Skip to content

9 R.E.M. influences in one diagram

We will review some influences of R.E.M., a fundamental band for the explosion of alternative rock in the nineties.

rem influencias indie rock

The occasion: Out of Time (March 12, 1991) turns 30. That album contains his first mainstream super hit, Losing My Religion and began another fruitful recording stage.

Which artists influenced R.E.M.?

T. Rex: The band that emerged in the sixties and led by Marc Bolan, T. Rex, is one of the most important references for guitarist Peter Buck. He especially remembers buying a lot of albums from Bolan’s band for the era in which R.E.M. he was recording his excellent album Monster (1993).

Fleetwood Mac: Nothing more and nothing less than the song Losing My Religion finds its inspiration in Fleetwood Mac. Coming from a mandolin riff devised by Peter Buck, according to REM bagista Mike Mills, the bass line of that classic track is It happened to him trying to emulate the bass lines of Fleetwood, a band of which he is a fan. As he said in an interview: “What would John McVie do?”

The Byrds: One of the main influences on R.E.M’s sound. It’s that open, full guitar sound. When talking about it, Peter Buck commented that his style is influenced by the pop rock band The Byrds, from the sixties. In fact, Peter Buck’s predilection for the Rickenbacker 360 guitar comes straight from The Byrds guitarist Roger McGuinn.

Leonard Cohen: He is one of the favorite singers and songwriters of the R.E.M. As Michael Stipe has commented, Leonard Cohen was an influence when he wrote the lyrics for World Leader Pretend, from the album Green, 1988. R.E.M. pointed to an intelligent and poetic lyric, inspired by the work of the renowned Canadian singer-songwriter. Leonard Cohen is credited with the song Hope, from R.E.M.’s album UP (1997), also for being an inspiration for that track.

The Beach Boys: All R.E.M members are fans of the band led by mastermind Brian Wilson. In addition to gospel and Motown, bassist Mike Mills explains that The Beach Boys is one of his biggest influences. The catchy tunes but especially the harmonized choruses between him and Michael Stipe are trademarks of R.E.M. In addition, the song At My Most Beautiful (also from the UP album) inspired by Pet Sounds, as one of their ballads.

Although they are not covered in this post, other bands and artists who influenced R.E.M. They would be INXS, Television, David Bowie, The Velvet Underground and Patti Smith.

Bands influenced by R.E.M.

The Smiths: If there are two bands that pivoted Indie for the eighties they were The Smiths and R.E.M. The truth is that R.E.M. emerged shortly before, in 1983. Guitarist and one of The Smiths’ brains, Johnny Marr, credited R.E.M. as an inspiration “to which they should always watch.” It was as if the band led by Michael Stipe had served as a beacon to follow.

Coldplay: Plain and simple, the track The Hardest Part the Coldplay is inspired by R.E.M. Beyond this tribute, Coldplay singer Chris Martin has expressed his love for R, E.M. and has explained that, the same as Marr, they see them as some kind of role model that they always look up to.

Radiohead: Thom Yorke is a huge R.E.M. According to the Radiohead singer, “Michael Stipe would sing about his flaws and weaknesses, saying it was okay to be weird. I was weird.” New Adventures in Hi-Fi (1997) is one of his favorite albums.

the National: According to the band’s guitarist Bryce Dessner, his band wouldn’t exist without R.E.M. The musician credits them for putting alternative and indie rock on the map since the 1980s. Also, singer Matt Berninger indicated that the National I am Easy to Find album contains several references to R.E.M. Time turned both bands friends with each other, with R.E.M. inviting them to go on tour with them.

The Pixies: The Pixies was also instrumental in making alternative rock explode into the mainstream in the 1990s. Its lead singer and songwriter, Black Francis, has explained that the song Here Comes Your Man owes its title to Carnival of Sorts (Box Car) from R.E.M.’s debut album, Murmur (1983).

Other artists who were influenced by R.E.M. are: Nirvana, The Cranberries, Radiohead.

Other related content