From Melbourne’s Herald Sun today.
On their current album, U2, who themselves followed several years of losing fans with progressive records, reclaimed their big rock sound from the 80s and revised classic U2.
It’s a thought that makes Michael Stipe’s skin crawl.
“We could do that in a heartbeat. We could make an album in 12 days but where’s the challenge? Not that U2 aren’t challenging themselves. I think they were on a whole different level. I know there’s a lot of comparisons to be drawn between the two bands, but there’s a lot of places where we really split off.
“It’s mutual admiration on all sides. But we could re-write The One I Love 15 times in as many days and put it out as a new album, but that’s not where we’re at musically. It’s not terribly challenging for us.
“There are artists who do that through their entire careers and they’re great at it, people like Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith, Tom Petty, AC/DC.”
“Anyone who thinks REM is a rock’n’roll band in the year 2001 deserves a good slapping around,” Stipe says.
“To me, I don’t even know what rock ‘n’ roll means anymore. I think it’s an attitude, the same way the punk ethos is an attitude and not really a sound.
“I don’t know what rock means except that it’s easy for people that don’t want to take it beyond ‘OK, I have to turn in 2000 words and i get paid X amount for doing that, so what’s the most obvious thing I can do’?
“Everyone knows that blank versus blank sells. People like to read about conflict, so you create a conflict.”
“The real obvious one of last year, which Bono (of U2 fame) referred to, was pop versus rock. The whole ‘Is rock dead?’ thing.
“And i think he responded really intelligently to that. I wholly support what he said.”