15 Things We Learned From The National’s Reddit AMA


Evidently, The National survived playing “Sorrow” for six hours straight over the weekend; today Matt Berninger and the Dessner brothers were online to do what turned out to be a pretty great Reddit AMA. This format can be revealing and fascinating when an interviewee puts a lot of effort into it, and The National answered a shitload of questions, doing so thoughtfully and extensively. Here are some of their most interesting responses.

They got through six hours of “Sorrow” without a bathroom break: “The experience was pretty exhilarating. I managed to get through it without taking a pee break! After a couple hours it was like being in some kind of suspended trance state. I came up with a lot of new ideas for the song. Too bad its only a 3:25 second song…We felt great that night, but the next day we were all completely wasted.”

There will be a follow-up to Dark Was the Night: “Bryce and [Aaron] have just started work on another one that we’re excited about. It involves the Grateful Dead’s music and tons of different musicians.”

They’re soundtracking a Kerouac film: “Aaron and [Bryce] recently wrote music for a Kerouac biopic called Big Sur. We’d like to do more but for now we are really focused on learning the new songs and touring this year.”

The characters in their songs are real, sort of: “The names are sometimes based on real people but mostly just versions of myself. My beard is too patchy to store stuff in.”

They have tried to ballerina on the coffee table: “Attempted but failed. Table gave out.”

The Mistaken for Strangers documentary will be released on DVD: “We hope the film will be available for everyone to see later this year. We’re working on different options for distributing it now. Follow Tom Berninger @TomBerninger on twitter. He’s hilarious.”

Sufjan Stevens sings on “Afraid of Everyone”: “Yes it is him but it was almost unintended. He was playing harmonium and singing quietly in the studio — not into the microphones. So the vocals you hear are captured indirectly through the mics on the harmonium.”

It’s easy to tell the Dessners apart: “Aaron is the cute one. Bryce is the handsome one.”

They may be working with Bon Iver: “We do talk about making more music together — he is an amazing musician obviously and such a nice guy. Probably our next collaboration will involve the Grateful Dead’s music and charity.”

They may be working with Arcade Fire: “I saw Richard last night and we talked about it but I think maybe something special and not a tour would be the right idea. They are close friends of ours.”

Bryce Dessner once lived in France: “I lived in France for a year when I was 22. It was the year before The National started and I was studying music at the conservatory there. I had studied Spanish seriously in college and then to earn money in Paris i was teaching guitar to French kids. So basically I learned French from a bunch of eight-year-olds!”

You may hear their songs in commercials one day: “We don’t have a blanket policy about licensing songs to film/TV. We do consider all these requests and have said no many times. We have turned down a lot of things… In general i think commercials are weirder for us, where film/TV stuff often make good use of the music and it’s a way for more people to hear the band.”

They don’t like the name “The National”: “If I could change our name I would pick The Strokes.”

They shop for their suits at… “Rag & Bone and Seize Sur Vingt.”

Bees are very strong: “How many bees were in the swarm that carried [me] to Ohio? 11.”