We'll be chatting at 11AM EDT today. Get your questions ready!

Verification: http://instagram.com/p/ZDds7HrmJ_/

New album "Trouble Will Find Me" out May 21(UK)/22(US): http://bit.ly/18tHpR0

Twitter: http://twitter.com/The_National

Comments: 1222 • Responses: 80  • Date: 

thefifthwit227 karma

What kind of input did you have for the Rains of Castamere? I thought it was so amazing. Gave me chills.

Edit: Also, who reached out to who? Did they ask you to do it or did you ask?

thenationalband194 karma

A: The creators D.B. Weiss and David Benioff approached us about doing a song. They are fans of the band and super nice guys. We love the show so we agreed to do it. We worked with the show's composer Ramin Djawadi on the music -- the melody and words were already written. So we were essentially covering the song. I did the harmonium and trombone drone in my garage in Brooklyn. The rest was done in Ramin's studio in LA.

pravka218 karma

How many bees were in the swarm that carried you to Ohio?

thenationalband289 karma

M- 11

CatamenialPneumoThrx205 karma

This is one of my favorite stories to tell, and it directly involves your band, the National:

It was the summer of 2010 and I had just graduated from college. I was up in Buffalo, NY visiting one of my friends from school, and was in the Buffalo airport, at my gate waiting to board my flight back to NYC.

As I tend to do when I am alone and waiting for things to happen, I was on CNN.com on my blackberry, reading an article (this one http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/17/before.i.get.old/index.html) about success for late blooming bands, that primarily focused on this band based in Brooklyn, that I had never heard of, called the National.

The plane starts to board, and I have to put my phone in my pocket, and I stand up and wait for my boarding zone to be called. Eventually it is, and I sit down in my aisle seat on the left side of the plane.

I look to my right, and I see these two dudes sitting next to me, in their early 30s, dressed like Brooklynites (always obvious), wearing sunglasses on a plane on an evening flight, and one of them looks like Jesus Christ himself, and they both look extremely familiar…

I take my phone out of my pocket, and look at the article that I was IN THE MIDDLE OF READING, and it is immediately clear that I am sitting next to two members of the band (whom I now know as the Devendorf brothers) that I was in the middle of learning about!!!

Any question that I had that these were members of your band were answered when the Jesus-looking fellow proceeded to play the finger drums on the seatback for the majority of the flight. Hilariously, we were sitting in the emergency aisle, and when the flight attendant came by to talk to us about the importance of this seating location, Bryan had already memorized the emergency pamphlet and was reading it off to her from memory. This apparently had never happened to this particular flight attendant, as both she and I were in stiches.

Anyways, when we got off the plane, I asked them if they were in fact, from the National. They seemed surprised that I had recognized them, and I told them that I was a huge fan of High Violet (then a blatant lie). Since then I have become a HUGE fan (actually), and have been to two shows (Raleigh, NC and at the Beacon Theatre in NYC), which have blown my mind. I hope to see you again at the Barclay’s Center in June!

Favorite Songs: Slow Show, Green Gloves, Karen, Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

thenationalband126 karma

B: this is a great story....bryan is funny on planes ..

kunk13194 karma

Matt, you stepped on my shoulder the last night of the beacon run. This is a great chance for you to apologize.

thenationalband279 karma

M- Sorry kunk.

The_Gay_Dalek174 karma

Are the names of the people in your songs (Ada, Rachael, Abel, Karen, etc) based on real people, or are they fictitious?

Is the song Wake Up Your Saints about an affair? Me and my friend are having a dispute about the meaning of that song

What’s up with your obsession with Tennessee Williams?

What song would you say you are the most proud of?

Does Matt ever store things in his beard?

You guys are my all time favorite band! Thanks so much for doing this, stay awesome!

Edit: I would also just like to say you and your music has helped me and few of my friends through some really tough times, and gave them the strength to keep on going. I don't think I can ever thank you enough for it.

thenationalband154 karma

M- The names are sometimes based on real people but mostly just versions of myself.

My beard is too patchy to store stuff in.

chromaxome11324 karma

While I'm not The National, Carin is in fact the name of Matt's wife, and at the time they wrote and released Alligator they'd been dating a while. My significant other of a number of years is also named Caren and both City Middle and Karen (though the first in particular) have been wonderful backdrops for many a roadtrip. So thank you so much for that. Edit: I'm also under the impression that Abel was a reference to the story of Cain and Abel but in a more contemporary context relevant to their lives.

The_Gay_Dalek31 karma

"Karen put me in a chair, fuck me, and make me a drink"

Makes sense that that would be about his wife...

CLint_FLicker73 karma

Has anyone in the band ever actually ballerina'd on the coffee table, cock in hand?

thenationalband301 karma

M- Attempted but failed. Table gave out.

thenationalband127 karma

B:Thank you all so much for all the support and all the great questions. we tried to get to as many as possible! this has been really fun. hope to see you soon on the road. Bryce

RagingPenis126 karma

Hi guys!

I've been really excited for this AMA, thanks for your time.

How are you feeling after your 6 hour performance, and 105 renditions of 'Sorrow'?

Also I'd like to take this opportunity to say thanks for your music, I absolutely adore it and due to some intense listening over the past couple of years, it will always be intimately linked with a lot of awesome memories for me.

Thanks and I can't wait for Trouble Will Find Me soon, take it easy!

thenationalband70 karma

B: Hey everyone! we are here. thanks for all the great questions. we are going to start answering!

thenationalband110 karma

the experience was pretty exhilirating. 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.

Bobjeee50 karma

Will 'Sorrow' ever be played again?

thenationalband152 karma

Hi! It's Aaron, Matt and Bryce here....yes, we played Sorrow last night. We were well-rehearsed for that one :)

thenationalband139 karma

M- Yes. It's actually the only song we know how to play REALLY well right now.

supergauntlet30 karma

Speaking of playing songs, do you guys plan on writing more songs with odd time signatures like Demons? I really enjoyed how you guys gave it that special feel and smoothness that only The National can really do.

thenationalband99 karma

A: There are a bunch of songs in odd time signatures on the new album. It wasn't planned that way. We always write a few sketches that are irregular, but usually Matt avoids them. This time he embraced some of the odd ones, I think because they feel quite natural. Demons is in 7/4 and I Should Live In Salt is in 9/8 and Hard to Find is in 5/4. There are a bunch of others that have mixed meter. It means we have to pay more attention to what we're doing this time around. Win from Arcade Fire was just joking with us that the odd meter will confuse festival audiences :)

kategardiner30 karma

How much wine did you drink during the show? I lost track... Sitting in the audience / outside the dome, drinking beer and eating BBQ was the best possible way to spend a hungover Sunday afternoon. You guys were awesome!

thenationalband91 karma

M- Not as much as I should have. I was mostly worried about piss breaks.

shaunathan32121 karma

Is that Sufjan Steven doing the quiet falsetto at the beginning of "Afraid of Everyone"? (and the "ahs" throughout the entire song for that matter?)

thenationalband244 karma

A: 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.

FireworksAreCool104 karma

How does it feel to have such a legend like John Lennon playing drums in the band?

thenationalband168 karma

M- It's intimidating. He's very bossy.

nocode41685 karma

honestly, how many minutes into sunday's performance did you guys collectively think, "We may have made a huge mistake?!"

thenationalband152 karma

A: Actually as the hours went on I think we all realized that this experience was something special for us -- there was a weird hypnotic resonance and spirituality to repeating the song over and over. We almost didnt want to stop and we learned something about our capacity for endurance and the song opened up in surprising ways....by the end it didnt feel like we were playing it anymore. We know the idea seemed pretentious in some way, but Ragnar's has this mix of humor and sadness that feels quite similar to what are songs about....we're very glad to have done it.

bfitzisarat68 karma

I just wanted to say that the scene in "Warrior" with your song About Today is one of my favorites in any film. Your song really makes it.

It's perfect.

thenationalband86 karma

M- Thanks. Yeah that might be the best use of our music I've ever seen. Great great movie.

TribeFan0767 karma

When will I be able to purchase a copy of the "Mistaken For Strangers" documentary? I'm really looking forward to seeing it!

thenationalband76 karma

A: 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.

mumyork62 karma

You seem like you have a relatively happy life. You are married and all. So how are you able to write an album like High Violet? That album carried me through two years of heart break. How were you able to write it at that time of your life?

thenationalband212 karma

A: It's true we are now all in relatively happy stages of life -- three are married and three of us have children. But like anyone, we have struggled in the past and music for us has been always something emotional and cathartic. I find it impossible to write music that doesn't have an emotional tug of some kind -- otherwise it feels pointless to me. Matt writes about some of the darker stuff -- social anxiety / awkwardness, depression, death etc -- I think because he doesnt want to have to live it.

thenationalband98 karma

B: im not married:)

elephantgun4261 karma

For the final shows of the High Violet tour, a bunch of us from allthewine forum wrote you guys our experiences and you were given a book, what were your thoughts on the book?

thenationalband92 karma

M- It's a beautiful book. Really amazing. Thank you guys so much.

ObviouslyJesus61 karma

Thanks for taking the time for an AMA, can't wait for the new album. Here go a few questions I've got:

  1. Will 'Rylan' be released as a b-side/bonus track? I imagine this is something many people would be interested in.

  2. Who is the "Jennifer" referenced in 'Wake Up Your Saints' and 'Fireproof'?

  3. What are the backing vocals saying before "Don't swallow the cap"? It's been bugging me.

Saw you guys in Boston in 2011, see you at Lupo's this year! Thanks for the amazing music.

thenationalband81 karma

A: 1. There is a recorded version of the music for Rylan from the High Violet recording sessions. It was based on a sketch called Fredericksburg.....another civil war battle. I don't know if we'll ever release that song but the lyrics and/or music might morph into something else some day. 2. Matt knows some Jennifer's but he uses that name here more as a fantasy / idea of a sort of person. 3. Dead Seriously.

quesoesbueno5958 karma

You've done a lot of songs for various media. Game of Thrones, Win Win, and Portal 2 are the first that come to mind. How did you get involved with these projects? Also, do you generally see the final product of whatever you contribute a song to? Maybe even are fans of it yourselves?

thenationalband109 karma

B: All of those projects were really interesting for us and the directors are fans of the band who were great to work with. Director Tom McCarthy was amazing to work with and we spent a lot of time with him in the edit room thinking about what kind of song would work in the movie. As for Game of Thrones I am still waiting for them to cast Matt as one of the watch or something....he seems to have the right look and deep voice ;)..

michaelvp72 karma

Matt Berninger, 1000th Commander of the Night's Watch.

thenationalband70 karma

B: exactly right?

Kite_2456 karma

Hey, How was your experience writing Exile Vilify with valve? How did it come about? Also see you on November 14th!

thenationalband147 karma

M- They asked us to write a song for them but it was my brother Tom who told us all about Portal and convinced us to do it. I didn't realize how brilliant and poetic video games have become.

buildingsonfire53 karma

Bryce and Aaron: my name's Chris, you babysat me in Cincinnati one summer in maybe 96 or 97? we were vaguely related through marriages, but i dont want to dropany names. I remember you guys playing piano a lot. Any recollection? Mr. November still rips through me like a hot knife through butter, and I'm glad to ha e hung out with you guys!

thenationalband52 karma

A: Oh that's nice! Thanks for writing. Hope you're doing great.

woodenplate47 karma

Hi band!

  1. I'm pretty sure I've heard you guys say that, in retrospect, you're not too happy with your choice of "the National" as a band name. If you could go back and change it, would you? And to what?

  2. How do you play "Nuns vs. Priests"?

Thanks! You guys rock !

thenationalband257 karma

M- If I could change our name I would pick The Strokes.

evan_ktbd44 karma

Lollapalooza 2008, one of my friends claimed you cried on him while singing Mr. November. He hails it as one of the best experiences of his life. I was wondering if you could weigh in on this matter. He likes to make stories up. But your songs are very emotionally charged. Do you often lose yourself emotionally speaking during performances?

thenationalband88 karma

M- I do lose my nerve on occasion. It's a combination of anxiety, fatigue and wine.

blockdmyownshot44 karma

First, I wanted to thank you guys for making music that has gotten me through a lot and really influenced me.

my question is: Have you all thought/been approached about making a soundtrack/score to a movie? Think You Can Wait is one of my favorite songs.

Can't wait to hear the new album

thenationalband65 karma

B: Aaron and I 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.

elephantgun4242 karma

Just wanted to also let you guys know, you have an amazing team surrounding you. Dawn, Lisa, Meghan and Gabe are all great people for their prompt responses and helping set this up! They deserve raises and promotions!

thenationalband81 karma

M- Who? Never heard of them.

thenationalband45 karma

B: agreed!

cameraman4239 karma

Hey guys, I am a huge fan. I have always wondered, in your song "Slow Show", is the lyric "I'm very, very frightened" or "frightening"?

thenationalband93 karma

M- It's "frightening."

rybham39 karma

Does Matt get annoyed when people in the front row of concerts don't allow him to walk into the crowd because they're too busy trying to grab him and hug him? I only ask because having been in the situation before, I would love to know the best way to act to not wind Matt up in case it happens again.

thenationalband171 karma

M- I don't mind the hugs. It's the ass grabs I could use less of.

WarmSinginWhores35 karma

So if I slip a 20 into a bottle of wine, is that enough to get you to play Slipping Husband and Karen at your show in Vancouver?

Thanks for the music and the AMA!

thenationalband53 karma

A: Both those songs are difficult for us to play -- but Karen is far more likely than Slipping Husband! Though SH does have supporters in the band....we'll keep it in mind.

ResoluteMan35 karma

Hi guys, huge fan. I don't plan to buy the new album. We have a Spotify subscription, which is where we get all our music nowadays. We listen to The National constantly on there.

So my question: Do the economics of that work out for you guys? I'd hate to think I'm ripping you off by enjoying your music without purchasing the album. But depending on the pay structure, you may actually be making more money off us long-term, because as I said, we listen to you constantly. I'm curious how that works for you, and what you think of the various distribution models in general.

thenationalband79 karma

A: I have spotify also, though I still buy albums, especially on vinyl. I think the economics of spotify are very difficult for artists however.

staydownchampion33 karma

Hello and welcome!

  1. What changes were made to Mistaken for Strangers between Tom’s “failed screening” (as shown in the film) and the final product? What were your impressions of the film at the failed screening?

  2. The acoustic, sing-along rendition of Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks is often people's favourite moment of seeing The National live. When you were writing the album did you have it in mind as a song you would play during the encore? (given that it's the last track on the album)

  3. What is Cut London? (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers lists Matt and Bryce as writers)

thenationalband44 karma

B: 1. the movie that was shown at the failed screening was a hilarious series of tour vignettes...it had its merits but the final version is something entirely different. tom spent another year and a half i think finishing the film after that and its become something we are all really proud of. while the failed screening version felt more like an amazing and hilarious inside joke? 2. no we never thought of doing that. it was actually my idea the night we played the ryman theater in nashville. seeing all those photos backstage of johnny cash made me think we had to do something acoustic, in the spirit of all the great music that has been through there. we didnt expect that everyone would sing along with us...but when that happened we just loved it so much we kept that in the set. 3. cut london is a weird song, outtake from alligator. it was our first song in 5/4....until the new record which has Hard to Find also in 5/4. The song had some lyric about getting run over by girls on a bike? I can't remember if this was ever properly released. I don't think so.

solace7729 karma

Bryce/Aaron,

Since you guys have worked with Justin Vernon in the past, I was curious if you've ever talked about working on a larger scale project or album together at some point?

See you guys in DC/Richmond soon and can't wait to hear the full record!

thenationalband62 karma

A: 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.

bikemail28 karma

Hey guys! I just had a few questions for you all:

First off, in "Don't Swallow the Cap", Matt references the album Let It Be, and a lot of people were wondering if it was in reference to the Replacements album or the Beatles album.

Also, I'm a huge fan of the Virginia EP and the expanded version of High Violet. Are you guys planning on doing something similar to those for Trouble Will Find Me, perhaps something to tie in with the release of the Mistaken For Strangers film?

P.S. Your choices of songs to cover has always be awesome and eclectic, got any plans for future ones? I know we at the American Mary forum would love to see you do a certain Pavement cover :)

thenationalband57 karma

B: Its the Beatles album...we actually recorded way too much music this time, and many songs which are just as strong as the ones on the record. where in the past we might have made extended versions, this time around we have more material so I am not sure what the plan is but we definitely want to finish those songs. as for a pavement cover...I'd be into it! Matt and Scott are the real pavement experts so its up to them :)

thenationalband40 karma

M- No it's a Mats reference!

bobdebicker27 karma

Hey fellas. Huge fan and Ohioan here. Your music has gotten me through some tough times, so thanks. I'm soopa doopa excited for the new album, and to see you in Columbus. Just two questions:

  1. Will you ever play "Sorrow" again or are you beyond sick of that song?

  2. Between High Violet and Trouble Will Find Me, you've worked with Justin Vernon, Richard Reed Perry (of Arcade Fire), Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Van Etten, St. Vincent, Doveman, and more. What's the creative process like when recording with these guys? Do you already have their stuff written? How do you foster these relationships? Also, I agree with you guys that Arcade Fire should play "Crown of Love" more often :)

thenationalband60 karma

B: We played sorrow last night! We love the song and will continue to play it....just not for 6 hours ;)

Richard, Sufjan, Annie, Justin, Thomas (Doveman), Sharon...these are all very close friends and people we have worked with for many years. I would say our friendships come first and the music comes out of that naturally. We have a studio behind Aaron's house where we made our last couple records. Sufjan for instance is our neighbor and is over a lot for dinner, so we will just ask him to come out and listen to something. he always has great ideas very different from our own so its great to have his input. We dont use 85% of what guests play on the records, but the things we keep are often very important elements.

handsomew0lf25 karma

Any chance you tour with arcade fire again?

Also, you guys sing about spiders and alligators quite a bit - why?

thenationalband49 karma

B: probably? 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.

kickingtelevision25 karma

What current bands are you guys listening to?

What are some of your favorite venues/ cities to play in?

Thanks for doing this-- I can't wait for the new record & to see you at Boston Calling Fest! (One last thing: Aaron, can you talk at all about the process of curating this festival?)

thenationalband88 karma

M- The new Kurt Vile is my go to record right now.

thenationalband35 karma

A: This is the Kit, People Get Ready, Phosphorescent. Boston Calling was fun to work on because there's a great group of people behind that festival. Boston is a great music town but they haven't had their own outdoor festival in the heart of the city -- so it made a lot of sense to try and create something. I am more responsible for Sunday's lineup when we are playing and helping to shape some of the general aesthetic direction of the festival.The festival is sold out now but there are some big announcements coming soon.

djxfactor30621 karma

Hey guys thanks for doing this AMA!

First off, I just want to say thank you for going out and getting people to sign up to vote during the last election. I had the pleasure of seeing you perform in Cincinnati and them meeting you all at Xavier the next day. You were doing good work.

Second, I'm a St. Xavier High School graduate. Matt, when I found out that you went to my alma mater, I was estatic! But the only time I've ever heard you speak about it, you said that you didn't exactly enjoy your experience there. Can you explain that a little further please? I know that St. X kids that listen to the National take pride in the fact that you went there.

Thanks again!

thenationalband45 karma

M- I loved St X. Never said anything bad about it that I can remember. Mr. O'Brien and Mrs. Meyer were guiding lights for me. I think St X really gave me confidence and self-respect. Men for others.

erratically_sporadic21 karma

Huge fan! Thanks for doing this AMA! Couple of questions:

1.How does Bryan Devendorf feel about being forever immortalized on the cover of your debut album?

2.Dark Was the Night is my favorite compilation album of all time. Any plans on another DWTN charity-type album for Red Hot(or any other charity)?

3.Would you consider collaborating on an album with St. Vincent?

4.What can you tell us about the new album? Why was the song Rylan not included in the album?

EDIT: removed/readded original questions.

thenationalband29 karma

B: 1.Bryan in that photo! i dont know how bryan feels about it....pretty sexy? 2. yes aaron and i are working on a follow up in the next year or tow...stay tuned... 3. annie is a very individual artist, she can play every instrument herself. so i dont know that she needs us! we have collaborated though, she sang on trouble will find me, and i have played guitar with her on several of her shows. 4. the new album is my favorite national record. seriously. rylan just didnt feel part of the new batch of songs this time but we havent thrown it away.

thenationalband21 karma

A: 1. Bryan likes that cover. He's a big fan of whiffle ball. That picture was taken before we finished that record. We were barely a band then. 2. Thank you. Yes, Bryce and I have just started work on another one that we're excited about. It involves the Grateful Dead's music and tons of different musicians. 3. Yes, she's a close friend and a brilliant musician. 4. We just never got around to finishing Rylan -- we needed to reinvent it somehow and other songs raced ahead more quickly.

RolandGoose21 karma

Hey Guys,

Thanks for taking the time to do this!

I always wondered why on some Alligator songs live (Secret Meeting, All the Wine..) Scott and Aaron swap instruments, Is there any particular reason for this?

Also, What is the best concert (by someone else) that each of you have seen live?

Thanks again guys! I wish you continued success with TWFM! Thanks for all the great music, looking foward to seeing you guys in Ireland in June and November!!!

thenationalband30 karma

B: scott wrote that high guitar part on the song and enjoys playing it...its fun to switch instruments up sometimes (like when aaron and i switch to piano) that bass line is also insanely difficult for the right hand and is a little easier for aaron to play thanks for the questions!

hatsandhardcore20 karma

Had Stephen Malkmus heard your line about waiting for Pavement to get back together before booking you guys as warm-up for their tour?

thenationalband27 karma

B: yes they had....

thenationalband65 karma

M- I'm pretty sure I'm the one who got them to reform. You're welcome!

killthedogslowly19 karma

This one is for Bryce:

I saw 'Planetarium' at BAM last month (great show). Who out of you, Nico, and Sufjan came up with that and how?

Thanks

thenationalband28 karma

B: we wrote the show together....so all the songs are collaborative. sufjan wrote all the lyrics....

viast18 karma

I can never tell which one is Bryce and which one is Aaron, how can I tell?

thenationalband123 karma

M- Aaron is the cute one. Bryce is the handsome one.

thenationalband44 karma

B: ha

AhabFlanders18 karma

I saw a documentary recently, If A Tree Falls, which includes a number of your songs. It mades me wonder how you feel about your songs being included in films, commercials, shows, etc? Obviously you don't object to it, but do you think about the relationship between your music and what it is being used for? Would you/have you ever objected to your songs being placed in a particular ad or movie?

Thanks.

thenationalband39 karma

A: We have said no to a lot of commercials over the years, though we will allow certain usages (we've been in a Google ad for example) Generally, we're ok with film and television usage -- it's one of the ways bands can survive these days. I've never seen a show that we placed music in however. I don't have a working television. If A Tree Falls was directed by our good friend Marshall Curry who is an amazing documentary filmmaker (check out Street Fight and Racing Dreams also).....he's an old friend and a longtime supporter of our's so we basically give him access to all the music we make.

thenationalband30 karma

B: we dont 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 its a way for more people to hear the band.

future-madscientist18 karma

Hey guys, huge fan of the band and looking forward to seeing you in Cork in a few months!!

I've always wanted to know if there's any particular back story to "All The Wine". Always loved that song, the lyrics just beautifully capture the giddy, mischievous feeling of a few drinks. I just really want to know if you have ever ran through the streets carrying a dollhouse

thenationalband51 karma

M- The dollhouse is my brain I think.

hypergelast18 karma

What prompts your stylistic shifts on each album? From your self-titled album to Sad Songs and Alligator, I'm guessing it was primarily Peter Katis' influence. But where did you find the inspirations for the more polished Boxer/High Violet? Do you see the band changing in the future?

thenationalband48 karma

B: We try to push ourselves to evolve with each album. Contrary to what some people think Peter was not a huge stylistic influence on the band. He is an amazing engineer and mixer but we have always self-produced our records, sometimes with input from peter. But his influence is more in the sound of the album (drums especially) where whats happening musically always comes from within the band. we have never made conscious decisions about our direction. we have just tried to make songs we love and to keep growing as musicians. i think sad songs was a massive step forward for us and then cherry tree was probably the beginning of the era of alligator boxer hv twfm. while we havent made some massive departure from our sound...say introducing synths and dance beats etc....we have always tried not to repeat ourselves and to find new and exciting ideas for the band. i know i can speak for the rest of the guys that the new record feels like our most creative recent record....in terms of just freewheeling energy and songs the last time i remember a process being so fun and varied was when we made alligator

mycargoesvarun17 karma

Hey guys! What was the impetus for covering the Bob's Burgers "Kill The Turkey" song? Also, do you plan on visiting San Diego anytime soon?

Thanks so much for doing this!

thenationalband39 karma

M- The writers Scott Jacobsen and Jon Schroeder did our video for Conversation 16. We've been friends ever since. Bob's Burgers is brilliant.

Diarmuid2316 karma

Hey guys, who were your 16 year old selves' favourite bands? Thanks for all the great tunes throughout the years!!

thenationalband38 karma

M- Thompson Twins

nilbogjoose16 karma

Matt, would you consider yourself to be a generally melancholy person, or is that aspect of your personality just the one that shines through most prominently in your music?

Thanks!

thenationalband59 karma

M- I probably have an average level of melancholy. No more than most I'm sure. I just love to dive into that stuff and make songs out of it. It's fun to swim in the sad sloppy stuff.

iamtheanaldemon15 karma

How'd you guys meet?

thenationalband38 karma

B: aaron bryan and i have been playing in bands since we were 13-14 our first jam session we played neil youngs cortez the killer for 3 hours scott and matt are college friends.

vicerowv8615 karma

I'm really excited to see y'all in Pittsburgh here in a couple weeks. What I'd like to ask is for each of you what song in your catalogue or not makes you the happiest?

thenationalband62 karma

B: terrible love is probably the song that gets me the most excited. although graceless and sea of love on the new record are probably even more intense to play live. none of our songs make me sad really although when we play about today i always think about a close friend of mine who passed away a few years ago.

gobiassomeland14 karma

1) for Aaron -- what inspired you to start producing, and how did you go about doing it?

less serious questions for the whole band 2) Annie Clark is my favorite musician, how awesome is she as a friend? 3) If you played "Bloodbuzz Ohio" and "Wake Up Your Saints" at Outside Lands in August I would be very happy.

you guys rock, thanks for the AMA

thenationalband20 karma

A: It was a quite natural thing to start doing because I've always played this role in a way in the band. I can only work on music who I feel inspired by and who I feel I can actually help evolve or get better in some way -- so I don't think I'll produce many records....maybe one or two a year. I have a studio in my garage that is a great space to work in and it's full of old instruments and microphones and pre-amps.....so it's easy just to wander out and do stuff.

Ok thanks everyone! This was fun. We appreciate all of your questions and interest. Sorry we couldn't answer all the questions! We are have shitty typing skills.

thenationalband14 karma

M- Annie is a brilliant, warm and hilarious person. We're lucky to know her.

Knightmoves14 karma

Hey guys!

  • Any plans for a release of the music from The Long Count?
  • Secondly, and excuse me, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH RYLAN?!?

Thanks for doing this! Stuff from the new album sounding good...

thenationalband23 karma

B: We definitely want to record the long count. I think now that we are done with the new album Aaron and I will set aside time to get everyone together and do it. Its a little bit elaborate and there are lots of musicians involved so it takes some wrangling. But we will do it! Rylan is still around....just didnt fit on this record....

elephantgun4214 karma

What is your guys' favourite music video?

thenationalband54 karma

M- Actually there's one video that we all really love so we made this homage. http://youtu.be/yIWmRbHDhGw

DeadSeaGulls13 karma

Hello from Utah. I can't express how big of a fan I am without listing a bunch of pointless shit. I will say watching you guys at the hollywood bowl will always be one of my favorite memories, even if my drunk dancing and singing did disrupt the rich snobs that surrounded us.

Question time. What is the worst situation you've gotten yourselves into? I don't care if it was on tour or you just wandered into the wrong tent at burning man, whatever the worst situation was, what was it and how did you get out of it?

thenationalband33 karma

M- We once tried to take a "short-cut" through the alps in the winter on one of our very early european tours. Took and extra 4 hours and we nearly got stranded and would have frozen to death. Also, once stayed in a youth hostel in Scotland. Almost died there too. Played a french swingers club as well.

flaccidaardvark13 karma

The National is one of my absolute favorite bands if not THE favorite. So first off thanks for all the songs you've given us over the years, there is something so very indescribably special about your music.

Do you guys have any specific songs that you've written that are YOUR favorites? Any songs that you're proud of more than others or any that really hold a special place in your hearts?

thenationalband38 karma

B; All dolled up in straps from cherry tree might be my favorite national song...although the new record has many songs that are way up there for me

Moremutants12 karma

Hi lads,

This has bugged me for a while. At the end of Secret meeting what are the lyrics that Bryce and/or Aaron are screaming? I reckon it's 'I'm talkin aces, I'm foldin' but can't be sure.

Also where do you find you get the warmest welcome and the craziest fans? I've seen you in Ireland a few times and people go a bit mental at the gigs.

Thanks! Can't wait for Trouble Will Find Me.

thenationalband27 karma

B: i think we may all shout different things...so that may remain a mystery yes the irish audience is amazing and definitely one of the best in the world. definitely up there as well are the danes and the portugese...and the croatians...

henryfinlay11 karma

Are we going to see a "Live from the MoMA 2013" album?

thenationalband53 karma

M- I think we are actually planning to release a 6 hour vinyl version of that performance for charity. Seriously. Hope it happens.

lzgr11 karma

-Do you mind people making their own videos with your music over them?

thenationalband46 karma

M- Not at all. they're often better than our own.

thebigpaluka11 karma

Where do you guys buy your suits?

thenationalband46 karma

A: Rag & Bone and Seize Sur Vingt

viast11 karma

During the 6 hour Sorrow session on Sunday, you guys played some amazing AMAZING tunes with guitar (idk if bass was involved), it was hauntingly beautiful. Do you think you will use it in the future for any new songs/live shows?

thenationalband28 karma

B: i reharmonized the chords to the song at one point...matt was so tired i dont think he noticed. we might use that for something!?

Jordan__D10 karma

hey you guys ! Pretty psyched for Trouble will find me BTW will there be a song with the word chandelier in it? I was wondering where Bryce learned to speak French, also what was the best live show you attended. Finally I wanted to know if you played the original Portal before Valve asked you to write a song for its sequel.

Thanks!

PS: Your Bobs Burgers' song was amazing

thenationalband29 karma

B: thanks! 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 8 year olds! no i had never played portal prior to working on the song... best recent live shows i have seen...portisehead in australia was ridiculously good...and i saw the bad seeds show here at the beacon which was out of control good.

karosaurus10 karma

Hey guys!

A couple summers ago, my friend Donald and I were given the incredible opportunity to hang out with you guys backstage during your show at Merriweather Post in Maryland (we were the ones who popped that ACL balloon and mailed it to you). To this day, you are still my absolute favorite band, and your music is becoming more and more important to me.

  1. Not a question, just a deep thank you for that night. We were just a couple of crazy fans who drank a ton of your wine, but you treated us like friends. Some of the life advice you guys gave us will always stay with me.
  2. Do you think you'll play at the 9:30 Club again anytime soon?
  3. Under what circumstances do your strongest lyrics come to you?
  4. Any favorite poets?

So glad you're around! Can't wait for the new album.

  • Carolyn

thenationalband25 karma

A: 2. We are playing MPP soon which we love.....we love playing 9:30 club but we'd have to play quite a few nights there and we are trying not to tour forever and ever....it's easy to burn out with too many shows. 3. Matt says sometimes lyrics seem to come into his mind out of nowhere as if the music is guiding him....and other things are really difficult and he has to labor over many many months. He works at all times of the day and night and taps his foot out of time from what I can tell :) 4. Rilke

mfkennedy9 karma

Are you guys planning on busting out any old songs that haven't seen a lot of light on recent tours, or will it be mostly new songs & all the same awesome songs you always play from the last 3 or 4 records?

thenationalband32 karma

A: We always try and play a group of older songs -- but the focus will be on the new album as we're excited about that. Towards the end of High Violet touring, we had fun breaking out some really old and underplayed songs ....I hope we can do that some on the upcoming tour, but it can be difficult without much rehearsal time....and it's a lot of words for Matt to remember.

skaddoe8 karma

First of all, I'm a big fan of yours and you really have come a long way since your first album, you just keep getting better and better! Questions:

  • What other artists have a big influence in your music?
  • When did you realize you were getting BIG? Like, when your songs started to appear in major movies.
  • Do any of you ever think about stop making music and do something else?

Thanks for this AMA, I'm looking forward to Trouble Will Find Me!

thenationalband15 karma

B: we all love dylan and leanoard cohen but from there everyone has different interests. bryan loves the dead and new order, matt is a hug e pavement fan, aaron listens to mostly dylan and folk stuff...i like a lot of weird contemporary music (steve reich, terry riley, bauhaus, john cale) but we have a really wide range of tastes i guess is what im saying our growth in terms of popularity has been so gradual i dont think we ever really noticed it to be honest. i guess selling out our first show in paris to 200 people was a big moment. and then playing bowery ballroom was another one...

apbcfg7 karma

Hey guys! Huge fan. 2 questions...

1.) I am actually writing a paper on Keats Ode's and how they have possibly influenced many musicians when writing on subjects like depression/sorrow, etc. I am including your song "Sorrow" obviously, but I was curious if that or if any authors/works of literature have influenced your song writing?

2.) I am going to see you at the Barclay's Center in June and I was wondering if you guys ever thought you would be playing arena's when you first started out?

thenationalband19 karma

B: wow...cool paper idea... i know matt has read lots of cheever...and many other things but i dont think keats. ill ask him! aaron and i are huge readers. he likes henry james...i read a lot of russian novels (gogol, dostoyevsky)

no we never dreamt we'd play barclays...we never thought we'd go beyond mercury lounge! even playing bowery ballroom was a dream back then.

amhendrix2 karma

Hello Bryce, Aaron and Matt! I love the music you create and I'm very happy you are making more. My question: what city are you most excited to play because of the food you get to eat while you're there?

thenationalband7 karma

B: we played in ferrara italy last tour and it was the best food i have ever had...we arent going there this time but I have to say that the food in italy is totally mind blowing....that and probably tokyo are my favorites.

Tom_Servo19852 karma

Hey guys, I love your music and your art. I owe almost all my Reddit karma to you for posting a link to Mr November on November 1st last year.

My question is this: Was it planned before hand that one of the pictures from your performance at your friends wedding would be used as the album art for Boxer, or was this something you decided on after seeing the photo? Thank you.

thenationalband9 karma

B: no it wasnt planned! that is actually a real photo of us playing at peter katis's wedding...actually the photo was taken by paul banks's girlfriend at the time they asked us to play some songs so we played geese and daughters because they are the only too uplifiting love songs we have ;)