Jian: Matt, people describe the music and your lyrics as "complex." You once described your lyrics as "milky."
Matt: (laughs) I did?
Jian: Yes, you did. Apparently neither of us know what that means... you're not sure what you meant by that either?
Matt: I think I know what I meant
Jian: Is this something you actively strive for? I mean authors talk about this, I want people to go deep with this instead of just...
Matt: It's not that they're complicated in the way that there are secret meanings or riddles in the songs. It's that... I mean it happens musically and from the lyrics perspective of... you want to create sort of an alchemy... when I said "milky" I think I was referring to sort of a blurry, not everything's spelled out, not all of the dots are connected, and it's not all colored in, and that is... for me, songs in the past like R.E.M., or Radiohead is an example, Leonard Cohen is an example, where you're not quite sure... it's not clear. And if it's not clear then it allows you as a listener to put yourself in the song, and the song can become about you, and it has that sort of amoebic... it leaves the doors open. And so that's always been... my favorite songs are the ones that I'm not quite sure... like, I think I know in my gut what this thing is about, but I don't know for sure, and that makes it more powerful and more personal to me.
Yeah, we decided to name the band The National… it was the idea just to have a meaningless name… a name that was very benign and nothing fancy. It turned out to be a little bit of a mistake though, because no one could find our website…