Television

R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe & Mike Mills Call 'Monster' Era the 'Top of Our Game' in New 'Speakeasy' Interview

Robert Costa, Michael Stipe Mike Mills
Courtesy of Jim Belmont

Robert Costa, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills photographed at ABC Studios. 

The episode, celebrating the 25th anniversary of "Monster" & the band's 40 years as a group, will air on public television in the spring.

R.E.M. had an epic run with Monster, their Billboard 200 No. 1-debuting album from October 1994, which re-entered the chart last month (dated Nov. 16) thanks to its 25th-anniversary reissue. Now, frontman Michael Stipe and bandmate Mike Mills will appear on the public TV interview series Speakeasy to discuss the seminal LP with Washington Post reporter and PBS Washington Week moderator Robert Costa in spring 2020.

"It was a pleasure filming the Speakeasy episode," Stipe said in a press release announcing the episode. "Everyone was great and we're big proponents of public television and enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the 25th anniversary of Monster."

In an exclusive sneak peek of the upcoming episode -- which doesn't yet have an official air date -- Stipe recalls the songs on Monster as "the biggest records we had ever released. They sold more than we've ever sold before, so we were really at the top of our game as a group."

And the numbers have only kept churning for the album since the 25th-anniversary reissue -- up by 1,237% to be exact. According to Nielsen Music, Monster earned 7,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Nov. 8. During the album's first week dated Oct. 15, 1994, Nielsen Music reported the monstrous project sold 344,000 copies.

Don Maggi, the executive producer of Speakeasy, described filming the season 5 episode as a "very special" moment in the release. The intimate conversation will also be a part of Speakeasy Sessions, an exclusive radio program in association with ABC Audio and Front and Center Entertainment, which will air in April 2020 during R.E.M.'s 40th anniversary.

"In addition to looking back at Monster with Bob Costa, it was really cool discussing topics that we don't normally cover, and doing so in such a warm, comfortable setting," Mills added. In the preview clip of the episode below, he talked about the band's return from a five-year hiatus from being on the road and wanting to "represent ourselves to the world both musically and visually." 

The three-hour music special will weave archival narratives of R.E.M.'s music and lyrics together to frame the band's four-decade history, according to Heidi Oringer, ABC Audio's executive director of programming and distribution. "The special features R.E.M.'s music history, not only with songs from their Monster album, but with many of their hits that fans have come to know and love over the years," she said in a statement.