Bright Eyes has generally been seen as a one-man concern — singer-songwriter Conor Oberst. But the truth of the matter is that multi-instrumentalist and producer Mike Mogis has been alongside Oberst for a decade, while Nate Walcott, who plays keyboards and trumpet, has been with the group since 2003.
Both are now considered permanent members, and Oberst fully acknowledges their input — including on this year’s release, “Cassadaga.”
“When we make records we argue and kind of get very obsessed with every detail,” says Nebraska native Oberst, 27, who’s been recording under the Bright Eyes moniker since he was 14. He also runs two record labels, Saddle Creek and Teen Love.
“It’s good to have people who you can do that with. I don’t win all the arguments, so that’s good.”
Nevertheless, Oberst remains the voice as well as the face of the critically acclaimed Bright Eyes, who had a quiet year in 2006 after releasing two albums simultaneously the year before — “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” and “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn.” Oberst once mined that attention for lyrical inspiration, but he’s made a deliberate and discernible move away from that.
“It’s impossible to ignore it; it’s part of my life (and) part of what’s going on with the music,” Oberst explains. “For me a way I deal with things is to write about it, and when that first entered my life, the whole ‘public image’ idea, I guess it was pretty natural for me to write about it as a way to understand it for myself.
“At the same time, I don’t want to get caught forever in that ‘me looking at you looking at me thing.’ It could get redundant. It’s best to put it in a little place in the back of your head and let it affect the creative process as little as possible. I still want to write just about life, apart from that.”
Bright Eyes, Gillian Welch and Oakley Hall perform at 8 p.m. Monday (May 21st) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak. Tickets are sold out. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.
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