The National is an indie rock band formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1999 and currently based in Brooklyn, New York. The band's lyrics, which have been described as "dark, melancholy and difficult to interpret", are written and sung by Matt Berninger, a baritone. The rest of the band is composed of two pairs of brothers: twins Aaron (guitar and keyboard) and Bryce Dessner (guitar) and Scott (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums). The National has been compared to Joy Division, Leonard Cohen, Wilco and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. The name of the band was chosen because it "didn't mean anything" and was "benign and meaningless".
In 1991, Matt Berninger and Scott Devendorf met while attending the University of Cincinnati, where they also met Mike Brewer, Casey Reas and Jeff Salem. Together, the five of them formed the lo-fi garage band Nancy, named after Berninger's mother, aspiring to sound like Pavement. The band was together for five years, but only released one album, Ruther 3429, on Wife Records before breaking up after Berninger, Devendorf, Reas and Salem moved to Brooklyn.
Bryan, Bryce and Aaron were childhood friends who played in several bands together over the years. When their last effort, Project Nim, broke up in 1998, they joined Matt and Scott in Brooklyn via the Devendorf relationship.
When the band was formed in 1999, it was called The National, although the domain name of the band's website is americanmary.com because, according to Matt Berninger in an interview with Better Propaganda, "t's a song off our first record. We never thought of changing the (website) name, although we should have." Several of the members continued to work day jobs while performing free Sunday night shows regularly at the highly regarded NYC Lower East Side venue, Luna Lounge, throughout the early years, including being involved in New York's dot-com boom in the late 1990s. Fanart Banner