U2 are mentioned in this Guardian interview with Michael Stipe, but the really interesting part of the conversation comes when the interviewer suggests REM’s album title suggests: ‘[…] some of the prevailing themes – the album, for instance, seems full of spiritual imagery and allusion, seems underpinned by the notion of elevation, ascension, of uplift, both physical and spiritual?’ Stipe answers: “That’s an interesting take,” he nods, apparently serious and reflective, “and Peter [Buck] has been saying the same thing.”

Later it is suggested REM’s new songs: “[…] seem to hover around what Brian Eno once pinpointed as one of the key unspoken ideas of our time: spirituality without religion, without the notion of God.” And Stipe replies: “[ …] it seems endemic in our generation that, as you get older, you start looking for spiritual meaning. People who reach their forties often seem to start patching together some version of a belief system.”