R.E.M.’s Mike Mills Says Michael Stipe Was One Of The Best Lyricist And Melody Writers Of All Time

In his recent interview with American Songwriter, R.E.M. co-founder and bassist Mike Mills drew attention to the importance of having talented songwriters in a band. Also, the musician described the band’s frontman Michael Stipe as one of the most gifted lyricists and melody writers in the world.

The legendary pioneer alternative rock band, R.E.M., was founded by the University of Georgia students, Bill Berry as the drummer, Peter Buck as the guitarist, Mike Mills as the bassist, and Michael Stipe as the lead vocalist in 1980. The band’s groundbreaking and exceptional style, including arpeggiated guitar playing, melodic bass lines, and obscure lyrics, shaped the next generation of alternative rock bands for years.

The bands like Nirvana, Pavement, Radiohead, Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Collective Soul, and Alice In Chains were inspired by R.E.M.’s music. During his interview, the band’s bassist Mike Mills revealed that the band members, especially Buck and him, always focused on the songwriting process because they thought anybody could play or sing the songs, but writing and composing were the most challenging parts.

The musician said they are proud of leaving ‘good and memorable songs’ to rock music lovers and new generation musicians who wanted to follow their steps to become successful. He emphasized that Berry, Buck, and himself were very talented songwriters while defining Michael Stipe as one of the best lyricist and melody writers of all time, which helped them create complex and deep records.

In Mills’ words, he said:

Peter and I always felt that our main focus was songwriting. Anybody can learn to play guitar or bass. Michael has a gift, but anybody can sing up to a point. What’s hard to do is write good, memorable songs, so that’s one of the things I think we’re proudest of, and certainly one of the things we focused on the most.

We were fortunate in the sense that we had three good songwriters in me and Bill and Peter, and we had one of the best lyricist and melody writers of all time with Michael, taking the lead vocals. Those four things gave R.E.M. depth and complexity that a lot of bands who have one and maybe two songwriters didn’t have the opportunity to do.”

In addition, the R.E.M. bassist stated that most bands didn’t have a chance to have three songwriters and a lyricist; therefore, this is one of the main things that contributed to the band’s iconic albums and legacy after they decided to disband in 2011. However, their fans of different ages and countries continued to listen to their records even though they didn’t produce new materials for years.