Canadian fans of The National have two reasons to rejoice.
The Brooklyn-based indie rockers will release their sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, on May 21 following that up with three dates in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
As an added bonus in Toronto – where the group led by Matt Berninger will play a free NXNE show at Yonge-Dundas Square on June 14 – there is a return engagement of the excellent band documentary, Mistaken For Strangers, directed by Berninger’s younger brother and the movie’s breakout star Tom, earlier in the day at the Bloor Cinema as part of NXNE’s film festival.
Both hilariously funny and deeply poignant due in no small part to the personality of the party-hearty, metal-loving Tom, it premiered earlier in May at Hot Docs in T.O.
“I have told him, ‘Lightning has kind of struck with this movie with you,’’ Berninger, 42, told QMI Agency while in Toronto. “Like after the (Hot Docs) screening, I was signing a lot of autographs but Tom was probably signing more.”
The film came about after Berninger offered Tom a job as assistant road manager during The National’s 2011 tour for 2010’s well-received album, High Violet, and he brought a camera along.
“I don’t think anybody expected there to be a big serious movie,” said Berninger. “They thought it was maybe going to be goofy stuff for the website. …. But then ugly things kind of happened… and it turned into cinematic gold.”
In the end, Mistaken for Strangers is a lot more about the Berninger family dynamic with Tom portrayed as the directionless younger sibling with plenty of untapped creativity until now.
“I’m really, really happy with it and I’m so happy for my brother, and my wife (and co-producer), they did an amazing job,” said Berninger. “It’s a mixture of pride and relief. Relief because it’s not going to ruin our band, it didn’t ruin my marriage.
“(Tom) was always the baby,” continued Berninger. “I have an older sister. My mom puts it more delicately but he was a little bit of a lazy-ass slacker kid. I love him so much and he’s one of the nicest, sweetest, hilarious, wonderful men but he’s a little bit his own worst enemy. He takes like easy, which is great. He’s a little bit of The Big Lebowski, in some ways. .. If there’s any message in the movie it’s that he just figures out that it’s about the work. You have to carve success out of stone with your bare hands.”
Turns out Tom, 33, has been living with Matt and his family for the last three years while he’s been working on Mistaken For Strangers, which still hasn’t gotten distribution in Canada and probably won’t until later this year as they attempt to self-release it.
“I think he’s brilliant in front of the camera,” said Berninger. “Because he’s guileless and his guard is down and I think he knows he’s good and I think he’s fearless in front of the camera and I think there aren’t enough people like that. … Tom has kind of a gift. And he frustrates people but people do like him and I think he could be a brilliant actor…. It’s like a star is born with him.”
The National’s 2013 Canadian tour dates
June 13, Lachine Canal, Montreal
June 14, Yonge-Dundas square, Toronto, free show, North By Northeast (NXNE).
Sept. 22, PNE Amphitheatre, Vancouver
So how will The National’s frontman Matt Berninger prepare for an upcoming 6 hour performance of the band’s song, Sorrow?
Frankly, he has no idea.
“I don’t know. I’ve never done anything like that,” Berninger told QMI Agency in Toronto this week prior to the May 21 release of the new National album, Trouble Will Find Me.
The six hour-long rendition of Sorrow from the American indie rockers’ last album, High Violet, takes place Sunday (May 5) at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, N.Y.
It’s a collaboration with Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, and the work is titled A Lot of Sorrow.
“We had heard of him, he’s a pretty famous artist and so we were like, ‘Okay, that sounds pretty interesting,’” said Berninger. “And for him, it’s not about the endurance or it’s not about how hard it is. It’s about the sort of euphoric or zen state you get in with repeating stuff, the same thing over and over in the same way of almost of a mantra or a prayer would be.”
The only instruction Berninger and rest of The National have been given by the artist is that they should do whatever they need to do during the performance.
“He’s like, ‘If you need to lie down (do it). You don’t have to stand there and perform the exact same way every time. You can relax. If you have to go to the bathroom just leave the stage and everybody else can keep playing. You’ll leave the stage, go to the bathroom and come back. So it’s not about pain or struggle. It’s about finding the pleasure and the reflection of doing something over and over again.”
Berninger says the artist will even feed the band during the show.
“He says, ‘You’ll have waves of getting tired and your energy will ebb and flow.’ And he’s apparently coming around and giving us cheese trays or whatever it is we want, feeding us.”
The performance takes place in MoMA PS1′s VW Dome between 12-6 p.m.
“He’s going to fill it with smoke and it’s going to be filled with lights and cameras,” said Berninger. “He’s got five cameras that are going to be filming everything and recording everything. And we’re actually even going to record a high end audio version of it and put it out on vinyl and sell it for charity, six hours of Sorrow.
“But he wants it to feel like a big rock concert on repeat. Like the needle is skipping on a rock concert. So it’s interesting. He’s done really brilliant things in the past so we trust him.”
Berninger was also in Toronto to attend a screening and Q&A of the band documentary, Mistaken For Strangers, directed by his brother Tom, which still has one more screening at Hot Docs on Sunday (May 5).
The National’s two Canadian tour dates so far are June 13 in Montreal and a free show at Yonge/Dundas Square on June 14 in Toronto as part of NXNE.
REGINA – Here’s the best of what you didn’t hear backstage from Sunday night’s Juno Awards:
“Dr. Phil was a sport. I don’t know if you noticed. He kept looking down at his piece of paper and he said (does southern accent), ‘Well, you may have not have the career of a William Shatner or the street cred of a Drake.’ So I don’t know how aware he was of it. But he was really sweet about doing it. It didn’t take a lot.”
– Juno host Michael Buble on whether Dr. Phil, featured in opening skit, knew what the Juno Awards are.
“I think it’s the best sauce ever!”
Triple Juno winner Carly Rae Jepsen on designer Asos, who made her fetching yellow gown.
“I knew it made me want to dance and I think I don’t have a s–t taste in music.”
Best adult alternative album winner Serena Ryder of her hit song, Stompa.
“It it’s fun, keep doing it. If it’s not, please stop. For all of us.”
Ryder on her advice to younger musicians.
“I knew there was no f–king way I would win for single of the year. It was like, ‘Seriously if the biggest single (Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe) on the planet is not going to win the single of year then there’s something wrong with the world. So I was really stoked with Carly Rae won.”
Ryder on the chances of Stompa winning best single.
“The recipe for a killer tunafish salad. Really one of the best.”
- Adam Cohen on the biggest lesson his father, artist and songwriter of the year winner Leonard Cohen taught him not about music.
“Adele recently. He says (does impression of his gravelly voice), ‘Set fire to the rain,’ that’s good.”
- Adam Cohen on what new music Leonard is listening to lately.
“We all had different seats on the plane and I knew that the text messages were going to come to me … and I turn on phone … and we got this great text, we got 20 of them, ‘You went three for three!’ And I was yelling out, ‘Emmy (Haines)! Emmy! Three for three!’ And she was like, ‘I don’t know what you were talking about it!’ – Metric’s James Shaw on flying in from their Coachella performance to Sunday night’s Juno Awards. Shaw won producer of the year while Metric’s Synthetica won alternative album of the year and and Justin Broadbent won best recording package for Synthethica.
“Oh, yeah, I got punched in the face while I was singing last week. That sucked man! I was working through the crowd, singing some stuff and this guy came up and smacked me in the face a couple of times. And I was like, ‘Are you serious? Did you just come to my show to punch me in the f–king face?’”
- Marianas Trench frontman Josh Ramsay on getting punched during a recent Moose Jaw concert.
“It was like holy s–t! I got to go up there and talk now. And I was on the stage shaking and the teleprompter was going, ‘Wrap it up now!’”
- Jeremy Widerman of Hamilton’s Monster Truck, who won breakthrough group of the year despite all being in their 30’s and not having a debut album, Furiousity, out till May 28.
Rush frontman Geddy Lee had the honor recently of throwing out the first pitch at the Toronto Blue Jays’ much anticipated season opener at the Rogers Centre.
And the guy who has played in front of thousands of people in arenas and stadiums around the world over the last four decades with the Toronto prog-rock outfit says it was “really cool.”
“I love baseball, I’m a baseball nut,” Lee told QMI Agency. “I’m so excited about the Jays’ chances this year. They got off to a bit of a stumbling start and I still believe in the squad and I love the job the general manager has done rebuilding the team so there’s so much anticipation for this season if you’re a baseball fan. So when they asked to throw out the first pitch, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m all in for that, that’s cool.’”
Lee, whose band are being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony at L.A.’s Nokia Centre on Thursday night (HBO, May 18 telecast) and are up for two Junos Sunday night in Regina (CTV), said there were no nerves but he did want to throw a winner.
“I really wanted to make sure I threw a strike because in my own demented mind I felt if I throw a bad pitch I’m going to jinx the Jays. So I practised for a couple of days and once I got up there I was pretty relaxed. I pitched right down the middle. I was very happy about that. I couldn’t let the side down.”
The blue Jays were 6-7 (wins vs losses) going into the Tuesday (April 16) game against the Chicago White Sox and started the season poorly but seem to be improving.
“It’s kind of a shocking lack of starting pitching to start the year,” said Lee. “Their batting order one through nine is very solid. Once they get (third baseman) Brett Lawrie back it’ll be even better so I’m not really worried about their hitting. And on paper, one shouldn’t be worried about their pitching either but it’s kind of strange that all three of their new pitchers have had terrible starts. Let’s just say that they’re trying to hard to impress and once they settle down, I’m sure that wins will start to come.”
Lee, who resumes Rush’s Clockwork Angels tour on April 23 in the U.S. before Canadian dates in July, says how often he gets to Jays games both at home and away depends on his schedule.
“I watch a lot of their games on my computer travelling but I try to go once in a while when I’m home but it’s not always possible. I follow their exploits electronically.”
Lee, who is a big tennis player, said he doesn’t play baseball regularly but he has always liked to play catch.
“I pretended I played baseball for many years but I didn’t actually play much. I used to throw the ball around before gigs backstage. One of the guys in my crew used to catch me and I used to do a regular thing where I’d throw 50-60 pitches before a show. But it was really all for naught because all I ended up with was a slow elbow so I had to stop doing that.”
Rush’s 2013 Canadian tour dates
July 6 – Hamilton, ON – Copps Coliseum
July 8 – Ottawa, ON – Ottawa Bluesfest
July 10 – Quebec City, QC – Festival D’Ete
July 12 and 14 – Halifax, NS – Metro Centre
July 24 – Calgary, AB – Scotiabank Saddledome
July 26 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks says making her 2011 solo album In Your Dreams and the 2013 behind-the-scenes documentary of the same name was almost beside the point because the process was “so much fun.”
“I lost my mom a year and a half ago,” said the 64-year-old Nicks getting choked up during one of two Q&A’s following screenings of the documentary on Tuesday night at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.
“And every since I lost my mother I really realized how important what you do is, and your journeys are much, much more important than what you come out with. And I look back on this year now and I think it’s so true. That’s all we were doing was making memories. There was no harsh words. There was no arugments. There was no friction ever. …I knew that we would never forget this year.”
Nicks told a packed crowd, which had included Fleetwood Mac bandmates drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie before they exited pre Q&A, that documentary director and album co-producer-co-writer Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) talked her into filming on the second day of recording by reassuring her.
“Darling, if you don’t like it, we won’t use it, and that’s a promise,” Nicks said Stewart told her. “From that moment onward, I wasn’t worried anymore and the whole thing began with little flip cameras.”
The routine was that Stewart would come to Nicks home every day between 2:00 p.m to 8:30 p.m. (they moved his martini time from 4 p.m to 8;30 p.m.) and Nicks had to get up 4 hours earlier than usual to drink coffee in bed from 9 to noon, have a bath and do avocal lesson, and down a quick breakfast before Stewart arrived.
Naturally, filming meant a little bit more “girlie work’ for Nicks.
“I had this one blouse I liked and I just stuck with it,” explained Nicks. “‘Cause if I had to think about what I was wearing every day then that would really make the filming thing very uncomfortable for me. So i didn’t. So then I had to spend a half-hour putting on makeup and I had to blow out this really long hair 2 or 3 times a week instead of once a week. So it was more work definitely but after about the first two weeks I got used to it.”
The documentary had its Canadian debut in Toronto before moving its way across the country as Fleetwood Mac also makes Canadian stops at arenas.
(In the case of Toronto at the Air Canada Centre on April 16.)
Nicks told media on the red carpet the current Fleetwood Mac show is “a big show. It’s different. I said to (guitarist) Lindsey (Buckingham), it’s disturbingly big. Because you’re in there putting on your shoes and then all of the sudden you’re out there on stage in front of 16,000 people. You have to kind of get used to that.”
Otherwise, she told the Q&A she was unaccustomed to holding a microphone as she took questions.
“Thirty-five, 40 years ago Lindsey said to me, ‘Oh, how very Las Vegas of you!’ And I never took the mic off the stand again. So when I hold the mic I feel like an idiot.”
In Your Dreams Canadian screenings:
Toronto / TIFF Bell Lightbox April 15-18
Fleetwood Mac concert: 16-Apr
Ottawa / Mayfair Theatre April 19-20
Fleetwood Mac concert: 23-Apr
Winnipeg / Winnipeg Cinematheque May 4-5
Fleetwood Mac concert: 12-May
Saskatoon / Broadway Theatre May 13
Fleetwood Mac concert: 14-May
Edmonton / Metro Cinema at the Garneau May 14
Fleetwood Mac concert 15-May
Calgary / Globe Cinema May 16
Fleetwood Mac concert: 17-May
Vancouver / Vancity Theatre May 18
Fleetwood Mac concert: 19-May
Montreal / Cinema du Parc June 14-17
Fleetwood Mac concert: 18-Jun