The National - Biography

Its three in the morning and the darkness offers no relief from the humidity that hangs over the city. The smell of alcohol and perfume lingers. Hipsters and freaks mill about oblivious to the time. A smoke would be nice. Music seeps sensually from an underground apartment. It sounds like whiskey-soaked tobacco and new wave. Like romance and leather. It sounds like Brooklyn, with a little bit of the flat fields of Ohio. It sounds like The National.


All five members of The National grew up in Cincinnati and knew of each other, but didn't connect until all had moved to Brooklyn in 1999. Vocalist Matt Berninger and guitarist Scott Devendorf attended college together and later recruited Scott's brother Bryan on drums and brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, on bass and guitar respectively. Though the band cites many influences, vocalist Matt Berninger's soothing Gothic baritone is reminiscent of Nick Cave, Ian Curtis and even Leonard Cohen. Their music recalls the bounce and joy of 80's new wave slowed down and softened by the codiene warmth of Berninger's vocals and the acoustic fragility of Clogs' founder Padma Newsome's violin.


The National's self-titled debut was released in 2001 on Brassland Records, an indie label started by the twin Dessner brothers and friend Alec Hanley Bemis. The album received critical acclaim and catapulted the band into the prolific and competitive Brooklyn indie rock scene. Two more Brassland Records releases followed. In 2003, Sad Songs for Lovers and in 2004 an EP entitled, Cherry Tree. By 2005 the band had moved to Beggars Banquet Records and released Alligator in April that same year. They also quit their day jobs, focusing all their attention on making their band a success. Alligator was extremely well received by critics and made it on to many year-end “Best of “ lists.


Released in May of 2007, the National's fourth full-length release, Boxer (Beggars Banquet Records) is considered to be their most accomplished and commercially successful to date, debuting on Billboard at #68 with a first week's sales of around 9,400. Boxer contains contributions from fellow Brooklyner and indie mainstay, Sufjan Stevens on piano and orchestration by Padma Newsome. The National toured extensively for this record, enjoying soldout shows throughout the US, Europe and Australia. The band followed up this success with High Violet (2010), once again proving on a commercial and creative level that they were a band to be reckoned with. In 2013 they released Trouble Will Find Me.

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