The National's Matt Berninger goes on the record

The lyricist on writing, influences and playing live

Do you have a pre-show ritual?

We kind of all just do our own little thing and try to chill out and not get too freaked out about it. We don't do anything weird.

Well, are you ready for Texas? 'Cause it's humid right now.

Brainy: Berninger (right) shows off his lyrical prowess live when The National hits Dallas Friday.
Nicholas Burnham
Brainy: Berninger (right) shows off his lyrical prowess live when The National hits Dallas Friday.

I am. I'm looking forward to that, actually.

Why the title of Boxer for the album?

Actually Carin, my girlfriend, suggested that as a title in the last couple weeks before we had to finish the record, and it was one of those things that just seemed perfect at the last minute. We'd tried to think of a lot of other titles for it. The record has some moments of people in these struggles—not specific boxing references, but... There's the "Green Gloves" song, which is definitely not about boxing, but...it just seemed fitting. There're people on the ropes, or a prizefighter past their prime. A lot of the record is people trying to hold on to friendships, hold on to their youth, even holding on to a sense of dillusional fantasy. There's something about a desire to kind of stay punch drunk or a little out of it. "Fake Empire" was like that where it's an attempt to keep your brain in a "rosy-minded fuzz" is the line on the record. Being just a little bit delirious. So those are reasons why the title worked, and it was also just a simple word that sounded good. That was probably as much of the reason as anything else—it's just punchy.

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