Published Nov 16, 2015Way back in 2011, the National announced that they were working on a tribute compilation dedicated to the Grateful Dead. Now, with the Dead having recently bid farewell in high-profile fashion, the National have finally confirmed some of the details surrounding the project, which is tentatively due to arrive in early 2016.
In 2011, slated contributors included Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Steve Reich. In a new update from Stereogum, many more artists have now been added.
Names now attached the project include the War on Drugs (doing "Touch of Grey"), the Walkmen ("Ripple"), Kurt Vile and J Mascis ("Box of Rain"), TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe ("Playing in the Band"), Unknown Mortal Orchestra ("Shakedown Street"), Marijuana Death Squad ("Keep Truckin'"), Grizzly Bear's Daniel Rossen (two songs, including "Terrapin Station"), and Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck ("Standing on the Moon"). The National are covering "Peggy-O," while it now seems that Bon Iver's Justin Vernon will be appearing solo rather than with his more famous project.
Other names expected to appear on the album (but without publicly confirmed songs) include Fucked Up, Stephen Malkmus, Sharon Van Etten, Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan, Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo and Perfume Genius. There are around 70 contributors in all.
Many of the songs were recorded at a church in Woodstock, NY, with some of the singers backed up by a house band (featuring members of the National). Regarding these tracks, bassist Scott Devendorf said, "I think the stuff we did is very consistent musically, leaning more towards the originals." Some of the other material apparently sounds very different from the original tunes.
As for how it's going to be released, Devendorf joked, "It's going to be a thousand-dollar box set the size of a coffee table." While it remains to be how exactly how it's released in the end, it looks like it won't be too much longer before we find out.
Meanwhile, the National are currently working on a new full-length of their own, which they've talked about before. The album is still in its early stages, but Bryce Dessner has given another update to say that it will be a "great band record."