Frontman Michael Stipe tells NME.COM that the controversial rapper is no different to the Backstreet Boys...

REM ‘s MICHAEL STIPE has compared EMINEM to the “disposable pop” of the BACKSTREET BOYS in an exclusive interview with NME.COM.

Stipe and multi-instrumentalist Mike Mills spoke to NME.COM in London last week in the run-up to the release of their twelfth album, ‘Reveal’, on May 14. The album features 12 tracks including new single ‘Imitation Of Life’, which is released on April 30.

After 20 years in REM, Stipe claimed that he was not influenced by the music that now surrounds them in the charts – including Eminem.

“One of the great things about being around as long as we have is you watch stuff come and go,” Stipe told NME.COM. “It’s there, it serves its purpose, it’s gone. I really like the disposable pop music that’s prevalent on American pop radio: *N Sync and Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera and Eminem.”

Asked if he felt Eminem and the Backstreet Boys were musically the same thing, Stipe said: “Very much…It’s no less packaged.”

Despite the band’s history of political activism, they refused to condemn outright Marilyn Manson‘s stated preference for George W Bush’s presidency on artistic grounds. Last year, Manson argued that Bush was preferable to Gore because right-wing government is more conducive to subversive art.

“I think Marilyn is kinda brilliant,” Stipe told NME.COM. “But it’s like ballroom dancing between the media and public figures. Some people choose to sit on the sidelines and that’s fine. Frankly, we’re not so vocal now. We are in interviews, but you won’t find a shred of it in the music.”

Mills commented: “It’s always a lot more fun to be the party not in power, because then you can take potshots. But if you wanna rail against injustice, you don’t need Bush in the White House to find an enemy. It’s too easy a target. You’re doing exactly what people expect you to do, which lessens the credibility of what you’re saying.”

Asked why ‘Reveal’ marked a return to lush and commercial REM sound of 1992’s multi-million selling ‘Automatic For The People’, Mills put it down to age.

“As you get older, rather than try to channel rage or angst, I’d rather find the beauty in music,” said Mills. “I’m just as pissed off as I ever was, but I would rather channel that into improving attitudes and outlooks than making them worse.”

‘Reveal’ also has a more optimistic and personal feel than previous albums, with repeated references to summer. Stipe explained: “I’m the most optimistic cynic that I know. I’m the glass half-full guy, always. A lot of the songs on this record I didn’t think about that much. I turned off my thinking brain long enough to let my instinct bomb out whatever came.”