Whether you’ve been following R.E.M. since their pioneering inception, or you’ve had the iconic band thrust upon you as you as a music-weary millennial, Ken Sweeney’s documentary exploring the roots of R.E.M. is essential listening for every fan, or even those just looking for a sweet hit of nostalgia.
The documentary kicks off with a window into the world of the eager young musicians who idled around in graveyards who would soon become an iconic outfit that encapsulated the sound of Alternative youth in the 80’s. Understanding how R.E.M. found their roots as a ‘party band’ in Athens, Georgia gave me infinitely more respect for the band, which was something I didn’t think possible.
The narrative tale of their humble beginnings came to life through a series of interviews between Ken Sweeney, singer Michael Stipe and bassist Mike Mills and other key influential figures to R.E.M.’s sound. The interviews were recorded by RTÉ Radio One on Sweeney’s tour across Athens, Georgia and North Carolina guided by the bands tour manager Bertis Downs. You can taste the palpable enthralment throughout the progression of the interviews courtesy of Ken Sweeney as he extracts the culture soaked memories from the iconic musicians.
The interviews are accompanied by short, sweet bursts of their earlier music that will give you an insatiable appetite to ingest some more of their earlier hits which they tirelessly put out after they formed back in the 80’s. It took a decade of dedication for R.E.M. to find themselves the notoriety they deserved, which they were finally granted when they stumbled into the 90’s as one of the biggest bands on the planet. Out of Athens was first aired on the 28th of December 2017 proves to be one of the most candid explorations of the band that fans have been treated to in decades.
Listen to R.E.M.: Out of Athens through SoundCloud here: soundcloud.com/RTE-Radio-1/REM