Michael Stipe Recalls The Time R.E.M. Was In A Power Position In The Music Industry

R.E.M’s Michael Stipe talked about his time in R.E.M recently on KCRW FM and stated that the band was in a power position because even though they didn’t release popular music, the radios had no choice but to play their songs.

After having a successful career of 31 years together as a band, R.E.M disbanded in 2011. Even though the fans were disappointed, the band made the right choice by disbanding after creating an impressive legacy. Michael Stipe had stated that this was the best decision because they preferred to call it quits at their peak before experiencing a potential downfall.

The band members continued making their music, away from the band, preserved a legacy that would still make people remember them fondly even after the years. Stipe had also stated that future reunions would only be for money, and none of them need that in their lives, so a potential reunion was also ruled out.

Thus, it seems like a good idea to disregard the improbability of a reunion and appreciate the band’s works and impact on the music world. R.E.M quickly received mainstream success with their albums ‘Out of Time’ and ‘Automatic for the People’ and became the pioneer of the alternative rock genre. Bands like Nirvana and Pavement looked up to them as inspiration for alternative rock and proved their power.

Michael Stipe recently talked about their powerful position in the industry back in the golden R.E.M days and stated that the radio stations had to play their music because of their success. Usually, these stations wouldn’t play alternative rock sounds because the genre didn’t fit their format. However, Stipe knew they were in power because even those stations would rock on and play their songs, pushing the limits of popular culture.

Here is how Stipe talked about R.E.M’s power position:

“There were moments when R.E.M., my former band, were hugely popular. And we were able, through MTV and through radio, to release as first singles these really insane songs that would never ever, ever get played on the radio, on pop radio. And these videos would never ever fit the format of what MTV had to offer.

We knew we were in a power position, because whatever we released at that point, they had to play, whether they liked it or not. So we would kind of fuck with it. We knew that we could really push the boundaries of what’s acceptable within mainstream culture. KCRW and Deirdre and ‘SNAP!’ were doing the same thing.”

Especially after they dropped their widely-known song ‘Losing My Religion,’ it became inevitable for media outlets to accept R.E.M as a mainstream band despite their genre. The song was the band’s highest-charting and most sold hit song. Such outlets like MTV and VH1 reserved an extensive display for the song and its music video even though it was an out-of-the-ordinary sound. In 1992, ‘Losing My Religion’ won two Grammys in the categories ‘Best Short Form Music Video’ and ‘Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal.’

You can have a listen and watch the music video of the rock classic below.