Listen above as Big Red Machine’s Aaron Dessner talks with WNRN’s Patrick Coman in this Home Studio Session.

On Big Red Machine’s second album, How Long is It Going to Last?, the National’s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon return with the great big collective voice of indie artists they’ve amalgamated over the years. No one singer dominates the tracklist, with the credits clocking in at 13 vocalists and 29 musicians collaborating on the project, building upon the sound of the National’s 2019 release I Am Easy to Find.

“We kinda say it’s like a band with no windows or doors, and it’s just wide open,” Dessner said. “It’s been like a fun way for us to collaborate and to experiment.”

The sound stays cohesive with so many different voices contributing to How Long, giving the record a refined jam session sound rich with camaraderie. To Dessner, it captures that nostalgic feeling of simply making music with your friends for the first time.

“A lot of people come here to this studio I have called Long Pond or we experiment remotely with a lot of other friends, so it’s just like inviting people to bounce off these ideas, and then collecting these contributions and editing them into something that feels intentional,” Dessner said. 

With a distinctly and timely autumnal feel that gets a little help from collaborators Taylor Swift and the Fleet Foxes, the record revels in bracing against the emotional weight of the cold, but without shying away. And while posing so many questions, Dessner said that the titular one drives the theme home.

“It can refer to so many things, so many themes that are in the album, whether it’s a relationship or a marriage or a friendship or a creative streak, like the one Taylor and I have been on. You don’t know how long this magic will last. There’s a lot of questions asked along the course of the whole record but I think that’s the main one, I think it’s special.”