutic for me. With 'Counting Sheep,’ for instance, there was definitely a draining of the poison. If you’re able to put a name to something, all of a sudden it has a little less power over you,” he says quietly.

Making and playing music has always been a healing balm for the sometimes troubled musician. And this time it especially seemed important. It was if he was writing himself back to himself. Back to sanity. Back to understanding what is really important and has meaning for him.

Songs like “Mamah Borthwick (A Sketch),” inspired by iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s lover who was murdered, is perfectly constructed like a Lloyd Wright edifice, each paragraph anchored by the name of one of his famous buildings that has endured despite adversities, fire, and earthquakes. It contains the phrase that the album takes its name from, and it’s a testament to creating art that withstands times and changing tastes, or as the lyrics explain: “build something that’s sacred till the end.” Something that Oberst is fully capable of doing himself.

“The title of the album comes from a psychological term for a thought that keeps repeating. The only way I knew to stop the thought was to make music,” he says.

“I have always believed there’s salvation through music and love. At least for me. It’s gotten me through the worst of things. But I want it to be that way for the people who listen to it, too,” explains Oberst. “I feel I always make an attempt, even when writing what is a pretty depressing number, to sew some silver lining into it. I think the secret to happiness is making yourself believe that happiness is possible. The first step in overcoming anything is to believe that you can do it. So in my songs there’s always a point where something pulls you out of the hole you’re in.”

—Jaan Uhelszkil

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Facebook URL: 
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Twitter URL: 
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https://www.instagram.com/conoroberst/
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Artist Spotlight Image: 
Youtube URL: 
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Tour

Mon, Feb 27
Sydney
Sydney Opera House
Mon, Feb 27
Sydney
Sydney Opera House
Thu, Mar 9
Omaha, NE
The Waiting Room Lounge
Thu, Mar 9
Omaha, NE
The Waiting Room Lounge
Fri, Mar 10
Kansas City, MO
Madrid Theater
Fri, Mar 10
Kansas City, MO
Madrid Theater
Sat, Mar 11
Memphis, TN
Minglewood Hall
Sat, Mar 11
Memphis, TN
Minglewood Hall
Sun, Mar 12
Tulsa, OK
Cain's Ballroom
Sun, Mar 12
Tulsa, OK
Cain's Ballroom
Tue, Mar 14
San Antonio, TX
Paper Tiger
Tue, Mar 14
San Antonio, TX
Paper Tiger
Thu, Mar 16
Spicewood, TX
Willie Nelson's Ranch
Thu, Mar 16
Spicewood, TX
Willie Nelson's Ranch
Fri, Mar 17
Houston, TX
Warehouse Live
Fri, Mar 17
Houston, TX
Warehouse Live
Sat, Mar 18
New Orleans, LA
The Civic Theatre
Sat, Mar 18
New Orleans, LA
The Civic Theatre
Sun, Mar 19
Macon, GA
Cox Capitol Theatre
Sun, Mar 19
Macon, GA
Cox Capitol Theatre
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