Bright Eyes (band)

Bright Eyes (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Bright Eyes

Img_capt = Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes performs at the Lied Center in Lawrence, KS on October 23, 2007
Background = group_or_band
Genre = Indie folk Alternative country
Years_active = 1995 – present
Label = Saddle Creek Polydor (outside North America)
Associated_acts = Desaparecidos
Commander Venus
Park Ave.
The Faint
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
Origin = Omaha, Nebraska, United States
URL = []
Current_members = Conor Oberst Mike Mogis Nate Walcott
Past_members = See below

Bright Eyes is an American band consisting of singer-songwriter/guitarist Conor Oberst, multi-instrumentalist/producer Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott, and a rotating lineup of collaborators drawn primarily from Omaha's indie music scene. [cite interview
last = Oberst
first = Conor
interviewer = Craig Ferguson
program = "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson"
callsign = CBS
city = Los Angeles
date = 2005-02-14

Bright Eyes is signed to Saddle Creek Records, an American label distributed by Sony Corporation. In 2004, the singles "Lua" and "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)" took the top two spots of Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Sales chart within two weeks of their simultaneous release.


Early years

A founding member of Commander Venus – which disbanded in 1997 – guitarist/vocalist Conor Oberst turned to focus on his new project, Bright Eyes. In 1998, he released 20 of the songs he had been stockpiling as the first official Bright Eyes album, "A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997". [cite web
last = McMahan
first = Tim
month = December | year = 1998
url =
title = "Growing Up in an Alt Rock World"
work =
publisher =
accessdate = 2005-04-14
] The album saw Oberst beginning to experiment with drum machines, keyboards and other instruments. The sound of the album ranges from bleating vocals to acoustic guitar songs and techno-style synthesizer instrumentals. Critical reaction was negative, with Allmusic saying that many of "the songs disintegrate as his vocals are reduced to the unintelligible babbling of a child. Any balance the music maintained up to that point, however fragile, is lost and so, more than likely, is the listener." [cite web
url =
title = "A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997" Overview
accessdate = 2006-08-05
last = Bush
first = Nathan
work = allmusic
publisher = All Media Guide, LLC.

"Letting Off the Happiness"

On November 2, 1998, Saddle Creek released "Letting Off the Happiness", a ten-track piece that boasted a more focused and clearer sound than the previous album. According to the Saddle Creek press release, it featured members of Lullaby for the Working Class, Neutral Milk Hotel, and of Montreal. Park Ave. bandmate Neely Jenkins also contributed vocals. It was predominantly recorded in the Oberst family basement in Omaha on an analog eight track reel to reel; with some work also done at keyboardist Andy Lemaster's Athens, Georgia studio. [cite web
url =
title = An interview with Conor Oberst
accessdate = 2006-08-05
last = Sakamoto
first = Mariko
year = 2000
work = Comes with a Smile
publisher = Comes with a Smile
] Although almost all of the tracks feature a full band, "June on the West Coast" is performed with only acoustic guitar and vocals. "Padraic My Prince" gives a dramatic fictional account of the death of his baby brother, a story with a multitude of symbolic meanings. Oberst references the song in "Cartoon Blues" on the "Four Winds" EP.

"Every Day and Every Night" EP

In November 1999, Bright Eyes released the five-song "Every Day and Every Night" EP, which included "Neely O'Hara" and "A Perfect Sonnet". On the album, a departure from Oberst's earlier work, he experimented more broadly with ambient recordings.

"Fevers and Mirrors"

In 2000, Bright Eyes released "Fevers and Mirrors", a demonstration of the improvement in production quality and musical vision of the band. New instruments such as the flute, piano, and accordion were introduced into the song arrangements. After "An Attempt to Tip the Scales", there is a mock radio interview that features Todd Fink of The Faint doing an impression of Oberst while reading a script that Oberst wrote. In this interview, the fake Oberst presents a strange, contradictory explanation of his attitude towards his music. It acknowledges criticisms of his lyrics as overblown and insincere, which had begun to appear as the popularity of the band increased, but responds by stating that the lyrics are meant for personal interpretation. Oberst later commented that "It was a way to make fun of ourselves because the record is such a downer. I mean, that's one part of who I am but I also like laughing and fucking around."cite web
url =
title = Conor Oberst (interview)
author = Amy Phillips
publisher = Kitty Magik
month = April | year = 2005
accessdate = 2008-01-29


With "Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground" in 2002, Bright Eyes became one of the year's most celebrated "new" artists, despite having been recording under that moniker for a few years. They received national attention, including in several notable pieces in "The New York Times", "The Los Angeles Times", "Time" magazine, "Rolling Stone", "Blender", and "Spin", many of which proclaimed Conor Oberst to be a significant new artist. The album was a commercial success and has sold over 250,000 copies, [ [ King of Indie Rock] ] a breakthrough for the label and for all of the band's peers at that time.

"I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" and "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn"

During the 2004 election season, Bright Eyes toured with Bruce Springsteen and R.E.M. on the Vote for Change tour, [cite news
url =
title = Oberst Stumps for Obama in Iowa
author = Fred Mills
work = HARP
date = 2008-01-03
accessdate = 2008-01-27
] further pushing Bright Eyes into the public eye. Oberst sang numerous duets with the likes of Springsteen and Neil Young.

In November 2004, two Bright Eyes singles, "Lua" and "Take It Easy (Love Nothing)", reached the two top spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales. This was the first time this had happened on the list in seven years.

January 25, 2005 saw the release of two distinctly different Bright Eyes albums: the folky, analog sounding "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" and the electronic sounding "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn". An extensive world tour followed the release of those albums. Part one of the tour was in support of "I'm Wide Awake" and the second part was in support of "Digital Ash". The first part was more similar to past tours with an intimate band setting. The decision to split the tour this way was practical as it would have been a "logistical nightmare" in terms of equipment and staff to perform songs from both albums simultaneously. By the end of January 2005, "I'm Wide Awake" was #10 on the "Billboard" charts while "Digital Ash" was #15.

In early 2005, Bright Eyes supported R.E.M. in their tour of Australia, as well as headlined shows themselves.

On May 2, 2005 Bright Eyes appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and performed the protest song "When the President Talks to God". A 7" vinyl single of the song was sold at concerts soon after.

In November 2005, Bright Eyes performed "True Blue" on the children's television show "Pancake Mountain".

Bright Eyes has actively protested against the Clear Channel media company. Oberst has vocally advocated the boycotting of all Clear Channel events, venues, and radio stations, perhaps most publicly at the Shortlist Awards show at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles on October 5, 2003. [cite web
url =
title = Bright Eyes Denounce Clear Channel At Shortlist Awards Ceremony
accessdate = 2005-08-05
last = Parker
first = Lyndsey
date = 2003-10-06
work = Yahoo! Music
publisher = Yahoo! Inc.
] On November 9, 2005, Bright Eyes canceled their November 12 show in St. Louis, Missouri upon discovering that the venue was associated with Clear Channel. [cite web
url =
title = Clear Channel Ties Cancel Bright Eyes Gig
accessdate = 2006-04-19
date = 2005-09-14

Bright Eyes won Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for "When the President Talks to God" at the 2006 PLUG Independent Music Awards, [cite web
url =
title = Plug 2006 Nominees/Winners
publisher = PLUG Independent Music Awards
year = 2006
accessdate = 2007-08-19
] and a special recognition award for the video for "First Day of My Life"at the 17th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. [cite web
author = GLAAD
date = January 23, 2006
url =
title = "Facts and Figures for the 17th Annual GLAAD Media Awards"
publisher =
accessdate = 2006-04-19
] Additionally, "Time" listed "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" as one of the top ten albums of 2005. [cite web
author = Time Magazine
year 2005
url =,8599,1142059,00.html
title = Best of 2005: Music
publisher =
accessdate = 2006-08-05
] Later in the year, the live album "Motion Sickness" was released, documenting the "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" tour.

In a skit on the May 20, 2006 episode of "Saturday Night Live", Neil Young (played by Kevin Spacey) was joined by Dixie Chicks and "indie sensation Bright Eyes" (played by Andy Samberg), all of whom have been public in their criticism of George W. Bush.

After releasing three albums in 2005, Oberst stated that he did not plan to release an album in 2006. [cite web
author = Austin Scaggs
date = 2005-12-06
url =
title = Bright Eyes Slow Down the Motion
publisher = Rolling Stone
accessdate = 2006-04-14
] On October 24, 2006, a compilation of rare tracks entitled "" was released.

On March 8, 2007, Oberst appeared on National Public Radio's "All Songs Considered", playing a selection of tracks in his collection, as well as several from "Four Winds".


Bright Eyes released the "Four Winds" EP in March 2007 and the studio album "Cassadaga" in April. The track "Endless Entertainment" circulated over the internet from the new official site, In a 2007 issue, "Rolling Stone" labeled "Four Winds" as a top 100 song of the year.

In support of this album, Bright Eyes toured North America from February to May, and Europe and Japan from June to July. [cite web
url =
title = Bright Eyes tour schedule
publisher = Saddle Creek Records
month = May | year = 2007
accessdate = 2007-05-31
] The twelve musicians included two drummers, and they donned white uniforms in front of a video backdrop. [cite news
url =
title = Bright Eyes in the Big City, Sporting a Prada Suit and a Hot Album
author = Melena Ryzik
work = The New York Times
date = 2007-05-24
accessdate = 2008-01-27

During an encore on May 19, 2007 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, Oberst performed a new song with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings entitled "Man Named Truth". He said the song was finished in the dressing room that night.Fact|date=May 2008

During a 7-night stint at The Town Hall in New York City, Bright Eyes welcomed the following guests on stage for special performances: Lou Reed on May 25; Ben Kweller on May 26; Jenny Lewis and Johnathan Rice on May 28; Norah Jones, Little Willie and Derrick E on May 29; Nick Zinner, Maria Taylor and Ben Gibbard on May 30, Steve Earle on May 31, and finally Ron Sexsmith and Britt Daniel on June 1.

On June 4, 2007, they performed "Hot Knives" on "The Late Show With David Letterman".

A double-single for "Hot Knives" and "If the Brakeman Turns My Way" was released on July 9, 2007.

In August 2007, Bright Eyes postponed 3 UK shows due to illness. A U.S. tour was announced, and in September, the UK dates were canceled and not rescheduled.

Bright Eyes performed at a Barack Obama rally in Omaha, Nebraska on February 7, 2008. [cite news
url =
title = Obama: Rockin' in the USA
author = Charles Babington
work = Associated Press
date = 2008-02-09
accessdate = 2008-02-19
cite news
url =
title = The Early Word: Democrats Still in the Weeds
author = Ariel Alexovich
work = The New York Times
date = 2008-02-08
accessdate = 2008-02-19

Zachary Nipper, the album's art director, was awarded the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package. [cite web
url =
title = 50th Annual Grammy Awards Winners List
publisher = The Independent
date = 2008-07-18
accessdate = 2008-07-18

Upcoming album

In November 2008, following the completion of the Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band tour, Bright Eyes will begin working on recording their next album in Nebraska. [cite web
url =
title = Conor Oberst - Songs of Love and Death
publisher = The Recording Academy
date = 2008-02-10
accessdate = 2008-02-19

Band name

The name of the band comes from a film that Oberst viewed on Turner Classics in which the protagonist calls his love interest as "Bright Eyes" as a term of endearment.


The only official "permanent" members are Oberst, Mogis, and Walcott.cite news
url =
title = Bright Eyes: Recapping Conor Oberst’s Wild Seven Nights At New York’s Town Hall
author = Elizabeth Goodman
work = Rolling Stone
date = 2007-06-04
accessdate = 2008-01-29
] "It's nice to always have new interpretations of the songs, and it’s nice to always travel with new people," says Oberst.cite news
url =
title = Bright Eyes: Up Saddle Creek and around the corner
author = Kim Samek
work = The Stanford Daily
date = 2001-05-24
accessdate = 2008-02-02
] As of|2007|11, the live band consists of:
* Conor Oberst – vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass guitar
* Mike Mogisbanjo, mandolin, pedal steel guitar, electric guitar
* Joseph Barber – bass guitar
* Matthew Olsen – keyboards/synths
* Clay Leverett – drums
* Nate Walcottorgan, trumpet, accordion, keytar

Past members and contributors

Includes artists featured on the sleeves of Bright Eyes' releases.

* Shane Aspegrencite news
url =
title = Bright Eyes Sets Tour With The Faint
author = Jonathan Cohen
work = Billboard
date = 2005-03-28
accessdate = 2008-01-29
* Clark Baechle
* Jeremy Barnes
* Kevin Barnescite news
url =
title = Musician finds his niche with 'Bright Eyes'
author = Jeff Randall
work = The Daily Nebraskan
date = 1999-03-03
accessdate = 2008-01-29
* Jake Bellowscite news
url =
title = Bright Eyes is confidently focused
author = Bill White
work = Seattle Post-Intelligencer
date = 2007-03-13
accessdate = 2008-02-02
* Z Berg
* Dan Bitneycite web
url =
title = Tour Profile: Bright Eyes
author = Sarah Benzuly
work = Mix
publisher = Penton Media
date = 2007-07-01
accessdate = 2008-02-21
* Rachel Blumberg
* Jason Boesel
* Donna Carnes
* Gretta Cohn
* Jonathan Crawford
* Britt Daniel
* Stefanie Drootin [cite news
url =
title = Omaha’s Culture Club
author = Kurt Andersen
work = The New York Times
date = 2007-03-25
accessdate = 2008-01-29
quote = Stefanie Drootin... was on tour with her L.A. band in 1996 when their van broke down in Omaha. She started playing with the Good Life and Bright Eyes...
* Sabrina Duim [cite web
url =
title = Volunteer Pioneer: 'Fear of Cholera'
publisher = National Public Radio
date = 2007-07-09
accessdate = 2008-01-29
quote = Sabrina took time off to tour with Bright Eyes in 2005...
* Julee Dunekacke
* Sherri DuPree
* Stacy DuPreecite news
url =
title = Oberst's friends come in handy on new Bright Eyes album
author = Niz Proskocil
work = Omaha World-Herald
date = 2007-04-08
accessdate = 2008-01-29
* Aaron Druery
* Orenda Fink [cite news
url =
title = Ethereally rocking from azure to invisible
author = Layne Gabriel
work = The Daily Iowan
date = 2005-09-22
accessdate = 2008-01-29
quote = providing Bright Eyes with bits and pieces of her musical talent, ...Orenda Fink is a busy gal.
* Todd Fink
* Margret Fish
* Jason Flatowicz
* Dan Fliegel
* Matt Focht
* Sean Foley
* Corey Greenwood
* Emmylou Harris
* Jesse Harriscite web
url =
title = Two Bright Eyes Albums Coming
publisher = Aversion
date = 2004-10-21
accessdate = 2008-02-02
* Jim Jamescite news
url =
title = Bright Eyes Plotting Two Distinct Tours
author = Todd Martens
work = Billboard
date = 2004-11-19
accessdate = 2008-01-29
* Neely Jenkins
* Simon Joyner
* Tim Kasher
* Thomas Kluge
* Joe Knapp
* Tiffany Kowalski
* Ben Kweller
* Jiha Leecite news
url =
title = Bright Eyes
author = David Sprague
work = Variety
date = 2002-09-20
accessdate = 2008-02-02
* Andy LeMaster [cite news
url =
title = Leaving it all up to him
author = Jim Sullivam
work = The Boston Globe
date = 2004-10-05
accessdate = 2008-01-29
format = fee required
quote = Now It's Overhead's leader is singer-songwriter Andy LeMaster, a Bright Eyes contributor.
* Hassan Lemtouni
* Andy Leverett
* Clay Leverett
* Jenny Lewis
* Tim Luntzel
* Matt Maginn
* Daniel McCarthy
* John McEntire
* Alex McManus
* Steve Micek
* Myka Miller
* A.J. Mogis
* Stella Mogis
* David Moyer
* Katie Muth
* Angela Mullikin
* Matt Oberst
* Anton Patzner
* Steve Pedersen
* David Rawlings
* Kimberly Salistean col-5
* Clint Schnase
* Casey Scott
* Blake Sennett
* Ted Stevens
* Jimmy Tamborello
* Maria Taylor
* Brian Walsh
* M. Ward [cite news
url =
title = Singer's friends make Omaha special
author = Niz Proskocil
work = Omaha World-Herald
date = 2006-08-31
accessdate = 2008-01-29
quote = In addition to touring with the Conor Oberst-led band during the 2004 "Vote for Change" tour, Ward has worked with Oberst several times. He played guitar for Bright Eyes during the band's performance two years ago on "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn."
* Sarah Wass
* Janet Weiss
* Gillian Welch
* Nick White
* Rachael Yamagata
* Michael Zerang
* Nick Zinner

elected discography


External links

* [ Official site]
* [ Bright Eyes] at Saddle Creek Records

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