Lately, it seems like Jack Antonoff has been all work and all play. The lead guitarist for Fun., and Lena Dunham’s arm candy, has just finished recording an album for his new solo project, Bleachers, much of it recorded while he was touring with Fun. The lead single, “I Wanna Get Better” – video directed by Dunham – is a slice of frenetic pop rock complete with anthemic chorus and sputtering piano that summons a time and place—New Jersey in the early 90s—that defined his childhood. As for his monicker, Bleachers, “it reminds me of the shitty parts of being young that ended up being the most important moments in my life,” he told Vogue.com. That’s a feeling we can all relate to.
When Bret Easton Ellis interviewed National frontman Matt Berninger for his podcast recently, he credited the band’s 2008 album The Boxer for helping pull him out of depression. If the National’s signature sound—introspective, moody, plaintive—has evolved since their 2001 debut (which was more Tom Waits than Radiohead), Berninger has evolved with it. “Once you have kids, I think we realized how our rock band is actually not at all that important in the grand scheme of things,” he told Interview last year. In March fans got to see Berninger from a fresh perspective in the funny, poignant documentary, Mistaken for Strangers, directed by Tom Berninger, the singer’s younger brother, and as much an inquiry into sibling rivalry/love as a rock doc (Michael Moore described it as “one of the best documentaries about a band that I’ve ever seen”).
Here the two discuss the creative process, finding their audience, and embracing the mainstream.