What can Live8 hope to achieve?

I think it could get a dialogue started at kitchen tables across the world, and allow people to understand more what our governments are doing with our taxes.

You took a long time to come out of the closet . . .do you think it's easier for gay artists now?

I think it is. I wouldn't mind setting the record straight that I have been outed in the UK, as one writer said, more times than Frank Sinatra had to sing 'My Way'. The truth is, I have been out to my bandmates, my friends and family for years. It was more of a private issue for me in terms of the media. I came out publicly when I felt the time was right.

It's 25 years since your first gig. How do you feel about performing now, and do you think you'll stick at it until you die?

It comes completely naturally to me. I have never had stage fright. I thought I was the biggest star in the world playing our third show to 35 people, because the energy was there between us and the audience. I am lucky that that has continued for 25 years. There is not much difference. In the context of REM I am absolutely comfortable. Will I perform for life? I don't know.

Your drummer Bill Berry left to become a hay farmer. Have you ever been tempted to adopt the good life?

I am living the good life; but my version is different. I am happy for him, he is a happy farmer and retired musician. I go to see him on the farm.

REM's single 'Wanderlust' is out on 11 July