Michael Stipe described the audience response to the landmark R.E.M. song “Losing My Religion” as the “most powerful feeling” of his life.
The band didn’t tour for four years after the single – from the 1991 album Out of Time – became a success. By the time they faced large-scale crowds on a regular basis, the song’s mandolin-led introduction was recognized instantly.
“You felt it before you saw it,” singer Stipe told Apple Music Hits in a recent interview. “The energy coming off of an audience, a large audience in an outdoor arena, with the first notes … the place would just explode with energy. We got all that being onstage, being elevated, being the center of attention. It all came right towards us. It was the biggest shot in the arm, the biggest jolt of adrenaline – the most powerful feeling that I think I’ve ever felt.”
He went on to say he remained proud of what R.E.M. achieved with Out of Time, but he doesn’t feel the need to listen to the album on a regular basis. “You do something, it becomes a part of your DNA,” he explained. “We worked so hard and so long on those songs and the lyrics and figuring out the melodies, and then figuring out how everything’s going to go together. You step away from it, and you don’t really look back.”
Stipe reflected that the experience of bringing musicians from outside the band into the project had also paid off. “This was the first time that we invited guest vocalists to perform on the records,” he said. “And with Kate Pierson, we got some pretty great stuff – Kate from the B-52’s, who are this incredibly overlooked band in terms of their impact on contemporary music and post-punk music. And then KRS-One … it was really just about how cool he was.”