thenational dawson 435 The National Talks Grateful Dead Tribute, Mistaken For Strangers Doc, Fake Jay Z Rivalry

Bryce Dessner and Matt Berninger of The National (Jeremy D. Larson/

Although of course you end up becoming a Deadhead.

That’s the running theory, at least. And with The National curating a Grateful Dead tribute album to support the non-profit Red Hot Organization with a cadre of bands you’d never expect, the theory grows stronger. Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, Kurt Vile and the War on Drugs all signed up to take part in the tribute album, which is expected to be released sometime in 2014. It turns out that if you run a tie-dyed flag up the pole, several unusual suspects will salute it.

The tireless Brooklyn band, who released their sixth studio album Trouble Will Find Me earlier this year and recently played their their song “Sorrow” for six hours straight at MoMA, will press on into the fall keeping busy, as usual. Their summer tour is in full swing, and as soon as they finish, guitarist Bryce Dessner will be working with the famous Kronos Quartet, while singer Matt Berninger’s brother will continue to shop his documentary about the band Mistaken For Strangers to potential buyers.

Dessner and Berninger recently sat down with to talk about their myriad projects, out some closeted Deadheads, and explain their entirely fabricated beef with Jay Z. So who’s the Deadhead in the band?

Matt Berninger: Everybody in the band. I’m the least, but probably Scott [Devendorf, bassist] and Bryan [Devendorf, drums] are the biggest Deadheads.

Bryce Dessner: Scott is our resident DJ and he has really diverse music taste, but for some reason now it is 110% Dead only. That’s what we listen to on the bus and back stage. Which is awesome, but sometimes you’re like, ‘Come on Scott, give us some New Order or something.’

Do you feel like that’s a natural transition? Do you think you will eventually get into The Dead?

Berninger: It actually does happen. Growing up in college I was like a, whatever, ‘alternative rock snob,’ for me it was the Smiths and R.E.M. and all that other stuff. I defined myself by being into College rock bands. But now, eventually you start to lose your snobbery and I’ve learned to love The Dead, which I didn’t think I would back then.

Read the full interview on


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