The National ’Win Win’ with song for Giamatti film

NEW YORK (AP) — The members of The National loved the movie “Win Win.” In fact, the rockers loved it so much that when director Tom McCarthy asked them to write music for it, they were a little worried their song might not live up to expectations.

“There’s that movie afterglow after you see a great movie, which we all had when ‘Win Win’ was over,” said lead singer Matt Berninger in a recent interview.

“(But) when you have someone who’s working on a film, what a huge creative mountain that is to climb. To finish a feature film and then you just have this song that’s going to end their film. ... We were really, really nervous ... if it was going to work or not,“ he said.

“Win Win” stars Paul Giamatti as Mike Flaherty, an attorney whose main clients are elderly folks living in his small New Jersey town. Things change quickly for Flaherty when his law firm isn’t doing well and he decides to take guardianship of an aged client to earn extra cash. He also takes in the client’s teenage grandson, a skilled wrestler, and an advantage for Flaherty, who is also a high school wrestling coach.

“Tom was able to paint an unbelievably realistic and honest portrait of normal people — showing their heroic sides and failures,” Berninger said.

Berninger said the band felt a buzz after seeing the movie.

The band’s goal was to write a song “that would sort of keep that buzz going or something.”

They came up with “Think You Can Wait,” a mellow, yet intense piano groove highlighted by Berninger’s baritone. It was written by Berninger and guitarist Aaron Dessner. Aaron’s brother Bryce, and another set of brothers, Scott and Bryan Devendorf, round out the band.

“We knew where people would experience the song — sitting in a theater. We knew exactly how that was going to work (and) we thought of that a little. . What kind of song will make the experience work well and not conflict or compete with the film?” Berninger said.

The song was written while the band was on tour. Though it was the first time they had written specifically for a film, Berninger said it wasn’t difficult. The timing was perfect, he added, because the band isn’t quite ready to create the follow-up to 2010’s “High Violet.”

“None of us were ready to sort of dive in (and) we’re still not ready to dive in the process of thinking of a new record,” he said. “So this was like a small exercise in writing.”

The movie, which earned glowing reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, opened last week in New York and Los Angeles; it opens nationwide in April. The “Win Win” soundtrack was released digitally this week; the CD and vinyl are out next month.

The band had been scheduled to perform in Japan last week, but had to reschedule because of the earthquake and tsunami.

“We’ve been following every moment and just praying that it doesn’t get much worse,” Berninger said. “We’ve got a lot of friends over there. Everyone thankfully is fine.”

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