The National Share Mini-Documentary on Famous Concert Taper Mike “The Mike” Millard | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, December 15th, 2019  

The National Share Mini-Documentary on Famous Concert Taper Mike “The Mike” Millard

The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24-25, 2018 Cassette Box Set Due Out November 29

Nov 21, 2019
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For Black Friday Record Store Day (November 29), The National are releasing The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24-25, 2018, a new live cassette box set. Now they have shared a new mini-documentary, also titled Juicy Sonic Magic, that explains how the live recordings came about and that they were inspired by a famous concert taper from the 1970s, Mike "The Mike" Millard, who would often hide his recording gear in a fake wheelchair he didn't really need. Archivist and producer Erik Flannigan was inspired to try and recreate Millard's live show recording process with a contemporary band and got The National involved, recording two concerts in Berkeley, CA in September 2018. David DuBois directed the documentary, which chronicles all this and includes an interview with The National's frontman Matt Berninger. Watch it below, followed by the band's upcoming tour dates. Also below is the tracklist for the box set.

Flannigan had more to say about the project in the liner notes to the box set, which was excerpted in a press release about the documentary:

"The most celebrated audience taper of the period, Mike Millard, recorded in and around Southern California beginning in 1974 and continued into the early '90s. Millard's legend is built in part on the cunning and subterfuge he used to get his nearly 15-pound cassette deck and microphones into venues like the The Forum, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and The Roxy. 

For years I have pondered what made Millard's recordings so good, and eventually I had an idea: What if you recorded a concert today with the same equipment Millard used in 1977? Would it sound like his tapes? Would it tap into his Midas touch?

The National was kind enough to let us test the Millard Method for two concerts at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California last September. These live recordings were made with vintage AKG 451E microphones and a restored Nakamichi 550 cassette deck which are identical to those used by Millard circa 1975-81. The idea was to see if we could recreate what Matt Berninger calls the 'juicy sonic magic' Millard captured in his 1970s field recordings.

Together with my friend and filmmaker David DuBois, we also produced a short documentary about Millard, his recording methods, and our attempt to recreate his work at the National shows in Berkeley, a venue that is utterly unchanged since the '70s. 

With the advent of smartphones, thousands of people routinely record part of the show when they attend a National concert or any other performance. Forty years ago, when nobody would dare do that, one man made it his life's work to preserve legendary concerts on tape."

The National: Juicy Sonic Magic, Live in Berkeley, September 24-25, 2018 Tracklist:

NIGHT 1 - Sept. 24th 2018:

Nobody Else Will Be There
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Walk It Back
Guilty Party
Don't Swallow the Cap
Bloodbuzz Ohio
I Need My Girl
Green Gloves
Brainy
Slow Show
All the Wine
I'll Still Destroy You
Dark Side of the Gym
Day I Die
Carin at the Liquor Store
Graceless
Rylan
Fake Empire

ENCORE

Light Years
Mr. November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

NIGHT 2 - Sept. 25th 2018:

Light Years
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
Walk It Back
Guilty Party
I Should Live in Salt
Don't Swallow the Cap
Afraid of Everyone
I Need My Girl
This Is the Last Time
Wasp Nest
Born to Beg
Sorrow
Apartment Story
Pink Rabbits
England
Day I Die
Rylan
Fake Empire
About Today

ENCORE:

Lemonworld
Mr. November
Terrible Love
Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks

Just yesterday The National announced the lineup to their 2020 Homecoming festival and that they will be performing their 2010 album High Violet in its entirety both nights of the festival. The lineup also includes Patti Smith and Her Band, Sylvan Esso, Of Monsters and Men, Local Natives, Japanese Breakfast, Phosphorescent, Hamilton Leithauser, Jay Som, Sudan Archives, Velvet Negroni, Wussy, and Triiibe. The festival goes down May 8 and 9 at Smale Park in Cincinnati, OH and tickets go on sale this Friday, November 22 at 10 a.m. EST. Also announced were the dates for the companion festival, MusicNOW, which happens May 8-10. The lineup and ticket info for MusicNOW are still forthcoming.

The National's Bryan Devendorf had this to say about the festival in a previous press release: "It's great to invite our friends and fans to our hometown - the place where we all began our lives as listeners and musicians. Putting on this intimate event on the banks of the Ohio River is meaningful to us and our families. We are so very grateful." 

The National released a new album, I Am Easy to Find, back in May via 4AD. It was our Album of the Week and you can stream it here. I Am Easy to Find is accompanied by a 24-minute short film also directed by Mike Mills and starring Oscar-winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander.

Previously The National shared I Am Easy to Find's first single, "You Had Your Soul with You" (which features guest vocals from David Bowie collaborator Gail Ann Dorsey and was our #1 Song of the Week), as well as a trailer for the film. Then they shared another song from the album, closing track "Light Years," via a video made up of footage from the film, with Vikander playing a woman seen through the years, from childhood to motherhood. "Light Years" was also one of our Songs of the Week.

Then they shared another song from it, "Hairpin Turns," via a Mills-directed black & white video for the track that doesn't feature footage from the short film, but instead showcases the band performing the song in a stark white space. The song features Gail Ann Dorsey and Lisa Hannigan and the video features vocalists Dorsey, Pauline de Lassus (aka Mina Tindle), and This Is the Kit's Kate Stables. "Hairpin Turns" was our #1 Song of the Week.

Then they shared the full short film several days early, as well as releasing two separate commentary videos on the film, one by Mills and one by frontman Matt Berninger and his wife (and lyric co-writer) Carin Besser, plus a video of a live Q&A in New York about the film featuring Mills and the band, hosted by Julien Baker.

Then they stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform the album's "You Had Your Soul With You." They were aided by a string quartet and two guest singers, Stables and de Lassus. On the eve of the album's release they shared one last song from it, "Rylan," which was also one of our Songs of the Week. Then they also performed "Rylan" on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Then they shared a video for the album's "Hey Rosey." Then they stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! to perform the album's "Where Is Her Head."

Berninger recently announced his debut solo album. It's entitled Serpentine Prison and has been produced and arranged by Booker T. Jones. No other info has been shared as of yet. Berninger also recently shared a new solo song, "Walking On a String," which features Phoebe Bridgers. Berninger and Bridgers performed the song in Netflix's Between Two Ferns: The Movie and then shared a studio version of the song via a black & white video featuring them recording it. "Walking On a String" was one of our Songs of the Week.

The National released their excellent last album album, Sleep Well Beast, in September 2017 via 4AD. It was our Album of the Week and #7 on our Top 100 Albums of 2017 list.

Read our 2018 interview with The National.

Read our 2017 interview with The National on Sleep Well Beast.

Read our rave 9/10 review of Sleep Well Beast.

Read our 2012 interview with Alicia Vikander, as well as our 2015 interview with her.

The National Tour Dates:

11/25 - Warsaw, PL @ Torwar Hall
11/26 - Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle
11/27 - Berlin, DE @ Columbiahalle
11/29 - Copenhagen, DK @ Royal Arena
12/1 - Bochum, DE @ Ruhrcongress
12/2 - Cologne, DE @ Palladium
12/3 - Zurich, SW @ Samsung Hall
12/4 - Munich, DE @ Zenith
12/5 - Stuttgart, DE @ Porsche Arena
12/07 - Brighton, UK - Brighton Centre^
12/08 - Leeds, UK - First Direct Arena^
12/09 - Cardiff, UK - Cardiff Motorpoint Arena^
12/10 - Nottingham, UK - Nottingham Motorpoint Arena^
12/12 - Lisbon, PT - Campo Pequeno
03/17 - Tokyo, JP - Zepp DiverCity*
03/18 - Tokyo, JP - Zepp DiverCity*
03/21 - Perth, AU - Freemantle Arts Centre*
03/22 - Perth, AU - Freemantle Arts Centre*
03/24 - Sydney, AU - ICC*
03/25 - Sydney, AU - ICC*
03/27 - Brisbane, AU - Fortitude Music Hall*
03/28 - Brisbane, AU - Fortitude Music Hall*
03/30 - Melbourne, AU - Palais Theatre*
03/31 - Melbourne, AU - Palais Theatre*
04/01 - Melbourne, AU - Palais Theatre*
04/03 - Auckland, NZ - ASB Aotea Centre*
04/04 - Auckland, NZ - ASB Aotea Centre*
05/08 - Cincinnati, OH - Homecoming
05/09 - Cincinnati, OH - Homecoming

^ w/Jenny Lewis
* w/ Phoebe Bridgers

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