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Celebrity Playlist: The National’s Matt Berninger Talks Minutemen, GREASE, Warren Zevon, and More

“I ruined a lot of relationships with overly serious mixtapes.”

This is the quote I have been waiting patiently for on Celebrity Playlist, and what could be more poetic than Matt Berninger, the lead singer of brooding indie rock band The National, confessing this. The singer has been making compelling, narratively rich rock music with his band of brothers for more than fifteen years, so it was a privilege to be able to pick his brain about the kind of music that fills his headphones when he is pondering stories for the characters that appear in The National’s discography and beyond.

Though Matt is best known for his role as the lead singer of his widely acclaimed nine-to-five band (and for guest appearances on Bob’s Burgers), the vocalist is also experimenting with an enticing new collaborative project, EL VY. Formed with former Menomona member Brent Knopf, EL VY sees Berninger exploring much more autobiographical material with the tight yet dreamy instrumental support of Knopf. Ahead of EL VY’s debut album, Return to the Moon, I caught up with Matt to discuss the music that specifically informed this new project, since many of the lyrics are more overtly personal than on previous compositions.

In the video above we discuss a wide array of artists–from Warren Zevon to Ural Thomas to Olivia Newton-John–and how they affected the way Matt interfaces with and writes music. In short, I think you will really enjoy Matt’s overly serious mixtape on this week’s Celebrity Playist.

EL VY’s debut album, Return to the Moon, drops on October 30 via 4AD.

Below, be sure to check out our previous episode with Geek and Sundry’s Wil Wheaton, in which we discuss his favorite Iron Maiden songs of all time.

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