Episode 115: R.E.M.'s "Monster" Turns 25

Today, we focus on R.E.M.'s polarizing yet passionate ninth album from 1994, Monster. Craft Recordings just released a 25th anniversary package available on 1LP, 2LP, 2CD or 5CD/1Blu-Ray formats, available at remhq.com or wherever you buy music.

Growing up, renowned visual artist Chris Bilheimer's first introduction to what record covers looked like was -- serendipitously -- by staring at R.E.M.'s early classics like Murmur. In his words, he's since spent his career "stumbling into little tiny pockets of music history," creating landmark album artwork for iconic groups like Neutral Milk Hotel, Weezer and Green Day. Since the mid-90's, Chris has been R.E.M.'s official in-house art director, collaborating directly with frontman Michael Stipe on new releases, deluxe reissues, compilation packages and more. Today, Chris shares some remarkable stories about rebuilding the Monster artwork from scratch for this re-release, how stacks of portfolios containing original R.E.M. cover art were nearly lost forever, working with Jeff Mangum on the visuals for In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and how Chris' design for American Idiot may have helped save a child's life. Visit bilheimer.com to get a snapshot of his work through the years.

In 2002, trailblazing music journalist Matthew Perpetua started Fluxblog, one of the web's first MP3 blogs, setting the course for how artists were discovered and music would be consumed in the 21st century. Since then, he's become a music editor for BuzzFeed and a contributing writer to outlets like Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. In this episode, Matthew details his first memories of R.E.M., why he was particularly chosen to contribute liner notes to the Monster anniversary project and how this record makes more sense in 2019 than it may have in 1994. Keep up with Matthew via fluxblog.org or Twitter, @perpetua.

James Laczkowski