The lead singer of rock band R.E.M. tells Dani Shapiro how a destination becomes part of the music.
We tend to move around from city to city when we record. We started our latest album in Vancouver, worked on it in Dublin, went on to a chapel we rented in Athens, Georgia, and then mixed it in London.
In Dublin, before we went into the studio, we had the idea to do an open rehearsal. It hadn’t really been done before. The Olympia Theatre was available, and it was the perfect place to practice. I’ve seen a lot of shows there. It has a rich history to it, and it’s a tiny house.
What we wanted to do, you can’t do in front of a huge crowd. A live rehearsal of half-written material in preparation for a new album is a high-wire act. That’s what it felt like. We had 11 new songs, and some of the lyrics were done. I made it clear from the stage that this was an experiment. The crowd here will let you know what they think. They’re supportive, but they aren’t afraid of speaking their minds.
The place you choose to work embeds itself in the music, and also inspires it. Ireland has always been really great for R.E.M. The country has opened its doors and its hearts to what we do.”
R.E.M.’s new album, Accelerate, will be released this month by Warner Bros. Records.
Berkeley Library, Trinity College
“In a brilliant historic setting, suddenly there’s this Brutalist 1960’s building. To me, the contrast speaks to Dublin’s transformation from Europe’s poorest capital into one of its wealthiest ones.” College Green; 353-1/896-1000; tcd.ie.
What’s said to be the earliest steel-framed multistoried building in the British Isles was built in 1904 as the Fermentation House for the brewery. St. James’s Gate; 353-1/408-4800; guinness-storehouse.com.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
“It’s amazing,” says Stipe of the church where Jonathan Swift, a former dean, is buried. Steps away, Marsh’s Library, the first public library in Ireland (ca. 1701), is still open. St. Patrick’s Close; 353-1/454-3511; marshlibrary.ie.