Let’s face it, you don’t hear many of today’s most popular rock bands cite the Grateful Dead as an influence. While trends come and go, the jam band mentality has lived on through festivals and certain scenes, but it’s not an influence that permeates through mainstream music in an obvious way.
The National, however—as suggested by their six-hour, one-song performance earlier this year—are Grateful Dead fans, and they’re proud of it. Band member Bryce Dessner explains to Relix, “There are all kind of corners of the musical world that are deeply influenced by the Dead that one wouldn’t expect. Lee Ranaldo is a crazy Deadhead. So that was part of the idea but I think it is broader than that now. Jerry Garcia was a total cat.”
We don’t have many details on the album yet, but the album will be comprised of Grateful Dead covers, and Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, and Kurt Vile are set to take part. Members of The War On Drugs and The Walkmen have also been recruited, and more musicians are being sought out.
“We’ve done a lot of work talking to various artists and laying the groundwork,” The National’s Aaron Dessner says. “It is kind of an ambitious project both because of the legacy and the material. We are obsessed enough with the Grateful Dead that it is kind of a monumental idea.”
In addition to spreading love for the the Dead, the album’s proceeds will benefit Red Hot, an organization whose mission statement is: “Fighting AIDS through pop culture.”