Michael Stipe Admits R.E.M.’s ‘Monster’ Was A Response To U2

R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe revealed the real purpose of the ‘Monster’ record during a recent appearance on RTE.ie.

‘Monster’ is the band’s ninth studio album released back in 1994. It seemed like R.E.M purposely decided to change their sound with this record, especially compared to the previous two, ‘Out Of Time’ and ‘Automatic For The People.’ In the conversation, Michael Stipe explained their shift with ‘Monster’ and revealed that it was a response to U2’s ‘Achtung Baby’ record.

‘Achtung Baby’ was released in 1991 as U2’s seventh studio record, and it also signaled a change in the sound. The album is darker, more introspective, and flippant compared to the other U2 albums. Michael Stipe stated that he wanted to respond to U2’s ‘Achtung Baby’ to show their respect after seeing such huge changes, which is the main reason why they recorded ‘Monster.’

Michael Stipe on ‘Monster’ album in the interview:

“We felt like we needed to write something that was harder, so we wrote a ‘rock album.’ It has nothing to do with rock. It owes a lot to glam-rock and to pop music.

It’s presenting the work through these big sounds and a lot of sound effects and even the vocal is sound effect-y and… It was very inspired truthfully by U2 and ‘Achtung Baby’ and by them deciding not to take themselves too seriously.

When they put out ‘Achtung Baby’ I thought ‘Woah hang on a second, this is really advanced, and we really need to respond,’ so ‘Monster’ was our response to U2 being as brilliant as they were with that record and with pop.”

Later in the conversation, Michael also talked about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and praised their music. While saying that The Beatles did a fantastic job, he also pointed out how good The Rollings Stones were in terms of lyricality.