The National Reveal Priceless Advice R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe Gave Them

By Andrew Magnotta @AndrewMagnotta

June 13, 2019

It's a surprise to no one that The National is heavily influenced by R.E.M., but the connections between the two band's is real.

Singer Matt Berninger explains that The National's latest album, I Am Easy to Find, actually contains several references to R.E.M., which brought The National out as a support act on its last tour in 2011.

Guitarist Aaron Dessner points out to Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke that R.E.M. front man Michael Stipe gave The National some sage advice on that tour.

"Michael Stipe, who was very supportive of us, he told us, 'Either you need no hits or lots of hits," Dessner recalls. "So we stayed with the 'no hits' (laughs)..."

While I Am Easy to Find doesn't fit the profile of an album with hit songs, The National can take heart in the fact that R.E.M.'s biggest song, "Losing My Religion," with its lack of a chorus, doesn't fit the profile of a hit song either.

The album is accompanied by an art project of the same name in the form of a short film by director Mike Mills (not the bassist from R.E.M.), which is meant to explore identity and the fleeting nature of life.

"It is a woman embodied by Alicia Vikander and without any dialogue — or very little dialogue — and really not much of a plot or a screenplay or anything like that or a script, it was a collection of images and phrases that Mike put together," Berninger explains. "I think there's 160-something little moments, and some of them have little subtitles. And they're all kind of slammed together. So you're observing these quick snapshots of a life. And it was a way to tell how abstract it is — an identity, a person, what it is to be here and then not be here, and what happens to you along the way."

You can watch the full Out of the Box interview with The National above.

You can get all the band's tour dates here.

Follow The National on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Watch the short film I Am Easy To Find below:

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