Archive for April, 2005


Cover: Sessions@AOL (2003-08-23)


Cover: Boston (2004-10-29)

Photo Credits: Dave Thake (REM) Dave Thake (REM)


Cover: Helsinki – Finland (2005-01-29)

Photo Credits: Anton Klink (REM) Mikko Ylimanninen (University of Tampere)


REM – A Personal History – Part 1

In Australia in the late eighties there was a music clips show on late Tuesday nights on the ABC (the government funded television station). Although it had the rather unimaginative title of ‘Rock Arena’ it was different to all the pop shows aimed at the ‘single’ buying teen market. It was on at 11 o’clock at night and it’s focus was the album buying adult market featuring artists that were basically unheard of on Australian broadcast media. As a teenager who had just started working on a very conservative AM radio station ‘Rock Arena’ opened me up to such artists as Stan Ridgeway and Wall of Voodoo, Talking Heads and on an episode in 1987 a band from Athens Georgia called R.E.M.

They played some black and white documentary with Michael Stipe standing at a pedestal periodically flailing his arms around as if hit by an unseen force. It was different from anything I’d seen before. The music was different to the pop that was flooding the market at the time. I have no idea what the doco was and I haven’t seen it since. They also played the clips for ‘The One I Love’, ‘End of the World’ and a couple more I can’t recall all these years later.

I was given a box of about 400 promotional seven inch vinyl singles from various artists that the radio station didn’t want, either bands that weren’t the right format or stuff that didn’t sell so nobody wanted to hear it on the radio. It was beneficial for me at the time that R.E.M. didn’t have a commercial success in Australia because I scored about five singles that now have a prize place in my record collection. I think there was ‘End of the World’, ‘The One I Love’, ‘Superman’, ‘Fall On Me’ and ‘So. Central Rain’.

1989 was, of course, pre-internet and keeping up with what a band was doing was with Music press and magazines (how did we get by?). The next time I heard of REM was just after ‘Green’ was released when they charted quite well in Australia with ‘Orange Crush’ it even ending up on one of those yearly compilation albums.

By 1991 I had been working as a DJ in nightclubs for a number of years when ‘Losing my Religion’ became the mega hit it was around the world. I was surprised that I could go to work and play an R.E.M. song and have a packed dance floor and 400 people singing along. This hit was followed up by the infamous ‘Shiny Happy People’ which again was popular at the club. This period of REM single chart hits coincided with the most fun I had working at clubs and is a lasting fond memory.


REM’s 25th Anniversary

April 5th is a momentous day on the REM music calendar, this year especially. It marks REM’s 25th Anniversary. It was on that date in 1980 that the 4 members first took the stage together at a birthday party in Athens Georgia at the old church they lived in. Ethan from Murmurs came up with the idea of doing a website for the occasion that would act like a kind of guestbook where people could leave a message for the band. I designed the site in Photoshop based on a simple outline from Ethan, and Ethan with help from Mihkel in Estonia put the site together. You can check it out at The site has proved very popular and is even getting a mention on the official REM web page.

While designing the site it went through a few incarnations until I got a look I liked. I wanted to come up with some iconic design that could be used to promote the site and perhaps be used on merchandise. One of the first elements I came up with (that I liked so much I used on pretty much every concept) was a silhouette of the band. I didn’t want to use a photo because a photo can be dated too easily and as the site was celebrating the bands 25 year history I thought a silhouette would be more timeless.

Originally the design consisted of only the current three members of the band in the red but every time I looked at it I got a glimmer of guilt for leaving Bill Berry out. He was a huge influence of the band for 17 years and since the site was a tribute to the bands entire history I decided to add him. To give the sense that he was part of the band but apart I added Bill in a different colour (mustard) behind the other 3 members. This decision would make the typographical design that I had to do next a lot easier. I wanted to use an elongated typeface and decided on one I love called Placard. I needed 3 colours to separate the 3 word in the title because I wasn’t using spaces. The 2 colours I had used for the silhouette and grey worked very well.

I came up with some body copy just as filler for the design, I was quite happy to see that Ethan kept almost all of it for the final design:

It has been a long and interesting road for REM, the band that started in a church in Athens, GA on April 5, 1980. After forging a fan base by non-stop touring and never compromising on their creative goal, REM worked their way to the top of the music world. REM’s music speaks to countless people around the world. On this their 25th anniversary, it’s time for their fans to give back to them. Leave your images and messages here as a way to say, “Thank you REM.”

I recently designed all the new merchandise for Murmurs and thought it would be fantastic to add a range of limited edition products for the anniversary. You can check out the range of new products here I must say the stuff is selling really well. Thanks to all those people who are buying them. The proceeds from sales go to support Murmurs and more projects such as this.

Another thing I wanted to do for the site was provide some wallpapers people could download so they could have something commemorative on there desktops. I had got a decent number of photos from a variety of European show taken by Robert Chapman. The photos had a fantastic blurred, almost multiple expose on them, and as I found out when I tried to take photos at an REM show it was due to the camera requiring a long expose and therefore the lighting giving a small time-lapse effect. Anyway, a lot were too blurry to use but some where pure art and I wanted to share them on a wider scale so this was perfect.


Cover: Enough Rope with Andrew Denton (2005-04-03)

Photo Credits: (Screengrabs) (Screengrabs)


Thank You REM

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working on a tribute site for REM’s 25th Anniversary. You can check it out at The site was the concept of Ethan from and programmed by Mihkel and designed by me. The site has proved very popular and as I mentioned previously even got a mention on the official REM web page.

I was thrilled when in a recent post on the band official site Michael Stipe posted a message about ‘Thank you REM’. You can see this below and check out the original post here. Michael even posted a photo as a contribution to the project. I’ve since heard from another source that people at Warner’s loved the site too.

Hey hello were back on tour and rested from the time off. I wanted first to say THANK YOU! to all the people, everyone who worked on it[it’s awesome]and then all the posts and photos that you all sent were really great and it made us all really happy—so thanks!—-couldn’t have done it without you…

So this first pic is in the spirit of , enjoy your summer and I will too.

–michael (05.25.05)

The reason I started doing bootleg cover design is because I wanted to combine two passions, REM and design. To get to the point where I know the guys have seen my work and have given feedback is very gratifying both as a designer and a fan of REM.


Cover: Oberhausen – Germany – DVD (2005-02-04)

Photo Credits: Robert Chapman (REM) Anaqueen (REM)



Another small design projects I did for Murmurs was design a logo for the new Music@Murmurs section. Music@Murmurs is an expansion of the murmurs site that exends to all music news, not just REM. Ethan did a small advertising banner saying it was coming soon and wondered if I could come up with a better design.

First thing I tackled was the logo type. The design formed almost straight away. It was simple and to the point and easy mainly driven by the fact ‘Music’ and ‘Murmurs’ where similar structure giving a good symmetrical look either side of the ampersand. I think the logo turned out well. We even applied it to T-Shirts and mugs and have sold a few.

For the T-Shirts I added a slogan which is actually a quote from Michael Stipe, “Let us sort the music from the sound”. I thought this quote was perfect because it embodied what the site was aiming to achieve, ie. sorting through a broad spectrum of music and giving feedback and opinions. Also, as it was a quote from JMS, it linked back to murmurs from which the site evolved.


Cover: Leipzig – Germany (2005-02-13)

Photo Credits: Robert Chapman (REM) Marcus Buckner (Piano)