The National: Toil and Trouble

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Aidin Vaziri | You don’t go to a festival seeking desolation and gloom. The National has a funny way of convincing you otherwise. The Brooklyn band is on tour in support of its sixth album, “Trouble Will Find Me,” which pretty much delivers what it promises on the cover. We asked the group’s 42-year-old singer, Matt Berninger, how it was going over with the great unwashed masses.

Q: So how does this festival thing work with you guys – you come out and bum everyone out in case they’re having too much fun?

A: It is a funny thing. We do stack the deck for the festivals with the more upbeat material, so we don’t play all our super slow, depressing songs. But what we have learned is we don’t need to change too much about what we do. We just close our eyes, stomp around and drink wine, just like we did in the Mercury Lounge 10 years ago. There’s just more room to stomp around.

Q: Do you hang out and watch the other bands or are you straight back to the hotel and civilization?

A: I’ll tell you the truth. If I were single and just had a different personality, I think it would be a blast. I have social anxiety. I’ve learned to go into a mental state where I’m a bit of a gorilla onstage. When we walk off stage, I have to turn it off and be as boring as possible. There’s a reason bands break up, and there’s a reason people become drug addicts. So much of it is stressful and boring. I’ve figured out how to do it my way. It’s this burst of activity onstage and then the soft landing.

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