He said that the group has now “found a place of communication,” which will help them as they go into the studio to record a new album. He also talked about Bono showing him how to record lyrics and melodies on his cell phone.
Here are some exerts from the interview:
JANE PRATT: Tell me about the new record.
MICHAEL STIPE: There’s two of them. We’re putting out our first live record, which comes out in mid-October. Our first ever live release, it’s a DVD so it’s a feature length film that was shot 2 years ago. That comes out in October, and I am going over to Europe to do press for that. But then I’m working on the new album that comes out in March probably.
And…the band, it’s been a really tough ten years for us. We at times, we’re not communicating on the level that we should have been and we were trying to keep a real brave face publicly, and kind of hold through it, but I have to say I think we finally found a place of communication. We’re talking to each other, we’ve written a bunch of great songs, we’ve recorded 14, I’ve written 14, I’ve got another 4 songs to present to the guys next week when we go back in the studio and one of those is really going to surprise them. I can’t wait to see them.
PRATT: You are the master of fitting in a lot of different things into a day, and doing one thing for 45 minutes, and then going on to something else and fitting in a whole bunch of things.
STIPE: People are shocked that I make my own dinner reservations, it’s usually easier…you know it’s hard to find people to work with who don’t completely dedicate their entire lives to your every move. I don’t like having assistants around, in other words. I prefer to do things myself.
In terms of scheduling I get razzed a lot because I have a pretty good telephone, I’ve got a great computer. But I still have that piece of paper with the month…with a little calendar on it, and I handwrite everything so that I can keep track of it. I went through Filofaxes in the 80s…I always go back to that one piece of paper to clarify how the day and how the week is going to pan out.
PRATT: When you’re doing lyrics and stuff, do you write them out by hand?
STIPE: Actually no, I use the memo on my cell phone to do that. Of all people, Bono showed me, there’s a voice memo on my phone, so…if you have a melody idea or a lyric idea, a melody idea really, you can go to voice memo and you can just sing into your phone. And then later you can transfer it to whatever you need to, or remember the melody like that. So that helps out a lot. I love technology.
I’m quoting the artist Ryan McGuiness, who when asked about the 21st century…7 years ago, his reply was ‘Where’s my jet pack?’ I always kind of feel like the advancement that we could have made by now based on the science fiction when I was a teenager, when we were kids, is not at all where I expected it to be. You know I thought we would all have jet packs, and clean energy, and the world would be a great place, and there would be no wars. That’s not really quite how it turned out.
PRATT: But you never know. I think about my daughter, and your goddaughter Charlotte, I wonder….what the world will be like [when she is older]. And maybe it will still get there.
STIPE: I’m…forever an optimist, but then again I’ve had a very fortunate life, and good people around me. And of course like all of us there are moments of melancholy, or sadness. You try to maintain an optimism through all of it, and pick up and move on.
Change…is the one thing that’s absolutely inevitable, besides you’re born and you die. You have to eat a few times a day. Change is inevitable and it’s the one thing that most of us seem to have trouble grappling with. We’re creatures of habit, like dogs, and we want everything to be the same as it always has been. And of course that’s never going to be the case.
One of the things that I saw last week that was devastatingly beautiful is Sean Penn adapted a book called “Into the Wild,” he wrote it and directed it, and had a screening… and I was completely blown away by this film. It’s one of the heaviest [movies]…I love film, I love the medium of film, I love how it affects me when it’s handled [the right way]. As a medium it’s very powerful so you have to be careful…if you’re the creator, what you put into it. And in his hands with this material…this film has not left me in a week, I am still thinking about it. I wake up and think of the different levels of what was going on in this movie and the story itself, which is pretty arresting, but there’s all this other stuff. It’s a masterful film and I would recommend it to anyone.