The National‘s Matt Berninger has spoken to NME about the “different kind of spotlight” that has fallen on the band after working with Taylor Swift.
The band have collaborated with Swift on a number of occasions – featuring on her track ‘Coney Island’ from 2020’s ‘Evermore‘ before she provided vocals and lyrics for ‘The Alcott’ on their 2023 album ‘First Two Pages Of Frankenstein‘. Guitarist Aaron Dessner has also produced Swift’s last three albums and ‘re-recorded’ records.
“The Taylor thing was super organic,” Berninger told NME for this week’s In Conversation interview. “We’ve known her for a long time and obviously Aaron has been doing so much amazing stuff with her. I wrote ‘The Alcott’ with my wife Carin [Besser] in mind, Aaron sent it to Taylor and she added her own perspective on it and wrote all her parts to it. It was a true duet where she heard that and inhabited the character that I was singing about – which is almost always Carin.”
Berninger continued: “It’s not really a strategic game. Obviously Aaron’s work with Taylor Swift is going to bring a different kind of spotlight, but it’s been fun and cool. All of that has been a really healthy branching out.”
Asked about what had come with that new “spotlight” courtesy of Swift, Berninger said that there had been “no bad surprises”.
“We’re getting a lot of friendship bracelets,” he continued. “What I see in Taylor Swift is her incredible generosity to her fans and the people who love her. She makes such a joyous event of everything. I was up until midnight with my daughter and her friends waiting for ‘Midnights’. She makes an event out of a record and a work of art and it hardly ever happens anymore. The Beatles would pull that off and I’m absolutely in awe of her ability to bring so much excitement and joy to so many people. It’s in my home and I love it.”
Berninger added: “With The National, part of our commitment to putting on great shows is because these nights we spend with strangers singing together is what really matters – how magical and strange that is.”
Read and watch our full interview with Berninger here, where he also discusses “lighting the flame” after battling depression, what went into The National’s two new albums ‘First Two Pages Of Frankenstein‘ and ‘Laugh Track‘, and working on a new indie band sitcom Dos Apes with his brother, Tom.
Last week also saw the band play two consecutive nights at London’s Alexandra Palace, while not repeating any songs in the setlists.
Swift meanwhile, is set to release The Eras Tour film in cinemas worldwide on October 13, with the world tour continuing into 2024 when it will visit the UK and Europe. Visit here for tickets and more information.