R.E.M. called it quits in 2011, ending one of the most acclaimed runs in rock history. But fans have reason to celebrate – first with the band’s new Unplugged set, and now with a tease of future archival releases. “We have a lot of stuff in the vaults, a fair amount of stuff that’s never been released,” bassist Mike Mills tells Billboard in a new interview. “We all want to do something with this stuff. We know we’ve got some really good things hanging around.”
Mills says that the Unplugged material (first released on Record Store Day, with a CD/download edition available for wide release on May 20th) is only the beginning of what the band has in the archives. There’s no official plan for what will be released next, but he emphasizes that they want to “make it be special, rather than just dumping out the vaults.”
“We just want to put them out in a way that makes them as special as possible,” he explains, “because they’re special to us. I mean, if we’ve been sitting on stuff for this long, why go cheap with it now?”
Compiling the unreleased material has also offered Mills a feeling of nostalgia. “It’s nice in the sense that it keeps our breakup from being a cold, hard ending,” he says. “It softens the landing a little bit. It’s like, no, I don’t get to record with Peter (Buck), Bill (Berry) and Michael (Stipe) anymore, but we get to just remind ourselves of how much fun we had.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Mills also notes that he’s planning a “combination of classical and rock & roll project” and that he stays in touch with his former bandmates. Still, he says he and his old friends are “happy pretty much as clams” and aren’t interested in a reunion.
“Everybody’s busy and really having a great time,” he says. “It’s a nice relief in a way; as much fun as it was, it’s nice to not have to be on the hamster wheel anymore.”