The National’s Matt Berninger Opens Up About Mental Health Struggles and ‘Laugh Track’ with David Letterman

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In a raw and revealing conversation with veteran interviewer David Letterman, Matt Berninger, the frontman of indie rock band The National, delves into the mental health challenges that shaped the band’s latest album, “Laugh Track.”

The half-hour video, posted on The National’s official YouTube channel, offers an intimate glimpse into Berninger’s personal struggles with depression and the impact of the lockdown on the creation of their tenth album.

The National surprised fans with the unexpected release of “Laugh Track” in September, just months after the critically acclaimed “First Two Pages of Frankenstein” in April. Berninger shared with Letterman that the lockdown period played a pivotal role in the album’s genesis, revealing the profound influence of his battle with depression on the creative process.

Matt Berninger Talks About Struggle Between Public Persona and Private Life:

During the candid conversation, Berninger disclosed the internal struggle he faced between maintaining a public persona as a renowned musician and navigating a quiet private life.

He admitted that the band kept sending him music even when he wasn’t actively writing, unaware of the extent of his emotional struggles. “I don’t think they realised quite how debilitated I was. I didn’t really tell them how bad I was,” shared Berninger.

He further elaborated on his awareness of depression as a part of him, acknowledging its ebb and flow. Berninger expressed the belief that creating something out of the experience was a healthy coping mechanism.

Onstage Persona and Personal Struggles:

Detailing the challenges of balancing an onstage persona with personal struggles, Berninger spoke about the difficulty of “having to kind of turn on a personality for an intense few hours” during performances and then switching it off afterward. This continuous cycle took a toll on his well-being, reflecting the intricate balance artists often must strike between public expectations and personal challenges.

Empathy from David Letterman:

David Letterman, himself no stranger to the challenges of maintaining a public image, expressed empathy for Berninger’s journey. Letterman acknowledged the difficulty of continuing with his famous late-night show, likening it to “holy hell” at times. The shared understanding between the two resonated as they discussed the toll that public-facing roles can take on mental health.

“Laugh Track” as Catharsis:

Berninger described “Laugh Track” as a product of his introspection and the band’s collaboration during a challenging period. The album serves as a cathartic expression of the emotional turbulence faced by Berninger, adding a layer of vulnerability and authenticity to The National’s body of work.

In a rare and honest conversation, Matt Berninger’s openness about his mental health struggles brings a new dimension to the narrative surrounding The National’s latest release, “Laugh Track.”

The interview with David Letterman not only unveils the personal battles faced by the acclaimed frontman but also sheds light on the delicate balance artists strike between their public and private selves.

“Laugh Track” stands not only as a musical achievement but as a testament to the power of creativity in the face of mental health challenges, fostering a deeper connection between the artist and the audience.


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