10 March 2011

AAAA aaaaaah ahahaha!

So far, the music videos that Michael Stipe and his collaborators have filmed for songs from R.E.M.’s fifteenth album Collapse Into Now have been… should I say… underwhelming. Well, Pitchfork has just premiered one of the 12 videos that I actually sort of like… at least it’s very funny. It’s a for “Alligator Aviator Autopilot Antimatter”, one of my favourite songs from Collapse Into Now. The video was directed by Lance Bangs, and it features Michael Stipe and Peaches, sporting hilarious outfits and overacting with aplomb! At least the video perfectly suits the song, which is a silly romp with gibberish lyrics. thumbs up

UPDATE: Here’s another great video interview with Mike, courtesy of 101.9 RXP Radio. Thanks Conni for the heads-up!

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As you may remember, a few weeks ago we posted a teaser snippet of Mike Mills’s interview with Streetdate Radio. And today they have posted all video clips of our hero Mike discussing everything and anything, from the compulsory praise of the band’s new album Collapse Into Now to various anecdotes from R.E.M.’s studio stints. Alas the embed links are not working at the moment, but I’ve made these clickable links that will lead you directly to these clips, so enjoy!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Filled Under: News & Features

08 March 2011

Mike Mills Overload!

Don’t y’all love this title? winking I certainly love days like this when I can post several Mike Mills-related news at once.

Let’s start with the final part of the interview from Italian Rolling Stone; it was published online and our own Dol has already translated it! I have merged it with her previous translation, so you can read the entire interview here. Thanks, Dol!

Next, Huffington Post has just published a brilliant new interview with Mike Mills – thanks Dol for the heads-up! This is the third time in as many weeks that he has strongly suggested that he will work on his solo album sometime in the near future. thumbs up Now let’s just hope that his perfectionism won’t get the better of him, and that he won’t keep us waiting for too long… Come on Mike, you can do it!

I will add these recent interviews to our Press Archive asap, and meanwhile I’ve been updating the galleries. I have added more high-res promotional photos taken by the ever so talented Anton Corbijn to our 2009-2010 Gallery. And Kirsten has found a bunch of photos and a video from the Sunset Session media event that took place between 17 and 20 February 2011 in San Diego, CA. As you all know, Mike Mills hosted a meet-and-greet and a listening party. See the photos in our brand new 2011 Gallery, and I’ve also added the video to our Youtube channel. Thanks, Kirsten!

Finally, the official video for “Oh My Heart” has just been released via IFC; and that’s all I’m gonna say about it. You may watch it below. Thanks Auctioneer for the tip!

Filled Under: News & Features

06 March 2011

Oh, Michael. :)

Hello friends! Lots of news today! First up, here’s Michael Stipe on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon – he was there to promote R.E.M.’s new album Collapse Into Now and to announce the Tibet House Benefit concert. Wow, he’s hilarious!

Part 1

Part 2

Also, here’s Michael performing beautiful intimate versions of two R.E.M. songs at the Tibet House Benefit concert in NYC. He chose “Saturn Return” from Reveal (the first time this song has been performed live – and it sounds fantastic!) and “Every Day Is Yours To Win” from the new record Collapse Into Now (well since they’re not touring, this is the only time we’ll get to hear this song performed live, at least for a while). crying Btw a friend attended this concert, so we’ll have a full review up shortly! winking

Saturn Return

Every Day Is Yours To Win

Next, here’s the now complete interview from the latest issue of German Rolling Stone. A huuuge round of applause for Kirsten who has invested a lot of time and effort into translating this feature for us. Read it here.

Finally, our lovely friend Linda has reviewed the videos for “Uberlin” and “It Happened Today” for us. Unlike some grumbling fans (myself included), Linda has a very good knowledge and appreciation of the various video formats, and she has tried to explain Stipe’s motivation for doing these short films instead of standard commercial music videos. Read her wonderful review here. Thanks, Linda!

Filled Under: News & Features

04 March 2011

Thank you kangaroos!

Here’s a cool new interview with Mike Mills, published by The West Australian.

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By Simon Collins

For R.E.M. fans, it could be the end of the world as they know it.

The alternative rock veterans’ latest album, Collapse Into Now, is their final release with major label Warners – R.E.M.’s home since the late 80s – and they have no plans to sign a new deal.

The band, which formed 31 years ago in Athens, Georgia, has also announced that they will not be touring for the album, their 15th studio recording.

“We just don’t feel it,” bassist Mike Mills says during a chat deep in Warners’ Los Angeles bunker. “We don’t tour to support records, we tour because we like to play and for us to go out for the eight months it would take for an R.E.M. tour, you have to be 100 per cent committed to doing it every night and right now, we’re not feeling it.

“We go with the gut and the gut says no.”

In an affable if brusque chat, Mills says that there are no plans for the band’s future and while it could be the end of R.E.M., he feels fine.

“We will come to a collective decision soon about what to do and we will let everybody know,” he adds. “It’s absolutely great. We can do everything or we can do nothing. We have the entire gamut of options from here on.”

R.E.M. won’t entertain thoughts of going post-label a la Radiohead, who offered 2007 album In Rainbows online on a “pay what you want” model before fixing a price for last month’s The King of Limbs.

“We have no interest in doing that at all,” Mills, 52, says. “As I said at the time (they released In Rainbows), I don’t have their faith in humanity and, sadly, my lack of faith was justified by what people did with their record. Most people paid little or nothing.”

Against this backdrop of crumbling majors and new paradigms, Collapse Into Now seems to reference the state of play. Mills sees the connection but counters with his own interpretation of the title, which was lifted from the lyrics of last song, “Blue”, at the suggestion of punk poetess Patti Smith, who sings alongside Michael Stipe on the track.

“For me, what it means is that there is no moment more important than the one you’re in at this minute,” Mills says.

“People worry too much about the past and the future. Concentrate on right now and you’ll do well.”

All right then, let’s concentrate on Collapse Into Now, which is a more freewheeling and satisfying affair than the pared-back, guitar-driven Accelerate of 2008.

“I would say Accelerate was one of the few records where we had a real specific set of guidelines on ourselves when we made the record,” Mills says. “We wanted every song to be as short and fast and loud as possible. We were still cutting parts out of the songs on the last day of mixing.

“So, we made that statement that we wanted to make and after that we said ‘well, we can do whatever we want on this record’, and we did what we normally do, which is to … pick the best songs available.”

Work began on Collapse in March 2009, with Mills and guitarist Peter Buck (plus “unofficial” members, guitarist Scott McCaughey and drummer Bill Rieflin) recording demos in Portland which were then sent to Stipe, who worked on lyrics and vocals. The band then recorded in New Orleans, Berlin and Nashville between November 2009 and September last year with Accelerate producer Garrett “Jacknife” Lee, who acted as a “court of last resort” for the central trio.

“If the three of us really cannot reach a decision then we know that we can turn to him and we’ll accept his answer,” Mills says.

The bulk of Collapse was done in New Orleans in two three-week sessions, with the storied Louisiana city inspiring the paean “Oh My Heart”.

“New Orleans, being the heart and soul of American music, is a city that we’ve always loved, that has seen more than their fair share of misfortune lately,” the bassist says. “It’s a town that could use a little bit of a boost.”

After the New Orleans sessions, R.E.M. recorded in the famed Hansa Tonstudio in Berlin, where David Bowie, Iggy Pop and U2 recorded seminal albums, during a European heatwave. Canadian-born but Berlin-based electro-clash queen Peaches joined the band, adding to an impressive roster of guests that also includes Smith and her long-time guitarist Lenny Kaye, Eddie Vedder (who inducted R.E.M. into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame four years ago) and the Hidden Cameras’ Joel Gibb.

Collapse Into Now was completed in Nashville, where R.E.M. also laid down their 1987 album Document. “Nashville was one of the first places we started playing outside Georgia,” Mills says. “We’ve had a long, lovely history with that town.”

While Mills prefers to focus on the here and now, he’s more than happy to take a trip down memory lane to January 1995, when R.E.M. kicked off their Monster world tour in Perth. In addition to drawing the world’s music media to WA, the trip was memorable because Buck got married on Cottesloe beach and golf-nut Mills made some new friends at the Vines Resort.

“Peter’s wedding was one of the most memorable things – sunset on the beach, all the groomsmen in short pants and then the party after,” he says.

“I remember playing golf at the Vines and I sliced one into this patch of short stumpy trees. Then as I got closer I realised they weren’t trees at all but I’d hit my ball into a herd of kangaroos. How do I play this?

“I walked in and they all looked at me. They hopped out of the way enough for me to get through. I got to my ball and I hit out from the middle of these kangaroos,” Mills says with a laugh. “Thank you, boys!”

04 March 2011


Here’s a brand new interview, courtesy of Rolling Stone. Yesterday Michael Stipe performed at the Tibet House benefit concert in New York, together with Patti Smith’s band and a host of other friends. Michael sang “Every Day Is Yours To Win”, one of the ballads from R.E.M.’s latest album Collapse Into Now. Before the gig, Michael discussed the new album, and many other things. Enjoy!

Filled Under: News & Features

02 March 2011

Duhberlin – UPDATE 2

The brand new video for R.E.M.’s fantastic new single “Uberlin” was released today via several media outlets (all listed here). Alas, the video is rubbish; now, I admit that I am visually retarded and not particularly interested in films and visual art(s), but this particular video sucks for at least three reasons:

1) it does not feature any of the band members (come on guys, you aren’t THAT old and grey!),
2) it does not relate to the song (okay I didn’t expect to see stars and meteors, but I expected at least… something), which brings me to 3),
3) it is just not interesting at all – it showcases a random dude doing random stuff. straight face

So yeah, if you thought that the video for “Mine Smell Like Honey” was lame, well this one is even lamer. As I have said before, they should not have bothered with filming this at all – they should have simply released the beautiful “lyrics video”, it would have worked much better.

As for Michael Stipe’s motivation for making and releasing these dumbass videos, it will become a bit clearer after you have read the second part of the interview from the latest issue of Italian Rolling Stone. The lovely Dol has translated the interview for us, so I have merged part 2 with the part 1 that we published a few days ago – find the entire interview here.

Our new staffer Kirsten has translated the next huge chunk of the German Rolling Stone feature. As we all kinda knew already, it was Michael Stipe who decided that they should not tour this year. sad Judging by this interview, Mike Mills was pretty disappointed with this decision, but Michael obviously used his right to veto the tour. crying He says that the reason for that decision was that he wanted to focus on other things. Well, if these little films are what he has been focusing on, then they definitely should have toured. straight face Anyway, read the interview here – I have merged all translations that Kirsten has done so far. Also, a huge thank you to Linda who did the proofreading!

Also in news, R.E.M. have announced the singles that they intend to release for the Record Stores day (17 April). Now, I’m trying not to get too excited about this, because last year they released Chronic Town on beautiful blue vinyl, but it was only available in the U.S. – and then the rest of us poor souls had to either accept the fact that we’ll never own that beauty, or splash £50+ on eBay for it. It would be nice if at least some of these new 7″ singles were available in the rest of the world, but we’ll see.

As for freebies, R.E.M. has teamed up with iTunes for an one-day promo offer to U.S. and U.K. fans; so, if you live in the States, you can download “Uberlin” for free today from iTunes store, while the British and Northern Irish fans can download “Mine Smell Like Honey”.

Finally, many thanks to folks from SiriusXM Radio for dropping by to tell us that Mike Mills will give a track-by-track preview of Collapse Into Now on SiriusXM’s The Spectrum (Sirius channel 18 & XM channel 45) this Friday, 4 March at 4pm ET and again on Saturday, 5 March at 12pm ET. If you don’t have a Sirius account, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial.

By the way, if anyone would like to write a review for Collapse Into Now, please go ahead – we’ll be glad to publish it here! You can make it as long/short as you like, you can focus on individual songs or general observations, etc. Looking forward to reading your reviews! Oh and don’t worry if English is not your mother tongue, you can email your reviews to me or Linda, and we’ll be happy to edit them. happy

UPDATE: And here is a short but sweet review of Collapse Into Now by Entertainment Weekly’s Rob Harvilla. Btw, apparently there’s a Mike Mills interview in UNCUT, but I’m still debating with myself whether to buy that magazine because of their scathing review of Collapse Into Now. What do you think?

UPDATE 2: Kirsten has translated even more excerpts from the German Rolling Stone interview, so find them all here.

01 March 2011

Collapse into NOW!!!! – UPDATE 2

UPDATE 2: In case you haven’t heard Collapse Into Now yet, NPR is streaming the entire album here!

UPDATE: Comments are open now, so feel free to share your impressions with fellow fans! No censorship here, all opinions are accepted. happy

Listen to R.E.M.’s new album Collapse Into Now here! The comments thread will be closed for the next few hours, until everyone’s had the chance to hear the entire album. happy Happy listening!

27 February 2011

Professor Mike – UPDATE 2

Hello friends! The wacky title will start to make sense as soon as you have read the new interview with Mike Mills (and Michael Stipe), published in the latest issue of Italian Rolling Stone. Our friend Dol has translated the introduction and Mike’s Q&A, while the Stipe portion of the interview was quite dull, practically they didn’t mention music at all, so we left it for another occasion. Read Dol’s translation here, and she has also scanned the entire feature (boo, only Stipe is photographed!) for our Press Gallery.

Also, Kirsten has scanned for us the reviews of Collapse Into Now from German and American editions of Rolling Stone, as well as a few other R.E.M.-related pages, so view them all in the Press Gallery.

Finally, I have bought latest issue of MOJO (April 2011). Collapse Into Now gets a very favourable review, but a 3 out of 5 stars rating!? It looks like a majority of critics agree that the album is fine, it’s just not very daring. Oh well, I suppose that after several decades of non-stop experimentation, R.E.M. are allowed to sit back and reflect on their legacy, right?

UPDATE: Here’s the scan from MOJO:

UPDATE 2: And here’s another scan from MOJO – Mr Peter Buck speaks! (and looks very dapper, despite the hair) happy Hope this will keep you entertained until I upload the second part of Dol’s translation.

Look at me eating my own words – a few weeks ago I was quite convinced that “Mine Smell Like Honey” was not a very good song. However, R.E.M. have just released the live video – another one from the batch of videos filmed at the Hansa Studio in Berlin last summer – and it turns out that this song actually rocks! (I still think that it was a poor choice for the first U.S. single though – the studio version is just not very radio-friendly.) You know, that’s the usual thing with R.E.M. – they are such a fantastic live band, that somehow their studio albums never really do them justice. In my humble opinion Scott Litt was really the only producer who could capture what R.E.M. are really about and make their albums sound lush and gorgeous, but not overproduced (or underproduced). Think of Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, Lifes Rich Pageant, or Reveal, Around the Sun, Accelerate – so many brilliant songs, but they all sound 100 times better live than on the actual studio cuts.

Such a shame that R.E.M. have decided not to tour this year… at least let’s hope that sometime in the future they’ll release these live recordings from Berlin on a DVD. Anyway, here’s “Mike Smell Like Honey” in the band’s superb interpretation.

Next up, Kirsten has translated more song discussions from German Rolling Stone. This time, Michael Stipe and Mike Mills elaborate on “Discoverer” and “All The Best”:

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Mills: The song might link directly to “Accelerate” in so far as it has dirty, crashing guitars. We like to start with a rocker. Not always, but often. We knew from very early on that we wanted the album to start with it. This time, determining the song order was surprisingly easy.

Stipe: “Up” for example was too long, eleven, maybe twelve songs would have been sufficient. Back then, in the final stages of the recordings, we just weren’t on a level of communication on which we would have been able to discuss and change that, so it happened that way, and that was that. But this time we communicated on so many levels, Mike, Peter and me, that it was clear what would end up on the album and what would not. That was good. A couple of good songs didn’t make it, but whatever.

“All the Best”

Mills: Funnily enough, I don’t even know anymore where we recorded what one. Actually almost everything was recorded everywhere – in New Orleans, Berlin and Nashville. After Berlin we felt pretty confident of how we wanted the album to sound. However Michael still had to record quite a few vocals, including this one.

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Thanks, Kirsten! Finally,Billboard has a new interview with Mike Mills. Aside from the usual promo stuff, Mike says that their decision not to tour in 2011 might or might not hasten R.E.M.’s next album, especially since there’s a substantial number of songs and ideas still around that did not make it on Collapse Into Now. Now, this is something that we all wanted to hear: a) they do not intend to stop at album No. 15, and b) we might not have to wait for 3-4 years for the next record. thumbs up Oh and guess what, Mike says that the demos for Lifes Rich Pageant (about to be reissued this year as part of the special 25th anniversary edition) actually sound better that the finished record – which sort of supports what I have said above…