Michael Stipe and Mike Mills from R.E.M. join Matt Wilkinson to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their iconic record, Out of Time. The members talk through the album, reminiscing on their experiences of writing it and discussing its legacy today.
Listen live for free to the full episode this Friday 12th March 2021 at 6PM LDN/10AM LA /1PM NY on Apple Music Hits – apple.co/am-hits.
Michael Stipe on not having listened to Out Of Time in decades –
“I mean, I really like the record a lot. In fact, I love the record, most of it. You do something, it becomes a part of your DNA. I mean, we worked so hard and so long on those songs and the lyrics and figuring out the melodies and then figuring out how everything’s going to go together. You step away from it, and you don’t really look back”.
Mills and Stipe on “Losing My Religion” and the reaction it got around the world –
Stipe – “You felt it before you saw it. The energy coming off of an audience, a large audience in an outdoor arena, with the first notes, those first da, da, da, da, da and the place would just explode with energy. We got all that being on stage, being elevated, being the center of attention. It all came right towards us. It was the biggest shot in the arm. The biggest jolt of adrenaline. The most powerful feeling that I think I’ve ever felt.”
Mills – “Honestly, I’m getting chill bumps just thinking about it now because there was so much joy. I mean, by starting that song and playing that song, you’ve made so many people so very happy that it was just a pleasure to do it. To be able to raise everyone’s energy level and enjoyment level that much, it’s still thrilling to think about”.
Mills on not knowing “Losing My Religion” would be a smash hit –
“No, we didn’t. You can’t really, unless you’re Max Martin, or you’re making a Kylie Minogue record, you don’t know, you can’t know what it’s going to do. You can’t know, especially with what happened with “Losing My Religion.” As we’ve said, it’s a five- minute song with no discernible chorus, and the mandolin is the lead instrument. There is absolutely no way to ever predict that that would be a hit. So, you just throw it out there”.
Michael Stipe on “Shiny Happy People” Song –
“The band had just presented me with this really kind of dumb piece of music. And I was like, “I’m going to one up you on this.” So, “you’re giving me that to write, too? Check this sh-t [expletive] out.” And then we never looked back.”
Michael Stipe on “Shiny Happy People” Video –
“We all showed up on time for the video shoot. And then Kate came in and Kate was in full hair, full makeup, full costume… She was in a whole other universe of pizazz star power… And I remember looking at her and going, “You guys, I’m going to run home. I’ll be right back.” And I went home and I tore through my closet and I was thinking, what do I have that can match Kate? I’ve got to do something. I can’t just be in my usual kind of scarecrow clothes, which is how I was dressed. And I had a suit that I had bought in London at one of those cheap and cheerful suit stores. But it was this lime green color. And I had a lime green cap that I wore with it, and I wore it backwards. It was supposed to cover the fact that I was losing my hair, which it didn’t do a good job of. But anyway, I came back to the video shoot, 25 minutes later, dressed basically as a human lime. And I was able to then contrast Kate’s fabulousness. It brought the video and the song to a whole other level.”
Michael Stipe on having outside collaborators on the album –
“This was the first time that we had, other than myself and Mike and Bill Berry, this was the first time that we invited guest vocalists to perform on the records. And with Kate Pierson, we got some pretty great stuff. Kate from the B-52’s, who are this incredibly overlooked band in terms of their impact on contemporary music and post-punk music. And then KRS-One, who it was really just about how cool he was. BDP were this incredible blast of fresh air out of New York and the kind of overt and then the more subtle message is that he was putting out as an artist were really influential to me and really fresh. And I just wanted to work with the guy, so we came up with “Radio Song” and it seemed like a perfect fit. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I found out later that we were the first band to ever invite a black rap artist to perform on one of our records, and I’m so proud of that. And he and I are still friends, Kate and I are still friends. It’s really wonderful how these relationships move forward through your life”.