Matt Berninger, frontman of the National and El Vy, appeared on the latest episode of Rolling Stone Music Now (with organizer Dave Eggers and Sleater-Kinney’s Colin Tucker) to discuss the anti-Trump project “30 Days 30 Songs” – and he ended up passionately endorsing Hillary Clinton and previewing the National’s follow-up to 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me. Here’s what he had to say in conversation with Eggers and host Brian Hiatt.
What do you all make of the way that Hillary has or has not marshaled popular music and popular culture behind her, especially compared to the way that Obama did perhaps more aggressively and more effectively?
Dave Eggers: Well, people fell in love with Obama, you know. And that’s rare. We don’t always have to fall in love with our candidates. And I think that as an electorate, we often feel like we do need to. We think this is some kind of romance, and I think that that can be a dangerously immature impulse to think that every candidate is either a messiah or our boyfriend or girlfriend.
Matt Berninger: Can I say for the record, I’m a little bit in love with Hillary Clinton, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I think seeing, especially what she’s gone through. Yes, she has many flaws. I’ve got so many flaws and I’m in love with myself. But I give myself a break. So I think she’s wonderful, especially the way she’s been handling what she’s been facing recently and with direct power, elegance. I’ve totally got a crush on her.
What’s going on with the new National album?
Berninger: We are deep in it. And I don’t think it’s gonna be done, like, soon, but it’s very different than El Vy. It’s really dark and there aren’t any dick references on the new National record. I get my silly, crazy, cathartic stuff out with El Vy, and I did that and I had such a blast, but I’m going very dark with the new National record, which is a place I love to go.
As opposed to all those other sparkly pop National albums.
Berninger: Right, exactly. People have always described our music as dark and say it goes very melancholy, somber places. They haven’t heard anything yet! This next thing is crazy. And it’s about marriage, and it’s about marriages falling apart. I’m happily married, and but it’s hard, marriage is hard and my wife and I are writing the lyrics together about our own struggles and it’s difficult to write, but it’s saving my marriage. Not saving my marriage, my marriage is healthy, but it’s good for everything! And so it’s gonna be a strange record, and I’m crazy about it.