R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter: 'That's a band that made people happy'

Mitch Easter - web crop
Mitch Easter (provided photo)
Mitch Easter: interview with Mary Lucia
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Mitch Easter's name might not be immediately recognizable, but the projects he has worked on are indelible within the firmament of modern rock.

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., Mitch Easter was the frontman of the 1980s alternative-rock band Let's Active, but he's probably best known for his work as a music producer — in particular, his production work with R.E.M., on their debut EP Chronic Town and on their first two full-length albums, Murmur and Reckoning.

"The first rock show I saw was the Monkees, and they played in Winston-Salem," Easter tells Mary Lucia. "That was fantastic. I saw them when I was 11 or 12, the perfect time to see my first rock show."

It started a lifelong love of music that eventually led to Easter playing in Let's Active and ultimately working with R.E.M. "The sound that they had was exactly the right sound," Easter says of R.E.M. "I'm proud to have been associated with that, but I'm not going to take the credit for it too much. I just kind of helped.

"They're a band that made people happy, and still do," Easter continues. "The R.E.M. story was kind of the perfect rock story, and it's cool I got to witness it."

On Thursday, Oct. 17, Easter — along with the late blues and folk guitarist Elizabeth Cotton, hip-hop artist 9th Wonder, late bluegrass guitarist Merle Watson, and hip-hop recording artist Big Daddy Kane — will be inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Use the audio player above to listen to Mary Lucia's conversation with Mitch Easter.

External Links

Fidelitorium Recordings - Mitch Easter's studio, Kernersville, N.C.

R.E.M. - official site

North Carolina Music Hall of Fame - Kannapolis, N.C.

6 Photos

  • Early R.E.M.: Stipe, Mills, Berry, Buck
    R.E.M. in the early days. Left to right: Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Bill Berry, Peter Buck. (Laura Levine)
  • R.E.M., 'Chronic Town' EP
    R.E.M. 'Chronic Town' EP, produced by Mitch Easter. (I.R.S. Records)
  • R.E.M., 'Murmur'
    R.E.M. first full-length album 'Murmur,' produced by Mitch Easter. (I.R.S. Records)
  • R.E.M., 'Reckoning'
    R.E.M.'s 1984 album, 'Reckoning,' features cover art by Howard Finster. The album was produced by Mitch Easter. (Universal Music Group)
  • Former site of Reflection Studios in Charlotte, N.C.
    An apartment complex dubbed "The Gibson" stands on the former site of Reflection Studios in Charlotte, N.C., where R.E.M.'s first two albums, "Murmur" and "Reckoning," were recorded. Many other artists, including Buddy Guy, Whitney Houston, and Dixie Chicks, also recorded at Reflection. (Luke Taylor | MPR)
  • North Carolina Music Hall of Fame
    Visitors to the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame are greeted by the plaques for the more than 100 inductees. (Luke Taylor | MPR)