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R.E.M. Look Back

Page 4 of 4

10 New York 1998
[ Photograph by Anton Corbijn ]

Buck: It's right after Up [1998]. I think Mike and Michael had a hard time figuring out who we were going to be without Bill. But if anyone asks me, to this day I still say Bill Berry is a member of R.E.M. He's just the one who doesn't do anything or get paid [laughs]. Who we are is a result of having been with Bill. He influenced my songwriting. Bill was the guy who always wanted to get to the chorus faster.

Mills: I look at R.E.M. with Bill and after as two different bands. They just have the same name and mostly the same people. There were crises of confidence, times when I was prepared to accept that it was over. But I was also going to do everything I could to make sure that didn't happen.

11 London 2005
[ Photograph by Anton Corbijn ]

Stipe: That is backstage on our last tour. When people go to a show, they don't want someone to look like they just walked off the street. This is a little nod to theatricality and the absurdity of the moment. We've been through hell as a three-piece, and some of it is evident in the music. But we've also written some of our most beautiful songs on those records, and I'm happy and excited about our new material and the direction we're headed in. We want to write and record one of the great albums of all time – and in our minds, it hasn't happened yet.

This story is from the March 22nd, 2007 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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