Former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe has announced that he will be releasing his first solo single, “Your Capricious Soul,” via his website on Saturday, October 5, timed to coincide with October 7’s climate justice protests. Stipe has been playing the song live for awhile, but now he’s ready to give it a formal release.
The download will cost 77 cents, or fans could choose to pay more. And for the next year, Stipe’s “earnings from sales and synchronization licensing” from the song will benefit the non-profit Extinction Rebellion to assist in their work of protesting “government inaction to the climate emergency.” There will also be a free download option. The song will also be accompanied by a video directed by British filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson.
“I took a long break from music, and I wanted to jump back in. I love ‘Your Capricious Soul’—it’s my first solo work,” Stipe said in a statement on his site. “I want to add my voice to this exciting shift in consciousness. Extinction Rebellion gave me the incentive to push the release and not wait. Our relationship to the environment has been a lifelong concern, and I now feel hopeful—optimistic, even. I believe we can bring the kind of change needed to improve our beautiful planet earth, our standing and our place on it.”
Stipe mentioned in a June interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he has a whole album’s worth of solo material. Granted, reading translations of these interviews can be tricky given how Stipe’s answers were likely translated from English to Italian and then back again, but it definitely sounds like he has a trove of solo material sitting in the holster after parting ways with his R.E.M. bandmates in 2011.
“Eighteen songs are already ready,” Stipe told La Republicca. “For five years, I’d had a clean break from music. Now I’m writing, composing, and recording all by myself and for the first time.”
SPIN reached out to Stipe’s rep to find out if the singer-songwriter plans on releasing more of those tunes. In the meantime, check out this live performance of what would become Stipe’s first proper solo single when he opened for Patti Smith in New York City in May.