June 6, 2008


The National's slow build (Noah Love, 6/05/08, National Post)

After breaking through the din with their 2005 album, Alligator, 2007's Boxer made them international stars, not to mention pals with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and The Arcade Fire.

As they bask in Boxer's afterglow, the band has released an EP/DVD package. The Virginia EP compiles live songs and B-sides from the sessions for Boxer, while the DVD features Vincent Moon's artistic documentary, A Skin, A Night.

Moon's film is a quiet, slightly morose piece that follows the group as they were in the midst of recording Boxer. And, as Devendorf explains, it wasn't exactly the most flattering time to capture them.

"My only worry is that we come off as real sad sacks, and we're not really like that," he says. "I wouldn't say it's an inaccurate picture, but I would say you're only looking at 40 to 45% of a process.

"We had gotten to a point - as we do every time we record, hopefully not next time we record - where we had gone into the studio and we hadn't finished anything. So we were writing as we were working, which is can be great and is usually how we work, but in this case we had committed to studio time at this studio that wasn't cheap.

"So there was time pressure and money pressure, so you kind of lose perspective as to what's good and bad. He sort of captured a time where we were, I wouldn't say quagmired, but it was definitely an interesting time for the recording."

A Skin, A Night also features a surprisingly cautionary moment, when one of the band members (most of the interview audio comes through in voiceover) reveals that the group only paid off early debts at the very end of touring Alligator.

Devendorf says things have been much better since the completion of Boxer and the touring that followed, but that being in a band still requires its members to walk a financial tightrope.

...with bands that biffed the follow-up to their breakthrough.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2008 5:24 PM
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