Up until about a decade ago, Bright Eyes was an incredibly prolific band. The group released a new album almost every year or two since it began in 1998. And then, after the 2011 album The People's Key, Bright Eyes' output stopped. Since then, frontperson and founder Conor Oberst has released solo work, opened a bar, started a band with Phoebe Bridgers and lost a brother. For Conor, the title of Bright Eyes' first new album in almost a decade, Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was, alludes to that loss.
"It's about the minutiae of experience," he says. "If you get 'down in the weeds,' you're paying too much attention to the little details. But I think that all those little details, that's actually what makes up life. Those are the things that anyone that's lost somebody — or even just lost love or lost a good friend — you don't really think of it in broad strokes. You remember all the littlest things and those are the things that pull at your heart; they're the things that keep you up at night."
Weeds are also the first thing that grows back up out of destruction. "If you blow up a building, what happens next? In comes the weeds, in come the forest that grows over the destruction," he says.
On today's episode, Conor and bandmate and composer Nate Walcott join me to talk about their new album, Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was — and to share live performances of Bright Eyes songs both new and old. Before we get to the new music, Bright Eyes begins with a performance of a song from their 2002 album Lifted or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground with a little help from Phoebe Bridgers singing backing vocals. Listen in the audio player above.