Belfast Telegraph

REM: Album would have been different without Cobain and Phoenix deaths

Monster was released in 1994.

Michael Stipe of REM on stage (Niall Carson/PA)
Michael Stipe of REM on stage (Niall Carson/PA)

By Julia Hunt, PA Entertainment Correspondent

REM have said their chart-topping 1994 album Monster would have been a different record if it hadn’t been for the deaths of River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain.

Hollywood star Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993 and Nirvana frontman Cobain killed himself in 1994.

Speaking to Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 6 Music, REM singer Michael Stipe said: “He (Cobain) died during the making of the record, it was after River Phoenix died and there were other deaths and calamities that the public never heard about and never knew because it wasn’t public figures or famous people, but it was a difficult time for all of us, really.”

Discussing if this had framed the music the band were writing, Stipe said: “Absolutely, yeah.”

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REM and Steve Lamacq (BBC)

Bandmate Mike Mills said: “I mean, there’s at least one song on there that wouldn’t have been on there without tragic circumstances coming, so it might have been a little more of a light-hearted record, perhaps.”

The band had a tough time when they toured with Monster, with drummer Bill Berry requiring emergency surgery after suffering a brain aneurysm.

Stipe said: “Bill almost died. We were unable to say that at the time, we can say it now, but he was very close to not making it.”

REM spoke to Lamacq on BBC Radio 6 Music on Wednesday.

PA

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