Producer Ken Sweeney is plainly a R.E.M fan. You can just feel it in his voice as he narrates the links between interviews with band members and Athens ‘scenesters’ in this hour long documentary (Soundcloud link of full documentary below). Perhaps this enthusiasm is engendered from a heightened appreciation of the R.E.M craft arising from his time spent as the front man for early 90’s Dublin jangle-pop band, Brian (Click here for Brian bio).
His is a genuine infectious enthusiasm that hints at all things fanboy without crossing that line into ‘gushing’ (one of my biggest documentary/interview pet hates) as he delivers a superbly sequenced series of anecdotes that offers plenty for both the most committed R.E.M fan to those that have just began to take an interest in the four piece from Athens.
The death of a friend scenario revealed in Camera and the subsequent revelations of the battle Stipe had with performing it, is not something that would necessarily be revealed to all interviewers and certainly adds credence not only to the documentary in general but also to the relationship that has developed between the band and producer/interviewer, Ken Sweeney of Ireland’s RTE Radio.
It is hard to imagine every interviewer being able to cajole such personal information from band members whose personalities have allegedly prevented any sort of civil relationship with the music media. In fact Sweeney’s interviewing style provides the foundation for R.E.M fans to see a far more realistic appearance to their personalities, which backed by anecdotes of affability from friends and other Athens scenesters, severely interrogates the conferred assumption that R.E.M. are the archetypal surly rock stars.