Background on The Lazy-i Interview with Conor Oberst (in The Reader), Lincoln’s turn to give to Hear Nebraska…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , , — @ 12:55 pm May 29, 2014
A screen capture from Conor Oberst's new video for "Zigzagging Toward the Light."

A screen capture from Conor Oberst’s new video for “Zigzagging Toward the Light.”

by Tim McMahan,

Some background on the cover story / interview with Conor Oberst in this week’s issue of The Reader

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to ask Oberst any questions. The last interview was way back in 2007 in support of Cassadaga. Oberst — or more accurately, his presss agent, Press Here — has turned down requests for interviews by small press such as The Reader ever since.

I hadn’t even bothered to ask when it came time to do media for the release of Upside Down Mountain, figuring the request would simply be rejected again. Then Marc Leibowitz of One Percent Productions emailed saying Oberst was indeed doing interviews for this release and in support of his June 4 show at Sokol Auditorium. I emailed Press Here and was told that Conor would do the interview, but because he was so busy, he could only do it via e-mail.

E-mail interviews are difficult — you never know how the artist will reply. The answers could literally be one or two words, as were the replies from Bill Callahan from Smog when I conducted an e-mail interview with him years ago. Plus, e-mail doesn’t provide an avenue for follow-up questions. You get what you get. It was a shame because whether face-to-face or over the phone, Oberst is among the best at doing one-on-one interviews.

A couple days went by and the questions were due. So I tapped out what was on my mind, figuring because of the personal nature of the questions, he may not respond.

Among those personal questions: Way back in 2010, I received a tip from a very reliable source that Oberst had run off and got married in New York City the prior weekend. Knowing the source, I knew it was true, but didn’t want to get him in trouble. Instead, I rattled off a letter to Saddle Creek Records, recapping what I’d been told. The reply: “Conor has a new album coming out ….” it was the classic non-denial denial. I guess I could have figured out a way to look up his marriage license in NYC, but I didn’t have the resources or, frankly, the interest. Without confirmation, reporting that Oberst got married would be no more than gossip. Why was it a secret?

This was just a few months after the Concert for Equality in Benson. Oberst had emerged as a celebrity leader and voice against U.S. anti-immigrant laws in the summer of 2010. Conor was doing interviews in support of the concert, but questions would be limited to politics, so I decided to pass even though there was one burning question I was dying to ask: What was really driving the protest? Was there a personal relationship behind his political passion? In the end, no one ever bothered to ask.

I got some of my questions answered in this Reader interview. In fact, Conor answered every questions I sent him. Read the full Q&A transcript in this week’s issue of The Reader, or online right here.

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Speaking of Conor, here’s his new video for “Zigzagging Toward the Light.” It’s pretty trippy.

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Today is Give to Lincoln Day, the sister effort to last week’s Omaha Gives! day. That means if you live in Lincoln (or even if you don’t) it’s time to donate $10 to Hear Nebraska through the Give to Lincoln website. By giving through the site, a portion of your donation will be eligible for a match via the Lincoln Community Foundation.

I outlined the reasons last week why every musician, venue, promoter and local music fan should support Hear Nebraska (right here) so I won’t tell you again (though you can always go back and reread it). Come on. Give. It’s only $10.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.