The National Reveal Hard Partying Behind Upcoming 'Graceless' Video

Band also talks Lollapalooza wish list for Grateful Dead tribute album

The National perform during Lollapalooza 2013 at Grant Park in Chicago.
Alex Reside
August 4, 2013 6:15 PM ET

One of the highlights of Lollapalooza's second day was a superb 75-minute set from the National, with songs like "Slow Show," "Mistaken For Strangers" and "Mr. November" filling the Chicago night with a mixture of beauty and raw emotive power.

Before they took the stage, frontman Matt Berninger let Rolling Stone in on his secret for channeling into the frenetic energy he brings to the live setting. "I start drinking wine about half an hour before we go out and that’s the most fun part of me," he said backstage. "For me, the wine definitely helps me lose a little bit of my grip on my reality, which makes me less conscious of the situation, which makes me get into the songs a little more and it’s a zone I go to, which I love. Definitely wine is a crutch to get there and I won’t call it anything other than what it is, but I do love it."

Best Albums of 2013 Mid-Year Report: The National, 'Trouble Will Find Me'

For anyone looking for tips on wine pairings with National songs, Berninger isn’t choosy when he comes to his alcohol. "People give me expensive bottles of wine and they don’t realize I just pour it over ice and mix red and white together," he said. "I have an unsophisticated palate, I know nothing about wine other than I like to put it in my body."

Alcohol also played a big part in the band’s forthcoming video for the track "Graceless," from their recent Trouble Will Find Me album. "[It] involved a great deal of binge drinking beer," he said. "We shot it at my mom and dad’s house in Cincinnati and kind of destroyed the place and ourselves along the way."

Proving binge drinking and making videos is a combination that should only be left to the pros, the band suffered a series of mishaps throughout the filming. "I gave myself a minor concussion, head injury on the slip and slide," bassist Scott Devendorf said.

"I had a serious face injury, Bryce [Dessner] had a back injury," Berninger said. How did he do it? "Riding a bike into a swimming pool and my face hit the water hard all three times," he said. "I had glasses on, I had bruises around my eyes where the glasses hit. It was the most brutal video we’ve ever done. It was really fun, but it cost us. No one died, though."

While at Lollapalooza, the National might also be able to recruit some new big-name acts for their planned Grateful Dead tribute album. If they could get Mumford & Sons, who played immediately after the National's set, to do the album, Devendorf would choose "Uncle John’s Band."

Berninger concurred with that choice, adding that a lot of people have emerged as Dead fans. "People are coming out of the woodwork saying they want to be involved in that, so it’s been kind of a fun surprise how many secret Dead fans there are," he said.

Devendorf has another Lollapalooza act he’d like to see on there. "I would love to see Kendrick Lamar on the Dead album," he said. "I think I would go with 'Wharf Rat' for Kendrick."

Beninger now has faith they can get him. "He’ll do it, we’ve just committed him," he said.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »