Michael Stipe appeared as guest on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert where he shared various personal stories. Stipe told Colbert about a personal interaction he once had with Trump. He shared that a very loud man who was on a date at a Patti Smith charity concert held at Joe’s Pub in the late 1990s. Stipe says of the encounter, “We got there late, and it was standing room only. They took us to the VIP overflow booth. This businessman, this big loud guy came in. He sat next to us. He was talking to [his date], and he kept talking to her through the performance. It was very disruptive and loud, frankly.”
Stipe described the venue, Joe’s Pub as being very small and Trump was talking super loud. So at one point, Stipe turned to Trump, “I told him, ‘Excuse me, that’s my friend. And you have to stop talking. What are you doing? Shut up!’” Stipe said eventually Trump “got up and left.”
Colbert also asked Stipe why Donald Trump continues to play R.E.M.’s music at his campaign rallies despite the band’s objections. Stipe explained that it’s a licensing problem. “There’s nothing we can do but respectfully request he not do so,” Stipe said. When Colbert asked why “respectfully,” Stipe responded, “Because we take the high road,” before quoting Michelle Obama’s mantra “When they go low, we go high.”
Stipe revealed that he has stopped watching the news and deleted all of his social media accounts at the encouragement of his doctor. In response to him describing that he just shutdown everything on Instagram, Colbert asked him, “Where do you get your cesspool of anxiety?” where then the audience laughed at the reality of stress that artists face in keeping up with the times of everything on social media. Stipe described his inspiration from the original Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and the uniqueness of the island of misfit toys. He said he didn’t quite identify with the dentist characters but more the broken toys. He always felt different and knew that from a young age.
Thom Yorke was recently on the Colbert show and shared that “Central Rain” is his favorite R.E.M. song. When Colbert asked Stipe what his favorite Radiohead song is, he said “Pyramid Song” and also “Traffic”, the opening track to Yorke’s recent solo album, Anima. Stipe released two new singles as of late, “Drive to the Ocean” and “Your Capricious Soul” and proceeds from sales of “Drive to the Ocean” benefit Pathway to Paris, a non-profit which advocates for cities to sign on to the Paris Agreement.
Photo Credit: Alyssa Fried