Question: What happens when you put two chirpy, chatty Sagittarians on a cruise ship and confront them with a bunch of journalists?
Answer: Mayhem?!

Well, almost! As y’all know, back in the 1980s, the camera-shy Michael Stipe and Bill Berry avoided the journalists whenever they could, and as a result, Peter Buck and Mike Mills had to handle a majority of R.E.M.’s promotional duties – interviews, press conferences, radio and TV appearances etc. In April 1987, when Peter and Mike were sent to Canada to promote their latest offering Document, someone had an idea that maybe the promotional chores would be a bit less dull if they were doing them on a boat. Luckily for us all, not only were the Canadian TV crew there to film them, but the Youtube user dvdguy2011 has unearthed and uploaded these rare clips. So… *drumroll* All hail Pete & Mikey double act in top form! Enjoy the clips, and btw I have embedded more Documentaries and 2008 Interviews and refreshed our Spotlight with some recently uploaded clips.

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“Cruising With R.E.M.” – Canadian TV 4 – Part 1

“Cruising With R.E.M.” – Canadian TV 4 – Part 2

“The New Music: R.E.M.” – Canadian TV Profile

Filled Under: Random, Site info

REMHQ reports that The Baseball Project and Minus 5 have announced two shows this August:

Thursday, 12 August 2010 in Brooklyn, NY at Southpaw
Saturday, 14 August 2010 in North Adams, MA at the Solid Sound Festival

The lineup for these shows will be Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon and Mike Mills, who will be pinch-hitting for Peter Buck – as he did last year, when these two bands performed in Spain.

You can download new Baseball Project tracks here.

Speaking of Peter’s and Scott’s numerous side projects, one of the two Tired Pony shows, scheduled for 14 July 2010 at London HMV Forum, has been cancelled. The early show (7pm) will take place as previously announced, but the late show (11pm) was scratched. Now, the reason why I’m mentioning this is because the tickets for the cancelled late show will be valid for the early show, which means that now I have an extra ticket, and I’d be happy to give it away. So, if you happen to live somewhere near London, and would like to see Messrs. Buck and McCaughey in action, just e-mail me!

While R.E.M. and their producer Jacknife Lee are busy in Berlin, working on the band’s as-yet-unnamed 15th album, the media hype machine is now focused on the upcoming 25th anniversary 2CD special edition of their fantastic third album, Fables of the Reconstruction, scheduled for release on 13 July. As y’all know, CD 1 will contain the original tracks, freshly remastered, while CD 2 will be packed with previously unreleased demos that the band had taped in Athens before jetting off to London to record the album with Joe Boyd. Anyway, several demos have been distributed to various media outlets, and guess what, they’re brilliant! Hold your breath:

“Driver 8″ demo @ Rolling Stone

“Can’t Get There From Here” demo @ Entertainment Weekly

“Auctioneer” demo @ Consequence Of Sound

“Old Man Kensey” demo @ Fashion.ie

Enjoy!

UPDATE: More demos and remastered tracks have surfaced online!

“Throw Those Trolls Away” demo @ Atlanta Metromix.

“Good Advices” demo @ Fuel Friends

“Bandwagon” demo @ Light Hearted Boy

“Feeling Gravitys Pull” demo @ Pretty Much Amazing

“Kohoutek” remastered original track @ 411 Mania

“Life And How To Live It” remastered original track @ Beat Crave

Thanks Stoffel for unearthing these!!

Many thanks to Charky for letting us know that Howard Libov’s award-winning independent feature film Favorite Son is now available for preorder on Amazon! As we have informed you previously, Mike Mills contributed his beautiful song “Gift of the Fathers” to the soundtrack. A live recording of this song (performed by The Baseball Project) can be seen via our Spotlight. The DVD will be released on 13 July 2010 but you can already order it now (and save a few bucks).

Now, I’ve checked all international Amazons, and looks like this DVD is only being released in the United States at the moment. This is slightly tricky for us Europeans, because of the NTSC (Region 1) video format, which is only watchable in the U.S. and Canada. However, if you live elsewhere but have the equipment to watch and/or convert NTSC dvds, then nothing should stop you from preordering the film. happy

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UPDATE: I’ve just recorded another R.E.M. cover, in honour of the recently finished AthFest, the awesome festival held annually in Athens, GA. When it comes to music, this year’s bill featured over 100 bands, including such local luminaries as Supercluster, Modern Skirts, Michael Guthrie Band and many, many others! Some of my friends had the opportunity to embark on the pilgrimage to Athens and inhale the festive atmosphere. Unfortunately I’ve never visited Athens, but that’s definitely on my Things To Do Before I’m 70 list! Meanwhile I dedicate this song to everyone from Athens, and everyone who’s ever been there:

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UPDATE #2: Well, looks like R.E.M. have decided to finally finish their 15th album! The boys are currently in Berlin, working with Jacknife Lee (who also produced Accelerate) and his team. Read Bertis Downs’s report here.

As y’all already know, in the MMT universe, no news = more site updates. Thus, many thanks to the awesomely efficient Karin, who has retyped two more 1987 interviews for our Press Archive: the first interview features Mike Mills solo, and for the second, Mike is joined by Peter Buck and Bill Berry (plus a few members of R.E.M.’s road crew from the 1980s).

I have also corrected and expanded the list of Mike’s non-R.E.M. projects. Obviously, this list is still far from comprehensive, but hopefully it will be… someday.

Filled Under: Random, Site info

Our gallery of photos from R.E.M.’s 2008 Accelerate world tour has just been updated with over 60 photos of Mike Mills and his R.E.M. bandmates; the images were taken by Oliver a.k.a. Sad Professor, who attended no less than six shows in various European cities. Well done Oliver!

Also, many thanks to Conni Freestone for informing me that not only she has uploaded her own videos from the Alex Chilton Tribute gig at Levitt Shell, Memphis to her Youtube channel, but also that another Youtube user, fanclubber, has posted several clips from the same gig in HD. I have embedded fanclubber’s recording of “Jesus Christ” as well as Conni’s “Thank You Friends” below. Enjoy!

Speaking of this show, thanks to FanFan at Murmurs.com for letting us know that Chris from Blissland Studios has recorded and edited the full audio of this concert, as it was broadcast on satellite radio! The recording is now available as a torrent file here (you’ll have to register first to access this page). I’m not a fan of torrents, but since this show was already broadcast on radio, and the recording is excellent, and nobody will be losing money if we download it, I suppose it is okay to mention it here. i dont know

(BTW if you’d like to listen to this show, but cannot open the torrent, or don’t know how to convert Flac files into mp3, just e-mail me and I’ll sort it out for you.)

Here’s the full tracklist:

star Big Star, Alex Chilton Tribute Concert, Levitt Shell, Memphis, 15 May 2010

Disc One
1. Introduction; 2. Back Of A Car (Jon Auer); 3. In The Street (John Davis); 4. Don’t Lie to Me (w/ John Davis); 5. When My Baby’s Beside Me (John Davis); 6. I Am The Cosmos (Jon); 7. Way Out West (Jody Stephens); 8. Mod Lang (Van Duren); 9. Daisy Glaze (Ken Stringfellow); 10. Jesus Christ (Mike Mills); 11. For You (Jody Stephens w/Jimmy Stephens on bass); 12. Give Me Another Chance (Amy Speace, Jon & Ken); 13. Lady Sweet (Jon w/Rick Steff on accordion); 14. I’m In Love With A Girl (Sondre Lerche).

Disc Two
1. Introduction; 2. The Ballad of El Goodo (Sondre Lerche); 3. Thirteen (Jon); 4. Feel (Ken); 5. Thank You Friends (Mike Mills); 6. Nighttime (Susan Marshall Powell); 7. Try Again (Amy Speace, Jon & Ken); 8. O My Soul (Brendan Benson); 9. September Gurls (Brendan Benson); ENCORE: 10. Take Care (Ken & Jon); 11. A Whole New Thing (Anyone and everyone).

* * * * * * * * * *

“Jesus Christ”

“Thank You Friends”

Filled Under: Random, Site info

Looks like we have entered another newsless period, but fear not dear R.E.M. and Mike Mills fans, there’s still plenty to do around here. First of all, many thanks to the awesome Karin who has retyped two lenghty features from the Document era for our ever expanding Press Archive, which now hosts almost 100 interviews and features. Read the latest additions here and here.

As for the visual pleasure, I have added another batch of Melissa’s beautiful photos from the Alex Chilton Tribute gig to our 2010 gallery – find them here. Also, a huge thank you goes to Oliver Schuch, the owner of a German R.E.M. fansite Sad Professor. During R.E.M.’s 2003 and 2004/5 world tours, organised in support of their releases In Time and Around The Sun respectively, Oliver attended several shows in various German cities, and took some great photos, which can now be viewed here. Enjoy!

Filled Under: Random, Site info

19 June 2010

Get Up And Be Mine!

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Ivana’s Piano Extravaganza! But before that, for your reading pleasure, I have scanned and uploaded more interviews from the Rolling Stone R.E.M. Files book. There are four articles from 1988, 1988 again, 1989 and 1994 awaiting you here: start from thumbnail No 19 and read away!

Also, tomorrow is the last day of the Artist Project Day auction of rock memorabilia for Earthquake Relief. One of the items on display is a “Live At The Olympia” poster autographed by Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills; so if you are interested in owning this item, and the cause strikes a chord with you, bid here. Thanks Dol for the heads-up!

And now, two more R.E.M. songs, arranged for piano and performed by yours truly! The first one is actually a present for Jordan Stepp, the awesome Athens Music Junkie, who has recently graduated from the University of Georgia – congratulations, girl! The song is “Be Mine” – an underrated gem from R.E.M.’s 1996 album New Adventures in Hi-Fi, and surely one of the most beautiful songs they’ve ever recorded. As I’ve explained on Youtube, the biggest challenge here was to make piano “sing”, but also to achieve a continuous textural buildup throughout the song.

As for the second song, “Get Up” from R.E.M.’s 1988 album Green, I had a lot of fun with it! I mean, it’s such a silly song, with all that nagging in the verses to “get up, get up, get up”, not to mention Bill Berry’s 12 music boxes before the final chorus. happy Pure musical mischief!

15 June 2010

Filed Under R.E.M. – UPDATED

Apologies for the lack of updates in the last few days; it’s been a busy week. Anyway, I’ve just updated the Quotes and Quotes About Mike pages, and uploaded the first batch of scans from the R.E.M. Rolling Stone Files book, i.e. a compendium of interviews, articles and reviews published by the Rolling Stone and Record magazines from 1983 to 1994. Read three interviews, from June 1984, July 1985 and November 1985 by clicking on the image, and I will be uploading the remaining interesting features tonight. As usual, for the best reading quality, right-click on a thumbnail and open it in a new tab, then click to zoom in.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Dol (via Anton) for letting me know that the photos from the recent Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation’s annual awards ceremony have been posted on their official Facebook profile. They’re black&white and absolutely stunning! You don’t have to login to FB to view the photos of Mike and Bill accepting their award – just click on the links: 1, 2 and 3, 4 and 5!

Oh, and please forgive me for this bout of shameless boasting, but I’m just overwhelmed with joy right now. Why? Because my piano version of R.E.M.’s classic “Wolves, Lower” has been linked on R.E.M.’s official website! Woo-hoo! I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy in my entire life – this really is a dream come true for a longtime fan. blushing And how convenient that they’ve placed my link below the announcement for Tired Pony’s album, because I’ll be seeing Tired Pony (a.k.a. Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey plus Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and a few others) play their first ever shows in London in a few weeks! I’ve already purchased tickets for both shows, which are scheduled for 14 July 2010 at HMV Forum, and I can’t wait to see Messrs. Buck and McCoi in action! thumbs up

UPDATE 2: Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation’s official website has been updated with more info on the awards ceremony.

Filled Under: Site info

Finally some news – and great news indeed! R.E.M.HQ reports that on Monday 7 June the band received the prestigious Phinizy Spalding Preservation award for their numerous contributions to historic preservation and preservation advocacy in Athens. Mike Mills and Bill Berry (yay!) accepted the award at the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation’s annual awards ceremony held at the historic Morton Theatre in downtown Athens. The award was presented by Margie Spalding to Mike and Bill.

In accepting the award, Mike said: “Receiving this award is an honor because it is named after our friend and mentor, Phinizy Spalding. We knew him as a friend and as a community activist and as a historic preservationist. His passion for this was both infectious and inspiring, and I think we learned a lot about not only how to be involved but why to be involved in this from Dr. Spalding. So much of his vision and his love for Athens is still evident in this town, in the theatre where we are now and in the Seney-Stovall Chapel where R.E.M. has been lucky enough to work several times over the years. And so in that sense, I think it is the greatest honor of all. On behalf of Bill and Peter and Michael and Bertis and Sarah and Mercer and David and Amy and Kevin and Chris, thank you very much.”

In addressing the audience, which consisted of members and trustees of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation and other Athenians, Mike noted, “You are responsible so much for the quality of life in this town, not just for those of us who are fortunate enough to live here but for all the people who are moving here, who want to move here because they want to live in a town where commitment to historic preservation is not just lip service, it’s how we live.”

Read more on the band’s official website , where you can also watch this video reflection on R.E.M., their history in Athens, and their connection to Athens history. The video was produced by R.E.M. Archivist Dan Aguar of digima24.

I have also updated the gallery of scans – I’ll be adding many more images soon! Speaking of images, GettyImages have some nice photos of Mike Mills with the members of Big Star (Jody Stephens, Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer) from the recent Alex Chilton tribute concert. The previews are tagged but still worth seeing, so view them here.

Filled Under: News & Features