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Be specific: Villagers' Conor O'Brien on life in rock's hottest one man band

villagersIt takes a Villagers to get this much buzz. (Courtesy of Windish Agency)

By Allison Stewart

Villagers is the nom-de-pen of Dublin singer-songwriter Conor J. O'Brien, whose whimsical, darkly fantastical new disc, "Becoming a Jackal," is one of the year's best debuts. (Check out its title track here: )

O'Brien played most every instrument on "Jackal" himself, and while he frequently plays live with a band, he'll be solo on his upcoming American tour (which hits DC9 on Monday). He talked to Click Track about what it feels like to be rock's most -hyped one man band.

Does [all the attention] feel like you thought it would?

To be honest, I haven't really thought about this stuff. Talking about your music is a weird thing. [Music is] something that you do naturally, usually when you're half asleep. So to discuss it is definitely a new thing.

The album has a real "wall of sound" feel. It doesn’t feel like one person did it.

I recorded all the instruments myself. I wrote all the drum parts and pianos and organ. It was written for a band to play, which is why I call it Villagers. The whole thing started with the songs, really. Once I demoed all the songs I realized I was gonna need at least four or five guys onstage to help me flesh it out. So I gave it this kind of anonymous name, like a faceless group of people. Not like [the musicians are actually] faceless. I know their faces. They're my friends.

(On pitchfork-wielding townsfolk and Conor Oberst, after the jump.)

The name Villagers has an ominous feel [suggestive of] people wielding pitchforks and torches.

Yeah, yeah. There's something slightly brooding about it, slightly scary. I like that.

You started Villagers after an earlier band had gone wrong.

It didn't go wrong. I think it just ended. It kind of went right, that way. I started writing songs for Villagers the morning after we broke up, with a massive hangover.

You're not used to being out front, then?

It was definitely a change to write everything yourself, and perform. Even the first show Villagers, it was me and the drummer, just the two of us. And I did feel very exposed, 'cause I'd lived with the songs for the previous year and a half, and they'd been crafted and completed in solitude, in a blissful kind of quiet place. It was a weird experience to bring it to people, and people actually hearing the songs. It was a huge relief, actually, and probably one of the most exciting things I've ever done in my life.

You've gotten a lot of Conor Oberst comparisons. Are those flattering? Amusing

Yeah, I've heard them through the grapevine. I guess we share a similar name and a vaguely similar face, but not really. I don't know. I hope it doesn't [tick] him off.

By Allison Stewart  |  June 18, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags: Villagers  
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