Interviews: Mike Mills Answers Your Questions

By Emma and Craig (R.E.M. Web Forum)

Emma: All these questions we are going to ask you have been posed by members of our website, they haven’t been doctored in any way, so we’ll just go from there.
Craig: We took a vote and these were the best.
Mike Mills: OK, sounds good.

Emma: The first question is from a user called Maddikins and she asks: If you had to pick one song to share with a person that had never heard R.E.M.’s music before, which one would you choose and why?
Mike: (long pause) You know I looked over some of these and I’m still not sure to what the answer to that would is. Um, maybe something like Find The River, just because it sounds so beautiful and evocative and it’s just our music at it best.

Emma: Are there any that you wouldn’t tell people to listen too?
Mike: Um, no. Because I would assume that whatever they heard they would hear something else later on.

Craig: Ok, the second question we have here is what was your favourite album of last year and you can’t pick your own album.
Mike: Oh shoot, you know what I meant to go over what came out last year. Um, Let’s go with Angela McCluskie The Things We Do.
Emma: I haven’t actually heard that. I must have a look.
Mike: It’s really good. She’s Scottish but she works out of New York.
Craig: It’s news to me and I’m Scottish!
Mike: Well, she’s been in America for a few years. (Now referring to my dictaphone) Now the only thing is you’re sure that’s running.
Emma: Yes it’s running, I’ve definitely got in on. (I think I got a bit loud at this point!)
Mike: Great.

Emma: The next question is from a user called Hope Despite and she asks: What’s the naughtiest thing you ever did when you were little?
Mike: Oh, I burned down a building once.
Emma: Oh.
Mike: But it was an accident.
Emma: Care to elaborate any?
Mike: No.
Emma: Ok. Alright. Fair enough.

Craig: The fourth question we have here is there a possibility that you will sing lead vocals on another song?
Mike: Always a possibility but no plans for it. That usually happens when there’s a song that we really like and Michael doesn’t come up with anything. But that’s a rare occurrence.

Emma: The next question, again I’m sorry for the complete and utter unprofessionalism of this.
Mike: No no, don’t worry.
Emma: The next question we have is you’ve been with R.E.M for the past 25 years. Was making music always your ideal occupation, or did you have any other career path in mind?
Mike: Well, I always knew I’d be playing music, I just didn’t know I’d be paid for it. If I weren’t making music I’d like to think I’d have been either a journalist or a baseball player.
Emma: Any particular team you’d like to play baseball for?
Mike: (laughs) Ah, no I think if you’re a ball player you take what you get.
Emma: Ok. Is there a team you support?
Mike: I’m a Braves fan.
Emma: (in shameless Nottingham Forest plug) I actually support the team that plays at this ground so this is a great thing at the moment.
Mike: OK cool. (Or Mike, were you thinking what a complete lunatic?!)

Craig: OK, question number six comes from a fan in Ireland who asks: Why are you always on the left side of the stage? Is it a balance thing?
Mike: You know it’s funny. I was just talking to Peter about that the other day. It’s from the very first time we set up, it’s always been like that, we’ve never changed. They is no real why, it’s just how we started and how it’s always been.
Emma: That question comes from on of our most (gives up on saying prolific as I find my tongue has tied itself into a knot)
Mike: Prolific posters?
Emma: Yep, that’s the one. And I don’t think she’d ever forgive us if we didn’t ask one of her questions.
Mike: Right. Yeah, Peter and I were just discussing it the other day. There really is no answer to it.

Emma: There’s a couple more questions that have come to light that weren’t posted. What does Mr Meatscience mean?
Mike: It means nothing. It’s a little placard we found when we played with a band called The Neats in Madison, Wisconsin in the mid-80’s. We played in the Swine Research Centre, also known as the Pig Barn and they had the dressing room was in a place that had the placard that said “Meatscience” on it so I put Mr above it. It’s been written on my amp for 20 years.
Emma: Right.
Mike: Just ’cause I thought it was funny.

Emma: There were also a couple of posters that were at the gig in Germany, in Dresden, and they want to know the motivation for you to get your clothes off?
Mike: Ah, end of the tour madness. Just felt like it was something I’d never done, something that I thought I should do whilst I had the chance.
Emma: Well, the photos were very popular amongst our female users!
Mike: Well, that’s good to hear.

Emma: That’s all the questions that we have to ask, so we thank you for your time, we know you’re a busy man.
Craig: (he lives! interrupting the rampaging Emma so skilfully) I have one personal question if I may indulge. Each album that R.E.M. release seems to be quite distinct from the last. Do you deliberately go out and make something that sounds different from the last album?
Mike: We don’t really do it deliberately, but things change in your thinking and your song writing, you know cos it’s usually a full year or more since the last one and your circumstances change and your approach to things change, and also you want to work in different ways. It’s not really a conscious thing it’s just very natural. But it does seem to happen almost every time.

Craig: OK, thanks for your time.

(Autographs ensue and Emma can’t work the digital camera but we find an R.E.M. crewmember that can, cheers!)

Again, we would like to thank Tim Abbot, David Bell, Brian Orloff, Bertis Downs and Mike Mills for making this interview possible.

Originally published on 8 July 2005 by R.E.M. Web Forum


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