The band’s first release since 1994 will be preceded by a new single, ‘Love Song’, on January 24 through Echo.
The video for the new track is a homage to ‘Taxi Driver’, one of the band’s favourite films.
Stipe has long been a fan of Utah Saints, once enthusing: “We should bring about a revival of the Utah Saints.
Their records are the best thing for driving in LA. I’ve bought several copies of their album and have been handing it out to friends.”
He’s also described the band’s music as having: “a forward motion and velocity to it.”
A spokesman for Utah Saints – aka Tim Garbutt and Jez Willis – couldn’t confirm whether Stipe would appear but it’s heavily rumoured he’s on the verge of recording a vocal for the album.
Chuck D has written a rap and will guest vocal on a new track called ‘Power To The Beats’ which will apear on the album, slated for release in summer.
Also featured on the album, by sampling only, are Iggy Pop and The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde.
The Iggy sample is taken from The Stooges’ classic track ‘Raw Power’ and features on a new Utah Saints track ‘Techknowledgy’.
Jez Willis told NME: “It’s really good that we’ve got these samples cleared. Working with Chuck D is just a dream, because he’s been such a cultural force in music.
“We’ve still got a few things on the go, a few more tracks to finish, but we’re really happy with it so far. It’s good to be back.”
The band – who are widely credited with pioneering the rock/dance crossover movement – are now looking forward to playing live again and hope to play a selection of the summer festivals. It’s likely a UK tour will be announced around the time of the album release.
Meanwhile, REM are rumoured to be returning to the studio this spring to write and record new tracks for the follow-up to their last album, 1998’s ‘Up’.
Guitarist Peter Buck has told US reporters the new material is likely to follow the experimental direction the band took on ‘Up’.
The band’s new single ‘The Great Beyond’ is out on Monday (January 25.) It’s taken from the soundtrack to ‘Man On The Moon’, the new movie about cult US comedian Andy Kaufman who was immortalised in REM’s song of the same name. The movie gets a UK release in March.