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 50)
Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.
GenresAlternative rock
Occupation(s)Singer, 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 and Menomena and released the album Return to the Moon in November 2015.[1] In May 2020, Berninger shared the title track from his solo debut album, Serpentine Prison, which was released in October 2020.[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, Ohio.[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]

Berninger in 2011

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 an episode of the fictional erotic podcast, Dirty Diana, produced by Demi Moore.[13]



Title Details Peak chart positions

Serpentine Prison
  • Released: October 16, 2020[24]
  • Label: Book Records
161 32 20 1 82 19 11 18 25 21


As lead artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album



"Walking on a String"[27]
(featuring Phoebe Bridgers)
2019 24 Non-album single
"Serpentine Prison"[28] 2020 10 Serpentine Prison
"Distant Axis"[29] 41
"One More Second"[30] 21 6
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released

As featured artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Album



"Representing Memphis"[34]
(Booker T. Jones featuring Sharon Jones & Matt Berninger)
2011 The Road from Memphis
"Coming Down"[35]
(Clap Your Hands Say Yeah featuring Matt Berninger)
2014 Only Run
"My Enemy"
(Chvrches featuring Matt Berninger)
2019 17 28 96 Love Is Dead
"We All Have"[36]
(Julia Stone featuring Matt Berninger)
2021 37 Sixty Summers
"—" denotes single that did not chart or was not released

Other appearances[edit]

Title Year Album
"I'll See You in My Dreams" 2013 Boardwalk Empire: Volume 2
"Hush (Theme From Turn)"[37]
(with Joy Williams)
2014 AMC's Turn: Original Soundtrack
"A Lyke Wake Dirge"[38]
(with Andrew Bird)


  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. ^ "Matt Berninger: «Sono anni che mi sento emotivamente in lockdown»". Rolling Stone Italia (in Italian). September 23, 2020. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
  14. ^ "Matt Berninger, TLP". Billboard. Retrieved October 27, 2020.
  15. ^ "Discography Matt Berninger". Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  16. ^ "Discographie Matt Berninger" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Discografie Matt Berninger". (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "Discographie Matt Berninger". (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  19. ^ Peaks in Germany:
  20. ^ "Discography Matt Berninger". Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  21. ^ "Discografie Matt Berninger". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  22. ^ "Matt Berninger Hitparade". Hit Parade. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  23. ^ "Matt Berninger full Official Chart history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 28, 2020.
  24. ^ "Matt Berninger - "Serpentine Prison"". May 20, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2020.
  25. ^ Peaks on Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart:
  26. ^ a b Peaks on Billboard Alternative Digital Songs chart:
  27. ^ "Walking on a String (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) - Single by Matt Berninger on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "Serpentine Prison - Single by Matt Berninger on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  29. ^ "Distant Axis - Single by Matt Berninger on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  30. ^ "One More Second by Matt Berninger on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  31. ^ Peaks on Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs chart:
  32. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. February 8, 2021. Retrieved February 6, 2021.
  33. ^ Peak positions for singles in Scotland:
  34. ^ ""Representing Memphis (feat. Matt Berninger and Sharon Jones)" from Representing Memphis (feat. Matt Berninger & Sharon Jones) by Booker T. Jones". ANTI-. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  35. ^ "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Share "Coming Down" Featuring the National's Matt Berninger, Announce New Album Only Run". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  36. ^ "Julia Stone shares new single "We All Have" featuring The National's Matt Berninger". NME. January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 29, 2021.
  37. ^ "Hush (Theme From Turn) - Single by Joy Williams & Matt Berninger on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved May 5, 2021.
  38. ^ "A Lyke Wake Dirge - Single by Matt Berninger & Andrew Bird on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved May 5, 2021.

External links[edit]