Two things happened in Michael Stipe’s life today: One, he voted. Two, his interview with Alec Baldwin came online. The R.E.M. frontman sat down with the actor for his WNYC radio show Here’s the Thing ostensibly to promote the 25th anniversary reissue of Out of Time, but ended up in a free flowing conversation about music, life, and politics.
Stipe touched upon almost the entire history of R.E.M., from their formation, to their first signing, to what went into the 2011 breakup. He also talked about how Patti Smith’s Horses influenced his decision to get into music, and how his band was determined not to fall into the sort of pits that ended other artists’ careers.
Speaking of those pitfalls, Stipe mentioned that Prince “always hated” him because R.E.M. owned their own masters and Prince never did. He also revealed that a tour with R.E.M. cost him the Kevin Spacey role in David Fincher’s classic thriller Se7en.
When the discussion turned political, Stipe flipped the script on Baldwin by asking about his portrayal of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live. Noting that the media has been partially to blame for Trump’s viability as a candidate, Stipe asked, “What does it feel like playing that character? It’s satire, it’s brilliantly done, but it’s still adding to the push of… Warhol said, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. How have we created this monster?”
Baldwin admitted his first instinct was to turn down the part because “in order to do that effectively, you need to have at least some appreciation of the person.” However, he’s glad he took it on in the end, as he said, “It’s kind of unsettling to me actually how many people come up to me all day long and they thank me because they needed something to laugh about. They needed a release.”
As Baldwin began digging into what Stipe’s present life is like, the singer-songwriter divulged that he’s co-written and produced the upcoming Fischerspooner record. He expects the album out next spring, though cautions that he “is not prepared nor ready to be a pop star again.”
Listen to the whole thing below.