Michael Stipe says U2 and Nirvana played big part in the sound and vibe of R.E.M.'s 1994 classic, Monster. Tomorrow (November 1st), the band will release the 25th anniversary edition of the album. The six-disc deluxe Monster reissue features the original album fully remastered, as well as a contemporary remix by original producer, Scott Litt. The set is filled with previously unreleased demos, rare concert recordings from 1995, and extensive new liner notes.
A Blu-ray disc features hi-res audio and 5.1 Surround Sound versions of Monster, the documentary Road Movie, and all six music videos from the album. Scaled-down versions of the set include a double-CD, double-LP, and a standalone 180-gram single vinyl LP.
Michael Stipe spoke to the BBC and looked back on Monster, saying, “I like it. . . it's a pretty audacious attempt at reinventing who we were at the time and doing something that was loud and brash and punk rock. I'm happy with it. We did not want to become the dancing monkey. That was not at all our agenda. We didn't want fame, we didn't want money, we wanted to be a vital creative band, and that informed all the choices.”
Stipe spoke about the importance of the collaboration between him, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry in creating the band's music: “I always responded to what the guys gave me and tried to raise the bar. If they gave me something that was really fruity and silly, I would write 'Shiny Happy People' or 'Get Up.' If they gave me something that was really dark and sad, I would write 'Country Feedback.' So I was trying to respond to the music.”
Stipe went on to pinpoint where his main musical inspiration was coming from at the time of the Monster sessions: “At the same time I was taking a lot from U2 and Nirvana, to tell you the truth. They were looking at rock music and the idea of rock music. Rather than being in the middle of it, they were taking a step back and looking at it from a different place. We all felt like that was a good place for R.E.M. to go.”
When pressed as to whether prior to his 1994 death, Stipe was in talks with Kurt Cobain to team-up on a project, he said, “Well, yes and no. I put a project in front of him to try to pull him out of the hell he was in. I knew that he admired me and R.E.M. a lot and I came up with an idea for a project. I wrote him a letter, I sent him a plane ticket, I sent a car to his house to pick him up to bring him to the airport. We did everything we could to try to pull him out of the mental state that he was in, but that level of anguish was untouchable.”
Stipe considers the Monster era as being a highlight of R.E.M.'s time together: “It was thrilling. I mean, we were at the top of our game and it was fun to have (a) trashy, glammy, silly kind of presentation to go out with. Mike had the nudie suits for the first time and I think that was the first record where I was bald. So we were a very different animal.”
Michael Stipe spoke to Germany's Radio Eins and looked back at the band's state of mind when writing and recording Monster: “For me, a lot of what we put out 25 years ago was a direct reaction to the two records before. So, from the tour that we did in 1989 until the tour that we did in 1995, we became very, very famous; because of 'Losing My Religion,' because of 'Everybody Hurts,' and because of 'Man On The Moon — Automatic For The People and Out Of Time. And it was very different. It was a very different landscape for us to move through. We wanted a record that was going to do something very different from Automatic For The People — and Monster became that record.”