Watch Bright Eyes Do “Mariana Trench” on “Colbert,” Their First Performance in Nine Years | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Watch Bright Eyes Do “Mariana Trench” on “Colbert,” Their First Performance in Nine Years

Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was Due Out August 21 via Dead Oceans

Jun 23, 2020
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Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis, and Nathaniel Walcott) are releasing a new album, Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was, on August 21 via Dead Oceans. It’s their first new album in nine years and last night the band was the musical guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, performing the new single “Mariana Trench” in what was their first performance together in nine years. It’s unclear how the performance was achieved in this socially distant era. Were they in separate studios at the same time or in the same studio at separate times or in the same studio at the same time? Whatever the case, it was a dynamic performance and you can watch it below.

Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was is the band’s first album for Dead Oceans and the first Bright Eyes album since 2011’s The People’s Key. The album includes three previously shared singles: “Persona Non Grata,” a new song the band shared in March that was their first new song in nine years; “Forced Convalescence,” a new song shared in April that was one of our Songs of the Week; and “One and Done,” a new song shared in May via a lyric video that was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then when the album was announced Bright Eyes shared another new song from it, “Mariana Trench,” via an animated video for the track. 

The band announced in January that they had signed to Dead Oceans and had been recording, with intentions to release new music this year. They also previously announced a world tour (although those tour dates have been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19). In January they also shared a teaser video featuring them recording in the studio with an orchestra. 

Oberst has kept busy in the last decade with solo and collaborative projects (such as last year’s Better Oblivion Community Center duo with Phoebe Bridgers). Since Bright Eyes went on hiatus, Mogis has kept busy as a producer and Walcott has worked as a film composer. Oberst’s punk band Desaparecidos also reformed for 2015’s Payola. But all three members have remained in close contact with each other, with Oberst living 15 minutes away from Walcott while at his home in Los Angeles and living next door to Mogis while at his home in Omaha. It was at a Christmas party at Walcott’s house in LA in 2017 that Oberst first suggested to Walcott that they get the band back together. The two then called Mogis, who was Christmas shopping in Omaha at the time, and he immediately agreed. 

“Our history and our friendship, and my trust level with them, is so complete and deep. And I wanted it to feel as much like a three-headed monster as possible,” says Oberst of the reunion, commenting in a press release. 

The album was recorded at Omaha’s ARC Studios, Los Angeles’s Electro-Vox, and LA’s Capitol Studios. The album also features Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age) on drums and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea on bass.

The press release further sets the scene for the album: “As a title, as a thesis, Down in the Weeds Where the World Once Was functions on a global, apocalyptic level of anxiety that looms throughout the record. But on a personal level, it speaks to rooting around in the dirt of one’s memories, trying to find the preciousness that’s overgrown and unrecognizable. For Conor Oberst, coming back to Bright Eyes was a bit of that. A symbol of simpler times, vaguely nostalgic. And even though it wasn’t actually possible to go back to the way things were, even though there wasn’t an easy happy ending, there was a new reality left to work with.”

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