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The National Plays Special Acoustic Set Sans Drummer

August 13, 2013  |  6:00pm
The National Plays Special Acoustic Set Sans Drummer

What good ol’ fashioned tour isn’t complete without a couple of bumps along the road? This morning, The National showed up to KCRW’s Santa Monica studios short one member: drummer Bryan Devendorf. After a packed weekend including a Friday night set at Outside Lands, followed by back-to-back, sold-out shows at LA’s Greek Theatre and Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday and Sunday, the band managed to hit a speed bump before this morning’s live session at the Southern California radio station.

After taping the group’s outdoor performance for Jimmy Kimmel Live yesterday, vocalist Matt Berninger said Devendorf had a “drinking injury” last night. “We’ll be playing a…chilled out version of songs, so it’ll be interesting,” Berninger said when prompted by host Chris Douridas about the drummer’s whereabouts. “He’s listening from a horizontal position somewhere in LA.”

Despite missing Devendorf, the surviving four were in high spirits and gave off no sign of fatigue. Berninger, the Dessner brothers Aaron and Bryce, and the remaining Devendorf, Scott, supplemented the acoustic lineup with hand-held shakers and backing horn players, resulting in softened takes on percussion-charged singles like “Sea of Love” and “Graceless.” The hour-long acoustic session featured eight total songs off their latest album, Trouble Will Find Me, which was released May 17, 2013.

In a break between songs, the band members spoke with Douridas about shooting the upcoming music video for their single “Graceless.” The video was directed by Sophia Peer (who also directed the genius, single-shot take for “Sea of Love,” starring the band’s unforgettable, suited-up mini-me) and was shot at the home of Berninger’s parents. When Berninger alluded to various band members’ injuries from a slip ‘n slide and technical difficulties with a bounce house, Douridas joked that “rock stars are supposed to trash hotel rooms, not their parents’ houses.”

Ever the good-humored cosmopolitan, Berninger, a current resident of Venice, Calif., also claimed he roller-bladed to the show this morning. When not on tour, the other band members are spread out across the nation, from California to Ohio to New York. The group, used to writing music via file sharing even when the band members lived together, actually benefitted from a less beleaguered writing and recording process due to the space. “The record came out smoother and quicker,” said Berninger of Trouble Will Find Me.

Listen to The National’s acoustic session below, and read today’s PASTE.COM cover story on the band here.

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