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REM Star’s Frightening Fans

REM promo pic

R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe has revealed he felt seriously alienated from his audience when the US alternative band crossed over to the mainstream at the end of the 80s, telling the Guardian this week he believed many ‘probably held lots of his world views in great disregard’.

"I would look out from the stage at the Reagan youth. That was when REM went beyond the freaks, the fags, the fat girls, the art students and the indie music fanatics,” he recalled.

“Suddenly we had an audience that included people who would have sooner kicked me on the street than let me walk by unperturbed."  (The Guardian: )

Chris Frantz from Tom Tom Club, who experienced similar crossover success in the early 80s with Talking Heads, was sympathetic, though said their own experiences of fame were less existential.

“The mass-market audience is just that, a mass of people that includes all types. Many of the newer fans have no idea of what your history is or personal beliefs are,” said Chris. “Still, they are in love with you latest hit. And maybe to them you are only as good as your latest hit. That's the rub,” he told Skrufff.

“It's true that when you have a hit you are no longer chic to some, merely popular,” he added.

“There have been a few fans that I'm not crazy about, but very few. Most of our fans are completely cool and respectful.  I think most of our fans share our passions, but I understand that they also have their own interests, too, and I  may or may not share theirs,” said Chris.

Techno icon (and regular Skrufff contributor) Dave Clarke was more ambiguous admitting he’s rarely had to perform before potentially hostile crowds to his great relief.

“I find fans scary because I find being on any kind of pedestal scary and totally opposed to my character,” said Dave.

“I'm not an ego DJ on cocaine surrounded by arse-lickers that needs adoration, I am quite uncomfortable with any adoration or its opposite,” he admitted.

“I'm very rarely in that kind of situation with hostile crowds thankfully, I do not have the pressure of the wrong kind of sponsor pushing me into a wrong or uncomfortable position,” said Dave.

“Fans are separate entities, with electronic music with little or no lyrics it is entirely feasible to be completely different people anyway,” he mused.

Both Dave and Chris said they had no skeletons in their closets in terms of playing for corrupt financiers or dictators, after numerous press reports were published about stars such as Mariah Carey and 50 Cent earning million dollar fees playing one off parties for Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi’s family.

Neither Talking Heads or Tom Tom Club have ever done any such gig,” Chris confirmed, “Not yet, anyway,” he chuckled.

“I did a gig in Marakech for some Prince or something,” Dave admitted.

“He had no idea what he was booking, and after 15 minutes he asked me to change my music. I refused politely and professionally suggested we terminate my performance on "artistic differences" and he was very civil about that.”

“I was also asked to do a fashion show for some very famous people once, then two weeks before the gig they told me what music to play. I pulled out,” he said.

Jonty Skrufff:

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