Donald Trump was not one of the shiny happy people after a previous run-in with Michael Stipe, according to the former R.E.M. frontman. Stipe, who recently released a photography book titled Our Interference Times as well two solo singles, made the revelation during his visit to Late Show With Stephen Colbert on Thursday, January 30.
“It’s a licensing problem and there’s nothing we can do except respectfully request they not use [our music],” the musician told the comedian. “We take the high road, my former band and I.”
The discussion reminded Stipe of a show he attended in the late ’90s to support his friend Patti Smith, who was performing at a benefit at Joe’s Pub, a tiny New York City venue. According to the singer, he and a friend were seated at a VIP table. Shortly after the show started, “this businessman, this big, loud guy came in with a date” and sat next to Stipe and his pal.
“He was talking to her, and he kept talking to her through the performance,” Stipe griped. “Joe’s Pub is a very small room and people were turning around. It was very disruptive and rude, frankly.”
The former R.E.M. frontman said that when Smith came on stage, she was clearly nervous as she started her first song, and that this large fella was talking loudly during her performance.
“I was like, [turns around and glares in disbelief] ‘Excuse me, that’s my friend, and you have to stop talking. You can’t talk … stop! What are you doing?! Shut up!’ I said, ‘shut up!'” Stipe recalled. “The guy got up and left. … And do you know who that guy was? Donald J. Trump.”
Colbert’s audience, who are rarely fans of the president, laughed and cheered at the revelation.
“I was encouraged by the group Extinction Rebellion, who had a big worldwide event in October,” he explained to Colbert. “I had these songs I recorded and I composed for the first time, and I was excited to get back into music. It’s like scratching an itch or breathing; it feels good and natural and right. And I love my voice. I decided to release that first single and give all the proceeds to Extinction Rebellion, all of my proceeds for the first year.”
Stipe previously announced that proceeds from “Drive to the Ocean” will also go to fight climate crisis. Pathway to Paris, an advocacy group for the Paris Accord, will benefit from the money raised by his second solo single.
Both songs are available via his website, MichaelStipe.com.