Confessions of a Michael Stipe
“It’s only been six months,” longtime R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe says quietly. “So it’s really hard to even figure out who I am.” The 52-year-old is of course referring to life after his band, who — after three decades, 15 albums, and a meteoric rise from indie sainthood to mainstream superstardom — announced they planned to “call it a day.”
“It’s pretty wild,” Stipe says. “I have this sensation that I’ve never felt … It’s kind of a newfound freedom.”
It was the end of an era, and not only for Stipe, but for anyone who’d grown up with REM. And yet, even as Stipe soul-searches, he is making some of the most creative work of his life. He’s got a studio in downtown Manhattan, where he is creating bronze sculptures of old cameras and cassette tapes. He’s producing a documentary about Internet fame. He (was) on Instagram, until a few weeks ago, when he proclaimed he did not want “any part” of Facebook “up in my grill.” And he has a crazy, beautiful, eccentric Tumblr — Confessions of a Michael Stipe — that he uses as a scrapbook to document it all. We sat down with Stipe at the Tumblr offices (among many giddy staffers) to get inside his head.
We sat down with Michael Stipe, who talked about life after REM, his sculture and, well, TUMBLR. Let’s just say there were a lot of squealing engineers in the office.