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Bryce Dessner (The National) Interview

Bryce Dessner, The National

Please, tell a little bit about the recording process of the new album. Was there anything funny? or unexpected? or strange?

The recording was framed but very extreme weather! The day we started recording a massive tornado blew through Rhinebeck New York (about 2 hours north of New York city where we were recording) and shut down the power for 4 days. We were standing outside when the storm came and everything turned white and tress started to fly. The house next door was completely destroyed. A month later hurricane Sandy happened and we were stuck there for 2 weeks without train service. And a little while after that the election happened and Obama won, which was a very good day for us all.

In the December of 2011 you played two excellent new songs on the «Q» show (radio CBC) and one of them — «I Need My Girl» — will appear on the new album. What happened to another one called «Rylan»?

We worked on Rylan for this album but we decided it didn’t be log to this record. We still have the song and will try to release it in some way in the future.

In «Rylan» you sing: «Everybody wants to be amazing». After 14 years of great musical career do you feel that you are «amazing»?

The weird thing about The National is I’m not sure we will ever feel ’amazing. It’s just not in our personalities, as midwesterners, we are taught to be self-effacing. So no, I don’t think we are amazing. But like everybody, we want to be amazing.

The National - Trouble Will Find Me
The National - Trouble Will Find Me

How the idea of making a documentary such as «Mistaken for Strangers» came along? Why such a serious band as you, decided to film and release something that seems to be a buddy comedy?

The idea came from Matt’s little brother Tom, who is a very funny guy. It’s a very funny, very heartfelt, and ultimately very emotional movie about the relationships of brothers, and trying to find yourself through making something. Tom is a roadie on the High Violet tour and is an aspiring filmmaker struggling to make a movie about his brothers band. While our music and our tour, and the band itself, feature in the film...really the movie is about something else entirely which is Tom’s personal journey and his making of the movie. It’s something we are all very proud of. And who needs another super serious band documentary anyway!?

Steve Reich once said such words about you: «They’re the latest incarnation of a classic rock’n’roll band». What does rock’n’roll mean to you, actually?

I think to Steve Reich this may mean that somehow we have managed to re-invent or at least keep alive the classic archetype of a guitar and drum striven rock band. And also a band that operates collaboratively...as opposed to one guy making records on a laptop which I smote and more how music is made.

Please, name your favorite records of the year so far.

I love the new Deerhunter record, Monomania.

You are politically active band and you supported Barack Obama during his two election campaigns. Are you aware of political situation in Russia, and if «yes», can you comment on that?

I read a lot about Russia but it seems like a very complex situation to understand. To us in America it seems like a very repressive political situation and somehow Putin is in more control of the country than ever before? Again, it’s hard to know if the information we are getting is correct because obviously Russia and the American news media have a very complex relationship. The Pussy Riot story was a massive thing here in America, especially for musicians. To us it is absolutely inconceivable that you could throw artists in jail for expressing their beliefs. I hope they get their freedom soon and keep making music and expressing their opinions.

First single from «Trouble Will Find Me»

Kirill Ezhov, 18.05.2013

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