The National’s Matt Berninger Recalls Studying R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe

Deniz Kivilcim

The National frontman Matt Berninger revealed which artist’s style he studied to achieve attention from the audience. In a recent interview with Variety, the frontman admitted watching other musicians’ styles.

The band has opened for numerous bands throughout their career. After the frontman explained how he got the attention of the audience who was there for the headliner band, he admitted he built a live band by watching other people. Berninger revealed having studied R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and explained:

“I would study Michael Stipe. How does Michael Stipe connect with that top row in the back? It’s not like there are any tricks, necessarily, but that you really have to give it. Even if you don’t have it, you know you have to muster that energy. If you can sing from that space, you can close your eyes and cry and let the lighting guys do the work.”

Berninger then explained how he acts on stage while singing:

“Sometimes when you are on stage under lights, and you crawl into your shell, that can be a really captivating thing. So I let my mind and body do what it wants to do. I have so many hand gestures… I have these empty hands up there, and they just start to pantomime. You just be whatever weird creature you are and let it be awkward and insecure and all those things.”

Berninger’s relationship with R.E.M. extends beyond inspiration; the two bands seem to be friends. In an interview with New York’s radio station Q104.3, The National shared advice given to them by the R.E.M. frontman. Known for their hit ‘Losing My Religion,’ R.E.M. advised The National to either have no hits or lots of hits; the band ended up with no hits.

Additionally, the two bands toured together in 2011, which was R.E.M.’s final tour before their breakup.

The National is set to perform at the Homecoming Festival in Cincinnati on September 15th and 16th. See more details about the festival and the following North American tour here.

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