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ACL Interview: The National, Part Two

Sunday, Oct. 13, 5:30pm, Lady Bird stage

By Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013

ACL Interview: The National, Part Two
by Shelley Hiam

The National frontman and lyricist Matt Berninger reveals the truth behind the Brooklyn quintet's melancholic sound and playing with those expectations on their sixth LP, Trouble Will Find Me.

Austin Chronicle: You guys seem to have a very keen self-awareness of the perception of the band's musical moodiness and thus play with that on the new album.

Matt Berninger: There's no doubt about it. When we're writing songs, both musically and lyrically, there's a tendency toward minor chords and singing songs about rather complicated emotional situations, whether they're romantic or whatever. You kind of dig into the awkward dark side of that, but we're all pretty happy people most of the time. There's also, when we do live shows, clearly a misery loves company type of vibe in the room where there's so many people singing along enjoying these melodramatic, often gloomy songs together. People love to sing about being alone together.

AC: As you've matured and all have families now, how has that new outlook affected your songwriting?

MB: I'm kind of too close to it to listen to how our songs and specifically my songwriting has evolved as I've kind of grown up, but I'm certain that my daughter has changed the chemistry of my brain and my outlook on everything and perspective. That clearly came into the last record in a lot of ways, all the reflections on afterlife in the songs are definitely an extension of being a father and coming to terms with my personal understanding of afterlife.

I'm not one to believe in any type of heaven or hell. I believe we're creating that day to day in our lives and how we leave the Earth and leave our friends and people we've touched in our lives. That's our afterlife. Having a daughter, and seeing myself in her in many obvious ways, that's had a huge effect on how I think of myself and my place in the universe.

Check out part one of our interview with the National.

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