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.”