Michael Stipe Recalls Bruce Springsteen’s Influence On R.E.M.’s ‘New Adventures In Hi-Fi’

In a recent interview with Salon, R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe shared some unknown anecdotes from R.E.M.’s tenth studio album, ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi,’ which is his favorite album from the band.

Although Stipe is mainly known for his longtime career with R.E.M. and distinctive vocals, his artistic talent is not limited to music. He has also been very interested in photography since his teenage years and has released three photographic books so far.

Michael Stipe didn’t stop photographing while continuing his music career with R.E.M. In fact, he is the creator of the cover photo of their album, ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi,’ which was released on September 9, 1996. As an extra note, the remastered version of the album was just released on October 29, 2021, to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

During the interview, Stipe was asked about his photographic contribution to this album. He said that his visuals seemed in harmony with the album’s spirit, so they decided to use them. The R.E.M. frontman also revealed Bruce Springsteen’s influence on ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi’ by saying that Springsteen had stepped into a different style with his ‘Nebraska’ album, which inspired them to turn their music into a similar direction.

When asked about ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi,’ Stipe responded:

“It was Peter Buck who wanted me to use my photographs for all the imagery for ‘New Adventures.’ I think he just saw what I was doing on the road the year before and thought that it was fitting some of the themes and some of the musical nuances and landscapes that those guys were creating in 1995 when we were on tour and recording. And so, yeah, I was very flattered by that and thrilled to come up with something that works for the project.

At the time, we were really exploring the idea of doing… Springsteen had put out ‘Nebraska,’ and it was this very, very different type of sidestep for him as an artist several years into a career and legacy. And so with ‘New Adventures,’ that was a bit of where it looked like we could push the project in that direction. And so we did. With the use of black and white photography, it was a pretty direct lift. But it worked.

I’m very, very proud of the visuals that go along with, from the music videos to packaging itself. And when we go back and re-explore these 25th-anniversary re-releases, I’m able to go in and find contact sheets with images of us. I was 36 at the time. We were hot. And we took pictures that no one’s ever seen before and present those to, not only our old fans but possibly to another generation of listeners, so that’s thrilling for me.”

Michael Stipe is definitely a great example of artistic versatility considering his significant contributions to his favorite R.E.M. album. Stipe also excited the R.E.M. fans by revealing that there are many unseen photographs, which he might consider releasing someday in the future.