Matt Berninger on the new National album, due May 2010
BetterPropaganda: Since we’re on the topic of your website… who takes all those great pictures on the site?
Matt: Scott and I take most of them. There are about 500 pictures that come up randomly. Sometimes you need to click a while before you get the tasteful nudes.
BetterPropaganda: Back to songwriting, how does the band approach a song? Do you all pretty much build the song up from scratch together?
Matt Berninger: We don’t have a process. The songs have come together in a lot of ways. Sometimes the seed is a guitar melody, other times they start from a drumbeat. We all work on little things at home and bring them to the practice space. Occasionally a song will happen spontaneously like “Mr. November”. That one was written in about an hour while rehearsing. Other songs we’ll noodle around with for months or years until they start to take shape. “Abel” used to be a ballad, not a very good one, until Bryan switched to a pounding drumbeat and I started screaming.
Pitchfork: Does the new album have a title yet?
MB: No, it doesn’t. We’ve been kicking around ideas. Every time we have an idea for a title, it lasts a few days and then we realize how bad it is. Not long ago, we were calling it SummerLovin’ Torture Party. Thankfully, we realized that’s just a stupid title. So right now, it’s still untitled.
"Matt and I fought a lot early on about like, ‘OK, we gotta write a song on the piano,’ and he’d be like, ‘I don’t like the piano, play it on a weird guitar!’ And I’d be like, ‘No, I don’t want to play it on a weird guitar!’ and it’d go back and forth a lot, early on. But then we figured it out, we had a lot of discussions about how it should sound. Matt had a metaphor for how it should sound, ‘like loose wool or hot tar,’ like a woolly and weird textured thing!"
Aaron Dessner, of the National, on the creative process behind the band’s forthcoming High Violet. Hot Tar would have been a great name for the record. (via crumbler)
"Basically the band is like this: Matt’s the dad. Scott’s the long-suffering wife. I’m the black-sheep uncle. Aaron and Bryce are the twin daughters who like to control their parents."
Bryan Devendorf, on the interview to The New York Times
"We’re considering setting up a Las Vegas situation where we have a 6 night a week residency at Caesar’s Palace for a few years."
The National’s Matt Berninger, on his preferred alternative to constant touring, in Drowned in Sound. I do love the idea of them alternating six-month engagements with Bette Midler and Cher. (via crumbler)
The National have always been open in interviews about the fact that friction between members of the band was an undeniable part of the recording process for both of their past two albums, Boxer and, their latest, High Violet. Speaking to ABC News’ Dan Harris, however, it’s fascinating to watch Aaron and Bryce Dessner describe the process on video, as you can truly see how their intense passion for the music is the impetus for their embracing of frustrating musical negotiations with singer Matt Berninger.
“I’m not afraid to fight with Matt,” says Aaron Dessner, before his brother clarifies: “There’s a ritual that happens. They always have, like, a near-relationship-ending fight… or a couple of them.”
Details like this would be disconcerting if the result wasn’t one of the best albums of the year, of course, not to mention their fond respect for each other is clear throughout the Q&A. Check out the Dessner brothers on ABC’s Amplified (complete with a tour of their studio) below, and watch the boys perform “Terrible Love” in an abandonded castle on Pitchfork.tv here.
The Huffington Post, in an interview with the National front man:
To get away from the demands of his intensely discerning bandmates and producing process, Berninger likes to watch The West Wing, all seven seasons, from beginning to end. He does this every couple years, a “deep indulgence” that lets him check out. “That’s one of those things, I have one of those weird obsessions,” he says about the show.
The National was formed in 1999. The Ohio-raised, Brooklyn-based band consists of vocalist Matt Berninger fronting two pairs of brothers: Aaron (guitar, bass, piano) and Bryce Dessner (guitar), and Scott (bass, guitar) and Bryan Devendorf (drums). Their first full-lengths, The National and Sad Songs For Dirty Lovers, and a crucial mini-album, Cherry Tree, preceded their signing to Beggars Banquet in 2004. Alligator (2005), included underground anthem “Mr. November,” and raised their profile as the National grew into an incendiary live band. Boxer (2007), featuring songs like “Fake Empire”, “Mistaken For Strangers” and “Start A War,” sold over three times as many copies as its predecessor and saw them transformed from underground stars into an indie rock institution: they began the album cycle opening for the Arcade Fire and with guest appearance on major television shows such as the Late Show with David Letterman. By the time their busy season in support of Boxer came to a close they had become a headline attraction in their own right — REM picked them as a crucial part of a US arena tour; and the Barack Obama campaign turned “Fake Empire” into an unstated anthem for his presidential run, using it in the soundtrack to the promotional video Signs Of Hope And Change, and as background music during his victory rally in Chicago’s Grant Park.
As the first decade of the 21st century came to a close both Boxer and Alligator made countless “album of the decade” lists and their members began to occupy a still larger cultural footprint. In the period between Boxer and High Violet, Aaron and Bryce produced 2009’s Dark Was The Night, a 31-track album to benefit the Red Hot Organization. Featuring contributions from Arcade Fire, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear, Yeasayer, and many others, the record has raised close to $1,000,000 for numerous AIDS-related charities, including an emergency grant of $150,000 to Haiti’s Partners In Health after that country’s calamitous earthquake. A related Radio City Music Hall concert quickly sold out and found The National performing alongside David Byrne, Dirty Projectors, Feist, and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Next the Brooklyn Academy Of Music commissioned the brothers to write and perform a 70-minute through-composed song cycle at the Howard Gilman Opera House, accompanying a film by visual artist Matthew Ritchie. The piece – titled The Long Count – was performed by a bespoke orchestra and sung by Matt Berninger, Kim and Kelley Deal (Breeders, Pixies) and Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond). More recently, in March 2010, Bryce’s Music Now event, a boutique festival in the band’s hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio celebrated its fifth anniversary, and he co-curated the second annual Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. Anticipation for The National’s next move has grown to a fever pitch.
( via )