Matthew Donald Berninger, known as Matt Berninger (born February 13, 1971) is a Cincinnati native, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, primarily known as the frontman of indie rock band The National. In 2014 he formed the EL VY project with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls & Menomena and released the album Return to the Moon in November 2015.
Berninger is notable for his classic baritone voice.
Berninger is a 1989 graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. He went on to study graphic design at the University of Cincinnati, where he met fellow band member, Scott Devendorf in 1991 and they became best friends. 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.”
Matt 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. Together with Hope Hall and Andreas Burgess, Carin also helped direct the music video for "Bloodbuzz Ohio". They have a daughter named Isla. Matt has stated that the song "Afraid of Everyone" was influenced by his anxiety about being a new father.
Berninger has two siblings, Tom (who directed Mistaken for Strangers, a film about The National) and Rachel.
In popular culture
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.