R.E.M. have completed recording their 15th studio album with producer Jacknife Lee at Berlin, Germany’s Hansa Studios and will mix the disc in the fall. The band have penciled in a spring 2011 release date for the follow-up to 2008’s Accelerate, and while Michael Stipe and Co. haven’t offered up much in terms of details about their new LP, “postcards” from the studio posted on their official website have given fans the impression that recording in Berlin has influenced the band’s latest work.
“Berlin is a pulsing, exciting city with so many varied and distinctive neighborhoods, iconic history all around, great food at all levels and from every corner of the world . . . an excellent place to set up camp and make a great record,” the band wrote last month. R.E.M’s manager Bertis Downs later added, “I will not report on the sound or the dimension of the recordings so far, to my ears it all sounds like quite a wonderful set of songs.” Classic albums like Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, U2’s Achtung Baby and two-thirds of David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy (Heroes, Low) were all also recorded at Hansa Studios.
Guitarist Peter Buck has also found time to collaborate with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody on a new band called Tired Pony. The pair initially met at the Isle of Wight festival, then hit the studio for eight days to record 15 songs when both had a break from their day jobs. “We’d walk into a room and there’d be nothing, but an hour later there’d be a finished song,” Buck told the BBC. “It was really an experiment to see how spontaneous we could work, and how much emotion you can bring to the surface, and how you can just listen to the songs and then have them just occur. We never spent much time on then, we never talked about it, we’d just go in and do it, and it would be done. There’s the possibility it could really fail, and that’s what made it so exciting, it was like walking a tightrope for eight days.”
Buck added that his work with Tired Pony inspired at least one new R.E.M. track: “There’s at least one piece of music where I kind of thought, ‘This is something Gary would like, this is something he might write,’ and I threw it out there, and I think it’ll be on the next record.”