October 13, 2020
The National frontman is here to discuss his debut solo album, Serpentine prison 4.02pm BST
Matt Berninger webchat – follow it live
Matt’s with us now, dialling in from Los Angeles, where it’s 8am and the scene presumably looks something like this ... Matt, Moose and Lou from @straycatalliance Thank you @festeshana from the boys. 5.51pm BST
The National are not a band inclined to give themselves a break. Look, they were planning to after 2017’s Sleep Well Beast, but then director Mike Mills approached them about making a movie, and so last year’s I Am Easy to Find was born. No sooner were they off tour than guitarist Bryce Dessner was doing big things with European orchestras, drummer Bryan Devendorf was releasing a surprise solo album, instrumentalist Aaron Dessner was making a surprise album with Taylor Swift and the whole lot of them were working on a musical adaptation of Cyrano De Bergerac. You don’t get the impression any of them have had time to ruminate over a sourdough starter this year.
Next up on the band’s extracurricular slate is Serpentine Prison, the official debut solo album from frontman Matt Berninger. (He has broken away from the band before – in 2015, he released Return to the moon as half of El Vy with Menomena’s Brent Knopf, who is among the new album’s many guests.) Berninger had long wanted to make a record like Willie Nelson’s covers album Stardust, and asked Booker T Jones if he would help him make it happen. Along the way, some original demos slipped in and reshaped the project, relegating the covers to a bonus disc. The result is more soulful and spacious than much of his work in his day Job, and will be released into the world on Friday 16 October.
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