A quick chat with The Na­tional

The cult New York­ers re­lease new al­bum ‘Sleep Well Beast’ this week. Front­man Matt Berninger tells us all


How would you say your new al­bum moves on from 2013’s ‘Trou­ble Will Find Me’?

“We’re as far out on the branch as we’ve ever been. We’re just try­ing dif­fer­ent shit. There’s a lot of bleeps and bloops but it’s also the most elec­tric-gui­tar heavy record we’ve made. We weren’t afraid of gui­tar so­los.”

Bleeps and bloops? So it’s your equiv­a­lent of ra­dio­head’s ‘kid a’?

“‘Kid A’ is a record that I lis­ten to ob­ses­sively, I think we all do. But when peo­ple com­pare this to ‘Kid A’ it’s like ‘holy sh*t, thank you’, but it doesn’t rep­re­sent a di­rec­tion that we’re go­ing in. If peo­ple say this as good a record as ‘Kid A’, I will drop the mic and walk away.”

The last time we saw you was just be­fore Foo Fight­ers at Glas­ton­bury. How was it fill­ing that slot?

“So much fun! I don’t nor­mally have a ton of fun of stage be­cause I’m usu­ally full of so much self-loathing and fear, but now I’m un­tan­gling that. I smoke a bit of weed, drink a lit­tle wine, and now I’m able to get on th­ese stages and have a good time.”

Glas­ton­bury’s emily eavis said you de­serve to head­line. What was it like when you went on?

“We came armed to win. When you’re an artist you’re say­ing, ‘I’m a ma­gi­cian, I don’t have a job, I make songs’. You have to prove it.”

are you com­pet­ing with your­selves or your peers?

“I’m still com­pet­ing with The Strokes. I love our first record, but when it comes out next to [Strokes de­but] ‘Is This It’, you’re like, ‘Ouch’. I saw them live and ev­ery­thing about that band was f***ing per­fect. We’re not com­pet­ing with any­one though. We be­lieve in the col­lec­tive thing that makes ev­ery­body bet­ter. With a f***ing Nazi sym­pa­thiser for a Pres­i­dent, we’re all on the same team. Those Nazis are ter­ri­fied, twisted boys – Don­ald Trump too is a twisted, man­gled child.“

is the mood in the usa as poi­sonous as the me­dia would have us be­lieve?

“The con­ser­va­tive base has been work­ing on this for 20 or 30 years. The cor­po­rate right has been us­ing racism, sex­ism, ha­tred for a long time. Trump is just the mon­ster they made. I have blind faith that kind­ness, brav­ery and love will pre­vail.”

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