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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
R.E.M's Michael Stipe
R.E.M's Michael Stipe
Stipe: aftermath of Hurricane Katrina "apocalyptic"
It's fair to say that R.E.M is one of the biggest bands on the planet.

When they started playing together in Athens, Georgia, twenty five years ago, they had no idea what a massive global phenomenon they'd eventually become.

The songs of those early years are now being revisited and re-released next month, and R.E.M's lead singer Michael Stipe came into the Breakfast studio on Thursday.

  • Watch our interview again with Michael Stipe via the link to the right of this page
  • Michael told Bill and Kate that the inspiration behind the band's name was in fact meant to be something that was actually meaningless.

    "We wanted something that wouldn't define us so much", and they had only ever intended to be a live performance band.

    He added that the band all shared a love of music before they were musicians and they continue to be huge music fans.


    R.E.M's Michael Stipe
    We share a love of music... we continue to be music fans
    Michael Stipe, R.E.M

    The new album is a compilation of tracks from the band's first label IRS - but Michael said it had been over a year since the band performed live.

    He's also known for being a social activist, and had recently been honoured for his humanitarian work.

    "When I speak out on social or political issues I really do so just as a person and not so much as a public figure or celebrity", He added.

    One of the issues he has concentrated on is keeping the American media focused on the campaign that followed hurricane Katrina.

    "It's apocalyptic and I've never seen anything like it".

    Michael said he never expected 26 years in the business - but he wasn't looking much beyond the next album.

  • The best of the IRS years 1982 to 1987 CD/DVD compilation released in the UK on 21 September

    R.E.M's Michael Stipe
    Live in the Breakfast studio

    BBC Breakfast



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