The National’s Matt Berninger: ‘I no longer get panic attacks on stage’

Singer tells NME he's learned to enjoy playing live

The National singer Matt Berninger has revealed he has stopped having panic attacks on stage and is now able to enjoy playing live.

The singer told NME that playing live used to feel like “torture” until recently.

Speaking backstage before The National headlined Latitude last night (July 16), Berninger said: “I’m enjoying performing more than I ever used to. I don’t know why, but I’m more relaxed than I used to be. Maybe it’s as simple as the fact we have nicer dressing rooms now.”

Describing his anxiety on previous tours, Berninger said: “I used to get panic attacks. Not literal clinical ones, but if I was uncomfortable then it was 90 minutes of torture, of trying to get through something really bad. But if it starts happening now, I’m able to rationalise it and say ‘Let’s try to enjoy this anyway.’”

The National previewed new songs ‘The Day I Die’, ‘The Lights’, ‘I’m Going To Love You’ and ‘Can’t You Find A Way?’ at Latitude as the band work on the follow-up to 2013’s ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ album.

Berninger said: “We’ve been cooking our new album for a while and we’ve got tons of new stuff. It’s been fun throwing those new songs into the shows, as we’re anxious to get the songs on their feet. So far, we only have four or five ideas that are developed enough to resemble songs.”

Guitarist Aaron Dessner said Latitude was an important festival for The National to play, recalling that their first appearance in 2007 was pivotal to the band’s career. They had to borrow Cold War Kids’ gear after a travel delay meant they nearly missed their show.

Dessner said: “That was our most prestigious show at that stage of our career. Latitude was the only real pay cheque of that whole tour, and if we’d missed it, it would have cost us a ton of money. We might have lost our faith. But we got through and it felt like a significant moment for us.”

The guitarist added: “Latitude feels familiar to us. Jt’s got a good feeling and you can get happily lost in the festival, seeing a bunch of music you love. We’ve had good times here and it’s one of the band’s home festivals.”