When R.E.M. announced their breakup in September 2011, many fans thought it was only a matter of time until they announced a reunion. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills says that any sort of reformation is extremely unlikely. “We said we’re done and we’re done,” he says. “If we honestly thought there was a chance of a reunion tour, we might have said so at the time.”
R.E.M. released their last album, Collapse Into Now, in March of 2011. Fans began to suspect something might be up when they failed to tour in support of the disc. Seven months later they announced the band was over. “As lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” they wrote on their website. “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished.”
Unlike most band breakups, the bandmates left on good terms and remain close friends. “There were no real factors other than deciding it was time to break up,” says Mills. “There’s no drug abuse. There’s no in-fighting. There’s no legal problems. It was time to break up. That’s never really been done before. The idea of breaking up and not reforming for a reunion tour is kind of attractive to us. I doubt you’ll see us touring as R.E.M. again. On the other hand, I just played with Peter [Buck] in New York City the other night, so fun things do happen.”
R.E.M. is hardly the first band to swear off a reunion. Bands from Cream to the Stone Roses to the Police reformed in recent years after insisting it would never happen. “Absolutely nobody can predict the future,” says Mills. “But right now, there are zero plans for an R.E.M. reunion. Absolutely zero. But the future is a strange place. We could all be hit by a meteor tomorrow, but I would consider it highly unlikely.”
Right now, R.E.M. is focused on the re-release of their 1988 LP Green. The album has been remastered, and it is packaged with a concert from their 1989 tour. Expect more such releases in the future.
“It’s determined by the 25th anniversary of the release,” says Mills. “That’s how the record company times these things, so I assume they’ll want to proceed next with the 25th anniversary of Out of Time [in 2016]. But we’ll worry about that when it comes.”
Mills is also unwilling to rule out the possibility of a R.E.M. bootleg series sometime in the future. “There may be something like that down the road,” he says. “But it’s not something we’re thinking about right now. There’s enough activity with these remasterings that we don’t have to worry about the odds-and-ends part yet. But that could happen someday.”