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Restaurant Behind R.E.M. Album Name in Trouble

Restaurant Behind R.E.M. Album Name in Trouble

Weaver D's in Athens, Georgia, is working to keep up with its bills

R.E.M. fans unite: Apparently, the restaurant that inspired the band's 1992 album name "Automatic for the People" is in danger of being shut down.

Weaver D's in Athens, Ga., is apparently holding off the gas company, which has been threatening to cut off their utilities. Restaurant owner Dexter Weaver blames slow business, plus high energy and food costs.

"(20)10 is when we really felt it," Weaver told the Athens Banner-Herald. "But we were there, we were whole, we were able to pay our bills. But anytime when somebody comes in Friday ready to cut your gas off — that’s what we cook on! That would put us right out. I’m so glad that he didn’t do it. And I’m glad that my 26 years is good for something."

"Automatic for the People" was one of Weaver's mottos, so he's hoping that a wave of nostalgia will bring customers back for his fried chicken. As Grub Street notes, however, Michael Stipe might not help out, considering he once reportedly failed to tip a waitress for a $2,000 comped meal.

R.E.M.’s ‘Out of Time’ at Twenty-Five

At the end of 1989, the members of R.E.M. were exhausted. Six studio albums and endless tours saw them graduating from playing Athens, Georgia, house parties to headlining more than 130 arenas and theaters during the massive tour supporting their 1988 album Green. But after a six month break, the band were back at it, recording songs that would make up Out Of Time, an album that transformed America’s favorite cult outfit into one of the world’s biggest bands.

photo: Frank Okenfells III

From left: Bandmates Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, and Bill Berry.

Released in 1991, Out of Time may not be R.E.M.’s best album, but its importance cannot be overstated. The band—lead singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry—felt a sense of freedom in the studio, daring themselves to explore different musical avenues. Out of Time is quirky: An influx of country and roots music seeps into several songs, haunting numbers such as “Low” and “Belong,” where Stipe speaks more than he sings. And for the first time, the band brought in guest vocalists, including rapper KRS-One on the oddball opener “Radio Song” and the B-52’s Kate Pierson, who duets on the corny “Shiny Happy People” as well as the transcendent “Me In Honey,” one of the lesser known jewels in the R.E.M. canon.

But the signature track on Out of Time was the mandolin-driven “Losing My Religion,” which gave the band their biggest hit to date and with its transfixing video—which went on to win Video of the Year from MTV—helped shove them into the mainstream. It has absolutely none of the conditions for a hit single, says bassist Mike Mills. “It’s five minutes long, it doesn’t really have a chorus, and the lead instrument is a mandolin,” he says. “That is not a recipe for a hit.”

On Nov. 18, to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Out of Time, the band will release a special package with a newly remastered version of the album, a collection of demos that pulls back the curtain on the band’s creative process, plus audio from a gig at Mountain Stage in Charleston, West Virginia—one of the only live shows the band played in support of the album. Calling from Amsterdam, where he’s doing interviews for Out of Time, Mills gives Garden & Gun a behind-the-scenes look at Out of Time as well as insight into his recent foray into classical music and, perhaps most importantly, an update on his golf game.

Was there a conscious decision before the recording of Out of Time that you weren’t going to tour?

Oh yeah. We all knew that trying to get back on that train would have been bad for our personal health as well as the health of the band. We toured every year throughout the ‘80s, and after the Green tour, which was such a beast, we had to take a break. That gave us a certain amount of freedom. With most R.E.M. songs, you can still break them down to one guitar and play them in that way, or one keyboard. That still holds true for these songs. At the same time, we didn’t need to worry about reproducing them live, so there was that sort of freedom, too.

It did seem like you guys could really do no wrong at that point, and the possibilities were endless.

We felt that we were writing really good songs and that whatever we did was going to be cool. One thing we did do at that point was make a conscious decision not to write any more R.E.M. songs. By that, we meant we would come up with something and we’d play it in the studio, and we’d just go, “Nope, that sounds too much like an R.E.M. song, so let’s get rid of it.”

Yeah. Peter was definitely moving away from the electric guitar. He wanted to play a lot of different instruments. We recorded a lot with me on keyboards instead of on bass, and Bill played bass on some stuff, and Peter did as well. Bill played the congas on “Low.” We were just trying to shake things up. The record holds together, but the songs are really very different. I think they’re very distinct from the last couple of records we had done before.

So Out of Time comes out and it’s huge. Did you have any inkling?

No, every record we had made sold more than the one before it, up to that point, but this one became exponential. There’s just something about “Losing My Religion.” It was the right song at the right time by the right band, and it exploded, and it went literally worldwide.

“Losing My Religion” is actually a phrase that comes from the South.

Yeah, something happens and it freaks you out to the point where you would say, “I almost lost my religion.” The funny thing was that was supposed to be the set-up single. Our record company wanted to push “Shiny Happy People.”

You have lead vocals on “Near Wild Heaven” and “Texarkana,” a first for you on R.E.M. originals. Were you nervous?

Not really. My feeling was, if it wasn’t very good, the guys would tell me. I wasn’t too worried about it. We started doing “Texarkana,” and you can tell from the demo that Michael had started something, but then just kind of hit a wall and couldn’t finish it. I had some ideas, so I jumped in, and even though my ideas had nothing to do with the town of Texarkana, we just liked the title, so we kept it.

One of my favorites is “Belong,” which is really unique given that Michael speaks the lyrics while there’s a gorgeous chorus in the background.

It’s weird. To me, it sounds like Michael’s reading a newspaper. The funny thing is, it’s not him reading the newspaper out loud, it’s more like what you think in your head when you read a newspaper. Then the chorus is just all about the joy of singing. The chorus is just myself, Bill, and Michael having a really fun time creating melodies, and the beautiful passing chords that are created when those melodies intersect.

It’s just phenomenal. I find myself singing it, when I’m like, cleaning the bathroom or something.

Right? There’s one point in that song where it creates a beautiful three-part harmony, but it doesn’t happen throughout the song. It’s only one moment. When you’re making a record, it’s all about creating those certain magical moments that happen in the song.

Do you have a favorite song on the record? How do you feel about it when you listen back to it?

My trouble is it’s hard for me to just listen to R.E.M. for enjoyment, because I’m constantly analyzing and dissecting and thinking of what I would have done differently or done better. It’s not really necessarily a pleasurable thing for me in that sense. I enjoy “Half A World Away” because it’s just such a strange song. It’s got a harpsichord on it. It’s one of the weirder songs on the record, but I really like that one.

The live show included in this reissue is from Mountain Stage. Any recollections of the gig?

I remember it being pretty loose because we got to load up the show with our friends. We had Robyn Hitchcock and Billy Bragg opening. We felt really good about doing it because we were only doing a few promo shows and Mountain Stage was not in New York or L.A. or somewhere like that, but rather in West Virginia. It felt like the right thing to take it to somewhere like that, a place that didn’t always get the proper attention it deserved.

Since the band called it quits in 2011, you’ve still been active musically, including writing Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra with your childhood friend, Robert McDuffie, who is a world-renowned violinist. He pushed you to write it, how daunting was that?

It was extremely daunting, but what I’ve discovered in looking back at it now is that it’s not really a classical piece. It’s sort of a song suite that features Bobby’s virtuosity on the violin, which is one of the elements of a concerto. If I’d known to think of it in those terms, I probably would have called it a song suite instead of a concerto. It does have plenty of classical elements. It has the string orchestra with some beautiful classical arrangements on it, and it’s really fun to do. People didn’t really know how to market it or what to call it, but everybody that comes to the show loves it.

It feels like a rock show, it’s much more interactive than a traditional symphony.

I make an announcement before each show where I say, “This is not really a classical piece, and as such, we don’t want you to behave like you’re at a classical piece. Feel free to applaud at any time. If Bobby plays something on the violin you like, you can applaud that in the middle of the piece.” We’re trying to bring elements of classical and rock together, because classical, while it’s a wonderful art form, is not doing all that well in terms of popularity. We’re just hoping to get people to think about it a little differently, and maybe get some classical people to enjoy the rock elements of it, and then have the rock people enjoy the classical elements of it and see if we can’t just call it music.

How much of classical music was part of your musical education?

My father was a dramatic tenor, so he loved classical music and so did my mother. There was a lot of it being played in the house. We went to a lot of classical concerts. My dad, in particular, loved opera. We went to a lot of symphonies.

How’s your golf game?

Not good, but I’m about to take some time and try to whip it into shape. I’m playing some stuff in January that I need to be ready for. I’ll be playing in front of a lot of people.

What causes you more nerves—playing stadiums with R.E.M., putting on a classical concert, or going off the first tee in front of thousands?

Going off the first tee because I know how to play the bass. I feel pretty good about my musical competency. That’s not necessarily the case on the golf course.

Behind R.E.M.’s Hit ‘Losing My Religion’

R.E.M.: From Left: Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Bill Berry in 1991

In early 1991, the release of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” struck a generational nerve. The angst-driven message song from the band’s seventh studio album “Out of Time” explored self-doubt and unrequited love. The album not only was a commercial turning point for the alternative rock band but also paved the way for grunge rock’s bleaker view and breakthrough that fall.

Twenty-five years ago, “Losing My Religion” became R.E.M.’s biggest-selling single. It reached No. 4 on Billboard’s pop chart in June 1991 and won two Grammy awards, while “Out of Time” climbed to No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart in May and again in June. It also won a Grammy.

R.E.M. disbanded amicably in 2011 and band members have reaffirmed there are no plans to reunite. This fall, Concord will release a 25-year anniversary edition of “Out of Time.” Recently, Peter Buck, 59, Mike Mills, 57, Michael Stipe, 56, and Bill Berry, 57, reflected on how “Losing My Religion” evolved. Edited from interviews:

Peter Buck (guitarist): By the end of 1987, the band was exhausted. We had been out on the road performing for much of the year and we needed a rest. At home on my sofa in Athens, Ga., I taught myself to play the mandolin. I had bought a strange-looking boxy model in New York several months earlier and used it to write two songs for “Green”—the album we were about to record later that spring.

At some point during those sofa sessions, I had the Atlanta Braves on the TV with the sound down and a cassette recorder going. I was strumming the mandolin like a guitar when an entire series of chords just fell out. They became the basis for “Losing My Religion.”

Losing My Religion

Song MeaningThe meaning of this song (officially, according to Mike Stipe of REM) is about unrequited love, meaning unreturned love. (the person recounting this song loves somebody, who has no interest in him).

It is quite a sad song, and a has a very lonely feeling to it.

"Oh, life is bigger
It's bigger than you"

Here he is trying to convince himself that the person he loves is NOT larger than life - she doesn't have to be the centre point of his existence. He is trying to push her out of his mind.

"The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes"

I can relate to this. Constantly following someone around, clinging to them, trying to make them connect with you or notice you.

"That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you"

Same thing really. "Losing my religion" is a southern American way of saying "reaching the end of one's rope" or "losing your temper" or "losing your civility". Basically these verses mean that he is getting angry and frustrated trying to stay ahead of the game and keep up with the competition over this woman. He's behind the game, in the spotlight, failng.

"Every whisper
Of every waking hour I'm
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool
Oh no I've said too much
I set it up"

Here he pours his heart out to a greater extent. He obsesses over the person, constantly watching them - he can't think of anything else but this person, and he feels "lost" and "blinded" when not knowing what she's doing or who she's with. "He said too much" but he "hasn't said enough" - he's telling his mates and friends more than he should say about his feelings for this person, but not the person herself.

I CBA to write more interpretations of the rest of the song, but I could leave you guys to that :)

@Mausman I believe you're correct about all that. Also, in the part that goes

"That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight"

I think it's him trying to get her to notice him. He's exclaiming to her that it's him in the corner, in the spotlight, look at him.
Also in the part that goes

"Oh no I've said too much
I set it up"

I think this is him worrying about what he said to her when he attempted to strike a conversation. It's just typical worrying about what to say to a girl and what not to say, how it should go and he thinks he's messed it up. And then he confesses that the conversation wasn't started naturally but that he set it up.

@Mausman You're absolutely right, you can't deny that it's about unrequited love because that's what the artist actually said it was about!

Does anyone remember that time in their life when they had the biggest crush on someone who just was not reciprocating?

"I thought that I heard you laughing. I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try. but that was just a dream"

Don't we all dream of the ideal situation, but in reality, nothing becomes of it?

I agrre. It also seems like when you fall in love and keep illusions about someone that is not who seemed to be. You immagine that this person is someone, but in fact, on the inside, it's someone else.

"But that was just a dream. "

Interesting, but I disagree. As other comments say, 'Losing my Religion' is a common expression in Georgia meaning to lose your temper. Considering that the band is from Georgia, it seems odd that they would use this expression implying a different meaning. To me, it seems like he is angry at himself or the situation he is in he loves someone who is not trying at all, or not interested. Maybe a girlfriend/boyfriend who has lost interest and isn't making an effort anymore. Something that is likely to make anyone angry.

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

@TasChiBandGirl When REM was at their height, people were not "coming out" as easily and readily as today. But rumors of homosexuality followed Stipe around, pretty much from the beginning of their airplay. I've never really understood this song. It is extremely vague. The best love songs and the best love is always laid out in the open. I think hindsight now, may add way more to your interpretation, as well as give your thoughts more credence.

My OpinionI used to love this song when I was a kid. This is pretty much what I think it means. I could be wrong and it could be about a person who lost faith in their god, but I think it’s a metaphor about man (or woman) who in an emotional fit accidently spoke their mind to their partner and is now confronted with the truth and losing the relationship they so desperately tried to preserve. If you haven't heard the song you should probably youtube it before you go through this. In the music video the first thing you notice is spilled milk. Once milk is spilled it can't be unspilled. Once words are said, they can't be unsaid.

The lengths that I will go to

In life, life itself is the most important thing. No one aspect of life is worth ruining the whole life, not even her. Just like no limb is worth losing the body. She is not him, if she was like him there would be no conflict, but she and him have different values, and value each other differently, he feels he loves her more. He is willing to do anything it takes for the relationship but she will to go the same lengths as he will.

The distance in your eyes

When she looks at him he doesn’t feel love warmth and caring, her eyes looks cold indifferent, there’s no emotional connection between the two of them, when he looks in her eyes she’s feels distant, not there with him.

He’s scared now, he’s said too much to her. He’s so scared of losing her so he’s never said how he feels because it may trigger an argument where they’ll break up, so for the hole relationship he’s been biting he’s tongue, but now he forgot himself for a moment (“Oh no”) and told her how he feels now he may have set up the break argument he’s dreaded.

This relationship makes him feel like he’s punished and constantly lonely. Because he’s choosing to stay in it, it’s a self-imposed punishment.

That's me in the spotlight

Because of his slip of the tongue he’s now in a position where he must act, he can’t hide anymore from the truth now that it’s come out, his slip of the tongue has exposed his feelings and now there’s no turning back, he must do something, he’s in the spotlight.

He’s losing that for which he’s placed all of his hopes and dreams in. He’s losing his “FAITH” in them working out. He’s confronting the real her as opposed to the illusion of the happy her and him life together. He’s losing the biggest thing in his life. The biggest part of his image of himself was the idea of her and him. For most people that amount of faith is exclusively religious or love. It’s a metaphor.

Trying to keep up with you

And I don't know if I can do it

He’s talking to her again, he’s telling her how hard he’s trying to make the relationship work, by following her lead, doing whatever she needs and appeasing her while sacrificing his needs, and he’s not sure if it’s something he can keep up indefinitely, it’s hurting him too much. He may be wrong, he may not be able to do it.

He’s still dreadfully scared of losing her and fears he said too much, however what’s said can’t be unsaid, and once you’ve accepted the truth you can’t hold the lie, so he’s beginning to want to confront the reality of her. He’s becoming emotional and angry to an extent. He’s held in so much pain and suffering for so long scared that she will leave him and now that’s it’s coming out, he wants it all to come out, he’s no longer scared of her leaving he feels empowered to speak after years of being muzzled he want's to speak, “he hasn’t said enough”.

I thought that I heard you laughing

I thought that I heard you sing

I think I thought I saw you try

He’s telling her that he thought that he was making her happy he thought he could make her happy, he thought they could be happy together, laughing and singing, but he was wrong. The last line reveals that now he’s aware that she was never trying. He says “he thinks he thought” as opposed to just “thought” like the previous two lines. Revealing that he’s now aware he was deluding himself into believing she was trying. He wanted to believe she was trying like he was trying, because if she was that meant she cared about him and the relationship, but as he honestly reflects he realizes she was never trying, he just wanted to believe she was.

Trying to keep an eye on you

Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool

During the relationship out of fear of upsetting her and breaking up he wouldn’t speak, so he chose his words very carefully, as to not agitate her, whispering, choosing which things he could speak and which things he could not (confessions). Watching her making sure she’s not upset, or getting to mad, because he can’t lose her, she’s all he lives for. So he must cling to her like a hurt lost and blinded fool. Otherwise hid life is lost. he’s’ angry for allowing himself to be degraded so. He calls himself a fool.

What if all these fantasies

Now there’s nothing left to fear. What’s said can’t be unsaid and he has clearly said too much. All there is left to do is consider the consequences of his actions. Consider the “slip” of the tongue that brought him down to this position where he must submit (knees) to reality. He’s considering what if he’s “failed” and lost her. All of his fantasies about him and her are falling around him Now that’s he’s said to much. It’s no longer an “Oh, no I’ve said to much” as if it’s a question, it’s “Now, I’ve said to much” It’s over. The relationship is over.

I thought that I heard you laughing

I thought that I heard you sing

I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream

He realizes that all the things he believed, he thought he could make her happy, he thought they could be happy together, he thought she cared and was trying to make the relationship work, but it was just a fantasy, a dream of something that wasn’t ever going to happen, it was it just a dream he was holding onto and now he’s awake. This is an interesting motif seeing as how the band is called R.E.M which scientifically means Rapid Eye Movement. R.E.M is a stage of sleep which only occurs while one is dreaming.

That's me in the spotlight

Trying to keep up with you

And I don't know if I can do it

I thought that I heard you laughing

I thought that I heard you sing

I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream

I think this is an excellent interpretation. This is one of my favourite songs but I've been listening to it a lot recently. And your interpretation really rings true to what is happening right now for me.

Lyrics2Deep is more meaningful.

It isn't a pop song. It is alternative rock.

It is about religion, internal turmoil and self hate. I'm a muslim and I disturb some muslimic beliefs.

"“Every whisper, Of every waking hour, I'm choosing my confessions, Trying to keep an eye on you.” This speaks to a constant mental process continuously tracking and judging every thought and action for something that is “wrong” that will need to be confessed "

What's the wrong with sentence? I believe this is more true than your forcible sentences.

My InterpretationOh, life is bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no I've said too much
I set it up

At first I think he is trying to distance himself, to tell himself this entire obsession is foolish (as in the other person and his obsession with her should not be allowed to define his entire life) and he's trying to talk some sense to himself, by contrasting the depths of his obsession with her seeming lack of any interest at all, and that by admitting it he is setting himself up for a catastophic failure.

That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no I've said too much
I haven't said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Referring to whether alone in the corner or out in the open/covertly or overtly, he's going crazy in his pursuit of her, and is experiencing self doubt..whatever he say will be both too much (it shouldn't be said at all) or entirely insufficent (as in his feelings aren't going to be conveyed in mere words) and then he's imagining, in his head, what her reaction might be with a few examples.

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I'm
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt, lost and blinded fool
Oh no I've said too much
I set it up

Every time he is around her he is carefully calculating every single word, waiting for a subtle hint or reaction that might give him some encouragement, and he realizes the depth of his desperation - but at some point he knows he has to take the proverbial leap and let the cat out of the bag

Consider this
Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I've said too much
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

"Consider if I dropped this huge hint, if I slipped and let my guard down, if I finally confessed, what if it totally backfires and I come crashing down to my knees, looking like an idiot, and this world I've built up in my head where we are together falls to pieces?" Or "what if all these fantasies come flailing around?" could mean he keeps playing this imaginary confession scene over and over and over again and all these possible outcomes come running through his head

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream
That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don't know if I can do it
Oh no I've said too much
I haven't said enough
I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
That was just a dream

Either his gambit has failed and the imaginary world in his head where she loved him was "just a dream" or he knows he has no chance in hell (kind of like in the first verse) but since he's repeating his thoughts earlier, he knows he is doomed to repeat the same pattern of being obsessed and miserable and not willing to lay it on the line.

‘Automatic For The People’: How R.E.M. Created A Soul-Searching Classic

Artistically, ‘Automatic For The People’ arguably remains R.E.M’s high-water mark. It continues to attract plaudits from far and wide.

R.E.M.’s major-label debut, Green, successfully brokered the band’s introduction to the mainstream rock’n’roll world of platinum discs and large-scale tours, but it barely prepared them for the multi-million sales, Grammy Awards and international stardom which followed the release of their seventh LP, 1991’s Out Of Time.

Suddenly, after five years of cult-level success, and a further five during which their career took on a slow, but very steady upward trajectory, the Athens, Georgia quartet had gone supernova. Yet, after they’d collected the industry awards and done their MTV Unplugged lap of honor, one question remained unanswered: how would (and indeed how could) they top the achievements of the past 12 months?

Listen to Automatic For The People on Apple Music and Spotify.

Impressively holding their nerve, R.E.M. got down to business as usual. The decision not to tour Out Of Time freed them up to work on new material after their promotional duties wound down, and Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry took full advantage, jamming together in a local rehearsal studio as early as the summer of ’91.

In keeping with R.E.M.’s established modus operandi, vocalist Michael Stipe wasn’t involved at this preliminary stage, but while these early sessions were informal, the three musicians shared one specific goal: to eschew the introspective, folk-flavored music which had colored much of Out Of Time in favor of faster, upbeat rock songs. Yet, as Stipe later recounted to Rolling Stone, when Berry, Buck, and Mills presented the demos early in 1992, they were, in his words, “Very mid-tempo, pretty f__king weird… More acoustic, more organ-based, less drums.”

However, R.E.M. liked what they had thus far achieved, and after laying down a further set of demos at Daniel Lanois’ Kingsway Studios, in New Orleans, the band reconvened with trusty co-producer Scott Litt at their favorite haunt, Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York, at the tail end of March 1992. The sessions then moved on to Criteria Studios in Miami, while string arrangements (scored by former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones) were later recorded in Atlanta, with the final mixing done at Bad Animals Studio in Seattle.

Having peaked at No.2 on the US Billboard 200, Automatic For The People eventually topped the UK LP chart on no less than four separate occasions. Despite the fact that the band again opted not to tour in support of its release, it later went quadruple-platinum in the US and six-times-platinum in the UK. Its total worldwide sales later far exceeded expectations, and the album has since gone on to surpass the colossal total of 15 million copies worldwide.

The Story Behind The Song: R.E.M's 'Man on the Moon' guided by the confounding Andy Kaufman

In the early nineties, America was rich with rock talent. While Nirvana had begun their journey toward the sun and Pearl Jam were equally as imposing across the globe, one band stood out among the rest— R.E.M. The release of their eighth studio album, Automatic for the People, provides a crystalline reminder of their talent and just how refreshing a voice like Michael Stipe’s was in 1992. But perhaps the brightest shining moment on that record was their enigmatic single ‘Man on the Moon’.

The song has become a bastion for the band, often regarded as one of their most beloved. The number was originally titled ‘C to D Slide’ and was likely to remain an instrumental effort destined for the dustbin until the inspirational figure of Andy Kaufman walked into the band’s life, equipped with a conspiracy theory and a desire to question everything.

Forming in back in 1980 with Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe meeting at the University of Georgia, the band soon became one of the first-ever alternative rock groups, providing a unique take on the genre that had dominated the previous decades. R.E.M. were a different proposition entirely to everything that had come before them, using their obscure lyrics, iconic guitar sound and Stipe’s unique vocals to create their own niche. With ‘Man on the Moon’, the band provided a vision of pop’s future, using an expressive sonic landscape to share their narrative.

“Bill Berry is still a very a good songwriter,” bassist Mike Mills told NME in 2017. “He had a lot of musical ideas, then he and Peter [Buck, guitarist] fleshed the rest of it out musically. It was a song that me, Pete and Bill really loved and had musically finished right up to the last day of recording and mixing in Seattle, and we’d been leaning on Michael very heavily for some time trying to finish it.” It nearly wasn’t finished at all, “He was like ‘oh, it’s an instrumental’ and we were like ‘it is not an instrumental – you need to finish it because it’s a story that needs to be told. Whatever that story is, you need to tell it’,” he explained.

The song’s sound followed a similar path for the group but lyrically it was a more complicated process. Stipe was under pressure to find the right words and was up against the clock because the album was due and the record label was becoming impatient. Instead of working through it in the studio, the band took a few days off and offered Stipe the chance to reflect on the music already made. He listened to the track on a cassette in his rental car until he found inspiration.

“When we reconvened, Michael walked into the studio, sang, ‘Man On The Moon’ once, and walked out,” Peter Buck said in the In Time compilation. “We were all stunned. It was one of those magic moments I’ll remember long after the award ceremonies and the photo sessions have disappeared into the mists of time.

“So Michael worked very hard towards the end,” continued the bassist Mike Mills to NME, “And came up with this beautiful lyric that encompasses doubt, belief, transition, conspiracy and truth. Then at the very end of the last day Michael came back and said ‘I’ve got something’. He sang it, we loved it, we put the harmony vocals on it and it was done.” The inspiration came from the surreal comedian Andy Kaufman who operated as a guiding light of influence for Stipe and his usually unusual lyrical style.

Kaufman had made his name in America as the face of chaotic comedy. A cast member of SNL, in fact, the only cast member to ever be voted off the show, Kaufman gained a reputation for stunts and surrealist comedy. He left most of his audiences continually contemplating whether he was being serious or not, trying to decipher the seriousness of the situation in front of them. He was the perfect figure for the song. “Andy Kauffman was a performance artist,” Mills continued. “He wasn’t a comedian he wasn’t a comic he was a performance artist. Some of what he did was funny, some of it was annoying, some it was irritating – but it was always provocative. As such, as someone that you couldn’t really pin down in terms of what he was and what he was not. Was he dead? Was he faking?

“He’s the perfect ghost to lead you through this tour of questioning things. Did the moon landing really happen? Is Elvis really dead? He was kind of an ephemeral figure at that point so he was the perfect guy to tie all this stuff together as you journey through childhood and touchstones of life.”

The balancing act of populous gems and personal mantras have always been what made R.E.M a great band. This song remains a shining gem of that ethos glistening in the band’s pop crown. It offers up an entire society’s viewpoint, fitting for one of the most democratic bands you’re ever likely to stumble across.

‘Man on the Moon’ tells us all to open our minds, trust in our hearts and approach life with the knowledge of its innate fragility. The world may have appeared a scary place back then but now we can be certain it is. It may appear to be a simple pop song but, as the track would encourage you to, one must question every lyric and find the philosophy at its core.

Restaurant Behind R.E.M. Album Name in Trouble - Recipes

Okay, that's a pretty obscure reference - the alusion's to a Micheal Stipe quote. R.E.M. are (were?) one of the most important (the most important?) bands of their generation. Which means my generation - I was practically weened on these guys. Way back in the dark ages, during the time of man known as the Poodle Hair Metal Epoch, I was a sensitive youngster who had worn out my parents' classic rock collection and just wasn't that interested in crap like Poison. To cut to the chase, I discovered R.E.M., who opened the doors for me into a world of music I didn't even know existed - "alternative", back when that phrase actually meant something. The '80s was the worst decade in memory for rock, if you only paid attention to MTV and the radio (mainstream, that is). But if you were aware of its existence, down in the underground the '80s offerred tons of great bands with great music, allowing the decade to well hold its own against the cherished '60s and grudgingly/ironically beloved '70s. Of all the great '80s college rock, left-of-mainstream bands, R.E.M. were the most successful. Too much of the world will never know how great the Replacements and X and Camper Van Beethoven were, and I could go on. It's easy to see why R.E.M. broke through while their peers didn't: they were more pop and accessible. I certainly don't mean that as an insult, either (nobody who likes the Beatles should ever use "pop" as a dirty word). In fact one could draw the analogy and say that R.E.M. were the Beatles of my generation. Not that we should glibly put these giants in a boxing ring until the fans decide who's better - no, the analogy I'm making is the impact R.E.M. had on their fans, upon intelligent, discerning young people who were sick of lite-metal crapola the way a previous generation had sickened on oily Darins and Avalons. They didn't blow open the floodgates like Nirvana did, but they gave hope to a lot of folks that real music was still being made back in the day of synths and hairspray. The most amazing thing about R.E.M.'s music is its consistency up until the last two, they never really made a bad album. What's more, they never repeated themselves, either - each album sounds markedly different in sound and approach than the last. Due to that little fact, a lot of people really disagree on what R.E.M.'s strongest albums are. Two random hardcore R.E.M. fans - and there's a lot of those - will give you completely conflicting accounts as to which their strongest and weakest albums are. You love Fables, I love Pageant - I suppose most everybody agrees that Murmur is great, and that Monster flat-out sucks (the world's #1 used bin CD), but after that the evaluations diverge. Tell you what - go over to that friend of yours' house who has every album they ever released (every neighborhood has a guy or gal with the works), listen to the albums, and make up your own ears. Or, as a distant second choice, read my reviews. Actually, I bet you already own all the R.E.M. albums, and are just reading this page to hear what I have to say! You R.E.M. fans are a voracious reading lot. I know your type. you'll do anything to get your latest dose of words on your heroes. For the record: Peter Buck is the genius behind R.E.M., Stipe is the guy who likes to talk a lot and bask in attention, Mike Mills is a way cooler ur-dork than Bill Gates, and Bill Berry left the band to ride around on a tractor spitting hayseeds on the good Georgia soil.

The problem with R.E.M. on the web is where to begin. Since there's no definitive R.E.M. page, you might as well start with the R.E.M. Links Page.

Chronic Town EP (1982) ****

This 5-song debut presents R.E.M. to the world fully formed and realized, with only a few rough edges (mainly in the vocals Stipe mumbles at his most indecipherable). These wild-eyed Georgia boys channel the spirit of both the Byrds and Velvets on "Wolves, Lower", the best song and one true classic for the canon. The other four tunes are quite good, too "Carnival (Box Cars)" is easily the weakest track, but it's not all that weak, really. You've heard of "Gardening At Night", I assume - love that jangly guitar tone. Since there's not a whole lot to talk about with this little EP, let's talk about Buck's guitar, shall we? Accept no substitutes, Buck is the heart of R.E.M., and it's his guitar that makes the band great more than almost anything else. I mean, take out that guitar, and what do you have? 'Nuff said. And the great thing is, it maintains a familiar consistency while sounding different on every album. And Buck isn't a virtuoso showoff, either - it all works to aid the songs, not to flang some penile wank'em crank'em solo. And oh yeah, Mills has the most melodic bass fills this side of McCartney and sure knows how to harmonize on those backup vocals, Berry keeps the beat steady and rolling, and that Stipe kid is a pretentious fruit but he has that, oh whatchamacallit, charisma. This EP was appended to the CD issue of Dead Letter Office.

Murmur (1983) *****

They certainly weren't the first, they might not have been the best (oh, okay, they were the best - I mean, the Dbs were good, but R.E.M. had more imagination), but this album is the sonic altar of college rock, from which every goateed jingle-jangle in the campus coffeehouse alternaband from Hootie to the Gin Blossoms take their cues. Errr. wait a second. But hey, don't blame R.E.M., 'cause this is far from the uniform jangle-with-poetry mush that a lot of uninspired bands profferred in its wake. No, I'll tell you what it's got that everybody overlooks and in retrospect is a crucial component of its success: a good beat. Just what is "Radio Free Europe" but a great dance song? Kudos to Mills for that killer bassline! In fact, Buck aside for a moment, Mills turns out to be the real star of this album, twisting those snaky, funky but bouncily melodic basslines that reveal themselves as foundations of many of the tunes. Don't believe me? Then listen to this album again - "Laughing"? "Catapult"? "9-9"? The point I'm making is that R.E.M. are a great band, with every member equally important. I remember reading somewhere a long time back about how the members of R.E.M. all wanted their own parts turned down for the mix - no one really wanted to hog the spotlight. The lack of egos is admirable in and of itself, but it also makes for a sonically interesting album. With all the instrumental parts given equal play, the ambience is low-key without being tepidly quiet it rocks without being in your face about it. When it came out amidst the hardcore punk monochrome and tackily big-drum arena rock of the day, it must have seemed like such a breath of fresh kudzu. I'm not going to bother with all the song-by-song analysis since I've already written a long paragraph and nearly all the songs are good. "Talk About The Passion" is a particular favorite. A very unique, organic-feeling album with a mystique and flavor its legions of imitators have never come close to capturing.

Reckoning (1984) ****

A more staightforward rockin'-rolly record after Murmur's dreamy pop, the results are somewhat less interesting and the songwriting isn't quite as stellar as the previous. Otherwise, another excellent effort while there isn't a whole lot of new ground broken, it builds upon the formula R.E.M. have writ so far (and would not repeat after this record) and solidified their following. "So. Central Rain" was the big "hit" here, and "Seven Chinese Brothers" follows in a similar mid-tempo vein. The rocker "Pretty Persuasion" is a winner, as is the wannabe state-of-the-union address "Little America" (at least I think - Stipe still hasn't e-nun-ci-ated properly yet, but he's incrementally growing less vague and slurry). "Don't Go Back To Rockville" tries to take on country, but it's only partially successful entirely for the reason that Stipe can't sing/write a coherent lyric - if you're going to do country music, that's necessary. Pavement's least favorite R.E.M. song is "Time After Time", and they're right - that one blows, except for the brief bridge and solo. Stipe stretches out his pipes on a ballad, "Camera", that I'd trade a dozen "Everybody Hurts" for, even if I can't understand what he's talking about. Sound over sense - that's the cliche used about R.E.M.. The real problem is that R.E.M. aren't doing anything they haven't done before, which is rare for them - this is the only album they ever did in the same style as the one they did before. Other than that caveat, I have no major gripes.

Fables of the Reconstruction (1985) ***1/2

The members of R.E.M. have had some pretty disparaging remarks about this album, but really it's not that bad. But you can see why they rank it low - this is easily the weakest of their early albums. Slapping on strings ("Feeling Gravity's Touch", real snoozer) and ever so slightly going for a more mainstream (albiet psychedelicized) sound doesn't do anything but detract from the songs, which generally aren't R.E.M.'s best. So, why did I give this record a grade as high as I did? Well, ever hear of "Driver 8"? "Green Grow The Rushes"? "Auctioneer (Another Engine)"? "Maps And Legends"? Yes, even the silly "Can't Get From Here To There", with those stupid horns and Stipe's affectedly corny ur-Geoawja' accint', but it's catchy. So there are some quite good songs on this record, even if half the record is fairly boring. The boring numbers aren't flat-out terrible, just dull and uninvolving. Okay, so "Driver 8" is the only real classic here, but this a fairly good record that you wouldn't mind hearing. I know I'm damning with faint praise, but. Well, look, it's like this: Buy all the other R.E.M. records up to Document, check out Out Of Time, and then move on to this. That makes it, what, their 6th best regular-issue full-length studio album?

Lifes Rich Pageant (1986) *****

From the opening racket on the title track, you know R.E.M. are taking a turn into the brave new world of real rock. Not the low-key guitar pop that they've done so far, but rock with the amps cranked up and the drum sound pounding to the fore. Some people complain that R.E.M. first started selling out on this album by opting for a more mainstream sound, but I could care less about what a bunch of indie Puritans have to say - as long as the music's good, I don't give a flying Fender whether it goes Platinum or Scrap Metal. "Fall On Me" is Stipe's favorite R.E.M. song, and you know what, it might be mine too - it's certainly their best-ever ballad the melody and countermelody are incredible. The cover of "Superman" sung appealingly nerdily by Mills (which is why we love him - who says nerds can't be in rock bands? Would you rather have Axl Rose?) is ace. Stipe's singing is considerably clearer, which brings out this ringing, steely baritone that pushes the likes of "These Days" over the edge into anthems for the ages. It also brings out the inanity of his lyrics, but at least here Stipe's method-acting oblique so we still think that there's more behind the bad poetry than there really is (there wasn't, as future albums would prove). See, the trick is to pick out really obscure topics like the Cuyahoga Indians and the flowers of Guatemala and people will think you're really keen. The only real bad cut present is "Underneath The Bunker" (just who sings?). I can even dig the folk-wisdom generalizations of "I Believe", which is a better country song than "Rockville". My favorite R.E.M. album? Well, that changes every so often, but I'd hazard this might be it. They've toughened up their attack and really rocked good and hard for the first time, and made a few strides towards accessibility (mainly in the vocals), so beginners might as well start here. All you kids who thought that R.E.M. are a bunch of old farts who can't rock because of Monster, listen to this one.

Dead Letter Office (1987) ***

A mess of leftovers and discards. In the liner notes Pete Buck compares this to browsing through a junkshop. If you're just a casual fan, stay away from this album, but if you care about R.E.M. as much as I do, this is a lot of fun. Three Velvet Underground covers are two too many - they should have kept "Femme Fatale", which is better than the original (Nico was just a stupid, anexoric, boring fashion model who couldn't even sing as good as Lou Reed, so the original's easy to beat. Ever seen the documentary of her life, Nico/Icon? Man, was she a dull, vapid person. But I digress), and tossed the other two. The Aerosmith cover saves you the trouble of actually having to go out and buy an album by that pathetic Stones-ripoff band (I'm sorry, Peter, but if growing up in the '70s meant you listened to Aerosmith, then I'm glad I didn't grow up in the '70s. Oh well, my generation had Whitesnake). I haven't heard anything from Pylon, so I can't compare, but the cover of "Crazy" is pretty great (apparently this is another one of those songs about getting stoned. Heck, everybody did'em back in the Athens scene heyday. You tell me the B-52's didn't do psychoactive pharmeceuticals on a daily basis). As for "King Of The Road", go out and buy a Roger Miller record, or better yet save yourself some money and just dub the Motel 6 commercial off the TV. Okay, that's the covers. As for the originals, it's easy to see why they weren't released - most of'em sound like they were recorded in a few minutes when they were drunk, and probably were (Buck admits as much for at least one in the liner notes). You get a subpar surf instrumental that was released three years earlier for the Bachelor Party soundtrack, and another poor instrumental, and Stipe reading the liner notes of a gospel album to the backing track of "Seven Chinese Bros.", and a cackling rocker about young lust and going to hell (see, these guys really are Southern), and a song "Ages Of You" written twice and discarded both times, and some other stuff. None of it's really that good, but it's fun and trashy - it's fun because it's trashy. But it's as sloppy and digressive as this review.

Document (1987) ****

This one broke R.E.M. as "stars" - "The One I Love" made Top 40, and "It's The End Of The World As I Know It (And I Feel Fine)", which has more (and better) words than most rappers can cram in (and few cram those words as breathlessly skillfully as Stipe does here) was the other. Picking up where Pageant left off, R.E.M. rock harder and for the first time Stipe's singing is comprehensible, and the lyrics to half of these songs actually make sense and are about something. Yep, this is the big political statement that R.E.M. are suddenly interested in making - they even go so far as to sample the McCarthy hearings on "Exhuming McCarthy"! The sound is muscular and clear, and side one's songs are uniformly good-to-great. As a bonus, you get a revved-up version of Wire's "Strange" that blows the original away (Pink Flag what?). The problem is that after "The One I Love", side two's songs aren't very good. I mean, they're okay, and when I was 14 I listened to side two all the time. But when I was 14, I only had about ten or twenty tapes to call my own, I think. Now that I've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 albums, I can't recall the last time I gave "Fireplace" or "King Of Birds" a listen of my own free volition. Not that these songs are bad, mind you - they're just not very good, and as I related via my little biography, I have listened to all of them a hundred times at least, so I'm pretty sure I'm not inadvertently overlooking subtle gems. But hey, side one's GREAT! Can you look at yourself in the mirror realizing that you don't own an album with "It's The End Of The World As I Know It" on it? I think not.

Green (1988) ***

A major disappointment. When this came out when I was a wee lad of 14 years in junior high, I had a hard time believing this was the same band that did Document. Oh, did I mention that Document was the first album I ever bought with my own money? Yeah, and when I paid 8 bucks and took this home I felt bitter and ripped-off. Maybe they'd made misstep. I didn't own any of their albums besides Document at the time, so I figured to myself that that album might've been a fluke. But it wasn't a fluke, and in retrospect this is a much better album than I originally gave it credit for. But it's still not that wonderful, and I'm still bitter. The problem is that R.E.M. don't sound like R.E.M. in fact, they sound pretty generic. Maybe this is their attempt to make a so-generic-it's-idiosyncratic generic pop album cries of "Sell Out!" are dead on with regards to Green. I mean, come on, "Stand"? That's Sesame Street crap! See, I told you I was still bitter, after all these years. "Turn You Inside Out" is bad Led Zeppelin (yes, there is such a thing as good Led Zeppelin). I don't care about Stipe's paranoid theories about California. I don't care about looking to the sun to find my way home. I don't care about hairshirts. I don't care about "The Wrong Child". I do care about Buck's guitar - where is it? Mills' melodic bass lines - where are they? Put a little more emphasis on band dynamics next time round, please. In its defense, you have "Orange Crush", a rousing anthem about not joining the army. You have the pretty "World Leader Pretend". You have a couple of sweet and tender love songs. You have "Pop Song 89", which so bubblegummily poppy and catchy that it overrides any objections I might have. In toto, a better album than this review might lead you to believe - in fact, this is the nicest album I've ever been this mean to.

Out Of Time (1991) ****

3 years later I was a much more mature lad coasting along through highschool and by this time I'd actually met a few more people who were into R.E.M. Me and this girl in my homeroom had bought this the week it came out and were both giggling excitedly about it, just raving about how great it was, how R.E.M. were trying out all these new sounds and they all sounded wonderful. We couldn't wait to rush home and slap this one on the stereo first thing. Well, my evaluation to this album has diminished quite a bit since then, but I still think it's very good. R.E.M. indulge in a lot of different styles, which makes this something that is always interesting to listen to - if you don't like one style, hang on a bit, there's a new song coming up. Depending on my mood, I like half of these songs and don't like the others when I'm in another mood, I like the half I didn't like the first time and don't like the half I previously liked. Currently, my two faves are the ones with Mills lead vocals, the Beach Boys-style "Near Wild Heaven" (dig that falsetto whine) and "Texarkana", which has nothing to do with the town (ever been to Texarkana? Don't go. I actually had to live there once). Maybe I've just grown sick of Stipe and his ego, or more likely, I just need a change of pace every once in a while. Which is good, since this album is practically nothing but a bunch of changes of pace. KRS-One raps on "Radio Song", there's lovely instrumental, some more country, and, errr, "Shiny Happy People". If you hate that song like I do and have avoided this album because of it, don't. The rest of the album, thankfully, sounds nothing like "Up With People". I've been told that Stipe's filtered mumble on "Belong" sounds like me talking. I listened to a recording of my voice and it's true. Weird. I've taken a more personal approach to my R.E.M. reviews than usual because they were the soundtrack of my generation, so to speak (not everybody, I mean. I realize a lot of you were listening to Great White Lion Snake). For personal reasons, I'd rank this album five stars, because of the memories associated with it. this was the album everybody owned during the summer I went to Arkansas Governor's School, and the sound brings back those young and innocent days. But since you are not me and have every reason not to care about my memories, I've ranked it four stars.

Automatic For The People (1992) ***

Set this one on snooze control. Rumours at this time floated about Stipe's imminent death from AIDS, and by a conservative estimate about half of these songs concern death. "Try Not To Breathe" - that's pretty obvious. While it's not specifically about death, the way Stipe numbly invokes "Hey kids, rock'n'roll" (some worthless novelty dreck single from the glitter era that's inexplicably popular) sure sounds like a voice marching towards the grave. Some of these songs are very pretty, very haunting, and moving, especially the final two songs, and especially "Nightswimming", a better song about mid-American nostalgia than either Bob Seger or Bruce Springsteen has ever written. But too much of this is simply dull. Everything's slowed to a crawl, and the songs start to sound uncomfortably samey, particularly coming on the heels of Out Of Time's dazzling variety. The lone rocker, "Ignoreland", sounds forced, and I've grown sick from constant airplay both "Man On The Moon", and heaven help us, "Everybody Hurts" (not even Mariah Carey would touch that cliche. Oh god, I hope she doesn't cover it!). Not really that bad of an album - in fact it's got some quite good material in spots - and to their credit, R.E.M. are still try new and different things. But their relevance is going fast.

Reader Comments

Didn't like Automatic?? The best collective piece of music ever recorded. From start to finish it speaks beauty, sadness and redemption. themes that most music doesn't come close to.

it seems to me impossible not to think of "automatic for the people" as the best record of all times. it's the most personal, the most intense i've ever listened to.

. and it's gone. This album did it. This is the first R.E.M. album to totally blow. People who hadn't been disappointed before bought this album the day it was released and returned it to the record store the next day. Don't believe me - believe the used bins. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the world champion: the #1 CD you will most likely find ten copies of in the used bin. I do a lot of shopping in those bins, and every one I've ever seen has at least three copies. Myself, I only like one song off of here, "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?". The rest of the time I kind of groove off of the guitar tone - it's pretty groovy, crunchy little guitar tone - and try to find something else to hold my interest. Stipe's singing? It's filtered so that it comes out indecipherable, which is pretty neat. Stipe's lyrics? Better all the time - he might eventually write a decent one yet. Mills' bass lines and backup vocals? Hey, where are they. Since age and anuerysms have taken their toll, Berry's drumming ain't what it used to be, which renders the rythm section useless. And just how are you supposed to rock out without a good rythm section? Crank the amps up to eleven and splatter a bunch of buzzy noise all over the place? Bloated, I say. R.E.M. are a group of bloated arena rockers. Sad. Sad. Sad. They aren't the Rolling Stones - yet. This is more like late-period Who, a not-quite embarrassing album that has its moments but makes one pine uncontrollably for days when the world was young, you were young, this band was young, and this band had something to say.

New Adventures In Hi-Fi (1996) **1/2

Mainly recorded between tour dates during the Monster trek across the globe, you'd figure that cutting a record this loose and off the cuff would make for a fun, sloppy barrel of a time. Nope. This is the dullest record R.E.M. have ever cut, even duller than Automatic. R.E.M. continue to expand their musical horizons and experiment, which is entirely why I gave this record the high grade of two and a half stars. The worst song is "The West And How It Was Won", an arty self-indulgence that really starts things off on the wrong note. After that, you get more bland, arty self-indulgence of marginally more interest. I only sit up when Patti Smith comes on for her monologue, and I despise Patti Smith. The album is mostly slow and quiet, which is a relief after Monster's relentless cacophony, but it's too quiet in this desert. "The Wake-Up Bomb" is a better rocker than anything on the previous platter, but the other rockers like "Departure" sound forced. The melodies have improved since the last time, but most of this is record is texture in search of fully realized songs. And with the median length clocking in at around five minutes, these tracks go on far too long. R.E.M. sound tired, fatigued by nearly two decades of touring and record-making, which makes the album work as a mood piece, at least, but when the mood it captures is weariness, I find my patience taxed. Buck kicks up some feedbacking noise and gets off a few good solos, but despite the noise this record's tone is oddly sedate and quiet. The guitar noise works kind of like those boring early Sonic Youth records - who needs slow, atmospheric noise with no point? Bloated, I say. Sad. Sad. Sad. Is this what baby boomers felt when the Rolling Stones started releasing crap records that spit on their past accomplishments? R.E.M. are far from that valley of washed-upness at least these guys are still trying to make good music, but they just aren't anymore. I remember hearing these guys say around Out Of Time or Green that they were going to break up on New Year's Eve 2000, to end their career before it got lame. Bill Berry's gone now. I hate to say this about what used to be my favorite band, but it's time to hang it up. Stipe's got his films to make, Buck's got all his musical side projects producing other bands and whatnot, and Mills has got golf. Don't turn into the Stones! Don't turn into the Stones! Don't! Don't! Don't! Don't! There, I got that off my chest. At least they've maintained their integrity by making a decidedly non-commercial album like this one - but that doesn't mean it's any good.

Up (1998)

Their latest, sans Berry which leaves R.E.M. a trio with no drummer. Word on the street hasn't been too positive, but of course it's gotten rave reviews in every mainstream publication in existence. So did Monster. I'll get to this eventually when I'm able to pick it up cheap.

Reader Comments

Pretty rough reviews on some great albums towards the end there. You can't let radio overplay determine your feelings on a song (Man on the Moon). How can you give an album with Be Mine and Electrolite 2 1/2 stars?? I also disagree with your judgements on Stipe. The band has made a point of saying they are four (now three) equal parts. Stipe just happens to be the most rock star like of the group. Also, he's way cooler than any frontman out there now. I enjoyed reading your reviews even if I didn't agree with all of them. Very cool.

Tony Soltero, [email protected]

Don't worry --- R.E.M. needs to inflict about six pointless live albums upon us before they can truly be compared to the Stones. And as disappointing as some of the later records have been, they're yet to record anything as wall-to-wall crappy as Emotional Rescue or Dirty Work. Even Monster has its moments, and New Adventures is, well, pretty engaging in spots when it avoids being "atmospheric" (atmospheric, adj. critic-speak for "tuneless". U2's latest releases have been very atmospheric.) You don't have Up on your list yet. I don't know if you've had a chance to listen to it, but I think it's a nice rebound from their last two offerings. Very ballady, but hardly ever dull, and "At My Most Beautiful" lives up to its title, rivaling "Fall On Me" in its exquisiteness. As for the other records, I pretty much agree Pageant is my fave "Sitting Still" is three and a half minutes of pure pop perfection you trash "Voice of Harold", but I think it's a hoot! Much more fun than "Seven Chinese Brothers".

Nice reviews. Keep up the good work.

Nick Karn, [email protected]

Your reviews here were fairly accurate with my opinions until their more recent material. Am I the only one who thinks "New Adventures In Hi Fi" is great? I guess so. As for "Automatic", I do believe that one to be a little overrated because there are a few songs that are less than stellar ("Sweetness Follows", "New Orleans Instrumental No. 1" and the horrible "Star Me Kitten", probably the worst album track they ever released IMO), but it's still a great album because the highlights are so phenomenal ("Everybody Hurts", "Ignoreland", "Man On The Moon"). "Monster" I'd say is so-so, not great, but not bad either. And "Up". after months of constantly listening to this, I still contend it's their masterpiece. The first three tracks are just pretty good but after that it's absolutely brilliant. It's by far the deepest they've ever gone musically and lyrically.

Let's see. my ratings for their catalog are as follows: Chronic Town (****1/2), Murmur (*****), Reckoning (*****), Fables of the Reconstruction (***), Life's Rich Pageant (***1/2), Dead Letter Office (***), Document (****1/2), Eponymous (***1/2), Green (*****), Out Of Time (****1/2), Automatic For The People (****), Monster (***), New Adventures In Hi Fi (****1/2, Up (*****)

Steve Grant, [email protected]

Well, they've done so much experimenting in their music, I'll cut them some slack when an occasional shot falls way wide of the mark.

Rich Bunnell, [email protected]

What's with all of the turnaround lately with reviewers which suddenly find it necessary to bash Lifes Rich Pageant and praise Green to death? I mean your page has the right idea, as does Mark Prindle's, but I just can't see how "Green" with so many obviously weaker tracks than the other album could be thought of as so amazing. Both albums are still good, though-- if I were to rate Green it'd get a ***1/2, with LRP a ****1/2.

My other ratings are = Murmur (****1/2), Reckoning (****1/2), Fables (****), Document (*****), Out of Time (****), Automatic (***1/2), Monster (**), New Adventures (****1/2), and Up (****1/2). I am in agreement about Monster but I hate it even more than you, it contains only a few listenable songs ("Star 69" is awesome!) and that guitar tone that everyone loves just annoys me to death.

But "New Adventures In Hi-Fi"? That album's great! Tons of well-held-together rock songs, and only "dull" in a few points. "Up" is just as good but it takes time to grow on you, though I'd imagine when you finally get it it'll get the same grade as the previous two albums. Whatever, I'm not gonna act all pretentious and say "You just don't GET IT," because the songs on Up intrigue some people and bore the crap out of others.

dd dd dd, [email protected]

Mr S Riordan, [email protected]

I like you're reviews, I just have a couple of points.

(i)I think you'll find that Mike Mills wrote "Don't go Back to Rockville"

(ii)I must admit that Monster and fables are two of my favouritese (but equally I agree - Automatic and Hi-Fi are pretty boring).


Rieflin was born on September 30, 1960 (some sources say September 29) [2] and began his professional career in his hometown of Seattle. In 1975, he was in The Telepaths, a band which played backup for a couple of live gigs by the pre-The Screamers band The Tupperwares. [3] He played drums for The Blackouts starting in 1979. His bandmates included Mike Davidson, Paul Barker, Roland Barker and Erich Werner. Eventually that band dissolved and Paul Barker joined the nascent Ministry. [4] His earliest collaboration with Al Jourgensen was on the second single by the Revolting Cocks, "You Often Forget". [5]

Later, he participated in the creation of Ministry's album The Land of Rape and Honey, and was noted for his performance in the live video In Case You Didn't Feel Like Showing Up (alongside fellow drummer Martin Atkins). [6] His work with Ministry and its side projects lasted through to the mid-nineties, though he noted that he was never credited as a member of Ministry proper, always as an "other" musician. Therefore, when he parted ways with the band during the Filth Pig sessions, he did not really quit since he was never an official member. [7]

Rieflin helped Atkins kick off Pigface, the industrial collective that would grow to incorporate hundreds of artists, formed a friendship with labelmate Chris Connelly and founded First World Music. [8] Like Connelly, Rieflin's work grew beyond his industrial roots. They have collaborated on several recordings two in particular, The Ultimate Seaside Companion (as "The Bells") and Largo, showcase Rieflin's keyboard skills. [9]

Rieflin's solo debut, Birth of a Giant, featured him singing in something other than a background role, and also featured Robert Fripp. [10] Improvisations from these sessions turned up later on the CD The Repercussions of Angelic Behavior, which was credited to Rieflin, Fripp and Trey Gunn. [11]

Rieflin appeared on all KMFDM records released from 1995 to 2003 as a drummer, programmer, vocalist and keyboardist. [12] He toured with the band as a bassist in 2002 in support of its comeback album, Attak and performed on the 2011 KMFDM album, WTF?!. [13] He also drummed for Scott McCaughey's band, The Minus 5, which occasionally included guitarist Peter Buck. [4] Eventually Buck offered Rieflin the opportunity to sit in with R.E.M., who were missing a permanent drummer since the 1997 departure of Bill Berry. [14] The band gave him the live drummer slot in its 2003 tour. [15] They later announced that Rieflin would fill the role indefinitely, though once again as a hired musician rather than as an official member. In recordings, Rieflin also contributed bouzouki, keyboards and guitars to the group, serving as an auxiliary member until R.E.M. disbanded in 2011. [14]

Rieflin formed an experimental ensemble under the name Slow Music in 2005 (including Fripp and Buck) in which he played synthesizers rather than drums. The group played a small handful of live dates in 2005 and 2006 and became inactive for several years. [14] He was also involved in a music collaboration project entitled The Humans, which consisted of him, Chris Wong, Fripp and Toyah Willcox. The band performed a series of live dates in Estonia in Autumn 2007 and 2009, and released their debut album We are the Humans in 2009. [4] Hector Zazou's 2010 album Corps Electriques featured Rieflin, as well as KatieJane Garside, Lone Kent and nu-jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær. [16]

Rieflin was a regular contributor to Swans ever since the 1995 album The Great Annihilator, [17] and played an array of instruments on all their studio recordings since the band reformed in 2010 and released My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky. [18] Rieflin is listed as an "honorary Swan" on the band's 2012 album The Seer. [19]

In 2012, Rieflin performed on drums for Robbie Williams's album Take the Crown. [20] Later that year he produced the single Crush Vaccine for Atomic Bride. [21]

In an online diary entry dated September 6, 2013, Robert Fripp announced a new lineup for King Crimson that included Rieflin as one of the band's three drummers. [22] A few days after the first full-length live release of the band with Rieflin on board (Live in Toronto 2015), Fripp announced Rieflin's decision to take a sabbatical from the band, effective March 6, 2016, "a decision supported by all the Crimson Brothers." [23] In early 2017, Fripp announced that Rieflin would be returning alongside his replacement, Jeremy Stacey. Due to Fripp's desire to stave off complacency after several years of touring, Rieflin "will be focusing on mellotron, keys and fairy dusting, rather than using drums as a main instrument" in the new Double Quartet configuration, [24] thus becoming the band's first full-time keyboardist ever. For the US Autumn 2017 tour dates in October–November, he was replaced on keyboards by the Seattle-based guitarist Chris Gibson. [25] He rejoined in 2018 before taking another indefinite sabbatical in 2019, he was replaced on keyboards by Soft Machine's sax player Theo Travis. [14] In 2020, Fripp made the decision to not replace Rieflin, thus reverting King Crimson to a seven-member band.

Rieflin was married to painter Francesca Sundsten until her death in 2019. [26] Rieflin died on March 24, 2020 from cancer at the age of 59. [4]


the drug experiments (amphetamine, LSD, and others) were definitely carried out. But I think your prof has her dates wrong. Amphetamine was first synthesized and used militarily in the first World War (1916). It was SOP (standard operating procedure) for US pilots in WWII to be dosed with amphetamines before missions. This continued until the 1990's with the Strategic Air Command in charge of dropping nuclear bombs from aircraft refueled in-flight for indefinite endurance and range.

The LSD story is a bit more complex because all the military footage we've been able to find today suggests it was a total failure for the military (lol no surprise!) However, there was continued interest in using atomized LSD to subdue an enemy due to its unpredictable effects.

Popular American culture references have lauded "Jacob's Ladder" as a somewhat authentic account of the 1950's Army playing around with LSD. There are also a few easily findable videos on YouTube etc. on the official Army films of maneuvers testing the LSD on soldiers. Pretty funny to watch the commanders collapse into laughing fits and climbing trees to look for the enemy.

Easily begs the question: "Was the Army begging up the wrong tree?"

Yeah, most probably had too many $5 bills to handle.

Song Meaningit doesn't take a rocket scientist to see its about agent orange and how they would fly overhead and spray it on the Vietnamese.

And the thing about spines refers to courage!

My Interpretation"Follow me, don't follow me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
Collar me, don't collar me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
We are agents of the free
I've had my fun and now it's time to
Serve your conscience overseas
(Over me, not over me)
Comin' in fast, over me"

Right so this is how the song opens. It's when the soldier is a 18 year old or so in the states. He's just got out of high school and has been enjoying the summer but he gets his draft notice. He's conflicted as to whether he should go or not, (Follow me, don't follow me) but ultimately his patriotic feeling wins over. He wants to be a man and keep his respect by going to war (I've got my spine --> doesn't want to be seen as spineless or weak), but he's still childish at heart (I've got my orange crush --> it's a kid's drink, a soda). He still believes in the benevolent intentions of America in Southeast Asia (We are agents of the free) and he's going to do his patriotic duty overseas. And it all happened so fast just a month ago he was in school. (Comin' in fast, over me)

"High on the booze
In a tent
Paved with blood
Nine inch howl
Brave the night
Chopper comin' in, you hope"

So this is pretty hard to hear in the song but it's pretty obvious. Vietnam sucks: they drink to keep down the depression from their friends dying, homesickness, doubt in the justification for the war there's fear everywhere and the VC 'own the night' the soldiers just want to go home, and pray for a chopper to come and save them from this hell.

So this is where I get annoyed, because all of the lyrics sites that I've gone to say that the rest of the song is just repeating the chorus part. But I think the lyrics should change. Cause this is how I heard them when I first heard the song, and I think it makes more sense this way:

"Follow me, don't follow me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
Collar me, don't collar me
I've got my spine, I've got my orange crush
We are agents BY DECREE
I've had my fun and now it's time to
SELL your conscience overseas
(Over me, not over me)
Comin' in fast, over me"

So now the whole meaning of each of these has been flipped. Now the stress is on "DON'T" follow me and "DON'T" collar me. He's angry at the government for forcing him into this war and doesn't want others to go through what he went through. Now he says "I've got my spine" meaning he's glad that he hasn't been deformed by Agent Orange (tons of people, mostly Vietnamese, got cancer, had horrendous birth defects, etc. Some of those affected were our own soldiers), because he was somehow involved with spreading it (maybe he flew the planes that dropped it or was a foot soldier in areas that had been hit by it) and that it's his "crush" because he hates it. Like he's been told it's for the better by the government, he's been 'made to love it,' (crush) but he sees its evil. And yeah, the soldiers are agents of the government unwillingly, and they are 'agents' just like the herbicide Agent Orange -- they're simply tools of the government. "I've had my fun" is clearly like 'Okay I've seen Nam, I'm done with this sh*!t, get me out' whereas before it meant 'I've had my childhood, my good high school memories, my last normal summer, now I'm ready to become a man.' Then "sell your conscience overseas" is pretty simple, either referencing Monsanto (so evil) or just that soldiers returning from Nam had lost their conscience during the war. And then "Over me, not over me/Comin' in fast, over me" could mean both Agent Orange is being dropped over the soldier or that the chopper is finally "comin' in fast", and he's going home.

But those AREN'T the lyrics. I just misheard them and thought they were the real ones, but according to 2 different lyrics sources he actually does repeat the exact same chorus over again, without "SELL" or "BY DECREE." But I think it works better! And the interpretation still works either way, really.

R.E.M.’s Mike Mills

For 31 years, Mike Mills was R.E.M. ’s distinctively bookish-looking bass player. His apperance has changed over the years—he grew his hair long and started wearing Nudie suits as R.E.M. became one of rock’s biggest groups—but he was always an integral part of the band’s sound, adding high haromony vocals to Michael Stipe ’s iconic murmurs and filling out the arrangments with chamber-pop orchestrations. R.E.M.’s career suffered after its popularity peaked in the early ’90s, but with this year’s Collapse Into Now , many fans believed the band sealed a comeback that began with 2008’s Accelerate . In spite of clues embedded in the album’s lyrics—from “All The Best”: “It’s just like me to overstay my welcome”—few suspected that, behind the scenes, Mills, Stipe, and guitarist Peter Buck had secretly decided to pack it in rather than re-up their record contract with Warner Bros. R.E.M. finally announced its breakup in September, and in recent interviews, the band members have firmly re-iterated that this isn’t a prelude to a reunion tour or another comeback record. R.E.M. is finished, and its members are moving on.

Before that, though, there’s a new R.E.M. greatest-hits album to promote: Part Lies Part Heart Part Truth Part Garbage 1982-2011. The two-disc set covers 40 R.E.M. songs, including three new tracks, though fans will inevitably find essentials missing. (No “Perfect Circle”? No “Pretty Persuasion”? No “Near Wild Heaven”?) Mills recently talked about the compilation with The A.V. Club, as well as the reasons behind R.E.M.’s split and what songs he’d like to survive the nuclear apocalypse.

The A.V. Club: It’s been two months since the breakup announcement, and the band has been very clear about saying, “This is it, we’re finished.” A lot of times when bands break up, they don’t make an announcement, or they say they’re going on hiatus. Why was it important for R.E.M. to say unequivocally that this breakup is permanent?

Mike Mills: Because if you don’t, it just seems very manipulative. It’s like you’d be building hopes and expectations for the next record you’re secretly planning to do, or for the next tour that you’re secretly planning to do, and we’re just trying to be straight-up and honest about it and say that we are actually finished, and we have no plans to ever tour again as a group.

AVC: Don’t you think there’s a possibility that in, say, a year or two, you’ll wake up one morning and want to make another R.E.M. record?

MM: I doubt it. I mean, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, but I don’t see that happening. We put a lot of thought into this, and we realized that we’ve accomplished pretty much everything we could hope to accomplish. We’re going out on a high note—I think we just made two of our best records, and we’re going to walk away on our own terms as friends, with no negativity involved. It just seems like the right thing to do.

AVC: You’ve said that the band talked about breaking up going as far back as 2008, when you were touring for Accelerate. What prompted those initial discussions?

MM: We knew we had some decisions to make regarding our contract with Warner Bros. We had to make some decision about how to continue going forward as a recording unit, and if we still wanted to tour together. Oddly enough, I think that independently, we all arrived at the conclusion that this was such a great opportunity to walk away on our own terms, that we thought, “Why not take advantage of it?”

AVC: You’ve talked about the friendship at the core of this band. Has being in R.E.M. ever put a strain on that friendship?

MM: Considering that, without the band, we wouldn’t have a relationship, the only way to answer that is to say “Of course, in any relationship, there are ups and downs.” Being in the band itself hasn’t put a strain in the relationship, because there wouldn’t have been one otherwise. So what happens is, as with any marriage or family you have, you’re going to have to down years, but being the stubborn guys that we are, we just waded through those and got back to higher ground.

AVC: Did you know while you were making that Collapse Into Now that it was going to be your last record?

MM: Yeah, we were pretty sure about that. There are hints on the record in some of the lyrics. The cover is the first one all three of us have ever been on, so we were playing with that a little bit. Because we pretty much decided the time we were well into that record that it would be it.

AVC: Now, it seems obvious—Stipe is even waving goodbye on the cover—but were you surprised when people didn’t pick up on that when the record came out?

MM: Yeah, actually. I was a little surprised that there wasn’t a little more speculation about that, but I think that the thing is, it would never occur to anybody that a band would break up voluntarily. Usually it’s some outside force or some negative event or traumatic happening that causes a band to break up. Who would expect a band to walk away when they’re hitting creative heights? But that’s just what we decided to do.

AVC: What was it like making Collapse Into Now and recording the new songs for the greatest-hits record, knowing they were the last R.E.M. sessions?

MM: We tried to enjoy it as much as possible and make it as fun as possible, but we’re not super-sentimental people in that sense. The only time we got really poignant was when we were working in Berlin, and they have a beautiful room there, Meister Halle, where we recorded seven or eight songs. There was no one there really except some friends, family, and significant others, and we knew that was probably the last time we would ever play together as R.E.M. That was a pretty fraught day. [Laughs.] But it was fun. The atmosphere was almost totally positive, because we are walking away on our own terms after accomplishing all that we wanted, and we’re all very excited about the future, and we’re all still friends. We can all still have dinners and bottles of wine together. There’s really very little that’s negative about this.

AVC: When the breakup announcement came in September, there was a big public outpouring of love for the band. Because R.E.M was around for so long, did you ever feel that you were taken for granted?

MM: It’s not something I would have dwelt on, but of course it happens. Any time you stick around for that long, people just assume you’re going to be around forever. But I never lost any sleep over that, because people are people and they do what people do.

AVC: Did you read any of the tributes that came out after the breakup?

MM: I read a few. You know, it’s very gratifying to know that people were affected by what you did. I really enjoyed Pearl Jam doing one of the songs from Collapse Into Now—that was very cool. You want to leave a positive mark on people, and to have that shown to be true is really nice. Having said that, I didn’t sit there and read every single thing I could find about what people said, because this is a big enough deal about making it a bigger deal in my own head.

AVC: Are you still processing the breakup in your mind? It seems like you’re at peace with it, but have you fully accepted that you’re not in R.E.M. anymore?

MM: I think so. I’m very much at peace with it. Everybody feels really good about our decision. It feels like the right thing to have done. You know, that doesn’t mean I won’t have a nervous breakdown in two months. [Laughs.] But right now, I think everybody’s okay with it.

AVC: Do you foresee collaborating with the other members under a different name or set of circumstances?

MM: Oh yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised. There could be any number of things. One thing I do want to do is write songs with people, and since Peter and I have always written songs together, we might continue to do that at some point. I would not be surprised at all.

AVC: Now R.E.M. has this greatest-hits record coming out. Has this been an opportunity for you to reflect on the legacy of the band?

MM: Not so much. The overriding feeling among Peter, Michael, and myself is excitement for the future. We’re plenty young enough to have a lot of creative years left. Now we can do anything that comes to mind. I think it’s much more about looking forward than it is about looking back, surprisingly, even at this particular time. When we made the announcement, all three of us were in very different places, literally, but we all had dinners with dear friends or family or both, and I could see us three raising a glass that same night, but just not with each other, which is kind of interesting.

AVC: How involved was the band in picking the songs for this compilation?

MM: Oh, it’s totally our decision. It’s the three of us who chose them, and decided which ones went on and which ones didn’t. We were really excited to have three new ones that we really liked that we could put on that to us kind of show the three facets of R.E.M.: We’ve got one kind of goofy song, and one slightly harder-edged song, and then the beautiful, wistful, mid-tempo ballad.

AVC: Was the idea to sum up the band on one album?

MM: One way of looking at it was, if some 12-year-old kid had heard of R.E.M. but didn’t really know anything about it, and wanted to have a nice overview of what the band was, from basically the beginning up until this year, you would have it right there. Or if the Martians landed after the nuclear holocaust, and the only thing they could find was this two-CD set of R.E.M., they’d understand what we were about.

AVC: Are there songs that you would have liked to include that didn’t make it?

MM: You know, the only one I kind of miss is “Find The River,” because it’s such a beautiful song. But there are four songs from [Automatic For The People] on there already. We really wanted the song, but there are time limitations, even on CDs. Something had to go, and that was just one.

AVC: Going back to that nuclear-holocaust scenario, if you were only going to leave behind one proper R.E.M. album, which album would that be?

MM: [Laughs.] Well, you know, there are certainly some obvious ones that people would think. But I say leave Reveal out there and have people find that, because I think that’s a very underrated record.

AVC: Judging from the liner notes, it appears the band has made peace with “Shiny Happy People.”

MM: You know, we never had a problem with that song. We always thought it was fun to write a happy song. Nobody writes super-happy music, so we decided to do that. The only thing we didn’t like about that song was that we didn’t want that to be our legacy song. We didn’t want it to be the one that people think about when they think about R.E.M. It’s a great song, and I’m proud of it, but it wasn’t fun to play live, because we didn’t have Kate Pierson out with us. So there was really not much point in doing it.

AVC: The two songs that are probably most identified with you personally are “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” and “Nightswimming.” Do those songs hold a special place in your heart?

MM: Oh yeah, of course they do. “Rockville” is written about a real person, although the situation was certainly not fully true to life. And “Nightswimming” is a beautiful piece of piano music that Michael was inspired to write some incredibly beautiful lyrics to. I’ve done some fun things with “Nightswimming.” My friend Robert McDuffie is a violinist who has established a music school at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, a school for strings, and I went down and performed. He had a friend arrange it for a string quartet, and he plays the vocal melody on his violin. We went down and presented that as part of a classical program, and that was pretty thrilling right there.

AVC: “Nightswimming” is a great example of how the members of R.E.M. collaborated, with you writing the piano part and Stipe those evocative lyrics.

MM: Well, that’s the essence of the band. That’s one reason Peter, Michael, and I stuck it out all of these years in difficult times, because we knew the best work we would ever do as musicians is the work we do within R.E.M. I mean, we all do great things alone, but our life’s work was this band, and the way the band works is the collaboration between the four and then the three of us, and that’s something we enjoyed and respected.

AVC: What won’t you miss about being in R.E.M.?

MM: I always hated doing videos, but I haven’t been in an R.E.M. video in years. Peter and I told Michael, “Go and make any video you like, just don’t make us be in it.” So that’s the only thing I really didn’t like. I don’t mind doing interviews. I don’t love having my picture taken, but that’s not going to be a problem now.

AVC: Over the course of R.E.M.’s career, the music industry has changed dramatically. Do you think it’s still possible for a band to have the same kind of impact that you guys had?

MM: If I can say this without sounding like an egotist, I doubt it, because the Internet dilutes music so much. You don’t have a giant record company pushing a band. You don’t have the limited radio stations that people can listen to. People have so many more places to go find their music and go listen to their music that I think it becomes what they call the long tail. I think there are going to be a whole lot of bands with successful but smaller careers, which is great. I think the Internet has totally broken down the walls between the bands and their fans. I think in a way, that will make it easier for bands to have careers. I just don’t think it will be easy to be really big like U2 or we have been over the years.

AVC: R.E.M. has always been supportive of new and emerging artists. Are there new bands you’re excited about?

MM: Well, you know, Athens is full of them still. Wavves are great. I just heard a song by a band called Real Estate that I really liked.

AVC: Real Estate has been compared to your band a lot.

MM: Oh, well there you go. [Laughs.] I only heard the one song. I bought the record, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet. The Low Anthem is doing some pretty cool things out there. I think it’s a good time for music.

AVC: Looking to the future, do you have any specific plans in place, music-wise?

MM: I’m looking forward to writing with a bunch of different people whose music I admire. I could see doing a solo record, although there are no concrete plans for that. The only thing that is planned is my friend Chris Stamey, who is in a band called The dB’s, is a Big Star fan, as are many musicians I know, and he has a project we have performed two or three times already, where a bunch of musicians get together and perform Big Star’s Third record. We’ve got a couple of shows in Europe planned for next year already, and I’m very excited about those.

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