- Video report by ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar
Former REM frontman Michael Stipe has told ITV News he is "thrilled" by the Extinction Rebellion protests as he prepares to release his debut solo single, with proceeds going to the climate crisis activist group.
Stipe, who along with his former band mates has supported environmental causes for over three decades, said he had walked through the climate activists' camp in Trafalgar Square on Friday, describing the "energy as incredible".
"It was really optimistic, really up," he told ITV News. "It felt like the best of Glastonbury, it felt very positive".
Former REM guitarist Mike Mills told ITV News the band had decided early on in their career to use their fame to promote climate crisis awareness.
He told ITV News: "We realised after a while that we had a voice. We could waste it and fritter it away by saying nothing or stupid things, and we decided to combine our love of music with an opportunity to make people think."
Stipe revealed earlier this week that he would be releasing ‘Your Capricious Soul’ on Friday through his official official website with proceeds from the track going to the climate activist group.
He described the single as an "exciting shift in consciousness.”
The band are also about to release their iconic 1994 album Monster as a re-issued box set, 25 years after it first topped the UK and US charts, and eight years after the band split up.
Stipe describes what was the band's ninth studio album as "a little bit of self-sabotage" but said they had to "follow our instincts and our heart." After the triumphant of Automatic for the People and Out of Time, which propelled the Georgia band to arena tour status, Monster received a rather lackluster reception, both critically and commercially.
The album featured the track 'Let Me In’, a tribute to the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain who took his own life in April 1994 while REM were recording Monsters.
Stipe, who was godfather to Cobain's daughter, Frances Bean, said the band were "devastated" by Cobain's death told ITV News he regrets the Nirvana singer could not have benefited from today's more open conversations around mental health.
He said: "Suicide as an option for people for whom it is an option and it's something that needs to be addressed and talked about and considered.
"The 21st century has offered a lot of things that I wish had been around 25 years ago."
Nearly a decade after they split up, REM are not planning to reform, even for a rumoured Live Earth climate change benefit gig.
Stipe gave ITV News a straight "no" when asked the band would get back together for the concert.
"But we would be there cheering from the sideline," he said.