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The Hudson Valley oasis where The National recorded new album


The National’s “Sleep Well Beast” album

When guitarist Aaron Dessner bought an 18th century farmhouse in the Hudson Valley of New York for his family, he also saw it as an oasis for his band, The National.

“The idea was like if we could get this done in six months, then the band can make a record here,” Dessner said.

An old barn was rebuilt into their new studio, reports “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason.

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The National in Hudson Valley, New York 

CBS News

In the Long Pond studio, The National recorded “Sleep Well Beast,” the latest album from brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner, Bryan and Scott Devendorf and lead singer Matt Berninger. It was released Friday. 

“We spent more time in the same room than we have since probably the beginning of the band,” Bryce said. 

The National formed in 1999 with five Cincinnati kids who came together in Brooklyn. Through seven albums, they’ve become one of indie rocks most successful bands. But in the four years since their last record, as their families have grown, they’ve scattered far and wide, from California, New York, Ohio to France and Denmark. 

“You all have kids. You all live in different places. But you’re all still connected,” Mason noted.

“I feel like we’re more connected now just due, like the times that we have together are kind of more special and specialized. Like we’re here to do a thing but we’re also here to like regroup,” Scott said.

The new studio, built from the wood of the old barn, looks out on the Long Pond. 

Berninger said it’s “the perfect environment.” 

“I’ve never been in a place this nice and this tranquil, honestly. Swimming in that pond and there’s like red wing blackbirds landing in the cattails. It’s kind of ridiculous,” Berninger said. 

It’s here The National now come to rediscover themselves.

“It can be exciting but also frightening because you don’t know — you actually feel like maybe you’ll never write a good song again. Or maybe the band will just sort of disintegrate,” Aaron said.

“I think our biggest fear as a band is, like, repeating ourselves and kind of this idea of a semi-successful rock band that falls in love with its own image or its own shadow. And, like, so we’re kind of challenging that all the time and sort of nothing’s sacred,” Bryce said.

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