Michael Stipe on R.E.M. and Fear of Collage
In the 1980s, Athens, Georgia, rock band R.E.M. was the epitome of the artful "alternative" band— producing a string of beautiful, if occasionally inscrutable albums, and slowly evolving over time. But then came Out of Time, the band's true arrival as global rock stars, riding largely on the strength of “Losing My Religion,” which was in constant rotation on TV and radio throughout 1991. It was the moment the band snapped into crisp pop focus—and lead singer Michael Stipe stepped with somewhat more gusto into his role as frontman. Stipe led the band through twenty more years of bold experimentation, massive success, and the occasional misstep—but never insincerity. R.E.M. disbanded in 2011, and, for the last five years, Stipe has channeled his new time and energy into photography, teaching, and politics. And while his songs will almost certainly last in the cultural memory for a very long time, Stipe himself has even broader ambitions. Like living until he’s a hundred and twenty, for starters. He talks to host Alec Baldwin about his long-term plans, as well as more immediate concerns, like voting.