Aaron Dessner i national team joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss the band’s new single “Weird Goodbyes” (feat. Bon Iver). He tells Apple Music about the song’s origins, collaborating with Bon Iver, getting back together as a band for the first time in three years, and predicts the band’s future sound (which he says reminds him of “Boxer ” era).

Aaron Dessner Showcases Apple Music’s ‘Strange Farewell’ and The Return of The National…

I think at first it was hard to come back because we had never taken a break in 20 years and then the pandemic forced us to take a three year break. We basically toured our whole adult lives, since the late 90s and then there was this break… and you could be home and you could work. Be with your families. “Weird Goodbyes” is one of the first songs we wrote going back to it and it has a lot of emotion in it. I hear the old Nationals engine and I also hear new places we’re going and that helped set a course for us. It’s really special to come back, it’s like a family… a slightly dysfunctional family that comes back and then revs the engine and it’s very powerful.

Aaron Dessner tells Apple Music about collaborating with Justin Vernon and how he ended up on “Weird Goodbyes”…

Justin, he’s one of my best friends – I’d say more than anything we’re close friends, so we bounce things off of each other. Usually if we write a Big Red Machine song it’s by accident. While the National team is much more intentional in a way. This song, all of us weirdly, as soon as Matt started singing that song, we started hearing Justin harmonizing… The heart and the feeling in it felt like something he was going to sing or touch. He heard the song, I sent it to him, and he was very moved by it. I think also because it was the first new national song he had heard in years. Who knows? Maybe there was a chance The National wouldn’t make new songs? He’s definitely someone who only makes music when he’s inspired, he doesn’t force it. He had some great ideas for us and pushed us a little harder. He sang so powerfully and we were like… “this is done”

Aaron Dessner shows off Apple Music for the theme of “Strange Farewell.”.

Some of the words he wrote early after I had written the music. It’s really based on the beat of the drum. I think Matt, his words were so moving from the beginning. To be… life goes so fast and you get old so fast and you kind of want to hold on now and actually feel the air, really be able to hold on to things. Because I think ultimately the song is about mourning, the loss of innocence, the loss of motivation. It’s a great national anthem if it’s about a lot of things and it is.

Aaron Dessner tells Apple Music about The National’s upcoming album…

For Matt, when he has a breakthrough…for this album, he’s really been putting in the work and he’s been pushing himself. Something comes quickly and other times there’s a struggle and it’s kind of a combination of that…. The album we’re making is really special and we’ve had a lot of time to work on it.

Their sketches and kind of trying to create an environment for someone to live in or make sense of, like Matt or Justin. In this case, I was really trying to imagine what a new National album would sound like and feel like, and this was one of the first songs that came to life with that in mind and building on what is future of The National. that would be interesting or emotionally compelling. So we wrote with that in mind.

I wouldn’t say it’s too heavy… it’s emotional. There is a way to write about frustration and disconnection and the desire to escape or reconnect…. It actually feels very straightforward in a way. It reminds me of old songs, even the ‘Boxer’ era. We are very excited… we are very close.

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