R.E.M.’s Mike Mills Boldly Defends Michael Stipe Against Misconceptions

Mike Mills of R.E.M. recently shared the band’s songs under different titles in an interview with Vulture. While discussing the song he mentioned under the heading ‘the goofiest song,’ the bassist wanted to clarify a great misunderstanding about Michael Stipe and defended him.

The bassist started by explaining why the band never smiled in their pics and what people thought of them due to Stipe’s behaviors in the interviews:

“We never smiled in our promo photos, and because of Michael’s occasionally impenetrable demeanor in interviews, people thought we were these morose navel-gazers. But we were laughing our asses off at just about everything in the world.”

He then revealed the album he thought to be goofy:

“About half of ‘Dead Letter Office’ is completely goofy because we goofed around a lot. We were very serious about making records and writing good songs, but we tried not to take ourselves seriously.”

Ultimately, the bassist revealed the particular song and explained how it originated:

“Good Lord, ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’ is pretty goofy. It makes about as little linear sense as anything Michael ever did. It riffs on ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight.’ Michael actually laughs in it. I’d say that adds up to about as goofy as we got on primary release songs.”

Stipe’s personality and behaviors were addressed in another interview as well. During a 2016 interview, the bassist reflected on the frontman’s misperceived personality, stating that it’s a shame people think the band is moving separately from the frontman and allowing divisions to grow in the band. Mills clarified that it wasn’t right, and sometimes they traveled in separate buses for sometimes not being able to maintain their energy level while traveling.

Below, you can listen to ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite.’