MATT BERNINGER OF THE NATIONAL DEBUTS DISTANT AXIS
SERPENTINE PRISON DUE OCTOBER 2
ON BOOK RECORDS IN CONJUNCTION WITH
PRODUCED BY BOOKER T. JONES
Toronto, ON – July 17, 2020 – In anticipation of Serpentine Prison, the upcoming debut solo record from Matt Berninger — frontman of critically acclaimed group The National — Berninger is premiering the new track Distant Axis alongside a video which he directed with his brother, Tom Berninger, and Chris Sgroi. Stream/share the video here.
Berninger explains about the track, which he wrote with The Walkmen’s Walter Martin, “I met Walter Martin fifteen years ago when The National opened for The Walkmen on a tour of shitty clubs in the American Southeast. On that tour I learned a lot about how to be in a band without ruining your life. I also learned a lot about Florida, Tennessee and Georgia. Walt and I have stayed friends and about three years ago we started passing ideas back and forth. ‘Distant Axis’ started from a sketch Walt sent me named ‘Savannah.’ I think it’s about falling out of touch with someone or something you once thought would be there forever.”
Serpentine Prison is due October 2. The album, produced by famed Memphis multi-instrumentalist, Booker T. Jones, will be released via Book Records, a new imprint formed by Berninger and Jones in conjunction with Concord Records. The album features contributions from a wide array of notable artists, including Matt Barrick (The Walkmen, Jonathan Fire*Eater), Andrew Bird, Mike Brewer, Hayden Desser, Scott Devendorf (The National), Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie, Lenny Kravitz), Booker T. Jones, Teddy Jones, Brent Knopf (EL VY, Menomena), Ben Lanz (The National, Beirut), Walter Martin (The Walkmen, Jonathan Fire*Eater), Sean O'Brien, Mickey Raphael (Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan), Kyle Resnick (The National, Beirut), Matt Sheehy (EL VY, Lost Lander) and Harrison Whitford (Phoebe Bridgers). Additional production on the album was provided by Sean O’Brien.
“Producer and famed multi-instrumentalist Booker T. Jones surrounds Berninger with ornamental instrumentation, allowing gently picked guitar and funereal horns to provide the backdrop for his dark ruminations. Sparse organ notes make the tale feel more immediate; it’s like hearing a longtime denizen of a backroom bar muttering to the strains of a country ballad on the jukebox.” – Pitchfork
“‘Don’t try to connect the dots anymore,’ Berninger croons over strummed guitar, subdued percussion and a single organ note. ‘Let ’em go, they’re gonna do it on their own.’” – Rolling Stone
“The style will be familiar and pleasing to fans of [Berninger’s] main band, particularly the rootsy, less ornately produced sound of their early records.” – Stereogum
“It’s a classic-sounding Matt Berninger song (with a reference to Big Star’s cover of ‘Don’t Worry Baby’) but a little earthier and more stripped-back than the music The National usually makes. It’s a very promising first taste of the album.” – Brooklyn Vegan
“Berninger’s signature baritone takes the center stage, underlined by careful guitar strums. Synths and a subdued brass section support the tender melody, as Berninger deadpans ‘Tell her I miss her/In a serpentine prison.’” – WXPN 88.5
In addition to his duties as frontman of acclaimed rock group, The National, with whom he won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album for 2017’s Sleep Well Beast, Berninger also collaborated with Brent Knopf (Ramona Falls, Menomena) under the moniker El Vy for the 2015 release Return to the Moon. In 2019 Berninger appeared in Between Two Ferns: The Movie and teamed up with Phoebe Bridgers to contribute the song “Walking on a String” to the film’s soundtrack.