Matt Berninger

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Matt Berninger
Berninger in 2019
Berninger in 2019
Background information
Birth nameMatthew Donald Berninger
Born (1971-02-13) February 13, 1971 (age 49)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
GenresAlternative rock
  • Vocalist
  • songwriter
Years active1999–present
Associated acts

Matthew Donald Berninger (/ˌbɜːrnɪŋɜːr/, born February 13, 1971) is an American singer-songwriter, primarily known as the frontman of indie rock band The National. In 2014 he also formed the EL VY project with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls & Menomena and released the album Return to the Moon in November 2015.[1] In May 2020, Berninger announced that he would be releasing his debut solo album Serpentine Prison in October and shared the title track.[2]

Berninger is known for his classic baritone voice.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Berninger is a 1989 graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.[4] He went on to study graphic design at the University of Cincinnati, where he met fellow band member Scott Devendorf in 1991. The two quickly became friends.[3] Berninger quit a career in advertising in his thirties to start The National. He told The Telegraph: "I was doing well [in advertising]. But, once I entertained the thought that maybe I wouldn't ever have to go and sit in conference rooms with MasterCard to discuss web ads again, I couldn't shake it."[5]

Berninger is married to Carin Besser, a one-time fiction editor for The New Yorker, who has often contributed to the band's songwriting ("Brainy" and "Ada" from the album Boxer) and backup vocals.[6][7] Together with Hope Hall and Andreas Burgess, Besser also helped direct the music video for "Bloodbuzz Ohio". They have a daughter named Isla.[8] Berninger has stated that the song "Afraid of Everyone" was influenced by his anxiety about being a new father.[9]

Berninger has two siblings: Tom (who directed Mistaken for Strangers, a film about The National) and Rachel.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2011, a portrait of Berninger was painted by British artist Joe Simpson; the painting was exhibited around the UK including a solo exhibition at The Royal Albert Hall.[11]

In 2019, Berninger appeared in Between Two Ferns: The Movie. Along with Phoebe Bridgers, they contributed the song "Walking on a String" to its soundtrack.[12]

In 2020, Berninger was the subject of the third episode of the fictional erotic podcast, Dirty Diana.



Year Album Notes
2020 Serpentine Prison[13] to be released in October 2020

Other songs[edit]

Year Song Release
2013 "I'll See You in My Dreams" Boardwalk Empire: Volume 2 Isham Jones cover
2014 "Hush (Theme from Turn)" (with Joy Williams) digital single[14] recorded for the TV show Turn
"A Lyke Wake Dirge" (with Andrew Bird) digital single[15]
2019 "Walking on a String" (featuring Phoebe Bridgers) digital single[16] recorded for Between Two Ferns: The Movie


  1. ^ Gaerig, Andrew (November 1, 2015). "EL VY: Return to the Moon". Pitchfork. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  2. ^ Shaffer, Claire (May 20, 2020). "Matt Berninger Announces Debut Solo Album 'Serpentine Prison,' Drops Title Track". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Dawidoff, Nicholas (April 23, 2010). "The National Agenda". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  4. ^ Motz, Mark D. (January 31, 2008). "Volume V, Issue 9". St. Xavier High School E-News (Mailing list). Retrieved January 31, 2008.[dead link]
  5. ^ Tang, Kevin (July 15, 2013). "19 Late-Blooming Artists Who Prove It's Never Too Late". BuzzFeed.
  6. ^ Chalupa, Andrea (May 17, 2010). "The National's Matt Berninger on Dirty Lovers and Even Dirtier Politics". HuffPost. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  7. ^ Fury, Jeanne. "Interview with The National". Virgin. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
  8. ^ Redfern, Mark (July 29, 2010). "Under the Radar Announces Wasted on the Youth Issue: Musicians and Actors on Their Childhood Memories". Under The Radar. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  9. ^ Hyden, Steven (May 13, 2010). "Matt Berninger of The National". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  10. ^ "Happy Sibling's Day". Facebook. Retrieved November 1, 2016.[non-primary source needed]
  11. ^ Breihan, Tom (February 23, 2011). "Ezra Koenig, Matt Berninger, Sam Beam Immortalized in Oil Paintings". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  12. ^ "Matt Berninger – Walking on a String (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)". SC Distribution (Merlin). Retrieved October 18, 2019 – via YouTube.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Hush (Theme From Turn) - Single by Joy Williams & Matt Berninger, retrieved February 2, 2020
  15. ^ "Matt Berninger & Andrew Bird – "A Lyke Wake Dirge"". Stereogum. July 8, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2020.
  16. ^ Walking on a String (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) - Single by Matt Berninger, retrieved February 2, 2020

External links[edit]