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Michael Stipe confirms solo album “should come together next year”

Michael Stipe has confirmed that he is still working on his debut album, and that it “should come together next year”.

  • READ MORE: NME meets R.E.M.: “We needed swagger – to be loud and raw”

The former R.E.M. frontman sat down for a dinner with Departures, where he shared details of his upcoming projects as well as reflections on his time in the band.

Speaking of his solo album, the musician said: “I’m working on a solo album, my first. I’m collaborating with a bunch of different musicians and each of those songs, if I get my way, which I think I will because I’m paying for it, will be very different.

“I have no management. I have no label. For the first time in my adult life, I don’t have a contract with anyone except myself. So I get to do whatever I want. Anyway, there will be a visual representation for each of the songs, and it should come together next year. I’m hoping to build slowly.”

He also mentioned “working next year with a lot of dancers” and discussed an upcoming art show, which will take place in Milan at ICA, as well as a new book.

“I’m working on a bunch of sculpture pieces for that,” he noted. “There will be a lot of photo-based portraiture. So I have the record, the show, and then of course to further complicate it and make it difficult on myself, my next book with Damiani will come out as a loose program of the show. And I’m doing something that I’m completely terrified of and not sure that I’m capable of. Actually, I know that I’m incapable, but I’ve started painting.”

Michael Stipe of REM CREDIT: Dia Dipasupil

Elsewhere in the interview, he was asked if he ever considered quitting music. “When the band disbanded, I couldn’t imagine continuing with music, and it took five years before I could come back to the idea of it,” he said.

“And it came back completely by accident with a Fischerspooner project, which I loved. I’m still blown away at how good the material was that we worked with on that record, which was called “Sir.” And it established a long-standing working relationship with myself and producer Andy LeMaster, which is really important.”

In September this year, Stipe released ‘Future If Future’ – his debut solo track, which originally arrived in 2018 – on the world’s first commercially available bioplastic 12″ vinyl.

Produced by Brian Eno, the split single also featured ‘Oh My Heart’ by Beatie Wolfe. Proceeds from the single go towards Eno’s EarthPercent. The limited run of 500 copies is sold-out, however the single is still available digitally as part of a compilation featuring Peter Gabriel, Big Thief, and Hot Chip.

In other news, Peter Buck opened up about whether he would ever want an R.E.M. reunion. In a new interview with Classic Rock Magazine (via Louder Sound), former guitarist Buck reaffirmed that the band’s split is permanent.

“When the non-musical stuff became so intense, it took away some of the pleasure for me,” Buck said, reflecting on the band’s success. “I wouldn’t change it, but I’m not going to go back to it.”