The singer and songwriter of the 'Chasing Cars' group was writing "a lot of rubbish" as he struggled to come up with the words for the band's sixth album 'Fallen Empires', but he was given a "boost" when the REM singer praised some of his tracks.
He said: "I'd try to write but was frantic. It's like pulling a thread of bulls**t out of your head and then you write a lot of rubbish, and then clarity ascends.
"But I couldn't find any clarity and then just had to stop trying. It became a very dark time for me. Even the thought of trying to write made me feel like I was about to have a panic attack.
"I started phoning people because I was at the end of my tether. Then Michael Stipe came to the studio to listen to some of the songs I'd already done and he loved them. He gave me such a boost of confidence.
"I managed to get to the heart of the matter - that this record is about home, the empire of childhood and the naivety of that falling away into adulthood and forgetting how blissful it is as a kid. Once I got to that I could write again."
Michael and Queens Of The Stone Age's Troy Van Leeuwen make guest appearances on 'Fallen Empires' - and Gary admits the guitarist's performance on song 'Called Out in the Dark' helped Snow Patrol's Nathan Connolly play with "more freedom".
He added to The Sun newspaper: "There was a moment I was listening back to this album when it was mastered and I could hear every single detail through the speakers and it sounded like an ocean of great noise. I was thoroughly impressed.
"Getting Troy Van Leeuwen from Queens of the Stone Age on two tracks on this album has really helped and opened up Nathan as well. He's playing with a bit more freedom."