Michael Stipe says speculation of a R.E.M. reunion is “wishful thinking”. The ‘Losing My Religion’ hitmakers went their separate ways in 2011, and despite the frontman recently insisting he and his former bandmates are closer than ever, he has ruled out getting the group back together.
The 61-year-old rocker branded the majority of bands who reunite as “money-grabbers” and insisted it would be “really tacky” if R.E.M. returned.
In an interview on the ‘All Of It with Alison Stewart’ radio show on New York’s WNYC station, Michael insisted: “We will never reunite. We decided when we split up that that would just be really tacky and probably money-grabbing, which might be the impetus for a lot of bands to get back together. We don’t really need that, and I’m really happy that we just have the legacy of the 32 years of work that we have.”
The band was formed in 1980 by Michael, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry – who quit in 1997 – and the musician recently revealed they are in regular contact.
When asked what his relationship is like with his bandmates, he said: “Beyond incredible. I just spent three weeks with Mike Mills in Europe, promoting [the ‘Monster’ reissue]. Phenomenal. And then Peter and I texted all day long yesterday. There’s things happening in our lives, so we’re leaning on each other.
“Bill’s a farmer. He’s the true eccentric of the band. The most beautiful, intelligent, really grounded person. He just got tired of travelling. He wanted to make music, but he didn’t want to do all the stuff around it.
“Bill’s in Athens. I go there quite frequently, to visit my family, and I keep a home there that I bought when I was 25. I love being there. I call it my Hamptons. New York is my home, Berlin is our second home, and then my boyfriend is from Paris, so the South of France is where his extended family lives, and that’s where we spend a lot of time. And Athens is where my family lives, so I spend a lot of time there. They’re each very distinct.”
And Michael says the band have a “beautiful, really deep, profound love and respect for each other” that only got stronger after R.E.M. split.
He explained: “With R.E.M., the foundation of the music was the band. The friendship. A shared love of music, and then these guys who were presenting me with these incredible pieces of music on which to do something. They always came first, and I had to do something. It was a partnership that worked beautifully – kismet-ly. Like, how did it happen that we came together and created this thing? We’re talented, but we’re not that talented. Together, we were a force. And then there’s the friendship, which cannot be taken for granted by people who don’t know us. But there’s this beautiful, really deep, profound love and respect for each other that allowed us to make it all the way through that thing and emerge as maybe even better friends afterward, because now we don’t have to fight and argue about what direction this or that thing will go.”