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Mike Mills talks to Rolling Stone about R.E.M. breakup

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills talks to Rolling Stone about the band's breakup. Staff photo.

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills talks to Rolling Stone about the band's breakup. Staff photo.

Less than a week after R.E.M. officially called it quits, Rolling Stone’s David Fricke gets a little more insight on the split from bassist Mike Mills.

“There is a great deal of sadness, but it’s really celebratory,” Mills tells Rolling Stone.  “There is sadness because I will never play on the same stage as Peter and Michael again.”

Mills also reveals to the magazine that the decision was made several months ago, but the band took the time to make sure everything was in order before pulling the plug, because, he says,  “a lot of people are affected by this decision in a serious way.”

The band members, who have been scattered around the country, had gathered in Athens to record new songs for an upcoming greatest hits package called “Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage: 1982-2011.” The anthology, which covers the bands entire career, will be release Nov. 15. The new songs — “A Month of Saturdays”, “We All Go Back to Where We Belong” and “Hallelujah” — were all recorded after the band completed what appears to be the final R.E.M. studio album, “Collapse Into Now.”

Rolling Stone also speaks with Rob Cavallo, the chairman of Warner Bros. Records, the band’s label, in the piece, which you can find in full here.

25 comments Add your comment


September 26th, 2011
5:43 pm

Still sad! Should have done a few “farewell” shows in Atlanta & Athens with Bill Berry on drums!


September 26th, 2011
6:00 pm

Its sad to see the band not tour, but I would not call it a break up, more like a break. I will wait for the REM 2013 tour.


September 26th, 2011
6:08 pm

Boy that sure was informative.


September 26th, 2011
6:27 pm

Anyone who listens to Collapse Into Now (which, it turns out, really is a good REM album) would have caught the obvious farewell signs in the lyrics. I’m glad to hear Mike Mills clarify it.

I have to agree with MM – they went out with a good album and class. My only regret is not seeing some of the Collapse Into Now material live – I think it is better and less forced than Accelerate. I’m glad I caught the 2008 tour.

Kids reading this: if you ever get a chance to see your favorite band live, do not miss the chance because it could be your last! I’ve made that mistake many times (Nirvana, The Clash, etc).


September 26th, 2011
6:28 pm

They’ll be back in a few years in an 80’s reunion tour with Tears For Fears, Human League, Mr Mister and maybe Huey Lewis.


September 26th, 2011
6:31 pm

The way I look at it, they are just ending. Probably permanent.
If the band members start or join separate bands fairly soon, then, that would be more of a breakup. I don’t really see any of them really doing much as far playing/making new music.

Bobby Bobby

September 26th, 2011
6:48 pm

Problem is fans just want to hear the music. People really do not know these guys. They have lives, do other things. About 5 years back I went to a movie opening that MM produced. Low budget mock Dracula — horrible– in a B movie kinda way. These guys have money-with royalties to come. Playing music for a living is hard work. I wish them luck.


September 26th, 2011
7:00 pm

I hear Mills quit to dedicate his time to a fanatasy baseball league. True story.


September 26th, 2011
7:11 pm

REM – ew. LATER!


September 26th, 2011
7:14 pm

I am 50 and this band at an early age changed the way I look at the world tremendously. I am a significant environmental enthusist, and this started with some of the early albums like Green. My fav REM song is “Until the Day is Done”. Just absolutely brilliant.

GREAT guys, great Georgians and great musicians. I was on my boat yesterday with a girl friend near Cumberland Island. I was the only boat there and it was a little cloudy and windy on the beach with the sun setting. Find the River came on my sound system from my Ipod.. I shed a small tear….

This is a sad break up. They were part of my life for 25 years.

Banana Republicans

September 26th, 2011
7:15 pm

Interesting, Sludge. That would explain why the band decided to break up a few months ago. I wonder if he made that decision to accommodate his fantasy draft. I bet he plays in a very tough league.

david c

September 26th, 2011
8:14 pm

I’ve missed REM for years now.

Motocross Survivor

September 26th, 2011
8:16 pm

REM were always overrated IMO. And their best stuff was early on in very early 80s.


September 26th, 2011
8:18 pm

Reunion 2013 book it! “When your world is a monster, That’ll swallow you whole, ah ha…….”"”


September 26th, 2011
8:50 pm

To all the cynics who predict a reunion tour, you obviously are not familiar with REM. They have always been honest with fans, and no way that changes now. For 31 years, their integrity has been unmatched. Best regards to the four of them.

No loss

September 26th, 2011
9:42 pm

Had been a fan of REM since mid-80’s. Loved their shows. Then Stipe got too big for his britches. Had unfrtunate experience of late night meal with him & mutual contacts. I actually excused myself & feigned babysitter’s curfew (friends knew I didn’t have kids). Could not deal with his super-inflated ego, self-absorption & hypocrisy.


September 26th, 2011
9:44 pm

One of the great regrets of my life (at least musically) is that I never saw REM live. I kick myself for that. Great band, great music.


September 26th, 2011
9:45 pm

Forgot to add that I bent the old gal over the gunwale and popped a nut to REM, too!

Orange Brave f/k/a Billy Jack's BBQ

September 26th, 2011
11:47 pm

glad they have some material coming out. maybe they can help the Braves win a game….

Paul Stanley

September 27th, 2011
1:22 am

Those farewell tours are cash cows. REM should consider it. I’m on my 12th farewell tour at the moment.


September 27th, 2011
5:44 am

Good band but overrated and nowhere near as good as all the hype.


September 27th, 2011
3:55 pm

They’re still together? Who cares? R.E.M. stopped being relevant once you could understand what Michael Stipe was saying. “Radio Free Europe” rules, R.E.M., for the most part, sucks.

John Bigbooty

September 27th, 2011
11:43 pm

It’s sad but Mike Mills has done such great work participating in the Big Star revival.

Perhaps going back to their roots may produce some pleasant surprises. Wink-Wink. Nudge-Nudge.

Bless them all.


September 30th, 2011
12:57 pm

Is there a need for a breakup? Why not just stop recording ,but do an occasional get together if the mood suits them. No need to “finalize” anything. Start their own individual ventures and people will just move on. This way, no over the top hype if they ever want to “reunite” for an occasional set or two.

But I would like to say that REM were indeed giants in the industry. When i first moved here, Georgia had a pretty decent vibe for both rock and later hip hop. Parts of the hip hop are still there. But no real big local acts for rock these days.


September 30th, 2011
1:07 pm

Now, i gotta go listen to Orange Crush. The opening part of the song just felt like a sonic wakeup call to mainstream radio back in the day.