R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe recently spoke with Billboard about politics, touring, and the band's new album, "Accelerate." Long known for green activism and for making green music, Stipe also discussed the origins of his interest in the issue.

One issue a lot of musicians are focused on right now is the environment. That's something you have long championed. What has been the inspiration there for you?
I think the biggest inspiration for me was as a child recycling bottles and newspapers with the Cub Scouts [and] then at the age of 13, I had an environmental science course that lasted for one year. This was in 1973, and it was following the 60s so that for me was the main inspiration.

What about in terms of your songwriting?
I think in the 80s, at that point I was starting to write about political topics and the environment was one of the things that really needed to be addressed and discussed. I think a lot of that had to do with basically recognizing that the Reagan administration may well turn into the Bush Administration. And then the story would not be complete without mentioning Natalie Merchant, and the relationship that we had and her being a huge influence on [me] on socially relevant topics and how, in the hands of a good writer, those can go hand in hand with music and with lyric writing.

For the full Michael Stipe interview visit Billboard.com.