Conor Oberst talks Bright Eyes’ impact on The 1975, Phoebe Bridgers, Lil Peep & Post Malone
The connections between Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, Phoebe Bridgers, and The 1975's Matty Healy run deep. Conor and Matty spoke earlier this year for Matty's podcast series that launched around the same time The 1975 released their excellent new album Notes On A Conditional Form, and Conor is of course in the band Better Oblivion Community Center with Phoebe, who also sings on The 1975's new album and recently released her own great new album Punisher, featuring all three core members of Bright Eyes. Conor's been doing interviews for the first new Bright Eyes album in nine years, Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was, which comes out this Friday (8/21) via Dead Oceans, and he spoke to NME about both Phoebe and The 1975:
Bright Eyes’ influence is wider than just the die-hards though. They pretty much emo icons these days, the lineage of their pensive and sensitive approach detectible in the work of some of contemporary music’s sharpest songwriters, from Phoebe Bridgers to The 1975‘s Matty Healy.
“Obviously Phoebe and I started a band together [Better Oblivion Community Center] so there’s a lot of shared sensibilities,” Oberst says. But as to what attracts many millennial musicians to their work, Oberst seems – with classic Midwestern modesty – genuinely at a loss: “I really can’t speak for them and what they see in our music.”
He does, however, recognise an unlikely link between his band and Healy’s. “I met Matty recently and he’s really cool. I don’t hear a lot in common between our bands, but what I like about them is that they’re also weirdly genre-less. They have radio-pop songs, then others sound like a punk-rock band. It confuses me, but I like that. They’re willing to be many different bands in one. I think we probably have that in common.”
Conor and his Bright Eyes bandmate Nate Walcott also discussed seeing Bright Eyes influence current hip hop acts like Post Malone, Mac Miller, and Lil Peep:
Perhaps more surprising is the number of hip-hop acts lining up to co-sign Bright Eyes. Post Malone has said that Oberst not only inspired his trembling singing style, but that he used to “cry his fucking eyes out” to their 2005 classic album ‘I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning’. “He’s actually a really sweet guy,” says Walcott.
Post Malone interpolated ‘First Day Of My Life’ on the 2017 Young Thug track ‘Me Or Us’, while the late Mac Miller covered Bright Eyes classic ‘Lua’. Yet Oberst says it’s Lil Peep’s sample of ‘Something Vague’, on the 2016 track ‘Worlds Away’, that sticks most in his memory.
“He took this acoustic chord progression that I played in a basement [years ago] and turned it into this totally different musical experience,” Oberst notes. “I think it’s really cool that [rappers] are open-minded and can re-contextualise things in ways that I could never have guessed to do.” Mogis chimes in to joke: “Maybe he lost a bet. Like someone said, ‘There’s no way you could make a hip-hop song out of this’.”
Throughout the lengthy interview, they also talk about the new album (which features an orchestra, a choir, bagpipes, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and more), how the band came to reunite, and more. You can read the whole thing here.