Newsweek interviewed Berninger about his new record, delving into his past as a designer, citing a UC Magazine story about The National's ties to UC.
During the late dot.com boom of the late 1990s, (Berninger) was pursuing a career as a graphic designer, becoming a creative director at a new media company in New York City, working on projects for clients like The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the makers of Viagra. Back in school, though, at the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, Berninger was the singer in a band that included his friend Scott Devendorf. When the dot.com bubble burst, Berninger decided to try one last time to make his hobby his profession. He formed a new band in Brooklyn with Cincinnati friends: Devendorf (bass) and his brother Bryan (drums) and another pair of brothers, Aaron (guitar, keyboards) and Bryce Dessner (guitar). "The National started in the middle of that," Berninger recalls. "I had saved enough money to be able to take [some time] off. We went out and did a tour, and one slowly became the other."