The National

Four years have passed since the release of Trouble Will Find Me, and to the outside world it might have seemed like the members of the National spent that long interim working on everything but new National songs. But in September 2014, two months before the band headlined the 20,000-seat O2 Arena in London, Aaron passed along the first set of musical sketches to Matt. “We really didn’t take much of a break,” says Matt. “We started working on this record the minute we finished touring the last one. The only break we took was from the constant pressure we put on each other.”

"We didn't feel like rushing it,” says Aaron, who produced Sleep Well Beast. “People thought the National went away, but we were just working on ideas." With members now living in five different cities, the band made an extra effort to get together in the same room – sometimes in studios in upstate New York, or out in Los Angeles. “We’ve always worked on demos together," explains Bryce. "But this time we were actually in the same physical space doing it.”

“When we all lived in Brooklyn we rarely did these kinds of week-long sessions” says Scott. “This time we got together for long stretches, just to mess around and experiment without deadlines or distractions.”

There are songs on Sleep Well Beast that are instantly recognizable as the National, but others are much harder to classify. The lyrics are about “trying to come clean about the things you’d rather not,” says Matt. “Some of it’s about marriage, some of it’s about my relationship with Aaron and the band, some of it’s about train tracks and dancing." Guitar solos appear like never before, yet on some songs guitars account for only a tiny fraction of the music. "It was important that we genuinely explore new territory and risk falling on our faces, or not make a record at all," explains Aaron. "This album feels complete to me.”

The National and FabFilter

"We first heard of FabFilter via an engineering friend of ours. We use the FabFilter Pro-R reverb and Pro-C 2 compressor. The reverb is warm and natural sounding, which we like a lot and the compressor is very natural sounding. We’re a big fan of these plug ins at our studio."

Links

www.americanmary.com/

www.facebook.com/thenationalofficial

instagram.com/thenational

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