OPB in-studio session with The National recorded at Mississippi Studios in Portland, 10-1-07
If it's an artistic creation's ability to convey a sense of feeling, time, and place that deems its merit, The National may very well have created a masterpiece. The Brooklyn-based quintet's 2007 release Boxer seethes with themes based around the modern urban landscape, with some of its characters chasing the faded glory of a corporate ladder while others are resigned to stay to themselves (together, alone) and find something worthwhile outside of the rat-race. That's one take, at least. Frontman and lyricist Matt Berninger acknowledges the influence of the band's adopted hometown on his writing, though he claims a far more haphazard composition process than one might expect. "Very often I'm just trying to avoid a stupid-sounding lyric," he told us last summer, "Most of what I write sounds like bad rock lyrics, so very often it's just scratching out most of it and, whatever's left, I just see if I can make a song out of it." The results are hardly so imperfect.
The National gets to some uniquely-arranged, stripped-down versions of songs from Boxer for our in-studio session. We'll also talk to them about the effect the familial connections in the band have on their music (the five-piece includes two sets of brothers), their democratic creation process, and the nightly catharsis that is their live show.
Recording Engineer: Jim Brunberg