New followers of Aaron Dessner's Twitter account would probably expect to find him talking about his band's new album, The National's 'I Am Easy To Find', which was released to international acclaim last month.
Or maybe the short film released as a companion piece to the record, starring one of the world’s most in-demand actresses - Alicia Vikander - and directed by one of the USA’s foremost arthouse directors, Mike Mills.
Or perhaps the six-month-long world tour that takes his Grammy award-winning group from Philadelphia to Lisbon, via the UK, Europe and Mexico during the second half of 2019.
Instead, what they got earlier this month, shortly after Liverpool’s victory over Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 Champions League final, was a tweet that simply read ‘#YNWA’, accompanied by a picture of an outstretched palm holding an Andy Robertson pin badge.
#ynwa https://t.co/ueTFgGTRgH— aaron_dessner (Aaron Dessner) 1st Jun 20:53
And this was not an unusual missive from the multi-instrumentalist, born in Cincinnati but now based in upstate New York, who six months ago was tweeting: ‘#YNWA, haven’t seen that before. Wow. Bonkers.’ The occasion? Divock Origi’s 96th-minute winner in the Merseyside derby at Anfield.
Dessner has been one of the driving forces behind The National ever since their foundation in 1999, during which time they’ve grown into one of modern rock music’s most innovative and critically-acclaimed acts.
But he has been a fan of football, or soccer, since childhood, and when he married his Danish wife Stine, whose father just so happened to be a fanatical Red, that passion for the sport soon evolved into an adoration for one club in particular.
“If you asked my friends, growing up, what did I like to do, they would say: ‘He likes to play soccer,’” Dessner tells Liverpoolfc.com from the farmhouse in the Hudson Valley that doubles as his family home and recording studio.
“I thought I was a good soccer player until, at some point, you realise you’re not as big and fast and strong as some other kids. If you compared me to kids in the UK I wouldn’t have been good, but in America I was pretty good!
“This was before you had European football on the TV here, but we’d get VHS tapes and watch games. You’d see a Liverpool game and it felt like this distant, magical place. Later, as I got older, you’d start to see things on the internet, and then I got married and my wife’s father, Peter Wengler, has been a Liverpool fan ever since he was a kid, and he’s in his mid-60s now.
“When we’re together we watch every game, and he definitely schooled me in the language and history of it. Then my sister Jessica married a Norwegian whose half-brother, Joachim Forsund, is an author; he’s part of the Norwegian fan club and has written a book about Liverpool and done TV documentaries about them.
“So basically, between Joachim and Peter, I’ve been surrounded by hardcore Liverpool supporters, and then The National’s long-time booking agent James Alderman, he’s English and is also as intense a Liverpool supporter as you can get. I would not have a television if it wasn’t for Liverpool; friends come over and my kids get excited, it’s sort of a family affair.
“I would consider myself as having been a Liverpool supporter for 12 years now, properly, and I’ve been through good seasons and bad, but at this point, like everybody, I feel like there’s another golden age starting. It’s very exciting.”
The closest The National will come to Merseyside this summer is next month’s gig at the Castlefield Bowl in Manchester, but any Scousers attending that or any of the band’s other world tour dates won’t have to worry about the show clashing with a big Liverpool game. That won’t happen because Aaron, also a devoted follower of the United States men’s national team, has made sure of it.
“We actually schedule our tours around games,” he explains. “If I know there’s a World Cup game or something on a day when The National is supposed to play, then I have to insist that we change the show!
“Sometimes we’ll figure out how to screen a game before we play, and they [the other band members] are all really supportive of that. You know how it is, I’m a little crazy, but I really enjoy it. For me, it’s how I relax, you just blow off steam and it’s the one or two times in a week where you forget about stuff. The camaraderie of You’ll Never Walk Alone, that sentiment is real.”
Dessner’s fondness for all things LFC has also led to him forming what can only be described as bromances with some other rather well-known fans of the club, including actor Clive Owen and singer-songwriter Ben Howard.
“I’ve became good friends with Clive, he’s a huge Liverpool diehard and we’ve spent a lot of time together over the years,” adds the 43-year-old, whose twin brother Bryce is also a member of the band.
“Once Clive came to see us play in Manchester but there was a Liverpool match on, and we went to a pub to watch it. Quickly people figured out that we were there to root for Liverpool, so we took a lot of [flak]! But I was very impressed with how Clive handled that.
“Ben was here and we were working together on new music, and we hadn’t had this discussion yet but there was a Liverpool match on the second day, and in the middle of the day I was like: ‘Hey Ben, I’m really sorry, I know we’re working but I need to turn on my computer and watch this match while we work.’
“And there was like a three-second pause then he leapt off the couch and gave me this giant hug, and he was like: ‘My dad’s from Liverpool, that was literally what I was about to ask you.’ And we almost stopped making music at that point and just talked about football for the rest of week. It was a nice feeling, and it shows how it goes over borders.”
Every Liverpool fan can remember their first visit to Anfield, and Dessner’s, while tinged with sadness, was particularly special: a 4-0 Merseyside derby win during Jürgen Klopp’s first full season as manager.
“My wife’s mother Anne got sick three years ago and died, and at that time we wanted to do something nice for Stine’s dad,” he recalls.
“Peter hadn’t been to Anfield in a long time, so Clive and I arranged to take him to the Everton match. We made a whole day of it and it was great, I got to meet Kenny Dalglish and Robbie Fowler.
“It was a crazy day, for Peter to be able to have that experience which brought a lot of joy to him, and Liverpool won the game, and then we spent the whole of the rest of the day on a bit of a pub crawl through the city. It was the classic experience, drinking in these beautiful old pubs where there’d be Everton supporters in there but everyone was being nice to each other and laughing.
“When you watch Liverpool as much as I do and you hear what it sounds like over the TV - and I’ve also watched a lot of historical footage on YouTube of the supporters singing Beatles songs and stuff - when you actually go there it’s like going to New York City or Paris for the very first time. It’s like: ‘This is hallowed ground.’
“I just can’t imagine what it’s like for the players when they get to go out there.”
During a summer revolving around European Cup number six for Liverpool and studio album number eight for The National, Dessner is also hoping to see his favourites in person again, much closer to home.
Klopp’s men contest a friendly with Portuguese side Sporting CP at Yankee Stadium in New York on July 24, although it remains to be seen if The National’s busy touring schedule will allow the musician to attend.
“I don’t know where we’re supposed to be but that is the kind of thing I would definitely try to go to,” he states. “Seeing them in New York City would be super exciting, and any way of getting to meet the current team would be pretty epic.”
Beyond that, Aaron is simply looking forward to seeing the Reds in action again - defending their Champions League title, resuming their push for Premier League honours and playing with the passion and panache that have become their trademarks under Klopp.
He continues: “The type of football this team plays is so exciting and beautiful to watch, they’re definitely the most entertaining team in the Premier League. There’s more electricity and creativity, the joy on Sadio Mane’s face, and to watch [Mohamed] Salah and Robertson play…
“I don’t want to jinx it, but Liverpool have a lot of depth, and if they’re healthy there’s no reason they shouldn’t compete again. Who knows, maybe they’ll make a few moves, but look at someone like Origi; a player like that is an example of someone who wasn’t starting but can come in and make a huge impact.”
As they wait for August’s big kick-off Liverpool fans have so many memories from the season past to cherish and relive, and for Dessner it is the Reds’ 4-0 win in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona that represents the club at its very best - on the pitch, in the stands and as a force for good in the wider world.
“After the first leg you got that familiar sinking feeling, like it wasn’t going to work out again,” the Ohio native reflects.
“But then in the second leg it was like they were walking on water. It was literally like some kind of divine power was fuelling them, the fearlessness, and I think that definitely goes back to the coaching - the belief they have in themselves, the belief the supporters have in them, and that’s just very infectious and beautiful to see.
“Sport at its greatest is capable of giving people confidence, giving them joy, giving them hope, and we live in dark times, so if you can forget about whatever it is you’re thinking about and just watch this…
“One thing I also love about Liverpool is the diversity in the team. You have people like Jordan Henderson, great English players, but then you have other players from all over the world, and they all share the same goal, and that’s a really positive message for the world.
“Seeing them overcome the odds like that, I take a lot of good energy from that, and I think everyone else watching around the world gets that good vibe too.”